Defender of the Faith

I’m sorry to have been away from the blog for so long, but my thoughts keep turning. I need to do an update on my house which is radically transformed since when my electrician started work and I was putting in the concrete floor and hauling stuff from my old rented house. More of that in tempore opportuno.

A talk by Dr Gavin Ashenden was brought to my attention today.

This is an interesting reflection bringing out the paradox between an institutional Christianity in which people believe at an almost lower level than their faith in political parties. We remember that this is how Macron got in through populism and the complete flop of conservatives, liberals and radical socialists. My own intuition is hiding away in this little French village.

Anyway, the subject is the UK, a country that gives the impression of being almost as colonised by Indian and Pakistani people as our forebears colonised them in the great Empire. According to some sources I have seen, the only Christians who are growing their churches are American-style evangelicals with a shrill ideology. The churches that have lost out the most are the United Reformed and the Methodists. Even the Baptists are just holding their heads above water. The Church of England is more concerned with keeping good terms with political correct and “woke” ideology. In the midst of all that, King Charles, concerned as he is to take his responsibility for all his citizens, is reluctant to claim that his Kingdom is a Christian one. It is a bit like being an Anglican vicar in a heavily Muslim area and with less than ten people in his large Victorian edifice each Sunday.

During the Coronation, the King will take the Oath and solemnly swear to uphold and defend the Protestant establishment. Dr Ashenden makes the point of King Charles being a defender of faiths, all faiths except Roman Catholicism. Perhaps my readers could give their views on this point in their comments. He criticises King Charles for being too Jungian in his ideas of individuation and human life and spirituality. I too subscribe to a certain orthodox gnosticism like that of St Clement of Alexandria and Origen. I cannot relate to the literalism of evangelistic fundamentalism and monotheism. Dr Ashenden is a kind and mature person, and obviously devout in his commitment to the Roman Catholic Church. He does make the point that the future of Christianity seems to be something like the underground Church, struggling for existence like in the old Soviet Union, China or North Korea, or at least the Benedict Option as coined by Rod Dreher.

I suspect that the King wants at the same time to serve his country and its citizens, and to be a Christian by example of life. That seems all that any of us can do, giving transcendentals like beauty, truth and goodness to keep the candle alight in the darkness of our age. Perhaps as he works within the parameters of British institutions, a spark of divinity might shine through and inspire us in its humility and silence. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part.

The confused hubbub of the internet mob would chop his head off and declare a Republic as France did in 1793. Let them have Jean-Luc Mélenchon, North Korea with Kim-Jong-Un, Big Brother and social credit scoring! Add to that the Gulag, the KGB and the re-education camps…

The least we can do is to keep a time of quiet, pray for this King and the sick society he is called to rule through Parliament, the Government and all the political and legal institutions. Even though I live in France, I still hold a British passport which describes me as a British citizen. I name the King in the Canon of the Mass pro Rege nostro Carolo and offer the Holy Mystery for him, that he may be given strength to inspire and lead.

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3 Responses to Defender of the Faith

  1. Stephen K says:

    Well, I watched the Coronation last night live and was highly edified and impressed, although that seems inadequate to reflect the fact that I was also highly moved, with tears falling at particular moments. I thought the ceremony was high liturgy, and the anointing and crowning sacramental, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury celebrated the eucharistic service faultlessly. It would have had to have been clear to everyone that this was a profoundly religious action, that called on the presence and blessing of God. This was not of the character of a merely political inauguration but visibly drew on the traditions of a sacred compact between monarch and people.

    There were many memorable and moving moments but Prince William’s pledge to his father the king was a particular highlight. The salute and three cheers for the King and Queen by the troops at the back of Buckingham Palace also resonated with a spirit that defied the nay-sayers and the opposite spirit infecting much of our western culture today that is proving so destructive.

    The coronation liturgy, to me, made squabbling over the worst aspects of sectarian or denominational loyalties distasteful. There was a venerable sense of continuity and catholicity about the service.

    I have watched the funeral procession of the late Queen several times, so moving was it. The coronation was of a different mood, perhaps less personal, but ancient and sacred and future-looking. I wish my mother had been alive to watch it with me. It was from her I learnt my love and respect for the Queen, whom we saw passing by only a few feet away in Sydney in 1963, and my affection and appreciation for Charles for many of the things he represented. I think I will spend some time today writing her a letter about my feelings and though she will not read it I feel I need to share the great moment with someone who I know will understand it as I do.

    • I too am troubled by the nay-sayers and pulled out of looking at YouTube and the news. One BBC pundit was outraged to see only white people on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. As far as I’m aware, all the Royal family is white. I am white and come from a white family, and all our family photos show my late parents and us four children – all white. But we are neither royal nor aristocratic. You get republicans in England, but does the republic here in France give a perfect world. The protesters want 1940’s Soviet Marxism or some new form of Fascism or Nazism. I wish them luck. Man is freer with an old Monarchy and Christianity, humanism and an idea of freedom that can work under a number of conditions, notably altruism.

      However, I watched a documentary about revolutions. The three main conditions are: 1) a clear ideology, 2) pots of money coming from billionaires to support the movement, 3) the police and the military joining the movement and bringing it about with violence. These conditions are not fulfilled in France, and the realist Macron is not ready to stand down for having ensured that the pension system can be financed for another few years. The Russian Revolution was preceded by a wave of nihilism and negativity that you can read about in Dostoevsky. Hitler’s revolution was financed by billionaire industrialists hoping they could control the Austrian failed artist and WWI veteran. There, the three conditions were united to bring about hell on earth.

      Today is a time of indifference, of “I don’t care” and the caricature. Something has to happen with this young generation of narcissistic and borderline personalities. We “boomers” were once seen like that and judged by our parents born in the 1920’s and 30’s, and we are now the conservative fuddy-duddies. Age and experience of life slowly changed our idealism and romanticism. I fear that this is the reason why humanity has wars, in order to bring about a period of idealism like what reigned from 1945 until about 1970. Maybe Putin will do us the honours with nukes – then nothing will matter.

      This is an interesting article to reflect on:

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Without first watching Gavin Ashenden’s video, I note that a Greek Orthodox friend (who, I add en passant, also happily attends Latin Mass) tuned in at the start without knowing it was about to start, watched the whole day, and rejoiced in terms resembling those of Stephen K above. He thought it fine to invite those of other faiths in so friendly a way, and mildly but clearly show them so Christian a rite, and hear so outspoken a dedication to serve in imitation of Christ.

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