There’s an interview with Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, in The New Statesman. It shows him at his best: thinking hard about Christianity and contemporary culture and about the overall role of religion in society. He seems a bit to ready to me to argue for the importance of religion in shaping moral arguments but I do think there is something in his statement that religious language and imagery deepens our human reflection. He is also asked about the declining importance of religion in England, and the declining role played by the Church of England. Money quote:
There are bits of human experience and suffering that have to go somewhere, and secular society simply doesn’t have the
spaces, the words or the rituals. This does not translate into conventional church attendance and orthodox belief – and perhaps it seldom has in history, if the truth be told; but it still takes for granted a body/community/place where a person can feel related to something more than the sum of their own anxieties and their society’s normal patterns of talk and behaviour.
He’s on to something there but of course he’s not the first to say it. One could argue he is echoing Mircea Eliade’s notion of the sacred. He is also describing something I’ve detected when talking and observing people who come into Grace Church on Saturday mornings.