As the old saying goes, Americans don’t have a royal family. We have celebrities.
We even live in a day in which it is terribly important for American political leaders to be perceived as celebrities, with as much cool clout as possible if they want to be successful. Ask Mitt Romney about how that works out in the real world.
Meanwhile, the members of Great Britain’s royal family are now, arguably, the most important, the most popular, the most omnipresent celebrities in the world. The light of the exploding star named Princess Diana still glows hot.
On one level, the subject of this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to listen) was my post the other day in which I argued that there was interesting religious content (gasp) in that baptism service for Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. I was glad that the online version of the USA Today feature on the rite included a nugget of crucial religious information, yet sad that the version of the story that millions saw in the ink-on-paper edition lacked those crucial paragraphs.
Surprise. The first thing the copy desk cut out of the baptism story, to fit it around the adds, was the factual religious content. The fashion material? In, of course. The gossipy stuff about who made the cut as godparents? In. Plenty of Diana references? In. In. In.
In particular, I wanted to know which version, traditional or progressive, of The Book of Common Prayer was used in the service, so that readers could know — if they really wanted to know — the content of the eternal vows taken by the parents on behalf of their first child. They almost certainly spoke these words or words very similar to them:
Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow into the full stature of Christ?
Parents and Godparents: I will, with God’s help. …
Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
Answer: I renounce them.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Answer: I do.
Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer: I do.
Does this matter? Well, it matters if you are in any way interested in whether the royals remain committed to Christian faith in any way other than its ceremonial role in British life. The details of the service, the kinds of details reporters can seek out, may have offered clues.
You see, the international press said over and over that this rite made the baby prince a member of the Church of England. That is not what a baptism rite does, in the ancient faith. The rite was the doorway — at first through the pledges of the parents and godparents, backed by the work of the Holy Spirit — into the Christian faith. Period.
Is that content part of the news story?
Meanwhile, by this point readers may have asked a logical question: Why in the world is he bloody conclusion of “Training Day” at the top of this post about the baptism of a royal baby?