A Huge Audience Indicates Truth
My statistical and informal research over the years has shown a strong correlation between the size of mass audiences and the truth of the program’s embeded moral premise. While most of what I do involves motion picture analysis (c.f. MoralPremise.com
) the same findings apply to live television events, news programs, and any other kind of mass communication.
The N.Y. Times estimated that 2.5 BILLION people worldwide tuned-in to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince William Arthur Philip Louis and commoner Catherine Middleton. Nielsen said that only 23.7 million Americans got up early to watch. Counting those of us who watched the Internet videos of the event (CNN has a good HD Five Part Video series
), that number will be higher. If you’ll allow me the correlation to make a point, the 2.5 billion viewers relates to a one-day box office total of $7.5 billion, at only $3/ticket. (The U.S. average theater ticket is closer to $8 each.) Let me repeat: That’s the equivalent of $7.5 Billion at the box office “in one day.” Hollywood and the NFL have met their match.
According to Nielsen Wire: “Broadcast of Super Bowl XLV on FOX had an average audience of 111 million viewers, surpassing last year’s Super Bowl, and thereby breaking the record, yet again, for the most watched television program of all time in the U.S.”
AVATAR (2009) is the recent king of box office has a $2 billion worldwide box office grip as the highest grossing film of all time. At $5 per ticket price that’s 250 million seats.
Comparing these numbers directly is unfair. But hopefully my point is obvious. With such a large — no, make the HUGE — audience there had to have been something phenomenally morally true regarding it. Only something true, good, and beautiful attracts number like that.
Thus, the various pundits who mocked Kate and William’s Royal Wedding as a waste of time and money on egos and national pride are frankly focusing way too much on the hair sprouting from their noses. Yeah, rating jealously is no doubt part of the problem. For as smart as the pundits claim to be, especially conservative “Christian” pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, they totally missed the massive positive moral kick the Christian wedding demonstrated to the plethora of cultures and societies around the world that watched. This was Christian P.R. unmatched by even Billy Graham and John Paul II.
Many will dismiss the wedding and the pomp because they are distracted by what they see are morally objectionable factors: (a) William and Catherine were living together (and supposedly fornicating) before the wedding; (b) Elton John and his gay partner were invited and sitting in the abbey in clear shot of a television camera; (c) the Westminister Abbey, now, is not a church structure, but a chapel given for the Royals, thus it’s not a Christian community; (d) the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams), the Anglican bishop that has refused to discipline homosexual and female priests and bishops under this purview, presided; and (e) the whole affair was Anglican, i.e. The Church of England under the head of the Queen, not the Pope or someone like the Pope, but a monarch still practicing the political rebellion of Henry VIII.
…all of that does not negate the manner of presentation, the words that were spoken, or the purpose of the entire event. The audience was not present or watching on television to celebrate fornication, homosexuality, Anglicanism, or even the Queen as head of the Church of England. The audience was there to celebrate a Christian Wedding. And that a Christian Wedding occurred in the midst of such disclaimers, and that most of the people watching were not-Christian but from a multitude of other religious beliefs, was astounding.
No, the media didn’t cover it because it was Christian, but because of the pomp and the personages involved. The reason people watched is because they subliminally understand that a Christian Marriage is the most truth reflection of how we are designed to live together as a human community, and the presentation of William and Catherine’s wedding properly presents the glory and glamor of Christian Marriage — especially among cultures that otherwise dismisses Christianity or marriage.
The reasons the wedding was so popular was that it properly communicated (metaphorically and literally) the goodness, the beauty, the truth, the pomp, and the glory of Christian Marriage. Here are my reasons why that is true.
1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The “Lord Jesus Christ” was invoked many times in word, symbol, and visuals.
2. THE TRINITY WAS PRESENT
“God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost” was invoked many times in prayers, in blessings, invocations, gestures, and hymns.
3. IT WAS CHRISTIAN
The entire service was Christian in context, location, pattern, words, vestments, gestures, and by title of those that led the service. It wasn’t the Queen that pronounced them man and wife, nor a justice of the peace, but the Archbishop of Canterbury. And importantly the service began with these words:
Dearly Beloved; we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony — which is an honorable estate, instituted by God Himself, signifying to us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His church….
4. CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE WAS…
…defined, pronounced, blessed and invoked. How many pastors would love to have Elton John and his gay partner sit through a sermon on the true meaning and definition of Christian Marriage? Well, I doubt that any could do it under normal circumstances. But it happened during William and Catherine’s wedding.
