Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Weddings, Presidents in Disasters, and the Incarnation

As I sit down to write this, my heart is still heavy for my fellow Southerners that have lost so much in tornadoes this week. Mock us all you want for not knowing how to drive in snow, but these storms? Those are a fact of life for us. It's not if a Southerner's life is affected by a tornado. It's not even when. It's how many and  how close?  The roof portion we lost in Mississippi back in 2008 is nothing compared to the property loss, much less life lost this week.

On to the task at hand: a real blog post. To look at current events today, there are three big things happening, and I'm going to take a look at two of them right here.

First of all, there is now a new Duchess of Cambridge in Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. His Royal Highness William, Prince of Wale, wed Catherine Middleton. Theoretically, Prince William, son of Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana, is second in line for the throne, but the aforementioned Prince Charles would do well to give the throne a pass straight on to his son. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will then be the parents of the future monarch of England. All the best to them, may they honor the vows they took in Westminster Abbey today and be examples to their generation.

There's a huge amount of press here in America over the wedding, and it is obviously a big deal in the United Kingdom. Some people think it's silly, while others are enamored of it. A look at my Twitter stream shows dislike for the coverage, but my Facebook news feed is more balanced. In all, though, it seems many Americans still have to sound off on the wedding, whether they like it or not.

Then, there's this news: in the wake of the devastation in Alabama, President Obama is on his way to the disaster area. Early this week, Governor Beebe of Arkansas went to the harder hit parts of Arkansas. Why is the President going to Alabama? He's not going to help clean up. In fact, if his predecessor, President Clinton, is any indication, he'll be in the way. When President Clinton visited Arkadelphia, Arkansas, after the F4 tornado that hit us there, the report was that emergency workers were blocked from the disaster area so the President could see it. Similar complaints emerged from when President Bush visited New Orleans post-Katrina.

Yet there were many complaints when President Bush did not hurriedly rush to New Orleans after Katrina. There were complaints back in 2009 when Kentucky saw weather disasters and President Obama did not visit them.

The British Monarchy has been, for the past several years, derided as silly and wasteful, yet millions tuned in for the wedding. Americans that can't get up and get to work on time were up early this morning to watch it. The news coverage of the wedding has bumped the President's birth certificate, the sheer disaster in the South, and the utter wreck that is the American economy.

Why do we care?

We care about Royal Weddings because it makes the great and lofty ones look normal. Many of us have wedding dreams or memories, and to see that the "Duke and Duchess of Cambridge" also had to walk that path makes them more of William and Kate than anything else. It's humanizing.

We want our Presidents and Governors to see the disasters. Why? It's not that they'll experience what we're going through. President Obama isn't going to live in a shelter for a few days or live at home with no power for a week. The roads will be cleared for him, and the bottled water will be properly chilled. President Bush was derided, though, for just looking at the damage out an airplane window. They're really just tourists in the damage, but we want them there. On the ground, in the midst of it.


Because down inside of us, there is a need to know that the "great ones" of this world see what life is for normal people. A royal wedding shows us that the House of Windsor is not so different from the House of Hibbard, and it gives us a glimpse into the ways that the royal life is different from our own. For example, my wedding was simpler, faster, and much more relaxed. Yet I can see into their lives through it.

There is a need to feel like our problems are big enough to be an interruption. We hear that the President is the "most powerful person" in the world (which isn't really true, or at least shouldn't be), but we know he had other things on his schedule for today. (Ironically, he was supposed to be receiving the Auburn University football team and he's now headed to the University of Alabama.) We like to know that we're that important, at least in a disaster.

All this brings me to these conclusions:

1.) We are social creatures. We need to know that we're not alone.

2.) We are even social-structure creatures. We seem to have an intrinsic recognition that there are people "above" us. (Think we're any different in America? Why so much coverage of celebrities? They're our royalty. You're no different from Royal Wedding Watchers, you just have a different watch.)

3.) This tells me that we are made to crave those things. We exist with a gap that needs to know that we are not alone and that we are not ignored from above.

The Lord God Almighty knows we are this way. It's a common thread of human experience, and He made provision for it.

It's called the Incarnation. Yet He didn't just give us a few wedding pictures or gaze at the devastation from above. He dwelt in the midst of it. He lived without the electricity, He came to our weddings.

And, in the end, He got his hands dirty to fix our disaster. All the relief workers scattered, and alone He died on the Cross for us. All the security guards fell down, and He rose from the grave.

Our fascination with Royals, our need for the President to stop by, all point us to something: we are made to look beyond ourselves. Let these minor things point you to what is greater:

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." –John 1:14

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