Thursday, 24 May 2012

Rare film of influential Archbishop Temple

I recommend this 1940s film "Message from Canterbury" which features a spoken sermon by Archbishop William Temple.

It also offers views of Canterbury Cathedral, with shots of bombed-out medieval homes  and cowering flocks - as German bombers drone over Kent. Though historical, I find the film is a kind of metaphor of the current secular attack on the Church.
The first ten minutes feature some sub-standard choral singing (which I would suggest one "skips"). But after 10 minutes or so, there is a fascinating filmed sermon delivered by Archbishop William Temple - who has been called the greatest Archbishop of Canterbury of the 20th century. He powerfully tells the story of the Christian conversion of England, starting in Kent. Incidentally, I find his condemnations of the Puritans a bit exaggerated considering they won many of the freedoms he says he supports!

William Temple was an extremely influential figure in the history of the second half of the 20th Century and even now, in the 21st Century. In this sermon, he outlines his beliefs on the future "Christian social order" based on his view of Christian teaching. He describes not only the later post-war Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but he also offers a Christian mission statement (well ahead of its time) about protecting the Earth. To quote: 

"The resources of the Earth are God's gift to us and to the whole of mankind and due consideration must be given for the needs of present and future generations".

Bearing in mind that this sermon was delivered in the middle of the Second World War - with German bombers flying overhead, during a time of extreme austerity, his vision is clearly designed for "all ages".

In this sermon, Archbishop Temple sets out what he felt Christians need to defend and work for, in all ages, namely:
  • decent housing for every family
  • equal educational opportunities
  • workers to have a voice, through their representatives - out of respect for their labour
  • leisure time and decent paid holidays - for all
  • liberty
  • freedom of worship
  • freedom of speech 
  • freedom of assembly 
  • freedom of association

1 comment:

  1. I would love to see this film: Archbishop Temple is one of my heroes! I have a book of his sermons given at a mission to the students at Cambridge after WWI wherein the editor talks about Temple's unusual preparation. Basically he would spend some time outlining what he wanted to say at the time he got the invitation, often several months ahead of the date (of course this would also usually be rooted in one or other aspect of his profound academic study), but then he would not look at it again in the midst of his extremely activist, administrative,& clerical life. On the day of the talk itself he would do everything he could to NOT think about the subject, usually reading a mystery novel to take his mind off things (my Dad's old Bishop Lesley Stradling, used to read Louis L'Amour for the same effect!). He would then stand up and talk without a pause or hesitation with barely a note! Rooted in his deep learning, and a profound sense of stillness before God, the talk would be all worked out in his subconscious and delivered in printable word-perfection! I look forward to reading your posts!