Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The prince and the paparazzi: Christmas in July

Most journalists say that there’s only a handful of different stories to be written, and after a while all you do is change the names and some of the details. I agree with this news template view, though I think my colleagues are wrong when they trace it back to the birth of newspapers and big-type headlines. I believe it goes further back—to the Bible.

Any current-day news story that really resonates with people can be found there. There’s disaster and deliverance (the ark), suffering and survival (Job), overcoming the odds (David and Goliath), the great man who falls (King David), and selflessness and sacrifice (the Good Samaritan), for starters. There’s even the salacious celebrity kiss-and-tell (Samson and Delilah).

We are seeing one of these archetypal stories playing out in London right now as the world’s paparazzi camp outside St. Mary’s Hospital, awaiting the birth of Prince William and Kate’s first baby.

At one level it’s a variation of the silly season story. When governments and other institutions close down for the summer, journalists need to find other news to fill their columns and broadcasts. They’ll often turn to oddities and curiosities, one of which is the Christmas in July version, when family or friends throw a party with Santa, stockings and maybe even fake snow for someone who was away last December.

But as with so much in life, there can be something deeper going on. And I believe that’s what’s happening with the current Royal Baby Watch. There’s the timeless hidden in the immediate.

I suggest it has something to do with the fingerprints of God on England, whose Royal Family fascinates like no other on earth. I make this claim of “world’s favorite crown” as a Brit, it’s true, but I’m not an ardent monarchist—just observing that other royals simply don’t draw the same level of interest. Why?

Some contend that just as God places gifts—attributes of himself—in people, he also deposits them in places. At their best, countries, cities, communities, and cultures can reflect an aspect of his character and nature, like different faces of a diamond.

In this context, some see one of the treasures he placed in England as an echo of his kingliness, a flicker of his grandeur and greatness. It’s interesting to note that Jack Hayford’s wonderful song of worship, Majesty, was inspired by a visit to England during Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee.

With all this in mind, I see more than just a silly season story unfolding in a London hospital. It truly is Christmas in July. It’s pointing us to the incarnation: tugging at the hopes we have in the birth of a future king. It’s not just the media whipping up a frenzy. It’s touching within us a deeper hunger for wonder. It’s the old, old story in modern dress.

And it makes we ask how many times we all—journalists and those who read, view or listen to our reports—miss the real story.




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