Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 08:25 AM - BrookRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Up in the sky, look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Jesus!
The latest film about Messiah-man pits him against his arch-enemy, General Zatan. Zatan tempts him, "Use your powers Jesus, or are you just a big scardey cat?" But Messiah-man is too clever for General Zatan. "Get thee behind me, stereotypical evil character that every good story needs," he says.
Messiah-man only uses his powers when danger is at hand and no other option is available, like feeding large numbers of people who forgot to bring a packed lunch, or quickly turning water into wine to avoid embarrassing a wedding party, or turning bread and wine into his body and blood so that people could eat him, and many other culinary delights.
That's exactly how the G8 should deal with Syria.
Messiah-man and General Zatan: as good as anything that
The co-op bank is listing on the stock market, but it's going to keep its ethical ethos.
This brings me naturally to the Hindu Big Book of Magic Stuff. The Hindu Big Book of Magic Stuff says you should remain true to your values, therefore you should remain true to your values. I think the co-op should remain true to its values.
The Hindu Big Book of Magic Stuff also says you should devote all your time to understanding the Invisible Magic Friend. You should do this because the Invisible Magic Friend says so.
If you can't spend all your time understanding the Invisible Magic Friend because you're not spiritual enough then it's enough just to worship him.
If you can't be bothered worshipping him then an acceptable third best is to do something worthwhile, something that helps people.
If you can't be bothered doing something worthwhile then the fourth best option is to give to charity.
If you can't be bothered giving to charity then the fifth best option is to learn things.
As your invisible magic bit moves from lifeform to lifeform in its eternal quest to understand the Invisible Magic Friend, you may occasionally have to take steps backwards, doing less worthwhile things, like doing worthwhile things, giving to charity or learning stuff.
Yes, it's just like the co-op bank issuing shares on the stock exchange.
And the big news today is that I'm going to retire when I reach 65.
Liverpool has been a great place to be bishop of. Everything is always so much worse in Liverpool than everywhere else. As I sit in the Bishop's Palace, I often think of all the poor people in the city. I tell this to many of the rich people in the city and they frequently tell me they're going to do something about it.
It seems like only yesterday that I tried to promote a vision of Liverpool as a renewed, vibrant, wealthy city, but I soon settled in to the traditional pattern of saying how Liverpool suffers from such terrible poverty, much worse than everywhere else.
You see, Liverpool is like a man with a disease: it suffers from a bald patch. The heart and major organs are in reasonable shape, but the roots on the hair of the head never seem to share in the wealth of the rest of the body.
This is something that somebody should do something about. It's an injustice, it is. There should be more peace and justice in the world with more people enjoying more justice and peace. As the G8 meet to discuss the world's problems, it would be to their great credit if they were to desire more justice, more peace and more justice.
And that is the end of my last Thought For The Day as Bishop of Liverpool.
(Round of applause from a tear filled and grateful audience.)
Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 07:56 AM - ClemmiesA couple of people have pointed out that the Clemmies are a bit late this month. Sorry about that. The last couple of weekends have been taken up putting together our appeal to the Department of Work and Pensions. The weekend before that was spent finding a new car after my old one lost power and started smelling of burning plastic while acrid black smoke escaped from under the bonnet. Me and my mum-in-law quickly got out and called the fire brigade. Fortunately the car didn't go up in flames but I decided to scrap it rather than risk anything similar happening again.
And in a packed Clemmies this month we have some old favourites to inform, educate and entertain us. The month got off to a flying start with everybody's favourite vicar's wife, Anne Atkins. With a heady mix of Shakespeare, Orwell, Cobbett, Aristotle and Luther, Anne pointed out the disturbing level of poor grammar among academics criticising educational standards. Oh, how we all laughed as Anne showed us that some people don't even know the difference between an infinitive and a gerund. Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking, therefore the Invisible Magic Friend exists.
Clifford Longley wasn't going to stand idly by and just let AAA take all the glory. He immediately reminded us just how progressive and inclusive the Catholic Church has become under Pope Frankie. In fact, it's remarkably similar to how progressive and inclusive it was under Pope Benny. This was a bit of a repeat from Clifford and not really up to his usual standard.
Rev. Angela Tilby continued her occasional series where she attempted to extract the meaning of life from documentaries, dramas and, this time, The Apprentice and Master Chef. For sheer dotty originality this must surely rank as a strong contender this month.
