Leading theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Lord Williams of Oystermouth, was the thought-provoking guest speaker at Brentwood School’s Sir Antony Browne Society meeting.
Lord Williams, better known as Rowan Williams, talked on the subject of ‘Understanding and Misunderstanding Religion’ and clearly demonstrated why he is internationally acknowledged as an outstanding thinker, writer, scholar and teacher.
He discussed areas of misunderstanding including the relationship between religion and science and how God is sometimes wrongly used to explain things we cannot explain. “What is the evidence for God?” he asked. “Religious believers say the evidence is everywhere.” Other misunderstandings arose because of a too literal interpretation of sacred texts.
“One of the best ways to understand religion is to look at the lives of religious people… the lives which make some sense of it,” he explained. Lord Williams said he remembered hearing the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. “What makes some people courageous risk takers for justice in an unjust society?” he asked.
He asked the assembly of Sixth Formers and members of staff to also consider those people who devoted their lives to prayer, contemplation, solitude and monastic retirement. He stressed the importance of community and relationships. “None of us lives and dies alone. Living and dying we are with our neighbours. We have mutual responsibility.”
Lord Williams, who is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, happily answered questions from students and staff ranging from discussion of Biblical text, to the future of the Church of England and his views on Hell. So generous was he with his time, he stayed behind and chatted informally with students.
Headmaster Ian Davies said it was an honour for the School to welcome such an esteemed speaker who gave so generously of his time and wisdom.