El Condor Pasa

Today’s anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy reminds me of another one of those “Where were you?” questions that mark milestones in our lives.

Where were you? when you first heard Simon and Garfunkel singing

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail.
Yes I would.
If I could,
I surely would.
I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
Yes I would.
If I only could,
I surely would.

I know I was in a Kneipe in Gronau, Westfalen, where I was spending a year out from my university course in Modern Languages, working as an English Lehrassistent in the local Realschule.

A few months later, towards the end of that German year, the Landesregierung organised a trip to West Berlin for all its English teaching assistants. As we travelled in the coach along the Autobahn corridor through East Germany, one of the lads was playing his guitar and singing those evocative words.

“Bah, humbug!” exclaimed Pockleburger, an Evangelical Christian. “Sounds like some typical Lefty rubbish!”

And he went back to reading the Book of Daniel.

For some reason that passeth all understanding, I asked him about it. He began telling me about a beast with seven heads and ten horns which was a biblical prophecy concerning the European Community, then about to be expanded to include ten member states, which would clearly be the Antichrist. (You can never have too many antichrists, can you? what with the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church, Napoleon, Hitler, Harold Wilson, Mrs Jones next door who hangs out her washing on a Sunday, etc.)

In spite of this traumatic ordeal, I became a Christian myself later that year. But I have never believed that the Book of Daniel, or Revelation, have anything to say about the European Community that they don’t say about all human powers and governments. All of them are equally subject to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, the rulers of this present darkness.

Written on November 22, 2006