Lord Professor Bishop Baron Harries reflected upon the divine gift of national governments and global organisations. Globalisation has the power to do great good, as long as the Invisible Magic Friend, and thus his bishops, are properly involved. I must admit, I hadn't previously understood the role of the divine hand in shaping the UN and the EU. This was a bit of an eye opener.
Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings wanted to point out that the Woolwich murderers' quoting of scripture was a bad quoting of scripture. This is completely unlike his own quoting of scripture, where the Invisible Magic Baddie quoted scripture to the Invisible Magic Friend. Real religion, true religion, his religion, or in the case of the Woolwich murderers, a different religion, doesn't quote scripture to justify murder, even when the quote in question justifies murder. As the "no true Muslim" adage goes, this was one of its most egregious outings.
Rev Roy Jenkins gave a delightful review of the Hay Festival. The one thing that could really improve the Hay Festival would be more religion. Similarly, all the trouble spots around the world could only be improved with more religion. For example, women's rights, who could argue that women's rights are greatly improved everywhere when we have more religion?
As the month began, so it must end. Anne Atkins, the month's Alpha and Omega, with her enchanting blend of Shakespeare, Stravinsky, Wagner, Iphigenia, Agamemnon and Artemis, finally got to the point with the story of Abraham being stopped from sacrificing Isaac to the Invisible Magic Friend. Abraham, being the kind of fanatical psychopath who does what the voices in his head tell him to, was quite prepared to go ahead until the voices in his head told him to stop. This proves that her Invisible Magic Friend is the one true Invisible Magic Friend because he doesn't require human sacrifice, except when he does.
Tilby, Harries and Billings all deserve honourable mentions this month, but there can be no doubt about the winner. With AAA in top form and two extraordinarily platitudinous contributions, both packed full of classical references and blinding non-sequiturs, this month's Clemmie goes to the Right Awful Anne Atkins.
Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world, seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciplemaking communities. Hi.
I had to go to my son's school sports day yesterday. It went on for hours. The thing was, I had a deadline to write this really important Thought For The Day about Father's Day. There's nothing more irritating when you have a deadline to write a really important Thought For The Day about Father's Day and you keep having to discharge your duties as a father.
Which brings me neatly onto the Invisible Magic Friend. The temporarily visible third of him has an invisible third that he calls "father", or "daddy". There's another invisible third of him that's particularly invisible and doesn't seem to get out much, except when he becomes briefly visible as a dove or a flicker of flame, and that you can't be forgiven for blaspheming against because he's the sensitive type.
Anyway, this just goes to show that people require fathers. Which brings me neatly to the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son had a father. He didn't get irritated by school sports days when he had an important deadline for a TFTD about Father's Day.
Happy nearly Father's Day everyone!
Friday, 14 June, 2013, 09:06 AM - PepinsterRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Language is so important. The new OED has all sorts of new words and phrases, like "fiscal cliff", "tweet" and "crowdsourcing". If you listened to Today yesterday, you'd have heard a really peak item that was well hard sto.
New language is nothing new. New language began in the 16th century when William Tyndale translated the Big Book of Magic Stuff from Latin into English. This was full of beautiful new idioms, hundreds of which are in common usage even today. The Catholic Church naturally had him burned at the stake for such dangerous innovation [Update - see comments section].
Nowadays we don't burn people at the stake for not worshipping the Invisible Magic Friend in Latin. It's just part of the easy going, non-judgemental, modern, cuddly Catholic Church. However, we do still have arguments about liturgy. You're probably unaware of the arguments over the new translation of the mass. Pope Benny, the retired pope before Pope Frankie, thought we'd all been getting a bit too familiar with the Invisible Magic Friend over the past 50 years. He decided that Jesus wouldn't have had a "cup" at the last supper. If he was going to do some proper transubstantiation and pass the magic power down through the apostolic succession, then he'd obviously have brought a "chalice" along to do the trick.
The fuss over the new missal, which I'm sure you all find fascinating, has been politicised as a clash between modernisers and conservatives. Far be it from me to use my privileged, unchallengeable views on Thought For The Day to express my opinion, but the new translation is just rubbish. It's totally whack.
You can't really describe the Invisible Magic Friend in English anyway. He's just so... so... so... Invisible!
