Blog Post

14 Jan 2024 – Book review – Harry Goodhew: Archbishop, Godly Radical, Dynamic Anglican

During my break I read Stuart Piggin’s biography of former Sydney archbishop Harry Goodhew. Biographies of Anglican bishops may not be everyone’s first choice of a holiday read, but what are holidays for if not to indulge in one’s own peculiar interests?

There are many ways to write a biography. Do you focus on the subject’s personality, impact upon society, or headline events? Piggin adopts a role as chronicler of Harry’s work as a church leader over many decades. This feels in part an attempt to ensure attention is not limited to the headlines (notably Harry’s extended battle with hard-playing church politicians), shining a light on some previously un-recognised achievements. 

Indeed, Piggin himself admits that the book is an attempt at a positive re-assessment of Harry’s legacy. The result is a comprehensive record of a long ministry life that is overwhelmingly positive, if a little dry at points. 

My highlight was how Piggin allows us a good look at Goodhew’s character as he navigated a tumultuous term as archbishop. Here is where I was both depressed and greatly encouraged: depressed at how Christians, out of fear and anxiety, can act terribly towards one-another, but encouraged at how the Holy Spirit can strengthen us during periods of great stress. By the way, our own Phillip Heath (8:30 service) makes an appearance in the book three times! I give it 7/10.

Martin Kemp