Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sacred Monarchy as a third way - a guest post from John Fitzgerald

C.S Lewis in 'That Hideous Strength' comes close, in my view, to the heart of the matter in the Company's discussion on the rivalry between 'Logres' and 'Britain': 

'It all began,' Dimble says, 'when we discovered that the Arthurian story is mostly true history. There was a moment in the sixth century when something that is always trying to break through into this country nearly succeeded. Logres was our name for it.' 

'Something we may call Britain,' he goes on, 'is always haunted by something we may call Logres. Haven't you noticed that we are two countries? After every Arthur, a Mordred; behind every Milton, a Cromwell; a nation of poets, a nation of shopkeepers; the home of Sidney - and of Cecil Rhodes. Is it any wonder they call us hypocrites? But what they mistake for hypocrisy is really the struggle between Logres and Britain.' 

In terms of our country at least, it's the current domination of 'Logres' by 'Britain' that's impeding the change in consciousness and metaphysical understanding that is so badly needed. Is this state of affairs necessarily permanent? By no means. 

You have written before about England's rocks and mountains and the stones of its great Cathedrals possessing a formidable latent power, and I think there's real truth in that. It's worth remembering as well that the course of History is a very deep and mysterious thing. Who in late 1941, for instance, would have predicted that the all-conquering Nazi hegemon would be (literally) dust and ashes a mere three and a half years later? Similarly, no-one in the late-80s, as far as I can remember, apart from the great Alexander Solzhenitsyn, predicated the downfall of Soviet Communism. Things can change very quickly. 

That's my point. But there needs to be a catalyst. A spark. Something to fire the imagination. Something that connects with the mythopoeic vision and understanding we all have deep within us of the true pattern and relationship between the Divine and the human. You have also written about the urgent need for a Christian revival. 

My sense (and I could be very wrong of course) is that this won't come about without a revival and return of what we might call Sacred Monarchy. The three great European Regicides of the last four hundred years - Charles I (1649), Louis XVI (1793), and Nicholas II (1918), each represented huge steps towards the current void our civilisation totters above today. 

Some sort of restoration, I feel, whether on the practical or on the imaginative level, is absolutely essential, I feel, as a first collective step towards the reanimaton of a truly Christ-centred political and social body. The Shakespeare scholar G. Wilson Knight puts it brilliantly here: 'If we cannot resolve our conflicts, we must at least imagine a dimension in which they are, or might be, resolved; which perhaps means, in Christian terms, looking forward, or up, to the advent of Christ in glory. 

Such then, is the symbolic function of the Crown, not only itself dramatic, but also signifying the resolution and purpose of the drama within and beyond which it exists.' 

 It would be a mistake, I think, to focus on things on a too-worldly level - be that on existing Royal Houses like the House of Windsor or on 'hidden bloodlines' and so forth. Monarchy is essentially a spiritual quality. 

Lewis knew this well. I quote from memory: 'A man's attitude to monarchy reveals the extent to which his tap root to Eden remains.' 

No-one showed this better, for example, than J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, a work which has had a deeper impact on the popular consciousness and sown more potential seeds than any number of sermons or political campaigns. 

 I think the proof of all this can be seen in the huge crowds (of all creeds and races, it should be noted) that turned out in Leicester last year in silence to watch the procession and reburial of King Richard III. There was something truly deep and meaningful there which was able to connect with people at the deepest level and cut through everything that divides and trivialises. 

It illustrates that, faced with our current challenges, there is a 'third way' between aimless acquiescence in our own suicide and a repressive, equally godless dictatorship. The King sleeps in his cave still, as in the stories, but he will wake when the time comes around, in both the inner and the outer worlds. Of that I am sure.

8 comments:

  1. @John - An inspired piece!

    It made me also think of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell with its wonderful depiction of The Raven King as a sacred (Medieval) monarch of the North of England (with his magical, and now disappeared, castle supposedly located just a couple of hundred yards from where I type this). I am sure that Susanna Clarke was (literally) inspired when she wrote that book - and she intuited a profound need in the English soul.

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  2. @John - Another aspect that struck me was to consider the other major Western nations and their 'regicide'/ republican moments - and to suppose that the Washington (USA), Bismarck (Germany), and Garibaldi (Italy) were architects of the (less-qualitative, less abrupt) equivalents of the huge steps towards the current void that you mention.

    In the post-medieval world, at least, any republic (whatever its short term nature and explicit aim) is intrinsically secular in the long run (and, of course, the supposed 'constitutional' monarchies that still survive are also de facto republics).

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  3. It's worth remembering as well that the course of History is a very deep and mysterious thing. Who in late 1941, for instance, would have predicted that the all-conquering Nazi hegemon would be (literally) dust and ashes a mere three and a half years later? Similarly, no-one in the late-80s, as far as I can remember, apart from the great Alexander Solzhenitsyn, predicated the downfall of Soviet Communism.

    There was nothing deep or mysterious about either of those. In late 1941, Germany was at war with two great powers (the British Empire and the USSR) who had the backing of the world's mightiest industrial power (the USA). As many authors have noted, Operation Barbarossa failed in August 1941 and to defeat the USSR was likely beyond Germany's power under any circumstances. The subsequent defeat of Germany did not require any mysterious divine spark, merely the intelligent application of national power by the (then) non-suicidal British, American, and Soviet leaderships.

    Similarly, in the early 1980s, the United States leadership developed an intelligent plan to apply national power to ensure the downfall of Soviet Communism. The question was not whether this would happen, but when. The writing was on the wall for the USSR and that is why Gorbachev came to power.

    You don't need a divine spark as much as you need the will to win, the resources to win, and a plan to win. But Bruce hates talk about strategy, so I shall say no more.

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  4. @Dexter: "You don't need a divine spark as much as you need the will to win, the resources to win, and a plan to win. "

    Without the divine spark (ie religion of some types) there is no will to win - and without the will, resources and plans don't make any difference at all, they are 'just talk' - because they will not be implemented - as we see daily.

    John's point is that big things happen quickly sometimes - with a timescale of weeks or months. The fall of the USSR and the entire Eastern Bloc was a *big* surprise to most people.

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  5. Were Britain, the USA, and the USSR motivated by a divine spark from 1941 to 1945?

    At that time, at least, seems to me the imperative to avoid enslavement and extermination was sufficient.

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  6. @Dexter - I don't know where you get this 'divine spark' idea from! But the US and the UK were still strongly Christian countires, and the USSR was still in the first generation of post-religious idealistic communism/ nationalism (after which they always fade) and indeed Christianity was powerful in the USSR in an underground sense - and Stalin lifted the savagery of repression during WWII to exploit this. There is no imperative to avoid enslavement and extermination in the modern West - indeed the imperative of the modern Western elites is precisely to do this to their national populations.

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  7. Sparks need not always be divine. Hell is reportedly very good at it too. Hitler caught them up and set the German people on fire.

    Spiritual passions can be satanically inspired.

    Seeker

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  8. LEO COMMENTS:

    It is often the task of the historian to explain why events could not have turned out otherwise than they did. Of course, writing in retrospect, the historian always appears to be right. The true test of historical explanations is their ability to predict the future. But no historian or historical theory has had anywhere near a perfect track record. Predictions of solar eclipses have had a very good record. Predictions about the weather are pretty good for a few days and become more random after that. The safest assumption about human history is that there will be surprises. I believe it was Lord Melbourne who said, "What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damn fools said would happen has come to pass."

    And a lot of people have looked back on the past and concluded there have been a lot significant near run things.

    As for divine sparks, in general people either believe the world is full of them or they don't believe in them at all. I am in the former camp.

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