O death, where is thy sting?
Authority from above is Woven into the Image of God
dominion (sic) Under Dominion
Apart from a visible Sovereign how can we know how to exercise our own?
Without Religio Monarchy? Without the Archos, we have the Anarchos of all being Sovereign without shared focus and this lacking any coherence
"I am thinking that there is a throne at the heart of every culture, whether we know it or not, and that if we cast out its previous inhabitant - and the entire worldview that went along with it - we had better understand what we plan to replace it with."
I nominate the Dharma: always at hand; ready to be harmonized with; available to all sentient beings; works well with impermanence.
Such a strange occasion - strange and impressive. A funeral that combined unapologetic protestant constitutionalism, Christian exclusivity, and lots of commonwealth (even imperial?) symbolism. The only concession to the cultural changes of the last 70 years might have been the participation of women clergy.
But maybe the funeral showed us that the establishment is much stronger than we recognised, and that it resonates even in people (like me) who might have appreciated the late queen, but are not massive fans of royalty. There has been something utterly luxurious in the recent reactionary revival!
Twenty minutes ago I finished the Grand Inquisitor chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, only to take a break and find this! Who or what made *that* happen?!
You say you think the new King understands that power derives from the spiritual plane. After reading his book, Harmony, this past week, I would say he absolutely does. I was quite surprised by the depth of his holistic spiritual vision.
A big part of my experience of being a lifelong Christian is understanding that death and resurrection are constantly taking place around us. What seems like the final defeat of death turns out to be the seed that falls to the ground and dies so it can be reborn. As the world fragments and things fall apart, I think we will see people turn to older forms of leadership, the kinds our spirits and psyche have been craving. Unfortunately, that means countries will be susceptible to dictatorial strongmen. We're already seeing that happen.
But I think we may also see a rebirth of sacral leadership in a various forms, and Charles may very well be the man (or at least one of the people) who helps to bring that about.
Fascinating, but, I think, premature.
A return to Christianity could very much be on the cards.
I don't know if you've read Eric Kaufmann's 'Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?', but he makes a good case for a religious, even fundamentalist future -- simply because the more religious you are, the more children you're likely to have (and the more likely it is that those children will be religious in turn) -- while secular people are barely breeding at all.
I think in the Church of England this will be evident in the imminent post-liberal shift, as a more conservative and biblical consensus replaces the more moderate paradigm.
However we do still face an atheistic couple of decades.
“Authority, in this model of society, flows downward, from God, and into the monarch, who then faces outward with that given power and serves - and rules - his or her people.”
Well, don’t assume too quickly that the new age will entirely dispense with this model; the power of the global “elites”, or the symbols of their power, can be elevated to a pseudo-monarchical status, which flows outward through mass narratives and new technologies to convince us of their grandeur and goodness, and to persuade us we are happy and living in the best of all possible worlds.
In fact, it seems to me that such a model will be essential if a Machine society is to take root, and fully dominate our planet, because I think (as you suggest) the model echoes something archetypal in human beings. If the Machine fails to express that model, it will fail ultimately.
What is this talk of "authority", sacred or otherwise :) Should we not rather talk of Love?
Jacques Ellul wrote a wonderful little book making the case that Christianity is fundamentally opposed to monarchy, and that the only true Christian political organization must be some kind of socialist anarchy.
Surely authority and obedience to a higher power is the wrong way to talk about religion - rather, isn't it Love? Not compulsion, but a free desire to follow the Good, the True, the Beautiful?
In other words, a rational being can only freely desire the Good, the valuable as such (God) - animated by Love of the Good, and freely choosing, there is no authority involved, and all metaphors of "sacred authority" are fundamentally misguided!
In fact, the idea of "sacred authority" and "obedience to a higher power" may be one of the stepd towards modern nihilism - in that replacing a rational desire of a free will for the "valuable as such" with mere "obedience" to a higher power, we strip our wills of their natural orientation towards value and meaning "as such".
Did not Jesus came to replace compulsion and authority - the Law - by Love, and did he not replace the image of "sacred authority" with one of the brotherhood of the sons of God?
Surely, Christianity - being opposed to all violence and coercion and power - should never have been joined to political power? And the "compromise" of it's alliance with earthly power and coercion, authority and oppression, was a step towards modern nihilism.
Is not the sublime image Jesus gave us of one who utterly rejects Power - who rejects once and for all coercion, authority, rulership, and replaced it with Love?
Not, of course, as a top down political program that utilizes coercion and power - we saw the horrors of that last century - but a disposition of the heart in each individual. A spontaneous willing and desiring of a conscience formed in the light of Christianity, to eschew all power, coercion, and authority, and approach our fellow men and women as equals, brothers and sisters, and friends.
He shows how, quite remarkably, all the passages in the Old Testament about kings basically cast them in a negative light - even King David is basically a horrific picture of kingship, according to him - and how the ancient Hebrew ideal was one of anarchy.
