Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Christian form of the royal wedding was apparent, if not, perhaps, the spiritual substance

Sun May 1, 4 PM:
The Royal Channel at You Tube has the whole event available on video, all three and a half hours of it. There's no commentary.

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The royal wedding in Britain yesterday was particularly interesting to me for its glimpse into the Christian underpinnings of the nation that continue through the Westminster Abbey service.

I have to doubt, however, that those underpinnings continue much in the hearts and minds of many Brits themselves, including the clergy, the Anglican church being so notable these days for its "liberal" leanings to the point of apostasy. I even wonder how many who attended the service had any feeling whatever for the Christian message beyond its traditional use in such ceremonies. In a word, were there any believers there? Any who call Christ Lord and Savior and reject all other gods? I simply don't know, but I'd like to think there were at least a few.

But it does show that the UK is still mostly culturally Christian at least. The Christian message WAS there: a good passage from the Bible was nicely read by the bride's brother, many Biblical prayers were given by all the clergy, the sermon/homily was very Biblical, traditional Christian hymns were sung by choir and congregation, nothing out of line that I noticed. That so much of the message comes through was touching, and reminds one that England, or the United Kingdom, WAS once a Christian nation.

One very touching hymn, chosen, the announcers said, by Prince Charles, is this poem by William Blake:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
The idea that Christ was ever physically in England during his lifetime is pretty silly, maybe even heretical, as silly at least as the New Age idea that he went to India to study under Hindus, or the Mormon idea that he came to the Americas to preach the gospel to his "other sheep," at the very time that Paul was preaching it to the sheep the Lord had in mind.

And Blake wasn't exactly your orthodox Christian, and the poem also apparently carries political overtones, but it can be heard in terms of a yearning for the spirit of Christ to embrace England, and that's how I more or less heard it in the wedding ceremony and found it very moving.

The Christian flavor of the ceremony got me thinking about the symbolism of the cross that is on their flag too, also on the flags of other European countries: I looked it up -- not as many as I'd thought, pretty much just the U.K. and the Scandinavian nations -- and I always thought it indicated a Christian identity. I might be surprised I suppose if I really got into the history of these things. But since I recently wrote a blog entry about how America isn't really Christian after all, my wondering why our flag has no cross image in it sort of just came and went as I thought about these things.

Not that a nation can really BE Christian of course, in the true sense I mean, since this is a fallen world, but it can be culturally Christian, and I think Britain demonstrates that it still retains much of its cultural Christian past if little else, and so does the U.S. although we're rapidly losing it.

One other observation connected to this: I suppose the habit of British women's wearing hats in the service was originally derived from 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (which is the basis of my other blog, Hidden Glory), which is interesting in itself since pretty much all American congregations have given up any kind of head covering for women. Of course in Britain it's become a fashion item, to the point of ridiculousness in some cases (Princess Beatrice got herself established in the minds of millions with her really silly head thing -- hardly a hat -- and if getting recognized was her aim she succeeded) but at least in MOST cases their hats DO cover the head and that counts for something in the direction of obedience to the scripture, however removed from consciousness. Not those tilted saucers or those bizarre "fascinators" but the really hatty hats of which there were many.