“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
— 1 Peter 2:17, King James Version
I think the world needs more “Downton Abbey” not less.
Just think, maybe, just maybe, that more historical drama which examines social norms of the past, if distributed in large enough quality and quantity, might eventually inspire us to stop deluding ourselves with the irresponsibility of postmodernist nihilism — with its broken moral compass — and become more attuned to classic models of social interaction when it comes to shaping our culture, guided by a body of sentiments that honors the past and revives the social elements that made for a more stable cultural environment once upon a time. You don’t need a black tie and tailcoat such as Lord Grantham wears to dinner to show a bit of behavioral class. While reshaping our lives in a more defined, regulated manner, we might have time to chew-and-eat the nut of what’s good about the past and spit out the shell of what was bad.
“‘We are living in such disturbed times,’ says Lord Julian Fellowes, the member of the House of Lords who created it: ‘There’s a sort of calmness in the Downton world. They go up and get dressed for dinner and they come down and they’re all polite to each other and everything. It does seem like a nice oasis away from the kind of strange, relentless anger that is spewing forth on every side at the moment in our real lives.’” [DailyBeast, “Oasis …”]
The genius of Julian Fellowes is that he’s created a fictitious family, the Crawleys, with a massive British cultural heritage that is being threatened with extinction while the gathering cultural storm simultaneously threatens the welfare of the Crawleys’ large cadre of servants right along with them. It’s the juxtaposition of the lives of the aristocratic family and that of the servants that establishes Downton as a vertically astute view of the commonality of being human in early 20th century England, when sweeping changes were breaking down old social barriers with everyone positioned to take a fall from their fixed social places.
It is this commonality that draws us in and might inspire us to view others in our tumultuous times more as fellow human beings and less like hyper-diverse aliens to one another. The genius of Fellowes is that he’s exposed us to a view of people having to share the burden of being human together, no matter their station of life, while living in the same house, even if some are upstairs and some downstairs. I daresay that if liberals and conservatives in America could behave at all like the Crawleys and company, we’d be weathering our own cultural tremors with less outrage and more, shall we say, British stiff-upper-lip. Not to mention, with a lot more class. As mentioned, you don’t need a black tie and tailcoat to show a bit of behavioral class.
The Crawleys’ aristocratic ways were being threatened by the burgeoning Industrial Revolution. Our way of life is being threatened by the poison of nihilistic Post-postmodernism. Western Civilization rests firmly upon a Judeo-Christian foundation, which means that one or the other must go. Ultimately, of course, we must follow that path back and turn to its wisdom, and to God. Or, better yet, the other way around. Never mind that religion isn’t a grand subject of the show. It portrayed lives based upon Judeo-Christian principles, whether it manifests itself outwardly in practice or not. Even when silent, the ways of God are good for His creation.
As Lady Mary comments on the sudden sunshine after a storm the day of a royal parade: “The day has dawned and the weather proves conclusively that God is a monarchist.” Yes, Lady Mary, indeed, He is. And perhaps we ought to consider more seriously how to behave as royal subjects in order to please the King in order to save our own version of Downton Abbey in light of the ongoing moral revolution.