The Last Picture Show

Years ago, during the sixties, we lived in Oak Flats, a township whose layout was designed by Walter Burley Griffin, the American architect. This fact is not known to the outside world.

Oak Flats was known to Sydney siders during the twenties and thirties of the last century as a  place where they  went for the weekend and family holidays and it developed only very slowly. After the war migrants started to settle there among some older Australian families. Especially Germans, and among them, as a big proportion, Berliners could be found.

We did not have a TV in our early days in Australia, but we had a Community Hall in Oak Flats in which on Saturday nights movies were shown to an eager population.

Often the hall was full. We liked going there as it was cheap entertainment for us. In those days they always showed two movies. During the break I ran home and checked on the well being of our children who slept well in their cots unaware of their parents having fun without them. We lived with friends  in the same building and they would have been there in an emergency.

The proprietor of the cinema knew us well and as a gesture of gratitude gave us some complementary tickets. That was really nice of him.

But as the years passed and TV ownership increased people stayed away from the picture show. One day, they had a World War II drama advertised and I did not want to miss it. I can’t help it as this war was my greatest life experience and I’m interested in its causes and how people coped under the condition of war, be it as soldiers or as civilians. My wife, Uta, is the opposite. She, generally dislikes war movies, especially if they involve lots of fighting. She declined to go with me on this occasion and I decided to make use of a complementary ticket.

I have forgotten what movie it actually was and wanted to see only the first feature so Uta would not be too long on her own with the sleeping children. It was getting late after our dinner, which Australians call ‘tea’, and I had to rush in the dark to the community hall. The session had started already and I found a gloomy looking man behind the ticket window. His face became even longer when, instead of money, I offered him one of the complementary tickets. He told me, that I was the only patron and if nobody else would turn up he would only play the first reel. That is what happened. I was the only one and he stopped the movie. I went home disappointed.

But the owner of the cinema was even more disappointed and closed the picture show  after this bad evening; never to be opened again!


Habemus Papam

We have a new Pope. As a non-Catholic I could say, “So what?” But I don’t say it.

They can have their Pope and they can choose him anyway they want. For historical reasons I’m not a friend of the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike those people even more, mostly non-Catholic, who want to tell the Church of Rome what to do and what not to do. By implication we make the Roman Catholic Church more important than any other religious institution on Earth. Is it a numbers game or do they really have a telephone wire to the Almighty?

We all seem to have a say in their affairs. Why is that so? The church is a club run according to their rules and we have the nerve to tell them what to do. Their ideas of sex, abortion and birth-control irk us very much. Do we feel the Pope is ruling our lives? It is similar with the American President. He “rules” over us, but we can’t take part in his or (soon) her election.

Some commentators say he has to come “to grips” with certain issues. Doesn’t that mean he has to come around to our way of thinking? Why don’t those commentators come to grips with reality? The Roman Catholic Church does not have to follow public opinion. It is not a political organisation. But it acts like one very often. It is also a lobbyist who knocks on the doors of governments.

Some people now want a female Pope. We tell the Roman Catholic Church to be modern and join the 21st Century. What insolence! Pope Benedict said if you don’t like the rules leave the church. I think that is good advice. An organisation with tough rules is a strong and healthy one. One knows what it stands for. One doesn’t need a church to pray for guidance.

Perhaps all churches could concentrate more on pastoral services and help their parishioners to get through life better.