Some things never change and, even when they do, they may change very slowly.
Journalists tend to focus on the quick, the loud, the, well, "newsy" things that happen in public life. Long, slow stories tend to drive editors a bit crazy.
That's one of the many reasons why important stories on the religion beat are hard to sell to editorial power brokers in the big offices in major newsrooms. Important stories about faith are often built on lots of observations about symbolic words and gestures, unfolding over time.
So kudos to The Guardian for its Christmas story about one of the quiet, but symbolic, moments on the calendar in England -- the Queen's annual Christmas address. The double-decker headline spells things out:
How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ -- has made faith her message
Over the 65 years of her annual Christmas broadcast, the Queen has begun to take a deliberate turn towards religion
Obviously, Elizabeth II is not your ordinary monarch. Her time on the throne has been extraordinarily long and, thus, she has seen stunning changes in her land and her people. It took patience to document how the content of her messages has been changing and what those changes say about her and these times. Here is the overture:
To the royal household, it is known as the QXB -- the Queen’s Christmas broadcast. To millions of people, it is still an essential feature of Christmas Day. To the Queen, her annual broadcast is the time when she speaks to the nation without the government scripting it. But in recent years, it has also become something else: a declaration of her Christian faith. As Britain has become more secular, the Queen’s messages have followed the opposite trajectory.
A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society.
However, in 2014 she referred to her Christian faith as the "anchor in my life.” Then, last year, she added words that, on some street corners in today's multicultural England, could cause trouble. The Queen said: