Saturday, 2 June 2012
I have nothing against the Monarchy and am certainly not anti-royalist, on the other hand I am just not terribly interested. I'm not very patriotic. I sometimes wonder if this is actually due to the fact that I spent some of my formative years in the British Army - obviously I wasn't personally a member of the armed forces at such a young age, rather my father worked as a school teacher and padre in Germany on a British Forces camp. The culture was, unsurprisingly, uber patriotic with a strong emphasis on devotion to Queen and Country. The whole mind set also revolved around what rank you were. My dad always used to tell a story about a fellow padre who told his congregation in his first sermon, "When you walk through the door of this church, there will be no such thing as rank because in the eyes of God there is no such thing as rank." By the end of the day certain members of the congregation had organised a petition to get rid of him!
Some people undoubtedly see church and religion as part of that pantheon of tradition. Religion is used to bolster up their own sense of power, prestige, hierarchy, tradition and control. To them, church really is institution and it offers the ability to insist that our attitudes actions, and those of our country (and sometimes the most brutal or questionable actions of our country) are endorsed by that ultimate authority figure in the sky! The values actually enshrined in the gospels, which are antithetical to all the earthly powers that be, are ignored or twisted to be about something quite different, although it is important to acknowledge that we can all interpret scripture through the lens of our own beliefs and understandings.
Judging from the number of union jacks and red, white and blue bunting around this weekend, the Monarchy clearly does mean a lot to so many people. I don't have a problem with that, a part of me acknowledges that the pomp and pageantry is in a class of its own, and ritual, history and tradition can play an important part in our cultural and collective identity. I've read plenty of articles enthusing about the Queen's sense of duty and vocation, her sense of service and how she seems to epitomise the values of a more decent and honourable age.I have my reservations about this , the Queen enjoys great wealth and privilege, as do family members who are not so exemplary and those good old days were in some respect the bad old day, however I can understand how she might be a symbol of stability and sound behaviour in a changed and changing world.
Finally, this is not the weekend to be churlish about the Queen! Sixty years has to be worth celebrating, not to mention some extra time off work. If you are so inclined, you can listen to Ro-Ro saying some very nice and Archbishopy things about the Queen in a very British accent. If not, then just make sure you enjoy your bank holiday weekend!