Saturday 10 April 2021

R.I.P The Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)

A Romanian femme fatale once asked me if Englishmen ever felt emotion. I replied yes, when we thought about the Queen. I was very saddened by the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. Now I think about it, he was my favourite member of the royal family apart from H.M. The Queen.

For a moment, following plans laid down for the sad event back in the 1950s, the BBC shed its leftish modernity and became its old much-loved self. I loved the moment when a cacophony on Radio 1 is interrupted by funeral music.
"Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi; sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt." 
"Here, too, the praiseworthy has its rewards;
there are tears for things and mortal things touch the mind." Virgil, Aeneid, 1.461-2.

I care passionately about the monarchy, not very much about the royal family. Still, as Enoch Powell said, 

'The life of nations no less than that of men is lived largely in the imagination' 

and the royal family is a very deep part of the English, by which I mean British, collective unconscious. 

This was especially true of people like me who grew up with the royal family as it always had been, before Diana upended it. After she burst on the scene everything was different.

Almost everyone in England has dreamed of the Queen and a third of us have seen her. The Duke was much less crucial in our imagination, of course, but important - and over 20% of us have met or seen him.

Here is Prince Philip of Greece, as he then was, with King Michael of Romania and his cousin on the sands at Constanta on the Black Sea.

What a blessing a constitutional monarchy is. Were Great Britain a republic the consort of the head of state might easily be Mrs Douglas Hurd, Mrs Anthony Blair or Mr. Philip May.

Sunday 4 April 2021

Christ has risen!

I wish all my Catholic and Protestant readers Happy Easter!

The Orthodox have a full month to wait this year.
The Jesus Seminar, a group of liberal, publicity hungry New Testament scholars who were very fashionable in the USA around the turn of the century, disbelieved most of the Gospels, thought Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God and his corpse was probably thrown into a shallow dirt grave, where it rotted away or was eaten by wild dogs.

In fact few non-Christian historians doubt the crucifixion happened (the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus records it) and that something happened very shortly afterwards to create a movement which swept the civilised world.

The non-Christian New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann said ‘It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.’

These experiences were also enough to lead Peter and Paul to suffer death rather than renounce their faith that Jesus had risen from the tomb and was the Son of God. Their martyrdom under Nero is not questioned by any historian, as far as I ever heard. Peter is said to have been crucified upside down at his request because he did not believe himself worthy of the same death as Jesus, but there is no evidence for this.

All of Western and much non-Western history begins with the resurrection, whether or not you believe it happened.

Talleyrand met a young man at a party who asked him for his advice about how to start a new religion. The renegade bishop turned pagan replied, 'First die and on the third day come again'.