When I was a medical student it was customary for future psychiatrists to spend some time in Austria to learn at first hand about the fathers of our profession Freud and Jung and to aquire the foreign accent deemed necessary to confer that certain authority on the doctor and therapist. I remember sitting in the little Vienna tearoom that became my regular haunt when a young fellow came in. My table had the only free place in the establishment so he sat opposite me and we got talking over a glass of blue nun, which was quite appropriate when you consider who the young chap turned out to be in later life. It seemed he was actually german and was taking a little time out to travel untill the american post war authorities in Germany stopped looking for him. He had found work as a stunt double for Orson Wells in a dark little movie that was being filmed in the City at that time. We talked and talked and drank and drank and one thing led to another and that is why I can with a certain and perhaps unique authority defend that thoughtful young man or Ratzi as I knew him, in his current hour of need, and I think we all know who I'm talking about don't we. Ok, I don't feel great about it but I was young and he did do wonders for my german.
Well, I can hardly reconcile the object of such hostility from the islamic world today to that young man riding around Vienna ferris wheels with his zither all those years ago. I do understand of course that our muslim friends feel strongly when the name of their prophet, peace be upon him, is in their view taken in vain but I know the holy father did not mean to upset anyone. I mean just because he quoted something doesn't mean he himself believes it. The Archbishop of Canterbury quotes from the bible all the time but nobody seriously thinks anyone in the Church of England believes a word of it. I think this is actually the point his holiness was making ironically, that the hellenic tradition has reason inform religion and vice versa, whereas for others, their religion is hardwired and therefore they come from a very different cultural standpoint and can't be blamed for their actions because they haven't the ability to make a free decision. I hope the muslims haven't burned all the copies of the speech and still retain one or two to read when they've calmed down a bit. I also think the mayor of London should organise some way for the muslims down there to let off steam, a jolly good public stoning is always a good stress reliever and ice breaker. Islam is a peaceful religion apart from one or two minor indescretions involving airliners and trains which I am sure are entirely forgiveable. I'm sure that all this fuss will blow away with the same wind that carries off the smoke from the burning effigies and torched churches.
I only hope that the infallible holy father's new found willingness to admit he is is only human is kept in check because the last thing one wants to hear from St Peter's balcony is Vell, I vas vong about using ze quotation from ze 14th zentury, zo zat brings me on to ze virgin birth. I hope too that these events, finding as they do our pope on the ropes so to speak, are not exploited by cynics and non-believers seeking to portray these two fine faiths in a negative manner.