Roscoe Lecture Series - Liverpool John Moores University

Roscoe Lecture: Archbishop of Canterbury

The Abolition of the Global - Learning to Live in the World in one City

The Archbishop was presented with the award for his outstanding contribution to society and for speaking out against social injustices, both at home and on an international platform.

He began his lecture by thanking the Vice-Chancellor for bestowing him with the University's highest honour of an Honorary Fellowship, commenting: "Thank you so much for this great privilege of being elected an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University. I'm extremely grateful and it really is an honour I'd never foreseen."

The Archbishop's Roscoe Lecture, entitled The Abolition of the Global – Learning to Live in the World in One City, aimed to address issues regarding religiously motivated violence and radicalisation, and the sometimes challenging nature of social media, which he said was responsible for 'abolishing the global,' making everything seem local.

He stated: "What was once something happening to some stranger on the other side of the world is now happening to a friend of a friend on Facebook and I’m commenting on an image of it on my phone. We now live amidst streams of information and opinion, an overwhelming excess of diverse and incommensurate world-views colliding in devices we hold in our palms. The result is diversity without facing each other. It is worth dwelling on the implications of this: is it a good thing that we are brought so close to the global community? Or is there something crucial about face-to-face encounters that we are missing in this new type of diversity?"

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said it was his belief that because we are failing to experience face-to-face encounters, we are failing to deal with diversity, remarking: "The consequences can be bad enough when we do have these encounters and fail to see behind the other’s face. When we misconstrue a word or a glance, or in a moment of frustration misinterpret a remark. It is much worse when we can't even see the Other except via the sometimes partial and false reports we read on Twitter."

He then added: "Individuals are encountering difference - difference that appears to be threatening - and finding themselves unable to respond to it, unable to engage with it at a human level. They are encountering it because of the abolition of the global."

The Archbishop said that ending extreme poverty and dealing with climate change must be done to help the worst off in the global society and could also bring different groups closer, by together tackling underlying marginalisation and dispossession felt by those who are attracted to fundamentalist causes. He added that in order to achieve this we need to recognise that we must have a change in narrative 'from a transactional language to a relational one. This shift in the narrative is underpinned by a commitment to human flourishing.'

Concluding the lecture he commented: "As Christians, we believe in the transformational power of coming face to face with Jesus Christ. When we turn to face him in faith we are changed by this encounter. The challenge is to strive for genuine encounters, with the difference that we now find surrounding us. In this way, we might be better able to recognise the face of God, reflected in the diversity of each and every human face."

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You can download and listen to his lecture here

The transcript of the lecture is available on the Archbishop of Canterbury's website  

The Roscoe Lecture was covered by The Telegraph and conferment of the Honorary Fellowship received coverage in the Liverpool Echo