Louisiana’s Journey Back to Monarchy

30.06.2017
Louisiana, one of the States of the American South, has a reputation for having a troubled political system.  This year has been no different, with another budget crisis getting most of the attention of the 2017 State Legislative Session.
 
It behooves us to ask, then:  Why are Louisiana’s politics so often dysfunctional?  Let’s look at the question from two perspectives, which actually overlap: the political and the religious.
 
Politically, Louisiana has a government that does not match the nature of her people.  While she is a mix of different nationalities, the French seems to predominate.  
 
And the French are a people used to a very strong centralized monarchy.  When Louisiana joined the Union in 1812, she adopted as her State constitution the constitution of Kentucky with some minor changes.  This overlaying of monarchy with republicanism was bound to cause difficulties.  It did, and it continues to do so.  One can no more shift suddenly between the two and expect for harmonious government than one can treat a cow like a caterpillar and expect to walk home in one piece.
 
Nor should one expect too much good from elected governments in and of themselves.  St Gregory the Theologian (+391) said in one of his Orations that a multiplicity of wills leads to disharmony, and disharmony leads to dissolution.  A king is necessary; one cannot get around this.  Society, like the family and like the Kingdom of God, is a hierarchy, a patriarchy.  Just as a family will be ruled by a father, and just as Heaven is ruled by one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, so it is natural that there should be a king over a people.  There can be many institutions and officials around the king (monarchy is a very flexible type of government) - judges, elected representatives, and so on - but the king must have the final word in the end.
 
Religiously, the worship of the Holy Trinity and the salvation of the people have been subordinated to notions of ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’.  
 
The disestablishment of religion and religious pluralism in particular have relegated Christianity mainly to a private concern, with no place for it in public life but a superficial one.  
 
In other times and places, one will see something quite different.  Christianity was at the heart of national life, in public and in private. The Emperors, the Tsars, the kings and queens would personally lead their people into the churches for the Divine Liturgy.  The whole national life was a great, unending Divine Liturgy, a public work, a work of the whole people (governors and governed alike, who are united as one in the Church) offered to God, a breaking through of Heaven into earth, a great weaving and joining together of God, man, the saints, and the angels.  The work of Christian countries in the past was to create saints, not to produce ever bigger GDP numbers or to multiply consumer goods or entertainment.  These are only substitutes for a true Christian culture.
 
We mentioned an overlap.  It occurs in the person of the king.  For he is not just one among a number of secular government officials who is subject to the will of the majority.  He is God’s anointed, an icon of Christ’s kingly rule, one who exercises authority in God’s name for the good of the people.  When we reject royal authority, we reject hierarchy, we reject humility, we reject God.  And what do we get instead?  What we see day after day in the news:  Politics bent on the creation of the Kingdom of Man, where petty selfish interests disguised as rights and freedoms lead to budget deadlocks and other policies more disastrous than that, to endless discussions and arguments in newspapers and on the radio and TV, and to other societal maladies.
 
The king helps secure Christianity among the people and, along with it, harmony in government and throughout society.  This sounds strange to people with a Western European heritage where Christianity and politics became rather deformed through the power grabs and other abuses of Roman Catholic Popes, Protestant princes, and similar characters after the Great Schism of 1054 A.D.  But it is true nevertheless.  There are plenty of examples in lands where the Orthodox Church took root, West and East:  Kings Oswald and Edwin of Northumbria, King Ethelbert of Kent, King Alfred in England, King David the Builder and Queen Tamar in Georgia, Martyr-Prince Lazar of Serbia, Great Prince Vladimir in Russia.  The list could go on.  
 
Monarchy is close to us in Louisiana, more so than in other places.  The fleurs-de-lis is one of our official State symbols, and, as a friend of mine rightly said once, the fleurs-de-lis is also the symbol of the French Bourbon monarchy, which ruled Louisiana for most of her life until the Louisiana Purchase.  
 
Louisiana herself is named for King Louis XIV of France.
 
This heritage is to our benefit.  For many people are sick of ‘politics as usual’, and they are right to feel that way.  But the answer isn’t in the false choice of Republicans and Democrats, of right vs left, and so on.  The true choice is between Orthodox Christian monarchy or the antichristianity of the republic/democracy.  The Return of the King is a very good book by J.R.R. Tolkien, but it is also what those longing for good government and a sane culture in Louisiana and elsewhere should work towards as well.