I am one of the 10.2 million people who watched Downton Abbey this past Sunday night. I have waited in anticipation for months. I have been captivated since the first episode aired on PBS over 2 years ago. I suppose the Anglophile in me, as well as the setting, and intrigue keep me hooked. I wonder if many have really thought though, of the message that we are being sent in this series.
I think that many of the millions who view the show are intrigued by the lavish lifestyle of the nobility, the period dress, and the structure of society of the early 1900’s England. it is very idyllic and I have caught myself wondering what it would have been like to have lived there, and then. What ever each persons reasons are, they continue to watch.
Yet, most are not likely aware of what they are actually seeing. We aren’t just watching a historical drama, but the passing away of the world they knew. I believe this is the story that is being missed. It is also part of our own story. In Downton we are seeing the arrival of the revolutionary force with the effects that continue to shape our own world.
A great change was coming to early 20th century England. The stable way of life that for centuries had been the norm for place like Downton were being unstable. England had been a basically rural nation until the end of the 1800’s. A change in morals had changed the character of the nation. The secularization that set the stage for the basically secular nation Great Britain, as it is today, was emerging.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but there is almost a complete absence of Christianity in the plot. There is the occasional vicar, and a church service has been briefly shown. But, Christianity as a belief system, and a living faith is not there. This is the country where the influence of the Puritans was imprinted in every aspect of life.
During this timeline the great moral revolution was in full sway. Church going fell tremendously. Today it is almost non existent in England. It was a slow decline. It didn’t happen all at once. But we can look back and see the early decades of the 20th century to be the crucial turning point within their society.
The story of Downton Abbey didn’t stay just in Britain. The bigger story is the great shift in worldview in western civilization, and now pretty much the whole world. It is not just a social transformation. It is a whole different view of the world. One that we have with us now. The consequences of the larger story go far beyond the story of that great English house and inhabitants. It is a kind of parable that can teach us viewers a great deal.
Until tomorrow night at 8:00.
Good day all!