chapter  2
11 Pages

Signifying nothing? How the religious and non-religious can speak the same language

ByNICK SPENCER

In an interview in 2014, on the topic of his book The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams talked about something called ‘tight-corner apophaticism’. This, in his words, is a ‘turning to negative theology or language about mystery whenever things get difficult’.1 It is, in effect, an intellectual Get Out of Jail Free card played whenever the game gets tough, allowing the panicky theologian to slip off the pitch with his dignity intact, even if at the cost of leaving the lingering impression that there is in fact nothing more to theology than metaphysical smoke and mystical mirrors.