[ by Charles Cameron — on the assignment of archetypal roles to members of the British Royal Family ]
For those having trouble distinguishing the Dajjal from the Antichrist, I thought I’d post two screen-caps from a video of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, one of whom is identified as the Dajjal:
In true conspiracist connect-the-dots fashion, then, the Antichrist is the Dajjal’s father.
Dajjals, Antichrists, Messiahs and Mahdis all function as Rorschach blots on which people project their hopes and fears, associating celebrities and leaders they despise and admire with archetypal instances of the final evil and the final savior.
By now, we should surely have figured out that this tells us more about those making the attributions than it does about the supposed, dreaded or hoped for end of days…
[ by Charles Cameron — on the ceremonial installations of the 266th Pope in Rome, and the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, together with a brief excursus on getting through doors ]
This particular pairing of photographs is a light-hearted offering, showing the Pope being quietly and graciously assisted down the steps of St Peter’s to the open air altar, while the Archbishop of Canterbury must pretty much force his way into his own cathedral with three strong blows from his pastoral staff… both ceremonies having taken place over the last few days.
The gesture of beating on the church door, requesting permission to enter, is in fact an old one. Here is video of the same ceremony, as enacted on the death of the Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, when the body of that exalted aristocrat and devout Catholic was brought the Capuchin Cloister to be buried:
The text of the ceremony proceeds in a beautifully constructed threefold fashion. First, the Archduke begs admission to the church under his hereditary stiles and titles:
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of O?wi?cim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.
It is not enough:
Prior: We do not know him.
On the second occasion, he presents himself in terms of his own accomplishments and honors:
(The MC knocks thrice)
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.
And again it is not enough, it is not simple enough:
Prior: We do not know him.
(The MC knocks thrice)
This third and final time, the appeal is simple and all too human:
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.
Prior: Then let him come in.
And thus, ceremonially, neither his high position nor his accomplishments suffice the man to enter the church, whose threshold requires humility…
I am, I suppose, at the antipodes from many of my fellows these days — a futurist who nonetheless glories in ceremonial and tradition, believing that gestures such as the knocking on the door just described carry a symbolic impact which can move us deeply.
Accordingly, I am going to append here the two booklets containing the respective orders of service in Canterbury and Rome these last few days:
The entire ceremony of the installation of Pope Francis has been made available on YouTube, and while I do not expect many Zenpundit readers to watch it in its 4-hour entirety, I am first posting here a single excerpt, the Te Deum by Tomás Luis de Victoria sung at the conclusion of the Mass of Inauguration:
Here, for those who may be interested, and for the record, is the telecast in full:
I have only been able to find a severely edited BBC version of the enthronement ceremony in Canterbury, which gives little sense of the majesty of the English ritual and choral music —
There was also some African drumming, as can be seen in this (far shorter) Telegraph video:
By way of comparison, here is a surviving video of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in London, about sixty years ago:
I would like on some other occasion to walk you through one or more such great rituals as these, exploring the depths and symbolic meanings of such things as the red coloration of a cardinal’s robes, signifying a sworn willingness to die for the faith, and the anointing and robing of a British monarch, symbolizing her (or his) quasi-priestly function as Supreme Governor of the church…
The details of such rituals — strong statements uttered in a moment of high purpose, such as “Be so merciful that you be not too remiss, so execute justice that you forget not mercy” in the English coronation rite — can shape a lifetime, and a people.
[ by Charles Cameron — a pub in Wiltshire, Abu Aardvark, monarchical survival in the Middle East, Kanye West, C Peter Wagner, spiritual warfare, diabolic possession, Amaterasu ]
Three Crowns, Brinkworth
image hommage: The endless British pub crawl
It looks to me as though Abu Aardvark aka Marc Lynch — associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and one of the prime go-to blogger on matters Middle Eastern — first mentioned monarchy on his FP blog in December of last year, writing:
Finally, there’s a widespread sense that the Gulf monarchies have proven more resilient than their non-monarchical Arab counterparts. The wealthy Gulf states seem relatively immune to the popular mobilizations which have challenged most of the other regimes in the region. Advocates of the Gulf exceptionalism stance point to small citizen populations, huge government employment and patronage opportunities, and monarchical legitimacy as buffers against popular outrage.
In June of this year, he picked up the thread, saying:
Explaining this variation in regime survival and which strategies and structures proved more effective in the face of popular challenge will likely be a major preoccupation of the field in the coming years.
One common answer has been particularly contentious among academics: monarchy. Is there a monarchical exception, or some reason to believe that monarchies are more resilient in the face of popular grievances? For some, the answer is obvious: none of the fallen regimes were monarchies, while non-monarchies have struggled or fallen at historic rates. As Michael Herb argues,“the regimes most seriously affected by the Arab Spring were not monarchies, with the exception of Bahrain.” But others are far more skeptical that monarchy makes the difference. After all, Gulf monarchies such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman all experienced significant mobilization, as did non-oil monarchies such as Jordan and Morocco, which gives lie to any sense of their greater innate legitimacy. Other factors such as oil wealth, ethnic polarization or external support may be more important than monarchy as such. The significance of monarchy in regime stability should be a vibrant debate in academic journals in the coming years.
