February 20, 2007

The Pope and Bear Hunting

The Sage from Texas sent me this:
The Pope and Bear Hunting

The Pope decided to take a couple of days off to visit the mountains of Alaska for some sightseeing. His chauffeur was cruising along a campground when he saw a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods. A helpless Democrat, wearing sandals, shorts, a "Save the Whales" hat, and a "Down with Bush" T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically and thrashing around trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10-foot grizzly.

As the Pope watched in horror, a group of Republican loggers came racing up. One quickly fired a 44 magnum into the bear's chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Democrat from the bear's grasp. Then, using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the other tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat.

As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions!" he told them. "I heard there was a bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic Environmental activists but now I've seen with my own eyes that this is not true."

As the Pope drove off, one of the loggers asked his buddies "Who was that guy?" "It was the Pope," another replied. "He's in direct contact with heaven and has access to all wisdom." "Well," the logger said, "he may have access to all wisdom but he sure do esn't know anything about bear hunting! By the way, is the bait holding up, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and get another one?"
And "...but I do think that if any modern Pope were to know anything about bear hunting, it would probably be Papa Ratzi..." The Sage continues.

Well, maybe not bear hunting, but otherwise that's pretty close to the mark.

There is an old an cherished tradition of -- yes -- poaching in Bavaria, Ratzinger's home. One of the most popular heroes is Georg Jennerwein, a poacher. He was shot dead from behind in 1877 and after his death he became even more legendary as a romantic hero, fighter for the poor, and victim. He is not the only poacher having acquired hero status in Bavaria. The generic term for poacher is "Wilderer". Many outside Bavaria call it colloqially Wilddieb (Wild = game and "Dieb = thief), but the Bavarians refer to them as "Wildschütz" (Schütz[e] = shooter), thus expressing their appreciation for that profession. And you surely have heard of Albert Lortzing's opera "Der Wildschütz" (1842).

This is a Marterl for Georg Jennerwein. A Marterl is a memorial cross (notabene the etymologic nearness to "martyr"). It says: Im stillen Gedenken. Hier wurde am 6. November 1877 der bayrische Wildschütz Georg Jennerwein von feiger Jägershand hinterrücks niedergestreckt. Seine Getreuen im Juli 1878. (A Silent Memorial. Here, on November 6 1877, the Bavarian poacher Georg Jennerwein was shot from behind by a cowardly gamekeeper's hand. His stalwarts, July 1878.) This will be there for 129 years this July. A loving memorial for, by any non-Bavarian standard, a criminal.

There is a strong anti-authoritarian streak, for which the story of the coachman Xaver Krenkl is typical. Krenkl is said having overtaken, illicitly, König Ludwig I four-in-hand in the Englischer Garten, shouting when reproached "Wer ko, der ko!" (High German: "Wer kann, der kann!" English: "He who can - can!") My (deeply Prussian) mother asked me stunned: "But did nothing happen to him?" Meaning wasn't he in one way or the other punished, for that. Of course he wasn't.

There is a street named after Xaver Krenkl in the Munich suburb of Daglfing, next to the harness race course.

The Bavarians are something else!