Thanks for this. I’d never heard of Perennialism and it’s potential relevance to modern society.
The remarkable public response to the Queen’s death, finding solace in collective experiences with its apotheosis represented by ‘The Queue’ to see the lying in state (absent mobile phones, cameras and even talking) suggests there is a desperate general need for spiritual comfort, to achieve transcendence, regardless of any specific religious beliefs.
Love this reflection. Rings true!
Good article but, unfortunately, whatever Charles does or says, the majority of people will receive it via media – social or mainstream. Whatever the intended message, the received message will be utterly corrupted.
Most Briton’s view of Charles will be formed by the calculated hit job of The Crown, much more than his actions.
I’d tend to agree with that. Although i’m not at all religious (in the sense of organised religion) i gleaned something from the article which only became apparent through its full exposition. The MSM is far too fatuous to be able to convey that, certainly without distorting it.
King Charles will likely be misunderstood and misrepresented. I don’t subscribe to the concept of him being a “philosopher king” but can go along with agreeing he might’ve put a great deal of thought into his way of viewing the world and existence. Not everyone is afforded the mental space to do so, even if they felt inclined, due to the exigencies of earning a crust and bringing forth the next generation (without a household retinue). But i wish him well, and this type of article does credit to Unherd.
The media has been utterly suppine when it comes to Charles when one considers his behaviour.
For example, his feudal actions on the Isles of Scilly are medieval and yet received limited and only muted coverage. An openly declared intention to stop development and reduce the population “to preserve its character” by dramatically raising rents and using feudal powers (held only by the Duchy and no one else in the UK) to impoverish tenants. It’s a classic story of bad landlord vs powerless tenants. Charles made these decisions, reversing 100s of years of more benign landlordship by previous Princes.
The man won’t change now he’s on the throne. No hit job is needed. He isn’t his mother and he holds very strong views about the future order of society that would make a 17th Century monarchist blush. This will ultimately come out in the wash when he sets himself up in opposition to government policies.
If you’re going to use a word like supine you should first know how to spell it. And then you should learn how to think beyond fictive outrage and vacuous slogans.
Nice to read an article that educates rather than one that is written to generate hits from rabid advocates and hysterical opponents.
Good article. I don’t have anything more to say than that.
The key point, which I think the King understands, is that although every religious, cultural system points to a reality larger than themselves, whether that be Christianity (in all its manifestations), Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or whatever, they cannot be treated like fusion cookery. They work, for their individual cultural and social milieus, as integral wholes.
So we have to respect each tradition, as a whole, as one human response to their particular history and environment, but at the same time recognising or pointing to a larger truth. So no Christian or Buddhist or Islamic exceptionalism (as in, “Ours is the only way to truth and freedom”), and therefore no denial that each of these spokes of the wheel have something valid to say about how to reach the centre. And something to learn from other responses.
An interesting article – but any philosophy or religion that promotes Absolute Truth is open to failure if Absolute Truth is believed to be an illusion.
Now believers of a particular religion or particular philosophy may believe in their Absolute Truths but the variations don’t appear to be converging on the one Absolute Truth as you might expect. Indeed you might argue that the Reign of Quantity (for all its undesirable qualities) is the outcome of Relative Truths (plural) – and appears to be getting stronger.
If there is no absolute truth, then there is nothing. Just each of our own personal fairy tales we invent. But that’s an absurd position, despite being the default one now. None of us live like that, we interact as if there is something more substantial than a set of lies we have all agreed upon, some things that have transcendent grounding. However, given the underlying relativism of our culture, it’s no surprise that these are becoming less, and depression, a lack of social cohesion etc are increasing.
Of course we also continue to use maths and symmetry etc to prove new things about distant parts of the universe, or about scales so small we can never visit. We can even discover new types of maths like imaginary numbers, that we then find necessary to describe nature. As if it’s all just a happy coincidence this works without any solid relativist metaphysical framework under which it should.
Absolute truth? The “Inflation Reduction Act” and the “Affordable Care Act” are two recent examples.
Add to that the naming of a man as a woman, or calling abortion, “healthcare”. And some call all of this relative truth, “progress”.
Speaking of truth, I used to work at the intersection of Park Avenue and 28th Street. Where is the intersection of faith, politics and civil society?
It sounds like Deism with it’s one God the watchmaker and lesser Gods that we all believe in. Good luck trying to get Islam under the umbrella. I think it’s been tried. Maybe the King can do it. We just hope he can bring peace.
If you feel that King Charles and Esmé Partridge lack scholarly heft, read Religion in the Modern World: celebrating pluralism and diversity by Keith Ward. Ward is an Anglican priest and a former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. For example: ‘My conclusion is that religious diversity is not a problem. It is natural and good, and an incentive to the continuing search for a truth not yet fully understood.’
In the hearts of the common man, yes.
God help the King!
My problem with the prioritisation of the ‘vertical axis’ to transcendence is that it brings with it the danger of ignoring the material needs of people who do not have the leisure or intellect to engage in philosophical thought.
In short, it sounds rather elitist.
There are always two axes – prioritising the vertical axis does not remove the need to attend properly to the demands of the horizontal one. But the course of western civilization is increasingly towards abandoning the vertical axis altogether, leaving human beings depleted, disorientated and ultimately in despair. Man does not live by bread alone, and the sacrament of monarchy we witnessed today has nourished us all – if we understand it rightly.
“ … people who do not have the leisure or intellect to engage in philosophical thought.”
That too sounds a little elitist. Pity the common man who is nothing but an ape.
An interesting philosophical ramble, but one which starts from a premise which there is absolutely no evidence for, and plenty against; that there is some sort of ‘eternal truth’ which is of any relevance to us. Homo Sapiens is not, however much we yearn to be, special. Had our species been limited to a small area, or limited in numbers, as our progenitor hominins and hominids were, we would have been out-evolved a number of times by more advanced species. Were any of them ‘special’? Did they have ‘souls’? Our desperation to be exceptional has provided the inventors and exploiters of organised religions with the means to build enormous powerbases, each claiming to own ‘the truth’, and jealously guarding it. That stark fact is camouflaged by terms like ‘faith’, ‘spirituality’, and ‘transcendence’. The vague notion of ‘something higher’ is simply a way of avoiding facing up to the idea that all these religious ‘truths’ are mutually contradictory; if one, then none of the others. Which means that the other religions and their gods are false. All monotheistic religions used to openly declare that, but it threatened the others’ powerbases, hence the religious wars of old. Only one or 2 do now. Hence the current religious wars between competing powerbases. Homo Sapiens is an accidental lifeform on a tiny planet. Our numbers, and not least our desperation to feel ‘special’ and all that flows from it, have turned us into a parasitic lifeform which is endangering our host.
Surely our perception of a higher power, whether a construct or not, came before organised religion.
”Eternal truth”; where did such an idea originate?
”Our desperation to be exceptional”; Is this a choice? Are we here because we chose to be exceptional? Does evolution work that way?