The death of Royal Weddings & the marriage of Bin Laden to the Pope

It was a fascinating weekend – to say the least. There was a royal wedding, the beautification of a Pope and the assassination of a global terrorist.  Viewing these three from a certain angle may leave someone thinking that they had very little connection to each other. If viewed through another lens, the three come together in an odd partnership.

I’m going to show my cards up front so that there is transparency in the lens that I am employing.

  • I do not like the idea of Royalty, class or caste. I think that they are antiquated notions that should left behind as we emerge into a new inter-connected, trans-national, and multi-racial cultural reality.
  • I wonder how much longer the Papacy will continue to carry the kind of weight that it still does. The election of the last pope was an amazing television event waiting for the puff of white smoke to emerge from the chapel and indicate the Cardinals had made their decision. That is an interesting thing to watch on global satellite TV in real time.
  • The assassination of Osama Bin Laden was an instantly global event and brought immediate inter-national implications by nature of our trans-national planet.

Here are the things that intrigue me about each of the three:

The British economy  is going through a tough spell. They are entering a series of very serious austerity measures where one fifth of public workers will lose their jobs (as I understand it). Polls last week showed that 80% of Brits were opposed to paying for the Royal Wedding. It got huge TV ratings for sure, I just wonder if it is a throwback to a romantic – fantastical notion we hold onto.
I wonder how long institutions like “Royals” and the House of Commons will continue?

The beautification of Pope John Paul II was this past weekend. It came under a cloud of controversy. There was great concern by many around the world that the ongoing Priest sexual abuse scandal was primarily under the time of his papacy. Why was it carried out so quickly (soon)? There was some speculation that it was a reaction to the waining support for the church. I wonder what the coming century will bring for the Catholic church which is built on so many Medieval underpinnings? Can it reinvent itself? Does it need to?

There are  two elements about the Bin Laden affair that interest me. The first is the civil religion that showed up in the celebrations and media commentators. Apparently God had something to do with all of this. God was praised. The 10 years it took to find him was explained as God’s patience to allow Bin Laden to repent. God, it was said, will punish him forever & more than we could ever dream of. On and on…
The underlying assumption is that God is on America’s side. I wonder how long this kind of Nationalism and civil religion can go in the era of social media and global economy?

The second thing that got my attention is the seeming amnesia or ignorance of America’s foreign policy in the 70s, 80’s and 90’s that created Bin Laden. It is shocking really – but what it truly horrific is what it leads to: the assumed innocence of America. It is ugly whether you look at Central and South America, Asia, or the Middle East. I wonder how long we can continue to pretend that America is the light of the world and that ‘they’ hate us because of our freedom?

I am under the impression that the next 100 years will bring exponential changes (not just incremental) to how we relate and connect, how we define community and society.
Will there still be Royals at the end of the 21st century? Will there still be a Papacy – and what will it look like? Will America still be the top dog in the Global economy- and what would it mean for the American narrative of being God’s elect or even exceptional?

We live in interesting times. These days are an intriguing overlap of new media and realities with old forms and institutions that are leftovers from a bygone era. I am excited to see how this all plays out.


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