How Royal Baby Fever Points to a Royal Longing (Or: Yes, This is a #JesusJuke)

So, in case you weren’t on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or seen every tabloid from here to kingdom come, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, had a healthy little baby boy (name unannounced at the time of this writing) yesterday–and people have completely lost it. Royal Wedding fever was one thing. Royal baby fever is quite another.

Now, there are a lot of different social factors at work. For one thing, babies are adorable. I see them and I instinctively start making ridiculous noises and faces no matter where I am—even at peasants. Also, British people are fascinating to Americans. I mean, it doesn’t matter how stupid a statement may be, if it’s uttered in a British accent, Americans are likely to think it’s brilliant. (Think Richard Dawkins.) Finally, and closer to the point, our obsession with celebrities—their doings, controversies, health-food purchases—whatever it is, we eat it up.

But why are we so obsessed with celebrities? Simply put, it’s because we have no royalty. Americans have been deprived of majestic sovereigns, so we settle for pop starts. But here, with Prince William and Kate and this new little boy, we have actual flesh and blue-blood royalty! Forget North West, a real-life prince, third-in-line to a real throne, was born! 

You see, despite the 4th of July, our American love of democracy, equality, and autonomy, I can’t help but sense that in all the fanfare lies our deeply-repressed desire for a ruler–a true King. It’s not that we’ve all got a round of ‘Rule Britannia’ in us. As much of an Anglophile as I might be, what I’m talking about goes down far deeper than cultural nostalgia.

C.S. Lewis captured the notion best when he laid out the dual logics for democracy:

“I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.

That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen…patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that ‘all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of father and husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad (on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin), but because fathers and husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us. Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

We may disagree with some of the old-school patriarchy, and to be clear, he wasn’t advocating for its return, but the essential insight was that there is a deep structure to the soul that delights in the idea of a Royal. We love the idea of a true king who will come, take things firmly in hand, reign with righteousness, and bring the shalom of a kingdom at peace.

This is why everything in us clapped for joy when we read, (or saw, for you illiterates), Aragorn finally crowned king in The Lord of the Rings. It’s also why some of us found ourselves uncomfortably agreeing with Loki in The Avengers film as he lectured the masses on their innate desire to be ruled: “You were made to be ruled …In the end, you will always kneel.” There was something true about it, and yet that truth felt like a dangerous lie coming from Loki’s mouth. Indeed, it’s telling that the film didn’t directly reject the notion, but had the brave old German man say, “Not to men like you.” The implication of course, is that for the right man, we would gladly kneel.

We want a king, but history has taught us that eventually, kings will abuse their power so in their stead we found democracies and republics. Sadly these are only stop-gap measures that leave us with unfulfilled longings that can only be grasped at in fiction and film.

Or so it seems.

As this new prince is born, filling our news feeds with excitement and anticipation, I can’t help but remember the good news of Christmas: that 2,000 years ago another royal child was given to us.  He came though, not in pomp and glory, surrounded by papparazzi and glitz, but humble, away in a manger, signifying his peaceful intentions. Contrary to all expectations of human royalty, this monarch came, not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45). King Jesus is the ruler we can trust. He is the one who, though he rule with a rod of iron, will not break a bruised reed, but administer justice according to bountiful grace. The good news of the Gospel is that in Christ we have a Sovereign that our hearts have always longed to kneel before.

photo credit: Phil W Shirley via photopin cc

About Derek Rishmawy

Derek Rishmawy is the Director of College and Young Adult ministries at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Orange County, CA, serving college kids for the gospel. He’s been graciously adopted by the Triune God. That God has also seen fit to bless him with lovely wife named McKenna. He got his B.A. in Philosophy at UCI and his M.A. in Theological Studies (Biblical Studies) at APU. His passions are theology, the church, some philosophy, cultural criticism, and theology. He has been published at the Gospel Coalition, Mere Orthodoxy, and Out of Ur blog. He writes regularly at his Reformedish blog. You can connect on Facebook and can also follow him on Twitter at @DZRishmawy.

  • Kullervo

    Love it.

  • jtheory

    Consider the words of the great Nathaniel T. Booth

    “.isn’t
    Loki’s assertion that people want to be ruled directly contradicted in
    the climax of “The Avengers” when the
    cosmopolitan/egalitarian/democratic coalition of heroes gives him a
    royal smack-down? “Puny god,” indeed.”

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com/ Derek Rishmawy

    Hmm. It’s a good scene to raise an issue with in the Avengers. I think it could still fit in with the overall premise in that, yes, Loki is a puny god and an unfit ruler. He is exactly the kind of man who should never rule. We need the egalitarian Avengers because of Lokis who take advantage and rule wickedly.

  • jtheory

    i think what it shows is that people don’t want to be ruled, they want to be loved, and have meaning and hope. If they want a king, they want a servant-king who cares more about them than himself. This gives them the ability to care more about others than themselves. In other words Servanthood = Sovereignty.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com/ Derek Rishmawy

    Which is what we get in Jesus.

  • R2D3

    There’s a new baby prince, but who was the baby king?

    Marc Cohn – Baby King
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-iR7MYNV_Y

    Baby King – Orchard Hill Church Christmas
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uvH_xB80-I

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Very nice, though I know of a lot of Americans who are rolling their eyes and harrumphing over the hubbub. And I admit I’ve rolled my eyes a little too, just because the monarchy has no real significance in England anymore, so it seems silly to be going on more about THIS baby than any other baby. But then I think, hey, it’s a baby. It’s nice for people to get excited about a baby (for a change), and the couple seems pretty likable too.


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