Almost every day reveals yet another attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury. Be that in the press, Christian or secular; in blogs, priestly or lay; on Twitter and so many other places besides. These attacks are public, intended to be public - intended that the deliverer of the attack of the moment may have his or her 'moment' having queued so long for it. Attacking Rowan Williams is, I think, the new blood sport of Anglican Christians. The tooting horns toot, the slavering hounds slaver, and the bearded man of God is chased while others revel in the spectacle.
This all means that what I am about to write makes me very unfashionable and counter-cultural, which is just fine.
We are all entitled to our views. Dialogue generated from those views is healthy on the whole, but as with all things, it needs to be appropriate and held in the right place and time. An army lives by a code of loyalty and obedience to its senior officers, and more especially to its Commander in Chief. When that breaks down in the field of war, people die. That is not to say that soldiers do not have their views or that they are universally in favour of every utterance made 'at the top', as I know that they are not. They are intelligent people and not robots after all. In business, loyalty to 'the Firm' is expected. This is normal and largely healthy (there are, of course, exceptions). Employees do as they are asked (or told) because that is their job - and company loyalty is a very strong force in people. A public statement condemning a business decision by the CEO would largely bring with it a difficult outcome for the employee concerned.
It seems that in the self-imposed ivory tower existence of some in the Church, where choices are limitless, media exposure is on tap - that some feel that the boundaries of loyalty that most people in the pews abide by don't apply. Again, I say that it is right to have views, to disagree with the Archbishop, to be vehemently against him at time - but this is stuff that should happen in private.
I am saddened by every attack on our leader. They not only degrade 'the Firm', they do damage to a person because he cannot reasonably defend himself - in other words, he cannot fight back with the same freedom that his priests and bishops can launch attacks. I have not yet read one attack on him by a person with the skills to do his job more effectively. Yes, Rowan Williams has not acted like a perfect human being, and let's face it, the only perfect human in our history lead his own followers to a martyr's death. Attacking the leader might be fashionable, and it might attract readers - but it is disloyal and, in my opinion, wrong - and slowly but surely fatally weakening the organisation. If we are a church who seek to be 'of the world' and walking alongside those who are in the world, then I think we should live by the scruples bound up in loyalty that they all live by.