The King’s Speech 3: Lionel Logue and the healing question

The rise and rise of The King’s Speech continues unabated. It cleared up at the BAFTAs last weekend, winning seven awards.  Colin Firth is on a roll, and looks like a favourite to add an Oscar to the growing collection of awards for his portrayal of King George VI.  It was good to see Geoffrey Rush rewarded for his equally key role as Lionel Logue himself.

During the week following the BAFTA award ceremony, the real Lionel Logue’s grandson Mark Logue shared a stage in Windsor’s parish church with Peter Conradi, co-writer of their best-selling book about Mark’s grandfather, also called The King’s Speech.  An audience of several hundred came out to hear about the commonalities and contrasts between the contents of their historical biography and the docudrama movie.  The good news is they feel that script-writer David Seidler and movie director Tom Hooper got the tone of the story right, even if the chumminess of the relationship between Logue and the King might have been somewhat exaggerated and some of the historical details were not so historic!

On the major side, for instance, Churchill was a supporter of Edward VIII who abdicated, rather than a supporter of his brother George VI who ascended to the throne as a result of the abdication.  The film portrays the reverse.  On the more pedantic side, Helvetica had a walk-on role in the movie – spotted in a BBC control room! – while the font wasn’t in fact designed until after the demise of King George VI.  On the more perplexing side, the scene of “therapeutic profanity” that the makers have fought hard to keep in the movie – despite an ‘R’ rating in the United States, putting it out of the reach of unaccompanied children – was a total artistic fabrication that never would have occurred.

A very enjoyable evening in the company of Mark Logue and Peter Conradi left one convinced that the viewer of The King’s Speech isn’t being short-changed by going along with the feel-good factor while watching this feel-good movie.  It is feeling good about something that did occur.  Lionel Logue’s relationship with, and therapeutic work for, King George VI were truly remarkable.

During the evening’s chat both the Times journalist Conradi and Logue’s grandson – who was born 12 years after his now-famous granddad had passed on – stressed that Lionel Logue had successfully aided the King in overcoming his limitations, but hadn’t cured him.  This comes out in the biography too.  It is clearly historical fact, and is accurately portrayed that way in the movie.  In an interview with Yours magazine, Colin Firth stressed the fact that they went to lengths to ensure that the story did not come across as a miracle cure.

As pointed out in an earlier blog, Lionel Logue himself had, to some degree, looked into and liked the therapeutic theology called Christian Science that has often been mistakenly misrepresented as a belief in miracle cure.  Instead it is a system of spiritually grounded therapeutics that rests on the inspired, but reasoned, healing approach of Jesus who, more than anyone else, evidenced the power of divine Love, God, to restore broken bodies and broken lives.

The compassionate calling of Christian Science to heal, rather than criticise and condemn, struggling individuals, would have doubtless suited a character like Logue.  As the speech and language pathologist who has researched Logue’s practice, Dr Caroline Bowen, points out in Lionel Logue PIONEER SPEECH THERAPIST 1880 – 1953 (in the section on Western Australia) it is reasonable to assume that these teachings might have been responsible for motivating his wartime transition from elocution teacher to self-made therapist helping soldiers who came back from World War 1 struggling with speech defects.

Although Christian Science isn’t about miracle cures, it is about curing, rather than just managing, problems, as illustrated by the recent blog, Can speech defects go, rather than just going on and on? So it is of interest to note that as a professional speech therapist – in the days before this was co-opted as a branch of medicine – Lionel Logue seems to straddle both sides of the divide.  Some of his cases, such as his work with King George VI, never reached the point of “This is totally behind me, forever!”, although the progress beyond being incapacitated was nevertheless extraordinary.  On the other hand, other Logue patients did leave behind for good – and, occasionally, very rapidly! – the condition they brought to his attention.

So was Lionel Logue in the healing business?  Within the scope of ways in which the term is used today – from just gaining a sense of spiritual solace in the face of a condition resigned to as terminal to experiencing full physical recovery – he was clearly a healer.  Every case would count as healing in this broad array of contemporary meanings.

In his day, though – when he was taking an active interest in Christian Science – Lionel Logue would have been familiar with the use of the word in relation to the practice of the teachings in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  This textbook of Christian healing points to a transformation of attitude and action through spiritual insight into the nature of God, and of all humankind as truly being God’s children, resulting in practical restoration of physical or mental health, or other aspects of life that might have hit a wall.

Measured against this idea of God-centred (and God-proving) healing, not all Logue’s cases would be considered to be healing of the conditions presented to him by those who sought his aid, although some might.  That doesn’t take away one iota from what he did accomplish…

But it does raise an important and timely question for society as a whole: should our sights be set higher than disease management, anger management, addiction management, etc?  Should we be seeking, and finding, a therapeutic system that rekindles a hope in the kind of healing that enables the sufferer to leave ailments behind?

Although no human life is without its struggles, like many others I have gratefully found that Christian Science offers just such hope, and can deliver on it.

Some Lionel Logue bits and bobs:

1. A friend shared with me a beautiful Facebook posting she came across (edited here for grammar): ““We saw The King’s Speech last night. Very good movie, but could not help reflecting on my own life and my siblings’ – the same painful issues, being squashed by my parents – and how all of us as a people/humanity struggle to find the King inside.  This is our journey back to whom we truly are, this the key/gift to finding this freedom – God realization!”

In a London display, a photograph of King George VI’s speech therapist, Lionel Logue, lies underneath the king’s appointment card (which dates from when he was Duke of York). Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

2. A great article in The Christian Science Monitor called The Real Story behind The King’s Speech, on “the doggedness and serendipity [which] set up a small film’s big success” .

3. Helen Bonham Carter received the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The King’s Speech…and if there was a BAFTA for most grateful acceptance speech she would have been a contender!

4.  And last, but not least, here is a video of Mark Logue talking about his research of the life of his amazing grandfather, Lionel Logue!

5. See also: The King’s Speech: Lionel Logue and the Christian Science question and The King’s Speech: Lionel Logue and the hypnotism question.

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Categories: Books, Movies, Reviews, Uncategorized

Author:Tony Lobl

I write and edit articles on spirituality from the perspective of the practice of Christian Science as an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the teachings of Christian Science transformed my life and re-shaped my career.


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