Monday, 25 April 2016
On Cognitive Dissonance and Earl Grey Tea
Friends, those of us of a religious bent are occasionally accused of entertaining mutually exclusive concepts and ignoring the resultant cognitive dissonance, of being intellectually dishonest both with others and ourselves. Well, I don’t know about that, but I have found myself in an intellectual quandary that I see no way out of. Two of the pillars of my existence have set themselves against each other, and I no longer know what to think.
I have said before that I am a fairly firm monarchist. I wouldn’t ever want an absolute monarchy, but I’ve always felt that the constitutional monarchy that we have in the UK is the best of both monarchy and democracy. I’m a great admirer of our current queen, and I have no problems with her son, although I’ll admit that for the sake of the popularity and future survival of the institution, it might be better if he abdicated in favour of his own son immediately upon his mother’s death.
I am also a great fan of tea. I mean, obviously, after all I’m British and a Methodist to boot. Tea is important. Cheap for the poor and elegant for the rich, a stimulant for the weary, a relaxant for the overwrought and a comfort for the distraught, warming when it is cold, cooling when it is hot, drink of the gods and an excellent excuse for a biscuit. This is true of regular tea (loose leaf, made in a pot, served in a cup and saucer, milk in first) but also of its lesser cousins, like Lapsang, Green and Earl Grey. None of these latter though, as any civilised individual would be able to tell you, are ever served with milk. Ever. I am aware that there are some ‘people’ who do, but surely they can be pitied, although never despised.
However. I have discovered something that has rocked me to my core, cut me to my quick and shaken the foundations of my life. It having being her majesty’s birthday last week, the papers and news sites have been full of stories and potted biographies, and one of them revealed to me this shocking and distasteful truth: The Queen drinks her Earl Grey with milk!
What am I to do with this information? How can I square my support of the monarchy with my certainty that Earl Grey with milk is a sin and an abomination unto the eyes of the Lord? Must I become a republican (unlikely) or must I accept that it is permissible to have milk in your Earl Grey? I know that socially speaking I’m fairly liberal, but that seems a step too far even for me.
Must I reject one principle or the other at all? After all, I hold no belief that the Queen is infallible, she’s only human after all, and I don’t believe that she has any divine right to rule. Perhaps I must accept it as a small but significant character flaw in someone whose life has otherwise been characterised by duty and service to her country. I think that I must hate the sin but love the sinner, and forgive her this great wrong.
I may well write to her and implore her to give up her wicked ways, but then again, she does have the SAS onside, and I don’t want to provoke a sniper bullet through my bedroom window by telling her how badly she gets her tea wrong.
On second thoughts, perhaps I will remain silent on the subject, and merely pray that she sees the light and repents before it’s too late.