The advantages of monarchy have taken on the feel of “common sense” among the public and in academic debates. But I remain highly skeptical about the more ambitious arguments for a monarchical exception. Access to vast wealth and useful international allies seems a more plausible explanation for the resilience of most of the Arab monarchies.
and throws in for good measure a delightful reworking of a line from (apparently) Kanye West:
To paraphrase one of our great living philosopher kings, the Arab monarchies may be forced to choose among three dreams: the Saudi King’s, Dr. King’s and Rodney King’s.
I do want to suggest to Abu Aardvark that ideas like the divine right of kings [link is to James I] never quite fade away, that there is a deep thirst for the mandate of heaven [Shu Jing], that there may in short be a quasi-sacramental force to the issue.
I don’t think that this guarantees the continuation of monarchical lineages, in the Middle East, the UK, China or elsewhere — but it may favor them, other things being equal.
But okay. I said some months back that I hoped to tackle the issue of monarchism in a post at some point, and I’m still eager to disagree with the Christian evangelist C Peter Wagner, who can be seen on YouTube saying:
There is a spirit called a Harlot, a principality, who dominates nations, who dominates territories, who dominates people groups very, very clearly to such an extent that she has fornication with kings. And I can give you an example of how she does this: Japan, as a nation, is one of the nation’s of the world which has consciously, openly invited national demonization.
The Sun Goddess visits him in person and has sexual intercourse with the Emperor. It’s a very, very powerful thing. So the Emperor becomes one flesh with the Sun Goddess and that’s an invitation for the Sun Goddess to continue to demonize the whole nation.
Since the night that the present emperor slept with the Sun Goddess, the stock market in Japan has gone down. It’s never come up since.
I’m serious about this. I’ve been out and bought myself a copy of DC Holtom‘s The Japanese Enthronement Ceremonies — Sophia ed, 1972, what a gorgeous book! — and downloaded a number of learned papers on the topic by Felicia Bock, Carmen Blacker, and Adrian Mayer. Japanese court ceremonial is not exactly an easy study — but time permitting, I should be able to bring you something a little more subtle than Wagner’s demponically-challenged interpretation one of these days.
[ by Charles Cameron — a light-hearted post about serious matters — not for the squeamish — discusses politicians, fecal matter, children’s glee and Christmas spirit ]
top shelf: Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, kings, shepherd; lower shelves: popes, princesses, and politicians, pooping
As children, we are taught that we extend from the crowns of our heads to the tips of our toes, that our skin is our outer boundary, that we’re us, here, this living, perceiving, thinking being — and we know that there’s an appropriate distance for others to keep, that under certain circumstances they can touch us, perhaps while demonstrating they don’t have a knife up their sleeve, and that with a certain amount of social approval, depending, they can enter partially inside us or vice versa — the result on occasion being the arrival of a third one that pretty much belongs to the two of us, growing inside one of us for months only to somewhat belatedly separate out…
That last example — child-bearing and childbirth — shows that the simple notion that we are our skin and whatever is inside it is a bit simple. And there are various bits of us that seem to cross the boundary that separates us from the rest without too much problem: nail clippings, hair, saliva, which I’ve covered in two recent posts, ear-wax…
Even the air we breathe in and hold in our lungs is “us” — our breath — though once we breathe it out again, it’s air, part of the room we’re in, or if we’re outdoors, part of the atmosphere, the sky…
But it is poo, perhaps, that best exemplifies how something that was us a minute or two ago can be not us, and frankly faintly disgusting, a minute or two later. And because it breaches the me / not me distinction so forcefully, it’s a matter of keen delight and humor to all children, as far as I can tell, everywhere.
Which is where the caganer comes in.
A caganer — I kid you not — is “a figurine depicted in the act of defecation appearing in nativity scenes in Catalonia and neighbouring areas with Catalan culture such as Andorra, Valencia, Northern Catalonia (in southern France) and the Balearic Islands. It is most popular and widespread in these areas, but can also be found in other areas of Spain (Murcia), Portugal and southern Italy (Naples)”. That’s Wikipedia‘s current take on the topic, which has also been written up extensively elsewhere, and indeed, caganers in their profusion have become collectibles in their own right…
All of which brings me to Bob Dylan‘s “emperor’s new clothes” line:
Even the president of the United States: Sometimes must have to stand naked.
Or squat, vulnerable and with his pants down. Even Fidel Castro must do the same. Even Death…
All of which is either a complete mockery or a source of considerable hilarity — especially to the kids, who must find these caganer hidden in among the shepherds, kings, animals and straw that surround the Christ Child in his manger.
Right in the heart of the sacred, if you will.
Which brings up the twin questions:
Is no-one sacred?
Is everyone sacred?
Which is actually a pretty profound pair of questions — and one which, again, may help us understand a little more about religion than piety alone can tell us.
The fact is, religion can exalt us, but does so at the risk of our becoming pompous and inflated — and when we do, it can also deflate us.
Which lands us right on the topic of liminality, communitas and the work of Victor Turner, which I shall address in a follow-up post — invoking a US submarine, a Hindu avatar and St Francis along the way.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.