It’s forty years (yesterday) since the release of ‘The White Album’, that cornucopia of songsmithery, which remains my favourite Beatles album. So, the fact that we count to base 10 and get all worked up about commemorating anniversaries with a zero on the end of them seems a good enough excuse to give it a spin.
Yesterday also brought the announcement that The Vatican has forgiven John Lennon for his infamous comment on The Beatles being more popular then Jesus. Well, how very generous of them! I wonder that they have a committee that sits very occasionally to decide who next to forgive, or apologise to. I imagine this is complicated, onerous work, involving not just simply ticking off the number-of-decades-elapsed-vs-severity-of-sin chart to see who has come to the top of the pile, but consideration of the need to maintain the church’s face, because any admission of being wrong has to be carefully managed, and the illusion of Papal infallibility maintained through careful wording of the accompanying statement. Could have got there sooner, John, if only you’d worked a bit harder on the ‘Peace and Love’ thing.
The last week also saw Maradona, arguably the most gifted footballer ever, being lauded by English-hating Scots (my, how these traditions persist; one might almost believe they were hard-wired) for his “Hand of God” attribution to his goal that did for ‘the auld enemy’ in the 1986 World Cup. Footballers often try and gain unfair advantage; he reacted to an opportunity and got away with it. (Personally, I blame the referee and linesman.) Yet, it seems to me, this particular piece of blasphemy went beyond mere ego-spouting from a supremely talented young man – it excused him by labelling God a cheat; moreover, one who intervenes on behalf of his favourites. This at a time when the encounter in question was given war-like status, being the first meeting of England and Argentina on a football field since the Falkland’s crisis four years previous. I don’t know where The Vatican is on this pronouncement by someone who, by many accounts, has not exactly lived a saintly life.
Most of us, I think, have long since had little problem with Lennon’s ‘boast’. Likewise, most (outside Argentina) recognise Maradona’s divine accreditation to be nonsense. However, if ‘God works in mysterious ways’, and ‘we’ have much work to do in order to understand his(/her/it/their) mind, then who the heck are ‘we’ to decide for the rest of us when and where divine intervention or influence occurs? So, are Lennon’s and Maradona’s comments any more ridiculous than the patronising bandwagon-jumping that acknowledges ‘God’ for scientific advance, such as occurred in response to last week’s wonderful news? I mean, were the author’s of the impending science paper consulted?