July 2021: From The Minister’s Wireless
I heard Hilary Mantel (Author of the Wolf Hall trilogy about Thomas Cromwell) speaking recently on a range of contemporary subjects whilst on a car journey. She got on to modern day Royalty and said something that was one of the best observations I have heard in a while. She was talking about the recent funeral of Prince Philip and she said something along the lines of ‘why on earth was a grieving elderly widow expected to share one of the worst moments of her life in full view of the media and a watching world’. We would be appalled if anyone else had such an intrusion into their grief. The picture of the Queen sat in isolation and following the regulations that everyone else endured was truly heart breaking.
I immediately thought back to Princess Diana’s funeral and the two Princes having to walk through the crowds. In more recent time they have made it’s affects clear, it was something they resented and no wonder. But at the same time I could hear a civic voice in my head justifying both visits to a funeral with the thought ‘they are royal, we wish to share their grief and show support’. Mantel raised quite a challenge to ponder; ‘who decided this was appropriate and why’. I suppose the same is true of royal weddings and people generally want to share such moments. The new Mr and Mrs Johnson actually evaded capture by the press for their wedding ceremony, and Boris likes the media so why the different approach.
At the moment it seems that all main broadcasters are holding us to ransom with green grass, a ball and endless talking (he is moaning about the Euro Football competition). Who decided that was such a must have event on all main channels.
In the Bible there is no shortage of people deciding that others should be imprisoned, made to kneel to statues rather than throw them in the river. Others demand to know by what authority Jesus performs miracles or delivers teaching they find unacceptable.
Mantel certainly made me think about what was appropriate at Prince Philip’s funeral and why we think that one person can be treated so different to everyone else.
Speaking up for the poor, the vulnerable or those whose voice is not being listened to is a task of care routed in Christian faith. Many of you will remember Rev Merfyn Temple one of our retired clergy. He was a great thinker and someone not adverse to asking question of the great and good ( and not so good). One morning I had a call from Marylyn Tricker our then Super telling me she had a received a call from the Foreign Office saying Merfyn had been arrested in Zimbabwe after having a word (or trying to) with Robert Mugabe about the plight of his people. They didn’t keep him long thankfully but he brought light on a problem that so quickly disappeared if politicians went near the place.
Whether it’s poverty, fire cladding on buildings, climate change, the state of the roads .etc we should ask more questions. We should ask why and by who’s authority when we are being dragged in a direction not of our choosing. As Mantel shows a little more thinking may bring some light we need in the modern world.
Hilary Mantel was inviting us to think which is no bad thing. .