Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the royal wedding: a note to its cultured despisers

3-year-old Grace van Cutsem is not amused.
Some of my friends apparently identify with the kid on the balcony. The royal wedding? How anachronistic: "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" How tiresomely patriotic: all British Empire and military display. How clich├ęd: "England's green and pleasant land." What a colossal waste of money - a  £50k forest in Westminster Abbey! Some of these critics are even women.

I confess: I hear them, and I more or less agree with them, and still I got up at 4:00 a.m. and watched the wedding, every minute of it, just as I watched Charles and Diana's wedding 30 years ago, hanging on to every word, every image.

In the evening I came back for more, and when I turned on the TV news, I knew why I can't tear myself away. What are the options? Shelling in Syria. Rising death toll from tornadoes in the American South. Libyan civil war spilling over into Tunisia. Endless political bickering. The only happy news came from London.

The romance! the dress! the hats! the horses! the trumpet fanfares! the choir! the queen all in yellow! the gorgeous young couple, so obviously in love! Do I want to turn from that and blog about union bashing or cow bashing or Obama bashing? I don't think so.

I mean, what's the reason some of us get exercised about politics and the economy and international relations, anyway? Isn't it because we have a dream of love and beauty and peace for all? Don't we want to affirm the words spoken by the Bishop of London yesterday, that "every wedding [should be] a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future"?

As "we stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril," can't we agree with the bishop that "we shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another"?

To be sure, the bishop pointed out that "personal relations alone will [not] supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden." And royal weddings, of course, will not eliminate poverty or dictators or conspiracy theorists. But when 2 billion people gather around the TV set to watch a wedding (or a funeral or the Summer Olympics), it is not mere escapism - it's a celebration of the things that give life meaning, the values we share that we hope, by our political involvement, to extend to as many people as possible.


Louvregroove said...

Loved the comment during the hmily that in a sense, all weddings are a royal wedding.

Ellen Painter Dollar said...

Thank you so much for this. Although I didn't plan to do so, I ended up watching the wedding with my three young children and was glad I did. Then couldn't figure out why I was so peeved at all the people who scoffed at people like me who wasted our time (in their view) on this frivolous entertainment. You put into words what I could not. Thank you.

googal said...

Hear, hear; well said, my dear!

Ann Kroeker said...

Yes, indeed. Yes to all.

Anonymous said...

Well said! A patch of life-affirming news amid a sea of caos and bloodshed.