I was out shopping today and missed Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, even though I heard Brits singing ‘God Save The Queen’ on the radio for the last time in anyone’s life in life today (for there will be kings — Charles, William, George — as far as we can see). It was emotional, and it seems the British acquitted themselves very, very well in dismissing their beloved monarch.
Paul Kingsnorth, British subject and recently converted Christian, sat at his home in County Galway to watch. He wrote a very moving reflection on his Substack. It may pay off, but I tell you, Kingsnorth “Abbey Of Misrule” is one of the best things out there. In today’s post, Kingsnorth savors the sacred symbolism of funerals and the world of transcendence it represented. It’s gone now, but he thought watching the massive crowds lining up to pay their respects that people don’t really want to end the old world, that they just say they do because they feel they have to.
Yet they say so. Kingsnorth says the queen believed in the sacred monarchy, and he thinks his son, the new king, does too. Kingsnorth isn’t speculating, but I’ve heard that William, the new Prince of Wales, doesn’t have any religious bones in his body, which if true would make him look like most of those on whom he will one day rule. If the monarchy survives that long.
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I think there’s a throne at the heart of every culture, whether we know it or not, and if we hunt its former inhabitant – and all the worldview that comes with it – we’d better figure out what we plan to replace it with . Someone, or something, is going to sit on this throne, whether we know it or not. I don’t see any society in history that has believed – like ours – that all that matters is matter. Let nothing reside above the spiers of the Abbey. That there is no throne. If there were cultures like that – well, they didn’t last long to tell us about it.
Like I said, I’m not arguing. I’m just looking. I just look from this height, the nave and the transept and the coffin draped in the standard, and I think: I have just heard the last post ringing for Christian England. We are now in a new country. We should pray to find our way.
I hope that’s not true, but I’m sure it is. If Christianity survives in Britain, it will be in the Benedict Option enclaves, at least until the British people are once again open to the Gospel. Kingsnorth’s terrific latest novel, Alexandria, which he published shortly before his conversion to Orthodox Christianity, focuses on a tribe of future post-apocalyptic Britain trying to retain their humanity through cobbled-together fragments of Christian and pre-Christian English belief. Whether they know it or not, I believe that Paul Kingsnorth and Martin Shaw, both middle-aged former pagans who came to Christ in Orthodoxy – in Shaw’s case, after a miraculous nighttime encounter in the forest (click here to hear him tell the story) – are the prophets what is left of Christian Britain needs now. If Christian England is buried, then Kingsnorth and Shaw are the seeds germinating deep in the ground.