Royal Weddings, Errant Bishops and ‘Truth’

Tuesday, 23rd November 2010 at 19:31 UTC 5 comments

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.

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Entry filed under: Church, Culture, Faith, Marriage, Media.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JenC  |  Tuesday, 23rd November 2010 at 23:33 UTC

    It is just another celebrity wedding, no difference in moral character to that of Jordan’s or Cheryl Cole. The only difference is that we are paying for it. For that reason alone I’m a bit narked.

    People will watch the wedding because of the media hype. Afterwards, people will talk about the dress and the shoes and the hair, and the mardy faces the queen pulled, and then it will be forgotten, save for annual nostalgic clip shows.

    Some people will get married as a result, just as people had ‘copycat’ weddings after Posh and Becks. But I doubt the increase will be as high as even 2% let alone 20%! (where is your evidence base for that ‘reckoning’??).

    Big events like this tend to be analysed to death, but the conclusions usually have a lot more to do with the views of the people drawing them, than the event itself. To Hello readers, the engagement is a sign that ‘classic’ jewellery never dies – even when the mother in law does. To feminists, it’s a sign the patriarchy is alive and kicking. To Christians, it raises important questions about the sanctity of marriage.Yet, invariably,’ these are more to do with their own interpretations of a symbol than anything the Royal couple are likely to say or do.

    The marriage may indeed be the celebration of a genuine loving partnership and I wish the couple every happiness. Marriage is a hell of a tricky thing, and to do it under the gaze of the world’s media must be a daunting feat. I imagine their wedding day will be characterised by terror and nerves, rather than joy, as Princess Diana often testified.

    Yet, even if their relationship is characterised by mutual love and devotion, this doesn’t stop the *coverage* of the wedding being a “marriage between lack-luster news agendas and the so-called “Wedding Industry”.

    It’s just another celebrity wedding, with much of the same harrowing extravagance. To make it more stomach churning, this one’s on my tab. I bet I won’t even get sent a silver teaspoon…..

    Reply
  • 2. Steve  |  Wednesday, 24th November 2010 at 19:43 UTC

    Having checked out bishop pete’s twitter i’m suprised he found time to comment on something not football related. 😉 far as a retreat with him next april goes sorry i don’t pass the holiness test for being in the same building as the man. I presume he applies his refusal to be in same building as people he disagrees with equally and not just to bishops. Sorry the man is an arse and a spurs fan. I might agree with him on the monarchy but the spinless bish seems to have apologised for anything he has ever said i’d agree with.

    Reply
  • 3. Greg  |  Thursday, 25th November 2010 at 17:08 UTC

    Somehow, I don’t think that Prince William counts as middle class. He’s as upper as can be.

    That aside, two people decide to get married and you write a gloomy post about it. Cheer up Graham! A marriage is a happy occasion, you don’t have to make every single thing into a rant about how the rich are oppressing the poor. Lighten up! Also, the reason why most of the country care is that Will and Kate will, barring tragedy, one day be our king and queen. That’s kinda relevant, you know. The families are funding the wedding, the country is paying for security but given the engagement’s front page news around the world – see http://tinyurl.com/29ycwzp – I doubt we’re going to make a national loss on it (yes Jen, I’m talking to you here).

    As for Bishop Pete, what else did you expect would happen? When he was consecrated, Pete swore an oath of allegiance to the queen and all her heirs and successors. The queen is his church’s supreme governor. Mouthing off about the queen’s family (and his future boss) is breaking his oath and biting the hand that feeds, which is spiteful and ungrateful when anyone does it. He got slapped down for it, and quite right too.

    What makes it worse is that Pete holds high office in the Church of England, so is seen to speak for it – his words have some level of ‘ex cathedra’ attached to them. Much as he may wish, Pete isn’t a private citizen any more, he speaks for the CofE and so has restrictions attached to his role. Much as he may like to mouth off about the royals, that wasn’t in his job description. If he wanted to do that, there were plenty of other churches he could have joined and now he’s in this one, he should put up or shut up. I’d have more sympathy for him if he was speaking out over a matter of faith, but the right to make pissy and unnecessary comments about the royals is hardly an institute of the Christian religion.

    Reply
  • 4. Steve  |  Friday, 26th November 2010 at 15:05 UTC

    Greg any stats to back up your claim that most of the country care about the wedding. Yes the sample of people i ‘ve spoken to is rather biased but still.
    Enough care that newspaper editors feel they got to in on overkill.

    Reply
  • 5. Simon Wragg  |  Monday, 6th December 2010 at 1:11 UTC

    I can’t decide whether to watch it on TV on 29 April or camp in London. Whatever way, a sad day for all us chaps… Kate’s a lovely lass!

    Reply

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