...a quaint notion, minted in early nineteenth century Europe, which has been variously juggled as a framework for the ordering of society.
Or, to put it another way: God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world. So sang Pippa, the little silk-winder from Asolo in Robert Browning's poem, Pippa Passes. I sometimes think he should have made that a qualifying clause: When God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world.
I was reminded of this recently by a fellow Redroomer. In her first blog The Power of Words, Marsha Hansen revives the convention of giving honour to God before a public address. Sadly, she feels that only African Americans of a certain age will know where she's coming from. As a European observer, I couldn't help wondering what this practice might signify to Barack Obama and even John McCain.
This is the priority system that evolved into the Constitution and from which the American dream was forged.
Time was, in England, when, before a meal, with all family members assembled (simultaneously!) around the table, the head of the household would say the 'Grace', a prayer of thanks to God for providing their food, but not only that, a blessing upon it that it would nourish the flesh and do no harm if it were contaminated. It was a kind of domestic Eucharist. The tradition survived through WWII and into the sixties when a certain degree of affluence and taking things for granted began to permeate social life. Today, it is observed only in religious orders, in academe and at (some) public functions. Even Christian families seldom subscribe to it.
Whatever the colour of your politics or your creed, this calls for genuine humility. It says that we're all equal before God and we're all in this together. It unites and focuses our will. It incorporates us, validates each of us and gives us a place to belong. It calls down a blessing on the things we endeavour, that they will be used for the benefit of everyone. It consumes the idea of a democratic free-for-all where dishonourable dealing is accommodated and the weakest get trampled in the crush.
Yes, of course it's an ideal, and one instinct with nostalgia for what never quite existed. History lays bare the legacy of corrupt Popes, self-serving kings, abused and disaffected peasants. But does that make the ideal misguided?
Isn't it precisely because of the excesses of human nature that we need such a paradigm to get us back on track?
Causes Rosy Cole Supports
World Vision, International Prison Outreach, Salvation Army, Emmaus Project, Poor Clares, DogsTrust, BUAV (against animal testing) WWT (Wildfowl &...