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.