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Illustration by Bob AulFor two millennia, Christians worldwide have believed the Holy Trinity consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. But last Saturday, at UC Irvine's Beckman Auditorium, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar offered listeners an alternate cosmology, one more adept in this modern world at delivering mankind from evil.
This extraordinary reconstitution of faith came near the end of Aznar's hour-or-so-long sermon, one in which a discussion of the purported topic at hand—"Leadership in the Global World"—was ignored in favor of a service for the Light. It started with a procession: the diminutive, mustachioed Aznar descended the auditorium's steep steps, underlings carving a path through the adoring masses. Aznar greeted the high priests of his Orange County denomination—UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, Republican mainstays Marian Bergeson and William Steiner—but he laid hands only on George Argyros. Orange County knows Argyros best as a developer; the world knows him as the former ambassador to Spain who strained relationships between the United States and the Iberian nation in a way not seen since the sinking of the USSMaine.But to Aznar, Argyros is Cephas.
"I want to thank George Argyros, my friend, for the historic work he has carried out" in Spain, Aznar said in his opening remarks. Argyros, favoring a cane, balder and leaner than usual, beamed.
"Together, they led an extraordinary process, one that resulted in the demolition of communism," he thundered. Aznar singled out the pontiff for what the Spaniard described as the Pole's "convictions," beliefs the man born Karol Wojtyla held "contrary to the many voices that advocated appeasement" against communism.
"It would've been much easier to accommodate" doubters, Aznar claimed, but John Paul II "always remained true to his convictions."
The capacity crowd mumbled. They were there to hear Aznar speak about his Fall, about the March 11 Madrid bombings that left 191 souls killed and knocked his party from power. But as Aznar went on and on about the recently deceased pope, the audience began to understand. Aznar, like Yeshua of Nazareth, was using the lives of John Paul II and his conservative peers, Reagan and Thatcher, as a parable for a bigger Truth. His.
"We need leaders like them," Aznar said. "Leaders who are determined to defeat terrorism, fanaticism. Some have emerged, and they are very good. But we need more."
Aznar finished and took some questions from the audience, written on index cards and recited by Bergeson and Steiner. Someone asked why he involved Spain in the Coalition of the Willing despite polls showing that more than 90 percent of Spaniards opposed invading Iraq. Aznar furrowed his brow and cited the same principles with which he had earlier described Pope John Paul II. The parables ended.
"The world's better," he insisted. "When I watched the election in Iraq, I thought to myself, 'I think we were right.' Now, I watch people live freedom, speak freedom, think freedom. I think we are right."
Listeners were puzzled—was Aznar proclaiming himself as the Trinity? Isn't the Trinity composed of three divine beings uniting into One, rather than just a singular deity? But Aznar knew of what he spake—when he mentioned the "huge coalition of countries" that continue to occupy Iraq, Aznar also named those he thought were the movement's three primary leaders: Bush, Blair and himself.
"I'm fighting terrorism every day of my life," Aznar confessed, and shortly afterward, the crowd gathered around their messiah. Aznar ascended the stairs and greeted the faithful. He signed autographs. And then he went to a fund-raiser that gathered thousands in alms for the Lamb.