Wednesday, 7 December 2016

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 705 6 December 16 TRUMP’S CALL


Like Pope Francis, Donald Trump is a maverick. Like the Pope he often phones up people directly, bypassing official channels. Last night he called me. ‘Father Frank, I have heard much about you. Would you be willing to be my religious adviser?’
‘Affirmative’, I gleefully responded. Here is a summary of my impromptu recommendations.

First, Islam. Donald, during your electoral campaign you have rubbed up Muslims – 1.6 billion of them - the wrong way. Start a new chapter. You have already begun, by calling Pakistan ‘a fantastic country’. Now go one better.  Phone the Aga Khan, Karim. Arrange a meeting. As Imam, supreme spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims – indeed, as a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad - Karim is a man to get on your side. It will signal your willingness to be nice to the religion of the Crescent. As leader of his people, Karim has the right to interpret the Qur’an. He can speak authoritatively on matters of the Islamic faith. Also, the Aga Khan is a wealthy business magnate, like you. He is into education, reform, philanthropy and Islamic art – a dream ally to have. You will understand each other well, insh’allah. Oh, yes, Karim also happens to be British.(Somewhat more impressive figure than crabby Nigel Farage, methinks.) So you’ll catch two birds with one stone.  It will send a
message to the Brits: you do care about that ‘special relationship’ Britain feels so touchingly sensitive about. Smart move, eh?

Second, Israel-Palestine conflict. ‘I’d love to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians’, you said after the elections. And I am encouraged by your warning the Republican Friends of Israel concerning Jerusalem as the presumed capital of the Jewish state: ‘That should not be assumed before negotiations start between the two sides.’ Thought that was both clever and right. And you spoke of brokering a deal. Suitable language for a businessman. They say you have your son-in-law, Jared Kushner, already earmarked for the job. I suggest he should be accompanied by Professor Bernard Wasserstein, a Jewish-American. The author of ‘Israelis and Palestinians: Why do they fight? Can they stop?’ A short book shot through with insight and practical wisdom. Maybe not another Henry Kissinger but very close to it, Bernard Wasserstein is the one to consult, believe you me. He holds the key…

Of course, some opine that the task of sorting out the Middle East quagmire is above mere mortals. Obama, at the start of his ill-fated Presidency, in his famous Cairo speech quoted the Qur’an three times, postured as a friend of Islam and Muslims naively bought it. Alas, he did bugger all. Netanyahu twisted him around his little finger. (To be fair, a wag said that even Moses, Muhammad and Jesus come back to earth would find solving the Israel-Palestine conflict a bit too much.) Well, here is a mega-challenge for the Donald. A labour worthy of a Hercules. Fr Frank has confidence in you. Something, someone – the Holy Spirit? – tells me that you, only you can do it. Go for it! Prove you are the man Providence has chosen to achieve the impossible. Your spiteful enemies will bite the dust and your place in history will be assured. Kosher, no?

Russia. Piece of cake. Priestly advice is superfluous. You get on with Putin like a house on fire. Another, more benign and fair Yalta should be in the offing. But Putin is no Stalin, thank God. And you are shrewder and healthier than clapped-out, moribund F.D. Roosevelt. Just make sure to get sentimental with Vladimir. Rousskies are sentimental people. Having once loved one…I know all about it.

China. Having a drink the other day with a Chinese friend in Knightsbridge’s trendy Buddha Bar I raised the question: ‘Trump’s China policy: what’s to be done?’ ‘Zen’ he replied, jocularly. But many a true thing is spoken in jest. Zen shows the way. You see, Donald, you are a Zen type. Like a Zen master you act unpredictably. The liberal elites think that means you are mercurial, that you are an amateur, you don’t know your way around. But a Zen master cannot be predicted because he does not act according to pre-established, norms and ways of thought. He defies mental straightjackets. Yet he knows lethally well what is doing… A Zen master succeeds because he makes manifest the power of the Buddha, the Enlightened One. So you called Taiwan’s leader, against all conventions. By acting against diplomatic pseudo-wisdom you evinced a superior, Zen-like wisdom. (I speak as a formed Zen chap myself…) You taught the Communist regime a lesson. You are not afraid of them, unlike the
ludicrous Obumble. Maybe you should appoint Chuck Norris, of ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ fame, as ambassador to Beijing. You are on a winner, Donald!

As to Europe. Too many and diverse nations to prescribe about, only let me plea for my native, beautiful and chaotic homeland. Mr President Elect, an Italian discovered America and another Italian bestowed his name on it, so please, do help poor Italy!

‘And for you, what can I do for you personally, Fr Frank?’ Trump asked. ‘What would you like from me?’ ‘Nothing’, I replied. Then, on reflection, I added: ‘Only glory. The glory of having proffered successful advice on how to befriend Muslims and fix the Middle East.’

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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