Never mind off-putting photographs of the mad Mahmoud kissing bearded Mullahs, the Vatican has been a positive hornet’s nest of outraged sensibilities. It would appear Benetton produced an advertisement featuring a mock-up of His Holiness giving a bearded Mullah a real smackaroo; the Mullah with pursed lips and closed eyes obviously enjoying it! The Vatican threatened legal action saying the advert was “damaging to not only the dignity of the Pope and the church but also to the feelings of believers,” and, despite my own feelings regarding religion and the religious, I have to admit they’re dead to rights though there was no mention of the other side. What has happened to sense and sensibility (and sensitivity) these days or even plain good manners that people feel its funny or they can get away with discourtesy, ridicule, obscenity, insults, hurt, scurrility? Witness the witlessness of the disgusting phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross on their show and the pair seemingly stupidly unaware of the backlash it would cause. Did they believe they were so popular they were above criticism? Now evidently a transcript is available in schools for pupils to analyse, naturally causing even more outrage, and you want to tell me the world isn’t going totally apeshit? Evidently the Benetton campaign, now withdrawn, featured other political leaders as well and a spokesman said it had been aimed at “fostering tolerance.” Alessandro Benetton, the company’s executive deputy chairman said, “The images are strong but we have to send a strong message.” Indeed? Is that so? Who do they think they are, who do they think they are kidding and who on earth requested they should send out any kind of message at all let alone strong ones? There is only one reason for advertising - to drum up trade and sell more of your wares – that was the strong message it was meant to convey. I am truly surprised that some fanatical Muslims, incensed by what they see as an insult to their religion and, as is their wont, haven’t attacked the Benetton establishments in droves, or that some mad Mullah hasn’t issued a fatwa.
Here on Crete, any new business or office opening requires the services of the local papas to give it a blessing. Like all Greek ceremonies it goes on interminably and watching it the other day at the opening of a new office for the Vamos Culture Society priest and cantor moaning away with book, incense, holy water, crucifix and basil I couldn’t help feeling what a load of superstitious old moody it all was but wouldn’t dream in a thousand years of voicing that opinion.
And still on the subject of religion, in Croydon a Roman Catholic school for girls aged 11 to 18 has been taken to task for selecting pupils who, along with their parents, attend mass, help out at church, and who were baptised within six months of their birth. Evidently “faith schools” tend to do this. I can understand Jewish schools wanting to be completely Jewish and Muslim schools likewise, there really would be little if any point a non-Jew or non-Muslim wanting their child to attend though even within these religions there are schisms of course; but when there are so many varying beliefs in the Christian religion it does seem a bit cliquey to say the least. Evidently, because of the excellent academic record of faith schools there are parents prepared to change their religion in order to enrol their offspring in the school of their choice.’
Nurse: Congratulations, Mrs Christian, you have a bonny bouncy baby daughter.
Wife to husband: Quick, dear, we have just under six months to convert from Congregational to Roman Catholic, have her baptised, and enter her for the convent school.
Husband to wife: I’ll set the ball rolling at once, darling.
It’s a bit like entering your son for Harrow or Eton the moment he’s born.