He does the same thing even more fully for the New Testament.
I think it's too early to believe that the funeral represents the "Last Post for Christian England." Although, it could be said it is too late for such a post. But in the sense you obviously meant, "Christian" is merely short-hand for the belief in the divine right of the king in England. In that sense, it might very well be the last post. For many agreed with Elizabeth that she represented God's rule for England. As soon as the full realization that Elizabeth's reign is over, that popular belief will also be over.
Indeed, the end of that belief began to fade with the death of Princess Dianna, who was worshipped, perhaps, by more of the public than Elizabeth. As her divinity is fading, so will Elizabeth. It likely won't transfer to Charles. I wouldn't be surprised if, by the end of his life, he were no longer be referred to in the press as King Charles. England has long since not been Christian other than in name. In his time, Freddie Mercury received more worship than did Queen Elizabeth, or for that matter, than Jesus.
The Church of England has also long since ceased to be Christian, if it ever were. After all, King Henry VIII created the Church with himself as its head.
Reading this post makes me very ambivalent.
I come from a two countries that pulled away from monarchy, and while I am nostalgic for it in a sense, I am really a product of countries that reject monarchy and divine right.
As the saying goes, "The King is dead, long live the king."
There's a lot to think about in that sentence. It can't be said in any form of republic.
A while ago, a seller on the market told me that whenever there was a major election in France, buying went down drastically, and the country was put on hold.
Probably because... we don't have "The King is dead, long live the king"...
While I firmly believe in the necessity of divine right in the society of the family circle, in the political sphere, I'm not sure...
This is what confuses me, if
“there is a throne at the heart of every culture, whether we know it or not, and that if we cast out its previous inhabitant - and the entire worldview that went along with it”
“There is something - someone - else beyond it, and if we are silent, in these cathedrals or in these forests, we can hear it still.”
God is still there - whether some chose to cast Him out - He is still there...so what does this mean if the ‘culture’ rejects Him but many people still
Know the Truth....
Elegant post as always. I will admit, as an American the sheer idea of monarchy eludes me and so all I can reflect upon is its romantic nature wonderfully made real through this Second Elizabethan Age. I've read many essays both on here and others about this subject and the death of Elizabeth is a profound moment either that for the first time for many people a new monarch will be on the British throne, or that a sense of great symbolism has forever been removed.
What is happening here is not just monarchy, but it is as C.S. Lewis spoke about chivalry, monarchy fashioned as art. It is one of the reasons Versailles still intrigues so many people, it is why Catholicism seems to be making a resurgence in the States, when ritual and art can merge, those associated with the moment transcend. No doubt we have many monarchists from Xi to Putin to the various machismo 'kings' of the Americas, but they too can transcend if the art becomes what is important. I was not alive for it, but I wonder often how Mao's funeral was handled by the Chinese or how the Kim family are laid to rest in North Korea. It is out of our culture, but no doubt the transcendence can still occur with the proper performance.
But truly, that's what it all is, performance. What I think is underlying all of this is the issue of death. You said it well, Elizabeth is naked before God now. That is what materialism and capital strive to hide.
To make somewhat of a caveat, though I haven't seen it, apparently in the new Rings of Power, Galadriel is sent to their version of Heaven, but before she is taken up, jumps off of the boat and swims back to shore. There is a great reflection of our own societies. We have to stay here, in the material world, where our money is, where our friends are, where we have power. Elizabeth went with dignity from what I can tell. Quiet, unassuming, humble. How many of us can say the same?
Death holds a great sting over us now. A world that can accept death will learn how to live again.
Another poignant and wonderful pice Paul. Thank you.
For many years, training thousands of Christian educators, many lapsed into the materialist secularism that you delineate, I would speak to them of the Latin precept of 'Capax Dei.'
Capax Dei translates roughly as, "...that which has the capacity for God." I would make the case that the human person is a God-Seeking-Being. We can bury that truth in a million ways, but to paraphrase Churchill, "...in the end there it is!"
All is not lost. Many of us, amidst the frenetic dissociation of modern life, still seek the One who sits upon the throne. I have a young family and a very busy professional life, but each day I steal away to a small local Church and sit before the Eucharist for an hour.
All is not lost. The best is yet to come.
I have made my uneasy peace with the inevitability of the Imperium whether the Machine Imperium falls or not. Wherever it may lie on the spectrum between Sacral Kingship and Raw Power Politics--and however much it slides around on that spectrum. Not that the Imperium needs my permission. Far from it. If requests are being taken, though, I would probably prefer something like the following.
