Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Episcopal charmer

A new biography of Rowan Williams suggests that he was—perhaps still is—very attractive to women, to whom he seemed surrounded by a "great white light" and "gave off an aura". A modest man, he was totally unaware of this, even when one besotted admirer killed herself, mentioning his name among her last words to a friend.

For many of us this is difficult to understand. One can see how having a roguish smile and spectacular eyebrows, and being an all-round nice chap, as well as a theological heavyweight and Primate of All England, would give him a certain charisma, not to mention his reputed ability to wrap one of his legs around his neck, but none of these qualities seem likely to have inspired such extreme devotion.

Perhaps de gustibus non est disputandum is the explanation, though Julius Caesar made this observation in quite a different context, referring to the cockroach-eating habits of the Helvetii.

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