Royal Weddings, Errant Bishops and ‘Truth’
Well, it now appears that Bishop Broadbent has been severely reprimanded by his direct boss, the Bishop of London – possibly not a surprise as Bishop Chartres’ name has been connected with the event, normally an automatic ‘right’ of the Archbishop of Canterbury (please God, not Chartres next!) – allowing Chartres to claim to speak for the whole church in congratulating the couple.
Of course, the first casualty of war is always the truth, and when there’s a media frenzy, its pretty much the same. Broadbent said some very regrettable things; its pretty hard to figure whether he was actually speaking out in favour of the sanctity of marriage or indeed anything helpful like that. Whilst I do think Bishop Broadbent had something to offer the debate, sadly its all gone now, and any room for the church to critique what will inevitably be a bad phase for marriage is gone.
One thing we know about human behaviour is that, once someone big goes in for something, the little people will follow. And no different with a Royal Wedding. I reckon by the time the figures are totalised, both weddings per se and church weddings will be up a good 10-20% next year. Not because somehow everyone has decided that its the right thing to do, balanced against other options, need for strengthening of wider community relations or indeed any of the many high-minded reasons the bible would be assumed to suggest, but simply because, deep down, its something to do to feel more fulfilled and a part of the national mood.
I’m glad, if nothing else, that the apparently happy couple have taken so long over deciding, and I’m not really sure I want to get into the whole debate about the timing and the government’s desperation. We’ll just assume they’ve made this decision. Whilst I fully support the idea of a community wedding, a nationalistic wedding kind of takes the biscuit.
A short hop on from the days when such events had a much more significant diplomatic role, this one will mostly be an advert for the kind of indulgence the church shouldn’t be endorsing for weddings (and I note that the church weddings I go to, buildings aside, are usual more financially restrained and more focused on the real deal – love, community, families and friendships – than the showiness. The church, if it is to do anything to benefit from next year’s events, must have something to say on this aspect.
Yes, its a big day for Her Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses, but why is it a big day for the whole country? Is this a symbolic marriage between those members of the middle-class who used the last boom period to get one over on the rest of their communities and those who were already endowed with great fortunes at the outset? I sincerely hope not. A marriage between lack-luster news agendas and the so-called “Wedding Industry” (sic) that both want to see their shares rise in the midst of gloom? Again, I hope not.
I don’t propose to rush to France, though a spiritual retreat dwelling on God’s initial insistence that Israel not have a monarchy, led by the wonderful Bishop Broadbent (I have been to his Soul Survivor Seminars, I know what I’m speaking about) might seem quite tempting by next April. What I do propose is that everyone try and stay focused on the matters at hand, and not get distracted by the glitter and sparkle of a media spectacle just as Britain’s poorest suffer one insult after another. And lets make sure that if we get a second go at the debate, the Church uses it appropriately.