Friday, January 25, 2013

Rowan Williams on the Sorts of Difficulty the Creed Does and Does Not Represent

"[I]f I say I've never found the creed difficult, I think that gives the wrong impression, but it does seem to me that the kind of difficulty that it represents is not the 'Is this true or isn't this true?' or 'That sounds silly' kind of difficulty, much more 'If this is true it needs a lot of hard work to understand it'—you know, the kind of difficulty that you face when you're trying to read Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic or something like that: the idea there must be something so important here if it's so difficult to get hold of. That, on the one hand, combined, I suppose, with a rather celebratory sense of the creed which has always been very important. I don't think it's entirely accidental or irrelevant to this . . . that I learned the creed by singing it. I don't imagine I'd ever encountered the Nicene Creed before I learned to sing it to Merbecke in All Saints', Oystermouth, and that means it becomes part of the idiom of worship, and you inhabit it in that way, not any other way, which is why, when I came to look at it critically or historically, I couldn't just turn off the music or the context."

—Rowan Williams, in Rupert Shortt, Rowan's Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008), 56-57

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