Comedian Frank Skinner and Archbishop of Canterbury in Dialogue

Frank Skinner Frank SkinnerThe Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury invited Catholic comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner to interview him "In Conversation" at Canterbury Cathedral on Friday evening.

Some have described it as perhaps the most unlikely combination since Bing Crosby and David Bowie sang "Little Drummer Boy",

Archbishop Rowan and Skinner had encountered each other before, but this was the first time they'd sat down for an in-depth exchange of views on the state of Christianity today.

Skinner,  returned to the church in his late 20s after a period "in the wilderness" and says the years spent examining his faith have made him better able to defend it.

"I think there is a responsibility for any believer in the 21st century to be able to fight their corner."

Talking to Dr Williams, Skinner described himself as "a tough crowd" when listening to a sermon, and said that priests don't try hard enough to make an impact when preaching - prompting an audience member to ask if his sense of frustration might be God's way of calling him to do better.

These are audio links to the first half of the conversation, the second half of the conversation, and the questions and answers which followed.

Archbishop and Frank Skinner in conversation

The event formed part of The Gathering, a two day festival organised by the Diocese of Canterbury held at Canterbury Cathedral celebrating community and discipleship.

When the invite first came through the door Frank wasn’t quite sure what to make of the offer.

He said: “Being a Roman Catholic, my first thought on receiving an invitation to be interviewed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral was that it could be a trap.

“Nevertheless, I accepted immediately because the Archbishop seems such an intelligent and holy man.

“If I had my way, the interview would be a 90 minute shouting-match about the Reformation but, more likely, we’ll talk about being a believer in an ever-more secular Britain and how best to fend off the evil forces of new-atheism.”

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury 

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Frank is an extraordinarily gifted person with a fascinating life story.
 “As a practising Catholic, Frank has some strong views on both the Catholic and Anglican Church, which will be interesting to explore.
“Whilst I am sure Frank will try and steer the conversation towards football, I shall aim to steer it back to rugby.”

In an interview with the diocesan magazine Skinner describes himself as a believer who has doubts. “I am wary of people who say they have no doubts, be they on the atheist’s side or the believer’s side,” he reveals. “I do wish Jesus had told just one big joke just to say it’s alright to laugh.”

                          There is also a transcript of the session available from here

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