Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prince George, A Joy To Us All


People go nuts about the British royal family - Britons, Americans, and probably a bunch of other folks.  What's up with that?

Serendipitously, the daily readings in The Business of Heaven (a collection of selections from C. S. Lewis's writings posthumously arranged by biographer, Walter Hooper) for the eve and day of the public revelation of Prince George's name happen to be selections touching on the subject of monarchy.
July 23rd
We Britons should rejoice that we have contrived to reach much legal democracy (we still need more of the economic) without losing our ceremonial monarchy. For there, right in the midst of our lives, is that which satisfies the craving for inequality, and acts as a permanent reminder that medicine is not food. Hence a man's reaction to monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be 'debunked'; but watch the faces, mark well the accents, of the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach - men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour rnillionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.
A desire for monarchy, even ceremonial monarchy across the ocean, is a desire basic to our humanity.  Man was created as subject. Kingship, stewardship, servanthood, these are natural to creation.  We champion democracy, and for many good reasons, but we never succeed in being fully democratic (thankfully).  Lewis points out how we raise up kings wherever we can, denying it all the while.  A ceremonial monarchy is a gift that gives proper shape to our God given need for hierarchy.

In the second selection he uses a critique of Christianity as an introduction to speak more on the significance of monarchy.
July 24th
Corineus compared modern Christianity with the modern English monarchy: the forms of kingship have been retained, but the reality has been abandoned.... 'Why not cut the cord?' asks Corineus. 'Everything would be much easier if you would free your thought from this vestigial mythology.' To be sure: far easier. Life would be far easier for the mother of an invalid child if she put it into an Institution and adopted someone else's healthy baby instead. Life would be far easier to many a man if he abandoned the woman he has actually fallen in love with and married someone else because she is more suitable. The only defect of the healthy baby and the suitable woman is that they leave out the patient's only reason for bothering about a child or wife at all. 'Would not conversation be much more rational than dancing?' said Jane Austen's Miss Bingley. 'Much more rational,' replied Mr Bingley, 'but much less like a ball.' In the same way, it would be much more rational to abolish the English monarchy. But how if, by doing so, you leave out the one element in our State which matters most? How if the monarchy is the channel through which all the vital elements of citizenship - loyalty, the consecration of secular life, the hierarchical principle, splendour, ceremony, continuity - still trickle down to irrigate the dustbowl of modem economic Statecraft?
I think the implication here for Christianity, and especially the cold, dying, high church of England of Lewis's day (and today), is that even in its present state God still preserves the world through the church.  And to toss the stateliness that remains for the sake of internal consistency would be tossing the last vital part.

But for today's purpose I include it as another comment of validation to those out there who are excited about royal weddings and royal babies, and great names like George.  Don't let the de-bunkers get you down.

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