One of the ponderings I’ve had in viewing the accession of King Charles III is the importance of patriarchy and kingship to the civilization of the West.
Patriarchy and monarchy are ancient concepts which are always linked with the idea of the man as the head of the home, the chief of the tribe, the Father of the Nation.
I realize that this worldview is not politically correct and that the forces of feminism, homosexualism and political correctness wish to destroy such foundational principles. “The Father” is inevitably seen as a repressive, judgmental, cruel and vengeful figure, and certainly there have been enough examples down through history of the violent male, the rapist, the pedophile and the abusive, neglectful and absent Father.
Abuses, however, should not undo right uses. All the bad fathers in the world cannot undo the impact of good fathers.
The role of the Father is vital in healthy child development. Because of the nine months in her womb, the bond with the mother is subjective, deep and personal. There is the source of love, of emotion and healthy relationships. The Mother is the heart.
The Father is the objective voice in the child’s life. He is the objective connection to the outer world=–the world of truth, facts and concrete reality. If Mother is the heart, the Father is the head.
The Good Father is thus the voice of God in the child’s life.
The crisis in Fatherhood in our society has therefore led to a crisis in faith. Absent fathers, abusive fathers and selfish Fathers lead to a crisis of faith and a kind of default atheism.
Someone has said, “Where there is no Father there is no one to say “no”. In other words no discipline and where there is no discipline there is no self discipline and where there is no self discipline there is no self control and where there is no self control there is no sense of personal responsibility. The child feels he or she is not answerable to anyone and if not answerable to anyone, then he may do as he likes.
Will the accession of a King in England begin a resurgence of proper patriarchy? I wish it were so, but I am always skeptical of top down solutions, and Charles Windsor has hardly set the example of the ideal Father. Nevertheless, in his role as King, he will exert a kind of universal, royal, patriarchal power. Seeing the thousands who responded to liturgy, tradition, ceremony and ritual over the last few days, we should not underestimate the strength of these ancient deep instincts in the human heart.
If I cannot hope for a top-down solution from the British monarchy, neither can I, in our present situation, hope for a renewal of Fatherhood from our Fathers in God. The Bishops of our church (and even more of the Protestant churches) seem to be a weak-kneed, spineless bunch who kow to to the Zeitgeist like a group of henpecked husbands.
Instead, a renewal of Fatherhood must take place from the ground up. Each one of us who are Fathers must renew our commitment to our wives and children. As we strive to be the Fathers we need to be we will do our own small part in the renewal of proper patriarchy (and thus proper love of God the Father) in our church and world. One of the reasons I wrote Listen My Son–St Benedict for Fathers was a wish to help inspire such a renewal at the local domestic level. I should hasten to say in conclusion, that I am better at writing about these things than I am at living them. Most days do not pass by in which I look back on my own life as a Father and think what a poor job I have done!