1) The Imperial Religion for most people in the dense population areas of cities, etc.(sorry, this also seems inevitable). 2) A Mount Athos-esque more or less independent Monastic Republic where the serious practitioners of the official religion can avoid the more egregious kinds of imperial interference--some of the time. 3) Purposefully allowed free zones, e.g., deserts, mountains, otherwise uninhabitable land for independent monasteries, hermit poets, solitaries and Sketes of all kinds. For the wilder, earthier forms of spiritual life, etc. The Chinese seemed to be able make this last option work for a good while. From what I hear it still happens a bit to this day. Of course, somehow overt brigandage needs to be curtailed.
That might work.
Enjoyed this very much, Paul.
Over here in America, watching the millions of everyday people mourn for HRH and everything she represented, it left me with some hope that faith, piety, and restraint can return as culturally relevant values.
The people who live paycheck to paycheck, working their tails off to raise their families and keep them safe--these folks have a common sense and humility that has more truth and virtue than most anything you will see out of our laptop class and cultural overlords who believe they are too smart for God.
As you've said, Paul, religious belief is a more genuine reflection of the natural order of things than alternatives. We all have an innate sense of the sacred because the natural world is sacred. Maybe piety and religious devotion can return to a broader cultural relevance once the competition exhausts itself trying to nourish the human spirit with post-religious ideologies
Thanks for the moving picture you painted of the Queen's funeral, and more generally, for all your valuable insights. In a time of great darkness, I have often found windows of light in your posts. I do, however, have some real questions about your line of thought in this one.
I certainly recognize the catastrophic loss of the sacred in the modern period. That loss can—generally and retrospectively speaking—be linked to the transition from the medieval to the modern era, especially the Enlightenment and its widespread repudiation of (often dogmatic and violently intolerant) forms of traditional authority, including that of the Church and the monarch (or King). I am somewhat distressed, however, at your suggestion that this transformation—so basic to modernity—necessarily bears with it a purely materialistic secularism and repudiation of divine law. To be sure, such has emerged as the dominant world view in the course of the last two centuries, but this represents, in my mind, a betrayal of the real spiritual impulse that catalyzed modernity.
One notable fruit of that impulse was the birth of my nation (yes, I am an American)
and the modern vision of democracy. Recall the first sentences of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .
Your piece contains a more or less explicit criticism of this epochal initiative, at least, insofar as democracy hinges upon the idea articulated in that last phrase. Yes, the democratic vision premises itself upon the principle that government precisely is NOT the locus of sacral authority, but is "of the people, by the people, for the people."
The language of the Declaration itself naturally goes back to the writings of an Englishman—Locke—the first of whose two Treatises on Civil Government consisted entirely of a potent critique of the tradition of the divine right of Kings. Yet Locke was no atheist, and few of the more truly enlightened 18th century thinkers after him (with, of course, notable exceptions) were. As the language of the Declaration itself makes explicit, democracy, in essence, does not predicate itself upon repudiation of godhead or divine law, but sees the seat of that throne—not in the person of a King or Pope, but in the spiritual humanity—the divine nature—inherent in each and every individual.
In this political vision, it is precisely the chief function of government to guarantee those freedoms that enable the individual citizen rightfully to pursue the realization of that spiritual humanity (which, if you wish, you could associate with the Christ force, or divine I AM) by virtue of the school of life; his or her experience of the world as "the vale of soul-making." You find apt representation of this principle of the sacred character of the "I"— which is not merely the personal ego—in the writings of the American Transcendentalists, who give cultural and literary expression to this idea. Two of the most representative, of course, are Emerson and Whitman; the latter the ex-preacher turned prophet of the Oversoul; the former the great singer of the Song of Myself and poet of the Democratic idea.
I believe this recognition of the divine spirit inherent in each and every individual to be the true impulse behind, not only American Romanticism, but European Romanticism as well. It finds its own unique, and uniquely powerful expression, in (among others) Wordsworth.
No, as both a real democrat (I mean spiritually, not the degraded political party carrying the name at present) and real Romantic—and, of course an individual not born into a country with a royalist tradition—I cannot feel any nostalgia for the age of the divine right (or sacral sovereignty) of kings and queens. Is it not rather the mission of the modern age to redeem the broken promise of Romanticism, in all its multiple forms, and realize that the throne of God is no royal seat, but the heart and soul of the individual human being?
Montesquieu said that the principle of monarchy, the true principle, was honor. And Queen Elizabeth, it seems, served her country and her people with great and admirable honor. Yet he likewise said that the principle of democracy was virtue: that it could not function, unless the people themselves aspired to the realization of the spirit of humanity; the logos inherent in each individual. Call the spiritual quest what name you will, and style it after your own fashion; but in one way or another is not that the path toward a more human future, and a recovery of the sacred in everyday life? Is not the real crisis of the present day not the demise of royalty, but the distortion and decay of the true democratic Idea; what one writer called "spiritual democracy," in America, in England, and indeed across the globe?
Respectfully yours, Daniel Polikoff