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Was it something I said? Oh, okay.

If the Pope admits his own fallibility by apologising, does that mean he automatically disqualifies himself from being Pope? In which case, can anyone apply now? What are they looking for in a CV? I was in the school choir and sang in chapel—is that the kind of thing? I’ll be fine if I can only get through to the interview. “God is merciful. All he wants is for you to believe in him or you will BURN IN A THOUSAND FIRES FOR ALL ETERNITY.” See? I can already do the patter. Child’s play. Unless it’s one of those jobs where they already want you to have experience in the post. Oh, they’ll say it’s open to anyone, but in fact they’ll be busy looking for someone high up to make a lateral move—quietly headhunting chief rabbis. It’s one rule for senior theologians and another for the rest of us. It’s just another example of rip-off Rome.

Okay, so the Pope decided to revive ancient criticisms of the violent zeal of early Islam without apparently giving a single thought to the enormous numbers of people forcibly converted by Christians over the centuries, or killed by them for clinging to their own traditions and faith. But he’s the Pope! He can’t be expected to remember every little detail. He’s got all those fiddly wardrobe decisions, for a start. Is it green for Lent, or purple? Red’s good luck, right? No, wait, that’s China.

Meanwhile, some leaders in the Muslim world are reacting in the traditional manner to accusations that Islam is mindlessly violent: by taking the opportunity to distract attention from their own failings and whipping up their populations into the kind of indignant rage that usually leads to... violence. Time to dig out the tin hats at the embassies again, chaps.

I’m tempted to suggest that the bigger news here is that even if there is an extant, unimaginably vast animating spirit behind the creation of the universe, it will surely continue not to give the flimsiest fuck about what we all do to each other. Whatever god you might believe in, it doesn’t believe in you. We’re all on our own out here, which makes the way we behave towards each other all the more valuable, not less. Every good action isn’t a nod towards a comforting construct that we’re told loves us, like some cosmic Flat Daddy, but a rare and beautiful thing in its own right, a flare in the darkness...

But of course that would be ridiculous! I’m just kidding around! Of course God loves you. He loves every hair on your head. And He honestly wants you to get that thing you really want; you just have to ask Him really hard. He will get upset if you don’t keep telling Him how great He is, though. He’s terribly insecure like that. Oh, and He said to tell you He hates those other guys, who believe some ridiculous things about their own “God”. You should maybe do something about them.

It surely can’t be a coincidence that the Pope’s statement of regret over unintended offence caused by his ill-chosen words should be issued at the same time as this equally seismic retraction:

The writer of a poem which forever doomed Slough to ridicule and infamy never meant for it to be published, his daughter has revealed.

Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman savaged the town in verse, writing: “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough, it isn’t fit for humans now”.

But on a visit to mark the 100th anniversary of the poet’s birth his daughter apologised for the poem.

Candida Lycett-Green said her father “regretted having ever written it”. [BBC]


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
But calling for the destruction of Slough was his finest hour! Or, yanno. Maybe not.
Sep. 18th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
Your speech isn't going to take the form of one of these populist rants, is it?
Sep. 18th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
I don't know what you've got against "Marriage? Chuh! What's that all about, then?" as an opening line.
Sep. 18th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
Open with that, then hit them with some divorce rate stats. Follow up with "I don't know why people even get married. Look at monkeys. Do they get married? No, but apparently they share 99% of our DNA - does that mean that marriage is 1% of our DNA? Is that the missing link?" etc etc. also you can do a spot on wedding lists.
Sep. 18th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
Man, you've thought this through way more thoroughly than me. Tell you what, you save that stuff for your speech and I'll just thank everyone for coming.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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