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My place in the universe

Rowan Williams is the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who is considered the head of the Church of England (Anglican). A theologian in his own right, his engagements with science has been a matter of fascination, that led me to research on the same. Here is an excerpt that could help us reflect upon our place in the universe. Just for context, it is written with the works of Richard Dawkins, as well as the heightened individualism of the West in the background.

Religious practice (you might say) is learning how to occupy a certain role, a position in the universe, a position of recognized dependence. People who speak religiously have at least these in common, that they recognize the dependence of their own existence and that of the entire universe. They recognize in a rather more loaded theological language that they are recipients of what might be called a gift. And in recognizing their dependence they relativise their own reality in some ways. I’m not the centre of things, I’m not everything , I exist not because I wanted to or because I was able to manage it, I exist because I have received. And that place in the world is also a place where, because of that relativising of the self there is also a directness of mind and heart towards the other. A recognition that the other, whether it’s another person, whether it’s the physical universe itself, is not there first for me, but in itself. I recognize that the person I confront, the physical reality I confront, the world in which I live, exists in relation to God before it relates to me. So that some of the reverence with which I approach God is also involved in my relations with other persons, and with the material of the world. There is something prior to my ego, my interests, and my agenda. To occupy the place of religious belief is then to develop that contemplative skill which turns me silently and expectantly to a reality greater than myself. It also involves a sense of trust in communication and relationship.


Rowan Williams, ‘How Religion Is Misunderstood’, Official Website, Dr Rowan Williams — 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, 13 October 2007, accessed 28 January 2022



Weaving theology with everyday life to learn how it can help or challenge us.

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