Posted by: HAT | November 23, 2014

Christ the King (alt. Reign of Christ) Sunday

An image of Coretta Scott King in 2004

The word “King” may signify the idea of compassionate dignity

Hi, Gang!

Here’s a thought: “Religious language” is uncommunicative, not only because it is metaphor, but because the metaphors are sloppy and obscure the reality they are trying to reveal. They don’t say enough, and at the same time, they say too much. “Christ the King” Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, is a wondrous illustration of this idea.

The term “king” presumably at least communicates power, authority, dignity, security, awe-inspiring “highness” – another metaphor, raising the question of whether it is helpful to explicate one metaphor with another one. The problem is that in our day – and for that matter, even in the old days – the term “king” also said a lot of things that most sane people don’t want to say about God: brutality; cruelty; arbitrariness; self-indulgence; luxury; arrogance. I could go on; so could you. The King was never an adequate symbol for security, sanctity and salvation, even when the king was David (see 1 & 2 Samuel). The bourgeois liberal democracies got rid of kings and queens, as anything other than figureheads, for cause. Who in their right mind would want a king, even if it were Jesus?

No doubt Jesus wouldn’t be that kind of king. But I’m betting he wouldn’t be any kind of “king,” really. (See Matthew 20:25-28, etc.) Whatever “Christ the King” means, I doubt it means Jesus Christ as Louis XIV or Charlemagne or even Juliana of the Netherlands.

But maybe if it were possible to imagine a world in which the guiding spirit of every policy, every social arrangement, every customary practice, every institution was peace and universal well-being … maybe … maybe that would be thinking the “king” thing in the right direction.

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