The Times has published today an article about and a moving extract from a new biography of Archbishop Rowan Williams. The largest part of the article recalls Williams’ experiences on 11th and 12th September 2001, when he was an eyewitness to the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the next day preached without preparation in the nearby cathedral.
Ruth Gledhill posts only a small part of the article and of the extract, with the interesting title Rowan Williams: ‘Haunted by Suicide’. This title refers to one of the three women in Rowan’s life, a woman with whom he seems to have had a relationship which might have been described as inappropriate although not apparently physical (yes, Jay, such relationships can exist!) shortly before she committed suicide. The second woman was a German Lutheran ordinand to whom he was engaged for a time. And the third woman is Jane Paul who became his wife.
I knew Jane slightly when we were undergraduates in the same year at Clare College, Cambridge. Rowan’s biographer writes that
she had held fast to her evangelical roots, and was active in the Christian Union at her college. … She came from a tradition where speaking in tongues was relatively common …
But during her undergraduate years she was rather on the fringe of this Christian Union, in which I was an active member. She was I think more involved in the college chapel, under Arthur Peacocke and Charlie Moule. Maybe she became more active in the CU as a graduate student, after I left in 1978, and when perhaps speaking in tongues would have been more acceptable in that group which was very conservative in my time. Ironically it is only after I left Cambridge that I too started to speak in tongues. But I can’t help wondering if the prayers of more charismatic fellow students like Jane Paul were partly involved in the softening of my heart towards the gifts of the Holy Spirit and my eventual acceptance of them.