Collinson, “Richard Bancroft and Elizabethan Anti-Puritanism”

Last month, Cambridge University Press published Richard Bancroft and Elizabethan Anti-Puritanism by Patrick Collinson (University of Cambridge).  The publisher’s description follows.Richard Bancroft

This major new study is an exploration of the Elizabethan Puritan movement through the eyes of its most determined and relentless opponent, Richard Bancroft, later Archbishop of Canterbury. It analyses his obsession with the perceived threat to the stability of the church and state presented by the advocates of radical presbyterian reform. The book forensically examines Bancroft’s polemical tracts and archive of documents and letters, casting important new light on religious politics and culture. Focussing on the ways in which anti-Puritanism interacted with Puritanism, it also illuminates the process by which religious identities were forged in the early modern era. The final book of Patrick Collinson, the pre-eminent historian of sixteenth-century England, this is the culmination of a lifetime of seminal work on the English Reformation and its ramifications.

Seeking Moral Guidance on the Iraq Withdrawal

On December 15, 2011, President Obama formally announced the end of the eight-and-a-half year Iraq war.  American troop presence in Iraq has dwindled to a fraction of its former strength:  In 2007, 170,000 Coalition troops occupied Iraq from 505 bases; in December, 2011, 4000 operated there from only two.  President Obama has also said he will not send any more troops to Iraq, even if the nation devolves into civil war; instead, America’s role will be limited to a political one, using diplomacy to resolve future conflicts.

Our war, then, is essentially over.  But whether war is over for Iraqis is a separate question, one with significant moral import for the United States.  Though American troops will be gone, Iraqis still face the specters of terrorism, government oppression, and civil war.  And because America started hostilities in 2003—whether justly or unjustly—it bears at least some responsibility to aid the nation it now leaves to its own devices.  Major religious bodies like the Catholic and Anglican Churches have yet to speak directly to this grave issue, one essential to America’s moral obligations to the Iraqi people.

What moral guidance, then, can we draw upon to evaluate this moment in contemporary history?  Shall we be overjoyed that a war is over, or shall we lament a moral failure?

For more on the situation in Iraq and a moral discussion of our withdrawal, please follow the jump. Read more

If anyone calls, Say I am blockading St. Paul’s

In a sure sign of the impact of globalization, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to Europe. In London, the protests have centered on St. Paul’s Cathedral (right), an impressive, if slightly sterile, architectural wonder that Sir Christopher Wren designed in the 17th Century (you may remember the school rhyme about Sir Christopher quoted above). The protestors have not targeted St. Paul’s to protest the Church of England. St. Paul’s sits in London’s financial district, the City of London. So protestors have erected a tent city at the entrance to the church. It’s a pretty obvious location, if you want to send a signal to financiers.

The problem is that the tent city blocks access to the church, and at least some clergy want the protestors to leave. St. Paul’s commenced an eviction action against the protestors last month, but that has led to what the New York Times describes as “a leadership crisis” within the Church of England. Some Anglican clergy support the protestors; two leading priests at St. Paul’s resigned this week over the lawsuit. Following intervention by the Anglican Bishop of London, St. Paul’s has suspended the lawsuit to see if it and the protestors can reach some kind of agreement.

As a gesture of good will, perhaps, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, yesterday expressed sympathy for the protestors’ aims and suggested some legal reforms. The archbishop endorsed a Pontifical Council’s call last week for higher taxes on financial transactions and for the restructuring of banks that have received public bailout funds (discussed by my CLR Forum colleague Marc DeGirolami here). The Pontifical Council’s proposals, the archbishop said, should be a starting point for discussion of serious legislative reform. Whatever else they have done, the protestors at St. Paul’s do seem to have succeeded in getting more high-ranking clergy to inject religious views into public policy debates. – MLM