Posted by: rogermitchell | October 10, 2022

Kenosis and Queen Elizabeth II

I’ve taken some time to reflect on the passing of the Queen before setting out this brief post. Not surprisingly, given my negative approach to sovereignty which I regard as alien to the character of God, at least as the word has generally come to be understood, I’m not much given to sovereigns!

However, given that we have a sovereign in the UK and for seventy years Queen Elizabeth II was ours, it is relevant to assess what she did with her role. For sure she did not give it up or call it into question. But the general consensus, with of course some exceptions, is that she carried out her role on behalf of the people of the UK, and the other realms of which she was head of state, together with her leadership of the Commonwealth of nations, with a considerable degree of humility. Judging by her chosen readings for her funeral she did her best to find divine help in this, and seems to have understood something of God’s extraordinarily kenotic approach to leadership.

The core statement at the heart of the funeral service was from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 24, “then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”

In other words Jesus is not about handing the Father all rule, authority and power but abolishing all of it, which is what he came to do. So how much did the Queen operate in this spirit of abolition? This is not a silly question. I have friends who have sensed extreme dominatory power in her presence. Nevertheless, there does seem to have been quite some life-laying-down loving going on by many accounts. Why is this important? Because if she sat at the heart of our system of money, status and power, which is ultimately undergirded by violence, as was obvious in the pomp and circumstance of her funeral procession, yet was doing so even some of the time in an opposite spirit to sovereign hierarchy, then it is a mark of serious hope. It means that she substantiated a measure of subversion that connected to the cross and resurrection of Jesus and what it stands for. Namely the emptying out of the toxic and destructive elements of rule, authority and power. This kind of subversive politics is what some of us configuring a politics of love call kenarchy. Was Queen Elizabeth II a covert kenarchist, at least some of the time? Well I’d like to think so! But that’s what a kenarchist probably would think wouldn’t they?

Anyway, whatever your view of the late Queen, if you want to catch up with the latest thinking on kenarchy, I’m very glad to announce that The Kenarchy Journal Volume Four is now published and can be viewed here:

This is the first edition in partnership with the Institute For Religion, Peace and Justice,, as their academic journal, an exciting development that will extend the scope and reach of the journal. There are a new features you might find useful; a book review section and the opportunity to engage with authors on Zoom. We look forward to meeting some of you at the webinars!



  1. It does all make sense. I can’t read this and criticize it, at all. It’s all in line with Kenarchy. However, let us suppose for one moment that after doing her final duty of appointing Liz Truss, she then went and signed a document abolishing the monarchy. What then? Would kenarchy prevail? We could hope so.

    Unfortunately, the demise of the monarchy would instead usher in a presidency. We don’t know who would be elected. Maybe someone like Blair, assisted by his God-hating depressive sidekick Campbell. Maybe we’d have a more diverse candidate, like Khan. Diverse in terms of faith, for sure. Maybe the people would get to choose and we’d have a populist candidate. Boris is at a loose end I gather.

    You see, this is my problem with the abolitionist argument. Whilst the royals don’t excite me much, especially our current King, I do believe that they are, by far, the better option. I’m not sure that a rapid succession of egotistical presidents would serve kenarchy well.

    • Sovereignty, hierarchy, patriarchy and oligarchy are not, ultimately, live-giving systems. But maybe we have to cycle through them to get to the desired state of Kenarchy. We could have a revolution but we humans, historically, don’t know how to do that without a massive bloodletting. There is always the love ethic – the Politics of Love – which is as subversive and revolutionary as it gets. But we’re so addicted to the machinations of dominating power that we don’t want to go that way. Pity!

  2. Reblogged this on Andrew James.

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