The Queen became a true Christian leader
As the years went by, her faith became more pronounced
On the day before her 96th birthday, the Royal Family released a new photograph of our late Queen, Elizabeth II. She stands between two horses — their coats as white as her hair. It was a powerful, almost mythic image — like something from the works of Tolkien. When I retweeted it, I likened its subject to the Maiar: the angelic guardians of Middle Earth.
I was being whimsical, of course. I didn’t mean to suggest that the Queen was a supernatural being. But thinking about it now, I realise that is what I believe. I share the Queen’s Christian faith — and therefore believe that human beings have souls: every last one of us is both natural and supernatural.
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Not every Christian would agree. There’s a modernised version of Christianity in which the soul — like God — is a metaphor for something contained entirely within the material universe. But I very much doubt that’s what the Queen thought. She was a devout theist who truly believed the stuff that rational folks are supposed to reject.
She wasn’t afraid to say so either. In recent decades, her Christmas broadcasts became more, not less, religious. According to Damian Thompson’s insightful Holy Smoke podcast on the matter, the key moment was the Millennium. While the official celebrations downplayed the meaning of Anno Domini, the Queen did not. She acknowledged her Lord and continued to do so in all the years left to her. To many Christians — and perhaps to people of other faiths — it was an annual and much-needed source of encouragement. In an increasingly secular world she was unembarrassed by what she believed.
The truly miraculous thing, though, was just how little embarrassment this caused to others. Let’s be honest — discussions of personal faith, especially from public figures, can leave behind a cringe radius of several kilometres. But whereas various politicians, celebrities and even bishops have stumbled through awkward questions about their religious convictions, the Queen never did.
In part, that was due to her sensitivity towards her non-Christian subjects. But there was more to it than her well-chosen words. The other reason why she didn’t put many backs up was her evident sincerity. There was no unctuousness about her declarations of faith, no hypocrisy. She seemed to project what she professed. And that was especially true towards the end.
As people get older, who they really are tends to become clearer. Of course, the ravages of dementia can hide the true self — as can rigid formality or the practice of stubborn self-control. But otherwise, as our bodies wither, it become harder to conceal the person within. Whatever role Elizabeth was made to play in her younger days, the evident goodness of the woman we came to know was no act.
The first Elizabeth once said that she would not make windows into men’s souls — which was wise, because none of us can. Nevertheless, of the second Elizabeth, we caught a glimpse.
As the West devolves into the Neo-pagan religion of the Self, I find myself becoming more and more aligned with Christian values, especially the Old Testament way of thinking. It may be anachronistic by today’s standards, but I am beginning to understand the dangers of putting Man at the center of everything. If G*d is removed from our central pillars who do we replace Him with? Jeff Bezos? Bill Gates? George Soros? The Kardashians?
I read John Milton’s Samson recently and came across this striking quote:
But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty,
And to despise, or envy, or suspect,
Whom God hath of his special favor raised
As their deliverer?
Even though I am agnostic I accept that the moral codes that I (imperfectly) adhere to are rooted in the Christian faith. A surprising number of my fellow citizens, especially the younger ones, are so deracinated that they do not understand that simple truth.
I come across the same particularly among the younger women in my family. They believe their enlightened ways come naturally to them without realizing they have been built up on over a thousand years of Christian philosophy and Enlightenment values.
I fear that once Christianity has been totally recast as a white supremacist movement, its ‘benevolent sexism’ will be sorely missed in a society which can no longer properly define a woman, and as a result, will expose them to the strange lusts and desires of narcissistic men who hate, fear and envy them.
Peter Hitchens said that we live in the afterglow of Christianity.
Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes. . .
He is wrong. We live in the afterglow of Classic Civilisation, the legacy of Greece and Rome.
Christianity is an unnecessary aberration.
He was wrong, we live in the afterglow of Classical Civilisation, the world of Ancient Greece and Rome.
Christianity was an unnecessary aberration, and thus an awful waste of time.
Christianity will withstand the charge made in some circles that it is a white supremacist movement. After all, it claims an evident multitude of non-white faithful.
Meanwhile, the overwhelmingly white mainline Protestant churches, having embraced every voguish racial ideology, are losing members in droves.
The Catholic Church in particular proposes the answer to “narcissistic men who hate, fear and envy women” (well said). As secular society clumsily (when not hysterically) attempts to finesse the very real implications of its subjective morality, specifically in this case its literal objectification, even erasure, of women, Catholicism provides complementary roles and a much-needed restraining influence for both men and women–though perhaps especially for men in the latter case.
It is evidently too much to ask that critics learn the basics of Christian thought and history, let alone take a moment to observe the realities of Christian life; but these critics are increasingly reconsidering, even defecting, as alternatives are tried and found wanting.
I think they will struggle portraying it as white supremacist as it is Africans who are driving the faith forward now.
Yes, well, those poor poverty afflicted Africans. They will abandon the faith once they become as prosperous as we Westerners. And lose their way as we have done
It’s because you (and definitely I) adhere to them so imperfectly that we need a perfect Christ!
Very well put, between you and Milton.
This from C.S. Lewis came to my attention in recent days, also seems quite apposite: ““Where men are forbidden to honour a king, they honour millionaires, athletes, or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food, and it will gobble poison.”
Thank you for these beautiful words, Peter!
This morning my wife (in her Sunday sermon) referenced the many roles used to describe our beloved late Queen – Monarch, Mother, Grandmother etc. But she added that of Evangelist. For many, HMQ’s Christmas message was the only Christian sermon they would hear each year. But every year 10 million+ listened.
I agree with your wife!
So do I
Charles III has it in his power as Head of the Church of England to make her a saint. Charles II did it for his father Charles I, and I cannot think of anyone who matters who’d object to it for Elizabeth Regina. She worked hard enough to deserve it.
She was protestant so she is already a saint; protestants believe that Jesus exchanged their sin for His perfection (and then pays the punishment so that they do not need to).
The New Testament states that if we are in Christ we are saints.
Charles I is an Anglican Saint??
What’s happened to the ‘Edit’ facility?
My comment of yesterday seems to have incited outrage, so I wish to edit it but cannot!
Is this usual for UnHerd?
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