Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

The Peasant had Pietas

BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS AND SWEAT, no class of humanity had pietas like the peasant. In the face of their brutal reality and the constant challenge of their basic survival, unrelenting sacrifice and devotion were their lifeblood. Hard work, religious piety, devotion to others and reverence for the natural order, they knew what it meant to be anchored to the earth. They had gravitas.

That's our yearning, I think. We don't crave the monarchy per se, we crave gravitas. Tradition, rootedness and substance in defiance of a superficial world. We fly, we float, we fancy about with no understanding of what is important. We lack depth, weightiness, whatever you want to call it, our present tense culture lacks any kind of seriousness, because not taking anything too seriously is considered the highest form of sophistication. Mellow dudes, everywhere you look.

And that's why the British Monarchy is in real trouble. Forget the republicans; at least they're grounded in certain - perhaps slightly misguided - principles; but of those "citizens" who are actually aware the monarchy exists, at least half openly scoff at it for ignorant or frivolous reasons. As David Warren reminded us last week, you simply "cannot write satire any more, for the world of our contemporaries is self-satirizing on an heroic scale".

Getting back to Roman virtue - pietas, gravitas, dignitas - where do you find it nowadays? There are no more peasants, just slaves to the latest fads and gadgets; business is about meeting the demands of skin deep consumerism; popular culture worships the famous for being famous; politicians swim with the tide; countries are just another form of branding to be marketed to the world; and the church, my church at least, seems intent on fretting away every last aspect of Christian orthodoxy. That would be Anglican, of course, the sad, very sad Church of England. Roman virtue may indeed require some kind of spiritual and religious homecoming.

The two greatest monarchies over the past thousand years have been the Roman Catholic Monarchy and the British Imperial Monarchy, and for a good period of time, the British one was the greater civiliser. For those of us who grew up in the shadow of Empire, we remember the Queen as a more magnificent, more popular, more prestigious figure than even the pope, but that all changed during the reign of John Paul II. It was soon after the Royal Wedding and the beginning of the Diana factor, that the Pope started to pull away. And then the void got bigger and bigger and just kept on getting bigger. There is a reason for that, and the reason is pietas, otherwise known as patriotism. There is a need for unity in this world, but people can only unite around something they believe in, and they can only believe in something if there is something there. Her Majesty has this quality in spades, but her subjects grow more shallow with each passing year. When will it be time to pull the ripchord, I wonder? When must we return to the fold?


Tweedsmuir said...

Many of us have already reverted to being Catholic. What's the reason for your holdout?

Beaverbrook said...

I'm protesting. That's what Protestants do.

In any event, how can you be entirely loyal to Her Majesty if you are going to turn your back on her Supreme Governorship!

Admittedly, I'm feeling a little wobbly these days, but we must hold it together the best we can.

Scott said...


No, not a wise move, not yet, anyway. A perfunctory browsing of the Catholic Herald, or the Telegraph Holy Smoke blog, or anything else, will shortly show you why. That church has in many ways worse problems than ours: moral, liturgical and theological corruption, particularly in England, that outpaces anything our more inventively immoral vicars and bishops can do. Folk masses with worse music, priests with worse morals, authorities with less authority... and on and on.

Besides, even if Benedict can lick everything into genuine Catechistical and traditional shape, it will still be a religion in several regards which no protestant or Anglican can very easily accept, unless he regrets even the times when his church was true to itself. The impediments that prompted the Reformation, and which stood in the way of our ancestors crossing the Tiber, remain.

Much as I pine for the glory and self-confidence that it otherwise seems to possess - and much as I regard Tweedsmuir and co as great brothers - Roman Catholicism is not the default port in the storm I devoutly wish it was.

Palmerston said...

Protesting? Protesting what, pray tell us? You know perfectly well that Her Majesty would be Catholic today if our blasphemous 319-year-old Whiggish Parliament only permitted it! :-)

Beaverbrook said...

You gents get the jist of my post, which kind of fell apart as I was summing up.

I didn't have the remotest Catholic upbringing, so for me persoanlly there is an uncomfortable "foreign" aspect ritualistically, though not that uncomfortable and not that foreign. By way of anecdotal experience recently, I must say that my 2 year old son has never been happier ever since we enrolled him in the Catholic day care that is superbly run by dedicated sisters. There is a joy and light to that church that is impressive to behold. What a difference it has been for my son.

David Byers said...

Beaverbrook, thank you for a very thought provoking post. There is something shallow about todays "values" a sort of Hollywood mentality. Than there are the "tear it all down" extreme Left and Right (but mainly extreme left) and build it all again crowd.

As for the Church things I try not to get involved too much anymore. I personly like Anglo-Catholic churches nice balance between extremely beautiful services but not too much dogma. I personally wish Charles I was more successful in creating the type of Anglican Church he envisaged - but that's just me.

redtown said...

I've heard it said by someone,

"Her Majesty has not failed her people.
Rather, her people, and especially this generation,
have failed her."

So true.

Shaftesbury said...


This is your best post. The Queen has never benn less than the prefect Regal, and yes, it is her people who have failed her - in spades.

However, I would caution you against too tight a flirtation with the Roman Church - there were very good reasons why the English reformed their Church, and this goes far beyond Henry VIII wanting a Divorce. The simple conflict between Dogma and Reason being one of the most fundamental rationale.

I am still an Anglican, and always will be. In fact, the very things I do not like about the contemporary C of E are the things I associate with the contemporary RC Church - for they have many of the same problems.

Have you attended an RC Mass lately? I did about seven years ago at Christmas, and here is what I witnessed: Folk Singers, Guitars, and the Priest pointing out the words to the Hymns on an Overhead Projector! Hardly traditional ...

It would be nice to find an Anglican Parish that did use the BCP however; my Wife and were congregants in a Parish Church in the early 1990's where people came from 100 hundred kms away on Sunday just to worhsip at a traditional Anglican service. This is no embellishment whatsoever.

That ended when the Rector was forced to retire. The new Rector came in a started to change the service - within a year the Church was virtually & comparatively empty on Sunday. No one got the message though!

redtown said...

I’d also caution against seeing the Roman Church as an alternative to the “anything goes” of modern Anglicanism. And I say this as a practicing Roman Catholic (albeit a dissenter from some of its doctrines).

There were good reasons for the Reformation which are still valid today. Not the least of these is the Roman Curia’s increasing centralization of ecclesial authority in itself, and the emasculation of authority-sharing by the local church and the Ecclesia generally.

This has been happening for the last 1,000 years, and it’s gotten worse since the Reformation. The dreadful Pius IX had himself declared “infallible” in all matters of faith and morals in 1870, and the current pope seems intent on further solidifying papal and curial authority.

A friend recently asked me, “How can you support monarchy for secular society, while not supporting monarchy for ecclesial society?” Simple. I’m a constitutional monarchist in both realms. I can recognize the bishop of Rome as “first among equals,” but I reject the absolute monarchy that the papacy and Rome have become. This Roman model of absolute papal authority is unbiblical and not supported by the early Church fathers.

So this really makes me an “Old Catholic” in sentiment. But for lack of an Old Catholic parish in my area, I attend at an RC parish.

Beaverbrook said...

I plan on writing a post exoling the Protestant work ethic. Protestantism did have its bon afides, though I'm not sure how relevant they are today.