Saturday, June 12, 2004

Doug Wilson on the farewell to Ronald Reagan

The events of the last week have shown us (in the civil realm) the potency of symbols and the power of liturgy. Ideas are important, and ideas have consequences. But liturgy has consequences also. Liturgy moves people, and it is not an irrational and emotional display when it does so. In many ways, and on many levels, Reagan was a class act. How he has left us has been no exception. This has been a grand example of what C.S. Lewis described with the Middle English word solempne -- a joyful and august solemnity.

Indeed, it was moving and joyfully solemn. I'm often skeptical of attempts by the state to evoke the name of God (usually, it's that non-descript, one-size-fits-all "god"), because it all too often seems hypocritical. But the Reagan commemorations struck me as deeply genuine, a reflection on the man they honored.

Although I was glad to see the networks covering the proceedings mostly uninterrupted (and some with minimal commentary), I momentarily felt ashamed watching some of the poignant moments featuring Mrs. Reagan, especially casket-side at the final farewell. During these emotional moments, I felt very much like an uninvited guest snooping on moments that should have been kept private.

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