Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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Published on Friday, March 24, 2023

When Prince Harry chooses a surname

Thursday January 19, 2023

No, I haven't read Prince Harry’s autobiography, Spare, yet. But I see that the book’s cover doesn't give the author a last name.
He is just “Prince Harry.”
It turns out, Harry doesn't have a last name. His birth certificate names him Henry Charles Allen David. No surname.
His children have surnames -- Mountbatten-Windsor. When Harry and big brother William were in the British Armed Forces, they both used Wales as their surname, their father being Prince of Wales at the time.
I haven’t been able to find out how U.S. Immigration processed an entry application from a man who left “Surname” blank. Although I imagine that Bob Newhart could create a hilarious monologue about it.

Diana’s son
If a future bureaucracy ever forces Harry to choose a last name, I wonder if he might choose Spencer, his mother’s maiden name.
Harry and Diana seem quite alike, it seems to me.
Their faces -- if you can find a photo of a beardless Harry.
Harry seems, based on interviews, to have taken Diana’s death harder than his brother did. He couldn’t accept that she was dead until he was 23.
Diana also broke ties with the Royal Family. First, separating from Charles. Then divorcing him. Then having a variety of affairs, finally one with Dodi Fayed. And after she died in a fiery crash in a Paris traffic tunnel, Britons poured out their sorrow as they never had for any other royal.
It must have irked the rest of the royal family worse than a mass attack of shingles.
It must also have strained the unofficial royal code of conduct: “Never complain, never explain.”
Semper fidelis. Always faithful, regardless.
Both Harry and Diana “broke faith” in tell-all books about their personal experiences: Harry with Spare, his mother with Andrew Morton’s Diana, Her True Story in Her Own Words.

The influence of birth order
Something called “birth order” might apply here.
Basically, it’s a theory that personality is affected by birth order. For whatever reason, the oldest child tends to grow up with a heightened sense of duty and responsibility. Possibly because the parents heap all their hopes and dreams onto their first child. Younger siblings tend to be more carefree. Perhaps, again, because the elder child has already blazed a trail for them.
I’ve seen this pattern among my friends. And in my own family. Our first-born was studious, sober, reliable; his younger sister was a social butterfly.
The theory has played out several times in the royal family.
Elizabeth, the older daughter, became the perfect Queen. Younger sister Margaret made tabloid headlines.
Charles, the older son, devoted himself to good causes -- even if his opinions occasionally got him into hot water. Andrew, nicknamed “Randy Andy,” devoted himself to, well, let’s not go there.
And William, the first son and therefore heir to the throne, has been, in general, sober and responsible. His mother called him “my little wise old man.” Diana referred to Harry as “naughty, just like me.”
Even their names reflect distinct personalities. Second son gets the folksy “Harry.” No one calls the future king “Willie” or “Bill.”
Harry, it seems to me, is every inch a Spencer, even if he never takes that name as his own.
Copyright © 2023 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.
To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca


Fran Ota didn’t agree with my observation that ants work in a kind of creative anarchy. She wrote about her experience living in Viet Nam, “where cockroaches are the size of hamsters, and can fly. A dead roach had appeared in the bathroom, and the ants came out to remove it. Hundreds of ants. They hauled it across the floor, and began towing it up the wall. It was heavy, though, and kept sliding back. Suddenly one ant got up on top of the roach, and began directing the move. It went from one end of the roach to the other, giving orders with its little antenna. Some of the ‘pullers’ in front shifted to the back and started pushing. More ants came along and lined the sides. And a few more were directed to pull. It took them three hours to get that roach up the wall and out the ceiling hole, I presume to their nest. I sat and watched the whole thing, as it was fascinating. While I don’t like anthropomorphising everything, was this just instinct? And isn’t instinct a form of intelligence? I learned a lot about community, cooperation, and leadership watching those ants.”

Laurna Tallman: “So glad to know you had an excellent adventure at the church dinner, although the simile with sponge cells and slime mould made me laugh out loud!”

Diana Cabott also had an ant story to share: “A few years ago we had a problem with ants at our home in California…the fellow from the exterminator company said he couldn’t spray until he knew what they looked like. After much searching I found one….he said…’Oh of course, an Argentinian ant!’ He explained that they are very social and very friendly and if lost would move in with the first colony they encountered…..and would be taken in.”
JT: I had read about those Argentinian ants. I gather that it’s unusual for ant colonies to take in a stranger, but these Argentinian ants are not perceived as a threat.
Diana admitted that despite the friendliness of the Argentinian ant, she and Leo did have them sprayed.

I had made a comment about military discipline, while admitting that I had never been in the military to experience it personally. Isabel Gibson commented, “Well, I haven't been in the military either, but I know several people who have.
“I suspect it's like any profession -- outsiders (including me) have an incomplete view of how it really works.”

I had also quoted a reference to people not disappearing as long as their names continue to be spoken, and I wondered if this “offers justification for the endless “Saints’ Days” of the Catholic calendar.”
Steve Roney replied, “You have that backwards. Being in heaven, the saints have no need of our help. Heaven is eternity. Rather, they are in the calendar to help us, as models of a holy life.”

David Winans endorsed the principle of collaboration: ”My greatest life achievements share the common attribute of collaboration with others that could not have been attained by any one of us. It, the attainment, required all of us collaborating and, in the moment, becoming a community.
“Interestingly, Edward O. Wilson in The Social Conquest of Earth asserts that the formation of bee/ant/sponge/human community fails more frequently than it successfully unifies. What causes the formation of community? One indication of Wilson's genius is that he left the mystery intact.
“Capitalists and athletic coaches rankle me when they proclaim the virtue of competition, as anultimate. The instant a confrontation goes beyond one individual versus one other individual, collaboration is required. Community is holy space:”


Psalm paraphrase
I’m not sure why Psalm 27 was chosen for this particular Sunday, but it was, so here it is.

4 All I ever asked for was peace and harmony.
I would love to live serenely in God's presence.
But instead of protecting me from the tragedies of life
God gives me strength to cope with them.
1 When wild-eyed beasts with slavering jaws glare at me out of the gloom, God gives me fire;
Its flickering brightness keeps fears at bay.
5 When the fiery furnace of petty tribulation consumes my tolerance,
God offers a cooling breeze.
When daily duties clash like ignorant armies
God raises my sights above the swirling dust of strife.
6 I can see clearly again.
I don't want to fight anyone.
I would rather praise the one who loves me.
7 So don't stop now, Lord of life.
When beasts with glowing eyes get me down,
Come to my rescue.
8 "Turn to me," you say. "Do things my way."
From the bottom of my heart, my God, I have turned to you.
9 Don't turn away from me.
You are my only hope.

Apparently the printed bookof my paraphrases of most of the psalms in the Revised Common Lectionary is now out of print. But you can still order an e-book version of Everyday Psalms from Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com, or 1-800-663-2775



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To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have blocked my posts because they’re suspicious of some of the web links.
Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca He’s also relatively inexpensive!
I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos. Especially of birds.
Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)

I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge. (Although maybe if I charged a fee, more people would find the archive worth visiting.)
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Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges


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