They've sushpended the shushpenshun of shildren'sh heart shurgeony at Bleeds Royal Infamy. (Hic!) Lotsh and (Hic!) lotsh of people will be happy about that. The people who wanted to go to Bleeds will shtill be able to go to Bleeds and won't have to go to somewhere that isn't Bleeds. That'sh really good for the people who want to go to (Hic!) Bleeds. So I'm happy they've sushpended the shushpenshun of shildren'sh heart shurgeony at Bleeds. They won't have to throw out all the cuddly toysh.
It'sh a really important questchun, really, really important questchun: should we be nice to children, or should we be (Hic!) horrible to 'em. Let'sh ask Jeeshush. What does Jebush shay about shildren? Cheese-us shays to be nice to shildren, sho we should be nice to them. That meansh not closin any shildren'sh heart (Hic!) heart hoshpitalsh. Cheese-us never closed any shildren'sh heart hospitalsh. Then again, he never opened any either. Won't someone please, please, think of the children! (Hic!)
So Cheese-ush shaysh we shouldn't close'em. Then they might not have a full shtaff round the clock, sho shildren might die. Show we should close'em. No, not close Bleeds, close some hoshpitalsh that nobody (Hic!) mindsh closin.
See, see? Wif me to tell you what Jeeshus stinks, you can't go wrong. I'm the ex-Bishop of Shufrock. It'sh what I do. (Hic!)
Isn't the US government's plot to collect everything about everybody just terrible? I don't mind Facebook knowing who my friends are, they just target adverts at me, but the US government is another thing altogether. What if they mistake me for someone involved in un-American activities? They could have the SWAT team round, breaking down the door at dawn, before you know it.
This just goes to show how perfectly reasonable and sensible karma is. People laughed when I compared the Tesco Clubcard computer to the Invisible Magic Friend adding up karma points. Well who's laughing now? I even had a scientist dismiss karma as impossible, as nothing could monitor every action of every creature in the universe. That just goes to show how rubbish science is and how brilliant Hinduism is. If the CIA can do it then the Invisible Magic Friend definitely can.
If this is getting you all upset then DON'T PANIC! If you're nice to the Invisible Magic Friend he may decide not to reincarnate you as something horrible. He may choose to forgive you. Then again, he may not. Mostly not.
A group of crazy Oxford academics are paying to have their heads frozen. They hope that science will advance far enough to have their future minds downloaded into a computer.
Phew, what a bunch of loonies! I mean, imagine investing your hopes in something as crazy as that? You wouldn't catch me wasting my time on something as far out as that!
Christianity, on the other hand, promises that the Invisible Magic Friend will resurrect your entire body. That's much more sensible. Even dead babies will get resurrected, complete with an appropriate set of the character forming memories that they never had.
We know that this is possible because the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend was resurrected by himself. This definitely happened because someone who heard about it from someone else, who was definitely there, wrote it down a couple of generations later in the New Tasty mint.
Imagine believing that one day science might be able to download the contents of your brain into a computer. Some people will believe anything!
And the big news today is that I visited one of "our" schools in Liverpool. I'll throw in some stuff about the anniversary of the nuclear test ban treaty, Kennedy, Khrushchev, the Cuban Missile Crisis and so forth, but mainly I want to talk about me visiting one of our schools.
I was in one of our sectarian schools where Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians have finally decided to get together and we ignore the fact that they are deluded papists. These schools are so well integrated that Catholic and Protestant staff even share the same toilets. Yes, that's right, there aren't even any seperate Catholic and Protestant toilets any more.
Just think, only a few centuries ago, we were happily burning each other at the stake. Now we allow our children to actually share the same school, paid for entirely by me and the Catholic archbishop. There may still be a few who aren't comfortable with two slightly different variants of Christianity cooperating like this, but where they used to actually run the church, now they're regarded as slightly loopy.
As I watched the children happily singing Christian hymns of indoctrination, I noticed one girl from an even wronger religion. "My child," I said patronisingly. "What are you doing here? You're from an even wronger religion than the Catholics?"
She explained that she and her friends had no problem worshipping the Invisible Magic Friend in several different ways. It gives us all hope for the future, doesn't it? That people from the one true religion can live happily with all the deluded ones. That's religion for you, inserting massive cultural rifts between people, then seeking isolated examples where it hasn't quite worked.