Thursday, 7 June 2012

Madness & inspiration

It’s been and gone, but a few thoughts on the Jubilee concert, when the palace facade was transformed into a laser spectacular, the Mall shimmered with the flecks of a thousand lighters, and most of the line-up seemed to be called ‘Sir’.

Madness’ ‘gig of the century’ on Buck Pal roof saw the house’s imposing frontage transformed into a dazzling and witty light show - ‘good God, what are they doing to my house?’ the queen could well have wondered. A striking creative clash between the grandeur of history and contemporary pop culture.

‘Sing’ featuring musicians from the Commonwealth and military wives was the number that most broke upon the consciousness with the beauty of gift and revelation. Commencing with a solo piano riff and the lone voice of a girl from the African children’s choir, the first eruption of cheering was spine-tingling… she and her friends’ shy smiles broke out, their spirits lifted by the crowd’s approval. As representatives of a continent and world where the spirit of the vulnerable is often bruised or crushed, it was an inspiring sight.

The military wives’ support ratcheted up the emotion a further notch or three: women who endure a particular kind of hardship, bound together in this creative venture. Performed to a backdrop of vintage footage of a younger queen Elizabeth visiting different parts of the Commonwealth as an ambassador of hope. Not wishing to sentimentalise – plenty of questions swirl around the monarchy of course – but something special was going on here nonetheless.

A neighbour of mine who wasn’t into it at all, felt that all the money spent on royalty when there are starving children in the world, was ‘a bit obscene’. Opens the question, is it justified to spend so much time energy and money on other great human enterprises like space exploration and the arts when great poverty exists? From one point of view it looks like squandering on luxury in a world full of need. On the other hand, can the ‘lift to the spirit’ such celebration brings, ultimately bless others if we allow it to inspire and energise us to go away and work and give for the good of all? Discuss…


cerebusboy said...

>>>‘good God, what are they doing to my house?’ the queen could well have wondered.

When one is referring to an actual Monarch (rather than, say, a stereotypical member of the clergy/canal street afficianado) then *Queen* is surely to be preferred! ;)

The problem with the 'there's people starving' 'argument' is that it has no easy logical end and is usually made by people who themselves can afford to give much more than they do to Charity (serious question: do you know ANYONE who follows the literal interpretation of Christ's instructing someone to give *all* they can to the poor?). Everything is everything surely. Why not sell one's tv and computer and give that to a poor? Why bother owning property? (I see that argument impressing in the upper/middle-class world that is your average evangelical church!). Class is indeed a significant factor. Those who give lots to charity can usually afford it (in the literalist sense of: it will not impact overly on their cushy lifestyle) In contrast there are plenty of poor in the UK, and one's neighbour, surely, is all mankind?

Aside from which, I think anyone whose donated a lot to (say) Comic Relief over the years might legitimately query whether it would have been morally better to spunk their money on gambling instead of propping up corrupt African dictatorships.

If you believe, as Christians do, that human beings are more than the material then surely there becomes something problematic in thinking that those things that can provide spiritual or intellectual nourishment (such as, to use your example, the arts) do not warrant funding.

cerebusboy said...