The Crown: Smoke & Mirrors

I read a book on relationships that said what people most desire from others is acceptance, the ability to be loved for who (or in spite of what) they are. When others reject us, it hurts. It causes us to lash out, or withdraw, or feel unworthy. The truly terrible thing is, I see this attitude of rejection a great deal within the Church… and that is all I could think about, when watching Smoke & Mirrors.

This episode focuses around the queen’s coronation, but what winds up being more memorable is centered on David, the abdicated former king. Not only is he summoned back to England to attend his mother’s deathbed (and forced to leave the “love of his life” behind, because she is unwelcome among the royals), he is then told she cannot attend the coronation, a tactic intended to ensure he will not attend either. Sure enough, David packs up and goes home, but the hurt he displays while watching the coronation on television and narrating it for the audience screams his pain at separation from his family, at being excluded. At, essentially, being unloved for his actions. His mother rejected him, and his sister-in-law hates him, so by his own admission he has “divorced himself from them.”

But he still cares. Oh, how he cares. He cares that the others treat him with contempt and disrespect. He cares that they refuse to discuss or talk to or stand in Wallis’ presence. He cares that he is excluded from every royal function, because the very act of turning his back on the crown for love has made him “unworthy.”

Yet, no one on this show calls anyone on the glaring inconsistency in their thought process; as he educates the audience and his friends on what a coronation and the oath means, no one bothers to point out the hypocrisy. Namely, that if Elizabeth is “anointed by God,” and was “chosen by him” to sit upon the throne, then why is the entire family so angry at the abdicated king? If God chose Elizabeth, He did not choose David, therefore him stepping aside was divine will, which means this was the larger plan all along. By their thinking, you either are Chosen, or you are not Chosen, and if Elizabeth is Chosen, David wasn’t. So, get over yourselves.

I may not like some of David’s choices, and I certainly don’t like his rudeness, but given his exceedingly poor treatment by the people in his life who could choose to love him as himself, I don’t blame him. It also breaks my heart, because I see people suffering from this all the time; they are not what their family wants, and are not loved for themselves, but instead, pushed out. Some are emotional, but their family thinks they shouldn’t be; some have a minor mental illness or mood swings, which the family doesn’t want to deal with; others do not live up to their parents’ often unreasonable expectations, so they go unloved; a few just want to be allowed to be a transsexual, or a homosexual, or asexual… but no, their family shoves them aside as a ‘defective,’ this validating their own feelings of rejection and anger, and making them hurt.

And perhaps worst of all, sometimes the Church comes along and runs over them for good measure; get out, we don’t want you here, you can’t come into our club until you’ve changed.

Funny thing, that. The Church is based on Christ’s teachings, but the kind of change He most promoted was “love other people.” Be kind to them. Carry the Roman soldier’s cloak five miles if he orders you to carry it four. Forgive, and forgive, and forgive again, until you can forgive no more. He spoke to women. He spoke to Gentiles. He let prostitutes bathe his feet in oil. He dined with the tax collector—in fact, he singled him out to honor with his presence; the most hated, probably the most isolated, and maybe emotionally hurting man in town.

David would be the sort of person Jesus would be drawn to; the outcast, the reject, a man who made a decision and suffers for it, because his family cannot accept it. He didn’t want the Crown and all it entails. True, Elizabeth is now stuck with it, but given the weight it puts on her shoulders, she can probably understand why he took one look at Wallis and said, “I’ll have this instead, thanks.” And Jesus never said, “Follow me when you get your act together.” He never said, “Follow me when you’re not gay anymore, or you’ve stopped your compulsive lying, or you no longer cheat your customers, or you have stopped wanting what you cannot have.”

He just said, follow me. Come into my inner circle. Become my family.

Some people from His home town, and some members of His family, thought he was a lunatic. Jesus knew something about rejection, about hurt, about being pushed out. But instead of reacting like most people would have, like David did, like I probably would, he didn’t get mad; he looked at the other wounded, neglected, hurting, abandoned, shamed people around Him and said, “Come here. I see you. I care about you. Follow me.”

Just as you are.

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