Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had a miserable childhood at Eton according to The Telegraph:
I first saw this man 40 years ago, when we were both pupils at Eton. Later, I was with him at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was the shyest, most unhappy-looking boy you could imagine. Now he is 105th in the line that began with St Augustine. He seems to be loving it. I remark on the change, and he agrees. “That’s something to do with the Christian faith,” he says.
Is it necessary, I ask, for a true Christian to have had a personal conversion experience? “Absolutely not. There is an incredible range of ways in which the Spirit works. It doesn’t matter how you get there. It really does quite matter where you are.”
Of his strange and lonely youth he says: “At the time, it felt horrible. Now it feels hugely valuable. God doesn’t waste stuff.” Out of the insecurity has come the confidence of his faith. Does he know Jesus? “Yes. I do. He’s both someone one knows and someone one scarcely knows at all, an utterly intimate friend and yet with indescribable majesty.”
More on the ABC’s spiritual journey, his family life with an alcoholic father, and being a “spiritual magpie” here
The Spectator notes from the same interview:
In this increasingly secular age, you would expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to be a figure of diminishing importance. But Justin Welby is fast becoming the most politically influential Archbishop since the war.
When Charles, Thatcher’s biographer, asks him what he thinks of Thatcher, Welby replies: “Genuinely, I don’t know the answer. When I was in the oil industry in the Eighties, I thought she was brilliant. When I was a clergyman in the North [Liverpool and Durham], I had a different view. But I think she had a discontent with drift which is really important, and an optimism about this country.”
Answers like this mean that Welby will keep on interesting politicians in all parties. I suspect that we’ll hear plenty more about this world from the Archbishop in the coming months. His decision to stay on the Banking Commission even after he had been named as the next Archbishop showed that he wanted to have a real influence on political debate in this country.