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Daily Prayer

Dear Friends

On holiday in Vienna lately, each morning at breakfast one couldn't avoid seeing the rolling news which was being displayed on a large-screen television. One tragedy after another was covered, including the terrorist attacks in London and the Grenfell tower fire - all viewed through the CNN 'filter'. Newspapers, such as The Guardian and The New York Times were also available, if one wished to follow events in more detail. In the context of calm and civilized Vienna it all seemed incongruous and far away.

Schönbrun Palace
Schönbrun Palace in Vienna. Image ©Thomas Wolf,

Vienna in the past, however, was no stranger to adversity. The Turks and then Napoleon attacked what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire and of course the Nazis walked in during 1938. Here in our 'island' situation in the United Kingdom we can forget how relatively easy it is for countries to be invaded in land-locked central Europe. Nevertheless, although vulnerable to invasion, Vienna also attracted many artists, musicians and thinkers due to its position, poised between east and west. At one time, just before the First World War, the famous Cafe Central, one of the most popular coffee-houses in fashionable Vienna, could boast the patronage of a throng of intellectual and artistic 'types' and it is said that Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler and Freud were also among those who frequented it, although it is not known whether they met there. During that period Hitler was a would-be artist who was trying, without success, to be admitted to the Academy of Arts - one cannot help wondering whether the course of subsequent history might have been different had he been accepted! Personal resentment and disappointment can so easily lead to a desire for vengeance, and to unimaginable consequences if not dealt with sensibly.

Currently we are faced with almost daily reminders of the results when troubled minds are subject to radicalization, and are encouraged to harbour hatred and crazed ideologies - or just simple prejudice. Such issues are always difficult to deal with - and our police, security and emergency services, in particular, deserve our prayerful support at this time.