Rowan and his punctuational deficit

So what did Rowan Williams actually say at his recent Temple lecture? Aside from the bits specifically addressing sharia law, that is.

Here’s a choice excerpt…

“The rule of law is thus not the enshrining of priority for the universal/abstract dimension of social existence but the establishing of a space accessible to everyone in which it is possible to affirm and defend a commitment to human dignity as such, independent of membership in any specific human community or tradition, so that when specific communities or traditions are in danger of claiming finality for their own boundaries of practice and understanding, they are reminded that they have to come to terms with the actuality of human diversity – and that the only way of doing this is to acknowledge the category of ‘human dignity as such’ – a non-negotiable assumption that each agent (with his or her historical and social affiliations) could be expected to have a voice in the shaping of some common project for the well-being and order of a human group.”

This 148-word monstrosity of a sentence comes from a man who is supposed to be a pastor of Britain’s Christians. Have you any idea what it means? I certainly don’t. And no, the above quote is not from a transcript of the speech, but Williams’ self-penned words.

As jaded old BBC hacks Peter Rippon and Martha Kearney point out here and here, it ain’t the media’s fault that the story about the archbishop’s naïve and ill-informed comments about sharia spun out of control.