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12 Reasons Why the Wedding of William and Catherine is a Metaphor of Gratuitous Virtue

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.

Disclaimer
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.

But…
…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 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.
5. THE HIERARCHY OF THE FATHER WAS HONORED Catherine was walked down the aisle by her father who stood by her side during the entire ceremony until the couple was wed.
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!

(© 2011 Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D. — Courtesy of the Crossing Nineveh blog)


Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D. is executive producer for SWC Films, an independent film and television production company. He is the author of the motion picture screenplay writing guide, The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success, as well as owner of media distributor Nineveh's Crossing. He can be reached at sdw@StanWilliams.com.


  • http://www.primeraluz.org Carlos

    ” the emphasis on Mary must of been exciting for …”

    A great touch! Once someone proposed a Latin version of the anthem:

    O Deus optime
    Salvum nunc facito
    Regina nostra;
    Sic laeta victoria
    Comes et gloria
    Salvum jam facito
    Tu dominum.

    It is worth noting that this national anthem is also a prayer exalting all that is virtuous and good. Thanks to your keen observation I can sing this as a song to Our Blessed Mother for it is perfectly fitting to do so:

    God save our gracious Queen,
    Long live our noble Queen,
    God save the Queen!
    Send her victorious,
    Happy and Glorious,
    Long to reign over us;
    God save the Queen!

    O Lord our God arise,
    Scatter her enemies
    And make them fall;
    Confound their politicks,
    Frustrate their knavish tricks,
    On Thee our hopes we fix,
    Oh, save us all!

    Thy choicest gifts in store
    On her be pleased to pour;
    Long may she reign;
    May she defend our laws,
    And ever give us cause
    To sing with heart and voice,
    God save the Queen!

    Not in this land alone,
    But be God’s mercies known,
    From shore to shore!
    Lord make the nations see,
    That men should brothers be,
    And form one family,
    The wide world over

    From every latent foe,
    From the assassins blow,
    God save the Queen!
    O’er her thine arm extend,
    For Britain’s sake defend,
    Our mother, prince, and friend,
    God save the Queen!

  • Henry

    Well thought, analyzed and written article!

    This piece justifies that Christian wedding is the foundation and strength of Marriage…it doesn’t matter what comes before or after, nor the imperfection of the couple and witnesses involved.

    The invocation of God the Father, Son and Spirit is a call for grace, strength and forgiveness to sustain the marriage; and the stealthy but subtle recognition of the Queen of Heaven shows that the Blessed Virgin Mary remains the Mother of all (justifying Rev. 12 v 17); is the perfect bride of all marriages and together with her earthly spouse Joseph are the icons of an ideal family.

    Good Job Stan.

  • http://www.stanwilliams.com Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D

    Carlos, Thanks for those extra verses. Can someone translate the Latin for me.

  • goral

    If this article was a bungee in a bungee jump, I fear that the adrenaline pumped-up jumper would have hit the ground. While there is, no doubt, truth in this interpretation, the only thing that glaringly stands out is the notion of “overstretch”.

    As for the Polish Catholics who were watching they would not recognize the icon in this article as the Black Madonna. I don’t know if this same image is the one on which the camera fixed it’s zoom but it’s not the traditional icon that resides in Jasna Gora.

  • http://www.stanwilliams.com Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D

    Goral: Specifically how are any of the points stretched? Can you cite and explain one? As to the Black Madonna, there are hundreds of versions of the famous icon, some looking more like it than others. The one I included in the article is the one that most looks like the one in the Abbey; and I will grant you it does not look that the original. But that is what it is and what it represents.

  • goral

    Dr. Williams, I was aware of a few versions of the Black Madonna but certainly not hundreds. If the one at the Abbey looks that way than what can I say.
    Our Lady of Czestochowa to the Polish is not at all light-skinned and has the two very visible sword slash marks on the right cheek.

    Let me counter your first point. A huge audience does not indicate truth, it indicates a huge interest for multiple reasons. One of these reasons could be to experience truth.

    Numbers alone do not form an audience worthy of truth. It’s the quality that any salesman looks for.
    The world right now has a restless desire for something positive and beautiful. We are being nourished by a culture of death all over the world.

    The majority of Christians don’t even want to celebrate Holy Week for that reason. It’s considered morbid, while here is this royal couple who are demonstrating love, beauty, optimism and gossiping interest. In fact they coincidentally timed it to steal the show from the Church’s holiest season.
    For doing that they get the accolades from Christian pundits on Catholic websites as producing media results that surpassed those of JP2 and Mother Teresa and Padre Pio etc. all put together.

    It was a well advertised and well funded and organized spectacle, sure to garner record audiences.
    Most of the spectators viewed it as just that.
    A very, very small number actually ascribed the term Christian Wedding to it.
    The overwhelming numbers of the unwashed simply watched it as they would watch – Days of our lives.

