Williams rails against 'disgust at growing old'

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The Independent Online

The Archbishop of Canterbury used his Easter sermon yesterday to criticise modern society's obsession with youth and its preoccupation with trying to slow down ageing.

The Archbishop of Canterbury used his Easter sermon yesterday to criticise modern society's obsession with youth and its preoccupation with trying to slow down ageing.

Dr Rowan Williams argued that "odd and unhealthy" attitudes towards growing old and death, rather than being confined to religious extremes, are manifest in 21st Century Britain.

"Quite a lot of our contemporary culture is actually shot through with a resentment of limits and the passage of time, anger at what we can't do, fear or even disgust at growing old", he told a congregation at Canterbury Cathedral.

By following lifestyles defined by a refusal to accept our mortality, we run the danger of becoming beset with a sense of "anxiety, unreality and psychological fragility," he said.

In comments that seemed to echo the Prince of Wales's assertion, late last year, that the education system wrongly encouraged the idea that any goal can be attained, the Archbishop suggested the notion that 'you can be anything you choose to be' was flawed.

"A healthy human environment is one in which we try to make sense of our limits, of the accidents that can always befall us and the passage of time which inexorably changes us.

"An unhealthy environment is one in which we always look for someone to blame and someone to compensate us, and struggle to maintain fictions of invulnerability to time and change", he said.

In one passage, the Archbishop argued that this inability to recognise human limitations was having a disastrous effect on the environment.

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