No, not you, dear boy, no matter what a few protesters shout today in Scotland...
...you, Woody. Unlike our pontiff, who continues to express repentence for his shortcomings in preventing predation upon the young, you show no signs of remorse for a rather malodorous past in the Endangered Young'uns department. Yet your old fan club, the New York Times, serves you up again today, this time as the Weary Senior Statesman of bemused atheism. Don't get me wrong, Wood-man, we all love your funny movies, and their nuanced humanity has helped us brush off the whole daughter-poaching incident so long ago. These days, you say, you're just another wry aging New Yorker, who takes his kids to school and watches football between gigs.
Unfortunately, for a fellow whose cultivated image is that of a worldly intellectual, you sound awfully ignorant when you say things like this about religion: "To me, there's no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They're all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful."
Now, I'm the last one on earth to jump into the currently popular game of "Argue with the Atheist." Even in college, it bored me; my own faith is not the product of philosophical or theological disputation, but the response to a lifelong welter of messy encounters, broken hearts, absurdly generous gifts and laughable coincidences. I couldn't explain it persuasively to Christopher Hitchens, or Woody, or anyone, if I tried. But to equate any of the great faith traditions with a fortune cookie is the sort of shallow glibness I'd expect of, well, a college student--and not one at a very good college, at that. If you are really all that deep and Bergmanesque, Woody, even as a nonbeliever you should know better.
Just for the record, here's a quip from the old man that the New York Times does revile, spoken today on his "controversial" state visit to Scotland:
"As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny."
Damn, that's one hell of a fortune cookie...and spoken by a man in red shoes.
Photos: Woody Allen, New York Times; Benedict XVI, The Times of London