  • http://www.stanwilliams.com Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D

    Goral.

    Yes, hundreds, with and without the slashes. Do a Google Image Search on “Black Madonna.” or “Our Lady of Czestochowa”. In my own documentaries I’ve photographed at least a dozen different ones just in the S.E. Michigan area. I’ve done a few projects on Polish culture.

    Large audiences, especially in the general sphere, do indeed mean truth is present. I did original quantitative and qualitative research and wrote the book on the subject that is used in Hollywood and other media centers. While I didn’t discover or invent the theory, its evidence and practice are as old as story telling. The book gives the historical background for it, and shows message makers how it can work in their own efforts. See: http://www.moralpremise.com
    – “THE MORAL PREMISE: Harnessing Virtue and Vice For Box Office Success.”

    You have missed my point of the article somewhat, even though I explicitly stated that people did not watch the wedding because it was Christian. The truth of a presentation lies in its moral not physical essence. What made it ring true a thousand times was the grandiose pomp which is a METAPHOR of the psychological and subliminal truth of how grand Christian marriage is — in natural law, not because it’s some rule of the Church — although that is what the Church teaches — natural law.

    The most successful movies use a true and consistently applied moral premise deliberately. The W & C wedding “stumbled” upon it. Nonetheless, it was as I stated without exaggeration.

    In the movie business we talk about what a movie is ABOUT (the physical plot) and what it is REALLY about (the psychological and moral plot). We see and hear what it’s about, but our subconscious either connects or disconnects depending on the underlying moral truth. It’s not the promotion and marketing and glamour alone that attracts big audiences. If it was, every time Hollywood spend the megabucks on promotion the box office would burst at the seams. But that is not what happens. For a box office hit the physical storyline must be a well-matched metaphor for the moral storyline, and that moral story line must be true as measured by the general audience’s subconscious perception of natural law. It “just so happens” (e.g. not coincidentally) that the truth God has written on every man and woman’s heart controls that moral resonance. Regardless of the stars, the director, the marketing — only stories or events that garner truth implicit in the presentation will score big.

  • goral

    The many images of the Black Madonna result from the history of the painting, as you know. Unlike our Lady of Guadalupe which springs from one occurrence at one site, the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa reportedly originally traveled from Jerusalem and ended up in Poland. It’s entirely natural that there may be dark features even before the image was assaulted by the Hussites in the 1400′s. The Semite and Byzantine origins of the painting would make it so.

    These other versions are rather parochial and not readily recognized as O.L. of Cz. Even a little French Canadian church at Dartmouth Col. that I recently visited has the one that all Polish people and others quickly recognize, the dark image with the sword slash marks. I didn’t mean to get so much into the image since you know even more about it than I do; only to point out that very few would associate the lesser known icon with the Black Madonna of Poland.

    This same point extends to the perception of the Wedding as something so profoundly Christian and Trinitarian and Natural, by the spectators. Yes, that perception is there for you and many others who analyze it in it’s rightly profound context, I don’t at all think the overwhelming majority looked at it that way. It was a happy spectacle to witness, so why not?

    I am in total agreement with your last response that the audience must be able to connect with the spectacle in order for it to succeed.

    If you’ll attended a wedding ceremony where the bride or groom are Polish, you would most likely witness a stroll by the now husband and wife, from the main altar to the side altar of the Blessed Virgin. That’s in honor of her being present with her Son at the wedding at Cana.
    This is a profound Truth, one raised by the Blessed JP2 to a Mystery.

    If the royal couple dared to display such honor to the image that was there, there would be shouts of “bloody mary” by the British.
    Sure truth was there but the Abbey and her “figure head” are subject to the earthly queen. Again the spectators of the event were indifferent to this truth.

  • http://www.stanwilliams.com Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D

    Goral,

    Yes, I think I agree with all that you’ve just stated. The only clarification is that while audiences flock to “true” stories and events for a variety of reasons, as you have previously stated, the depth of the popularity (for general, not niche audiences) is directly proportional to the SUBLIMINAL truth imbued in the story through metaphor and subtext. As you said “the overwhelming majority” did not look at the wedding as a Christian event, nor is that why they (initially) took an interest in watching.

  • goral

    I need to pull back (pardon me) from my original bungee hyperbole. In light of what you said,
    Dr. Williams, the bungee now has more tension on it so that the jumper came close to the ground but thankfully never hit it. As I understand it, you were emphasizing the subliminal and nearly undetectable truths that are present in the things that naturally and intrinsically appeal to us.
    In that you are correct, all the points were there as you stated, giving the spectator a feeling of recognition and acceptance.
    May the obscure image of Our Lady of Czestochowa bless this marriage so that the great spectacle will not be wasted.

    Thank you for raising all these interesting points.

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