6. ALL THINGS WITH DIGNITY, ORDER, CIVILITY, LOVE
Everything about the event, its preparation, its execution, the behavior of the crowds, and especially the attendants, relatives, bridesmaid, footmen, honor guards, butlers, et al was a perfect role model of dignified, patient, and courteous behavior. The British show the rest of us the importance of good manners.
7. CELEBRATION OF CHILDREN AND FERTILITY
The large number of ring-bearers and flower girls celebrated the importance of children in a marriage. And the photo (below) is hopefully a omen that the marriage will be fertile. Especially noteworthy is the prayer in the middle of the service for the couple’s fertility and off-spring. That may be a hold-over for kings needing heirs. But it has significant meaning in any Christian marriage.
8. A METAPHOR FOR CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH
Matthew 25 speaks of the anticipation and preparation that is necessary for the glorious return of Christ to claim his spotless bride. The emphasis is on the preparation of the virgins and the bride to be ready and beautiful for the ceremony of being wed with Christ. I’m not extending the metaphor literally to William and Catherine, but certainly the anticipation and the preparations for their wedding metaphors how Christians need to anticipate and prepare for the Church’s wedding with Christ. And the results will be even more glorious than William and Catherine’s wedding — if that’s possible.
This point bears another. Look at the picture above of Catherine and her beautiful dress. Please note that the attention in most of the pictures of the wedding, including the television coverage, like this picture, is on the BRIDE. Yes, the Royal power is with the future King, William. She’s but a commoner. But it’s the spotless, beauty of the bride that we all yearn to see and celebrate. That is the proper metaphor for Christ and Us, His church, His bride. We strive as a people to be as beautiful in our relationship to Christ, as Catherine is in the photo above.
9. THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN WAS HONORED
For Catholics Mary is the queen of heaven. Yes, Mary was first a commoner like Catherine. But like Catherine she is honored for her beauty and she is brought into the ‘Royal’ family. She is the perfect human creation of her Son. It is because of her Son that we pay attention to her… much as it’s because of William that we pay attention to Catherine, the future Queen. Thus, Mary, through Christ, is made Queen of heaven.
Early in the ceremony I caught glimpses of two icon paintings attached to rear pillars of the Abbey. They face the rear as people enter. The one on the right appears to be an icon of St. Joseph. The one on the left is unmistakeably a representation of the famous Polish icon Our Lady Czestochowa (The Black Madonna).
Not much attention was paid to this painting, usually in the background, UNTIL, at the end of the service the orchestra played and the congregation sang the British National Anthem, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. The words are supposed to be about the Queen of England, or King as it may be from time to time. But the words also apply to the Queen of Heaven, Mary, metaphorically and literally, all three verses do this. And the television director understood that. Watch the broadcast videos. At the moment they begin to sing the words GOD SAVE OUR GRACIOUS QUEEN… the camera, on a tall crane, at the back of the Abbey adroitly and very purposely moves in close on Our Lady of Czestochowa until the icon nearly fills the screen. Only at the end of the song does another camera zoom in on Queen Elizabeth, who properly is the only one in the room not singing. But the emphasis on Mary must of been exciting for the Polish Cathoilcs that were watching.
10. AUTHORITY DULY NOTED
In Catholic thinking, as it should be in all Christian thinking, there is something important called authority. Protestants largely ignore this aspect of the Gospel. But indeed there is a hierarchy in heaven and it’s reflected here on Earth as well. Christ and the writers of the Epistles remind us to honor and pray for those in authority over us, and to obey their bidding as long as it is morally licit, even to the point of carrying a cloak an extra mile. The day’s events surrounding William and Kate’s wedding reeked of authority, from the Queen to the footmen, from the cross bearers to the Archbishop, from the men and boy’s singers and orchestra to their conductors, from the crowds of people to the unarmed police who held them at bay and marched them forward in peace. Because of this respect for authority the day was an orderly, happy, beautiful occasion. On this wedding day, the world watched and saw the goodness, the truth, and the beauty that can come when people respect and obey proper authority with dignity. Take note, world. (And in writing that I’m including world leaders who are not proper or respectful of their citizens.)
11. SPLENDOR, POMP, BEAUTY, HONOR
The wedding of William and Catherine demonstrated to the world the splendidness of marriage and civilization when things are done properly, with honor, dignity, and in order, for the right reasons in the pursuit of what is good, true, and beautiful. Indeed, I think, the whole world should take a lesson from the British in this.
12. GRATUITOUS VIRTUE — A GOOD THING
The wedding of William and Catherine revealed that there is a gratuitousness that is good —Christian family values. It was on full display Friday, April 29, 2011. Indeed!