“What is impossible for men remains possible for God.” Philipp Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, 1675.
We might take a moment to consider what is before us in the Death of the Queen. Is there an answer to the seemingly insurmountable hidden in the event? Are great minds thinking about this as a quintessential moment in the history of humankind?
Possibly – if true, it would be as gigantic as the Cullinan diamond housed within her crown.
Possibly – if great non-cynical minds can be found and if those minds are housed with great hearts.
As if walking through taffy, real-time seems to have slowed for those paying attention. BBC allows viewers to watch the quiet vigil for the Queen and also watch those willing to stand in the queue for hours just to walk or roll slowly past the coffin to get a view of her and to feel the old traditions.
One enters the hall and cannot help but look up at the clearspan oak roof, self-supporting, begun in 1097 AD by the son of William the Conqueror. It is then down three flights of stairs to the huge catafalque, raised another four steps up, with its brass Westminster Abbey cross, the coffin of the Queen draped in the Royal Standard, topped by flowers from her garden, an orb, and her Crown of Jewels. Four candles from the tomb of the Unknown Warrior flank each corner. One spots the dripping wax as the tiniest of lava flows.
Guarding Her Majesty are the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Yeoman Wardeners of the Tower of London, Coldstream Guards, and sometimes members of the Royal Company of Archers, the Monarch’s bodyguards in Scotland. London Metropolitan Police add extra protection close to the catafalque and white-tie ushers scurry to move the public along in the viewing. There is not a whisper of a sound.
There will be 750,000+ persons in motion in the Hall for four days. Two taps of a sword signal a change of guards. Every adult expression bears the same deep wound to the heart. No gesture seems enough. A quiet question comes to mind, “What will happen to the world without her?”
Many have explained her importance in adjectives no one disputes. The Queen was dutiful; the Queen was long-suffering; the Queen was responsible, mature, and faithful; the Queen supported the traditions of Great Britain with an unparalleled feeling for the history of her country. She set the highest bar regarding personal virtue.
But did she quietly leave us the answer to our angst about an evermore dangerous world? Possibly.
Her answer is a call for a new piety. It can be described as personal devotion with zeal – a counterweight to the old traditions she so honored. Orthodoxy represents the trappings of continuity – earthly reminders of outward stability. Piety represents an inward sturdiness of simple faith lived out in a form of love. Elizabeth II was internally sturdy.
Every generation remembers the painful events of their times. These events shape the notion of what constitutes societal safety and stability. It took two generations of Americans to get over the insecurities of the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s. It took many generations of Europeans, as well, to recover from the Thirty Years’ War between 1618-1648 that devastated those states that comprised the Holy Roman Empire. Catholics and Protestants fought bitterly. Almost twenty-five percent of the German population died in battle or famine. The Lutheran Church survived but became the purveyor of just another form of stifling theological hair-splitting and orthodoxy.
Along came the Pietists, inspired by Johann Arndt and led by Philipp Spener, they sought a participatory communion based on religious feelings and lived out in the simple Christian life. Small groups gathered in homes for Bible study. Lay people were elevated in importance as missionaries and representatives of Christ. The idea was to change behavior from within rather than be coerced to obedience from without.
This was a practical movement that inspired social justice initiatives by applying Christian principles to societal problems. Its influence spread rapidly from Germany to other parts of Europe and into North America. They are known to us as the Moravian Brethren.
How does this new Piety save us?
In The Death of the Queen I said, “without the equivalent of the impeccable George Washington, without temperate consultations, wise measures, and a pious people, America has no safety net. America is in a cultural, governmental, and religious free fall of putrefying corruption, evil private practices, political censorship, and vicious canceling.”
The old traditions of America cannot stop the runaway train that our now-corrupt institutions represent. Weakened since the late 1800s by our unconstitutional forays into imperialism, through two unnecessary world wars, the deliberate creation of enemy states, the brainwashing of generations of college students, the betrayal of corporate America, the dismantling of the nation-state, the debauching of the family, and the silencing of any who speak out, is simply overwhelming.
We have no trappings to fall back upon. Ours was to be an experiment in the development of the common man, but like many experiments, it fell to godlessness, greed, materialism, superficiality, false ideologies, and moral depravity. What simple rules we had through our Rule of Law have been abandoned and replaced with such obvious untruths that it seems all oxygen has been removed from the air and we gasp for breath. International predators observe in ecstatic anticipation.
And yet, “What remains impossible for man remains possible for God.”
He has delivered the answer to the putrid state of America masked in pomp and ceremony across the Atlantic Ocean through a now-deceased Queen. Her coffin will be removed from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey and an elaborate State Funeral will be televised around the world. And yet many who watch are afraid. They know the trappings will not hold up in perpetuity.
Take another look at the Queen’s coffin. Intermingled with the symbols of national power, great wealth, and religious orthodoxy is a simple bouquet of flowers. Those resting on the Queen’s coffin in Scotland were from her own garden in Balmoral. We are called to go back to the simple, the sweet, the small step in heartfelt faith – a new piety for the common man.
If every American adult went to the heart, not the mind, cleansed it with his or her own particular faith, and applied that cleansing to the “rightful” conduct of a moral nation the impossible would become the possible overnight. God wants us to find our way back to his embrace. Thank you, Elizabeth.