Thursday 8 November 2012

What's in a face? - Christian leaders past and present


What's in a face? Quite a lot, as a rule.

Is this the face of a leader?

The new Archbishop of Canturbury

Or the previous Archbishop of C:

What possible hope can their be for a church whose leaders - at a time of desperate crisis LOOK LIKE THAT.


Twas not always thus. Christian leaders of the past varies in their physiognomy - but they were bull-necked tough guys, or obviously Holy, or shrewd and subtle, or intense types, or inclined to the Friar Tuck:

Dr (a medical doctor) Martyn Lloyd-Jones - Welsh evangelical pastor

Rev Ian Paisley ('nuff said)

Bishop Charles Gore (Anglo Catholic founder of the Community of the Resurrection)

Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey

Van Mildert - last of the Prince Bishops of Durham

If the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot be exceptionally saintlike (as would be right and proper, and holiness brings indomitable strength) - then at least we could hope that they would have some kind of 'who dares mess with me' quality about them. Nothing less would be required to turn around decades of decline, corruption and weakness. 



George G. said...

Just based on facial appearances - Lloyd-Jones, Gore, Ramsey and Van Mildert appear to be noble men of high intelligence. Paisley appears above average intelligence, but extremely strong of character.

The new Archbishop literally looks like my neighbor, a very politically correct grade school teacher of average intelligence and effeminate character who spends too much of his time curious about other people's business. The previous archbishop appears again to be of average or below average intelligence, a bit shortsighted and perhaps a very friendly man - but not a leader.

Just my impressions. I know though we are taught quite frequently in grade school (probably by men like the new Archbishop) to not judge people by their looks.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GG - it's an interesting exercise, isn't it? And the results score far higher than random.

Of course, the camera gives a fraction of a second time slice, and there is the possibility of doctoring or selecting images - but there is a reason why we make broadly-accurate inferences from faces, and that reason is that we evolved to do it.

Bruce Charlton said...

BTW - Bishop Van Mildert looks very like Laurence Sterne, or perhaps Nigel Hawthorne/ Sir Humphrey in 'Yes Minister' which is not exactly a recommendation for a Bishop; but he was nobody's fool...

I often used to sit facing this portrait when I was a don at University College, Durham - so studied it with some care (VM gave Durham Castle to the new university when it started in 1832).

George G. said...

Off-topic - but interesting that portrayals of healthy families are now political incorrect:

You predicted this course in Thought Prison: "Where humans are motivated by love or duty, PC demands they be motivated by adherence to formal principles and procedures. Where humans spontaneously nurture and protect the family, PC attacks the family relentlessly and promotes any and all forms of social organization except the family."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jonathan C - You made some amusing points, but I don't publish comments from the perspective of G**e (or using that vocabulary) since I believe it is evil.

Anglican priests are usually married, but do not have to be.

Proph said...

Here is a particularly unflattering photo of him:

The structure of his face is such that it converges very neatly with the lines of his mitre in sloping inward, giving the impression that the Church of England is now to be headed by an enormous upside-down wedge of cheese.

I know nothing of the man. Maybe, maybe, he is one of those lucky few who, despite being cursed with an effeminate facial structure, nevertheless projects gravitas. Not likely, though. You can practically hear the sound of his hands wringing already.

Samson J. said...

You didn't include any Roman Catholic priests, but they show the same pattern. Some of the older guys were tough hombres.