Reverend Dr Dr David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College, Durham University 
Wednesday, 10 September, 2008, 07:17 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

As a holder of PhDs in both theoretical astrophysics and theology, I am uniquely placed to tell you about the theological implications of the Large Hadron Collider. I like science. I like quark-gluon plasmas and strange particles. I knew the discoverer of the first strange particle Prof. George Rochester. We used to meet in church. That's right, two people who know far more about physics than you do, believe in the Invisible Magic Friend. This makes our beliefs respectable and rational and they should not be questioned by less knowledgeable people.

Science is a gift from the Invisible Magic Friend. That's why, ever since the time of Jesus, the church has encouraged free thought, critical inquiry and the testing of new hypotheses. But wonderful as the blessed LHC is, what happens when it does discover the holy boson of Higgs? What do we do when it shatters the standard model of particle physics? Suppose we do find the ultimate laws of physics, what then? Who made those laws of physics? Eh? Eh? Answer me that? I mean somebody had to. As a Rev. Dr. Dr. let me just assure you that the Invisible Magic Friend didit. He's not just the god of the gaps. We really do need him in order to have an explanation for the things even I don't understand. I mean without him, there wouldn't be any laws of physics - everything would just fall apart. I can't see how there can ever be a physical explanation for the origins of the universe, therefore there isn't one, therefore goddidit. Specifically, my goddidit. So there.

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The Blindingly Reverend Tom Butler, Lord Bishop of Southwark 
Tuesday, 9 September, 2008, 07:06 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

"Events, dear boy," (hic!) "Eventsh." The world's jusht full of things happening. Hilary's not getting to be (burp!) preshident. Brown turnsh out to be an utter doughball as PM. Everything'sh jusht gone completely tits up (hic!). Funnily enough, the bible's full of eventsh too. Yesh, no, honestly (hic!). Ain't that jusht amazing! It'sh got pharoahs, and it'sh got kingsh and wars and all shortsh innit. And if that ishn't the most tenuous connection between real thingsh and bible thingsh you've ever heard then I'll eat my mitre. I'm the bishop of Shouthwark, (hic!) it's what I do.

Right now lishten really carefully to thish next bit, 'cos, itsh really, really, REALLY deep, and I'm only telling you thish 'cos your my very besht friend. God doeshn't write hishtory. No, no He doeshn't, but He communiacates to ush through hishtory. See?

Oh bugger, we've run out've sherry!

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Clifford Longley, a person who talks a lot about religion  
Monday, 8 September, 2008, 07:38 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

John McCain has picked a creationist, anti-choice, anti-gay rights, global warming denier. She likes shooting things and believes drilling for oil in Alaska and going to war in Iraq were God's will. With John McCain in his 70s, she'll be a heart beat away from the presidency.

Now there is a tendency for certain religious people, and I'm not accusing Sarah Palin of being one of them, of thinking that, just because America runs the planet, that God clearly approves of America. They are his chosen people. They got this idea from Britain, from when we used to run the planet. Of course we're now older and wiser, and don't run the planet any more, so we don't think this is a good idea at all. You must have faith when I tell you that their faith is wrong. I'm a religious commentator, I know which faith is right and which faith is wrong.

I'm not saying Palin is a disaster in waiting for the world, a Dan Quayle in a dress, worse - a George Bush in a dress. I'm not saying she confuses the world's interests with America's. I'm not saying her record as Governor shows she is spiteful and willing to abuse power for personal reasons, like Bush did. I'm not saying any of that.

What I will say is this. Render unto God that which is Caesar's. No, no, I mean Render unto Caesar that which is God's. Er, no I mean the corollary - don't render unto Caesar that which is not God's, or render not unto God, not Caesar's that which is.

Well I think that's pretty clear.

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Reverend Joel Edwards, general director of the Evangelical Alliance. 
Saturday, 6 September, 2008, 09:04 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

I was in New York last week, or "The Big Forbidden Fruit" as we high flying, jet-setting reverends like to call it. Those of you who are as high flying and jet-setting as me, will be familiar with the jet lag one feels on arrival in NY, but I still just had to listen to Barack Obama's big set piece speech at the Democratic convention. This reminds me of democracy. It's so nice that there aren't any overtly religious candidates this time. They just try to mention God as many times as possible, which makes them kind of even in the God stakes. Bringing religion into politics so debases the high ideals of religion. I don't count Sarah Palin either. She may hail from a creationist, dominionist church. She may have tried to get books she didn't approve of banned from a public library. She may be anti-choice and anti sex education, but she's still a bit too namby-pamby liberal, and not quite God fearing enough for my liking.

No, it's good to see religion and politics kept separate this time. The Invisible Magic Friend is of course a big fan of democracy. All through the bible, he's constantly urging universal suffrage and a democratically accountable executive. Of course he'd really prefer a theocracy, where everyone did what he said, as interpreted by people like...oh I don't know...high flying, jet-setting reverends, for example.

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Canon David Winter 
Friday, 5 September, 2008, 07:51 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

We're all doomed! DOOMED I say! So says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. Of course, we already knew that. The question is, why is a politician telling us the truth? What is his ulterior motive? What could have brought about this sudden attack of veracity? I think he's trying to be an Old Testament prophet, like Jeremiah. Jeremiah was famous for telling everyone they were doomed. DOOMED! The people had started worshipping the wrong gods. Some of them weren't even stoning people who had fetched bread on the Sabbath - that's how bad things had become. They'd soon feel the Invisible Magic Friend's anger, that's for sure. Meanwhile, false prophets were telling everyone it was OK to be multicultural. Then Nebuchadnezzar arrived and proved Jeremiah right. They really were doomed. DOOMED! That's how we know real prophets from false prophets. We wait until they're all dead, and whoever got the most things right was a true prophet.

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Reverend Angela Tilby - Vicar of St. Benets Cambridge 
Thursday, 4 September, 2008, 07:02 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous - I think)

The English pub is dying. Some blame the supermarkets. Their cheap booze allows us to get plastered in the comfort of our own home without having to stagger back from the pub. I can't help wondering if this is why church attendance is also going down. Ever since we introduced karaoke and banned smoking there has been a noticeable decline in attendance at St. Benet's. People are buying cheap sermons at their local off license and praying at home. They don't seem to see what they have lost: the weekly ritual of mixing with large numbers of people who have nothing in common, the banal exchange of pleasantries required in order to get through the service. How could people possibly think that fixing the crack on the patio was more worthwhile than this? They fail to see that the whole point of going to church was that it didn't have a point. It was the one point in the week where we could all be completely pointless. A bit like this talk really.

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian 
Wednesday, 3 September, 2008, 07:12 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Well it's back to school and back to work for many of us. The exercise book of life sits blank before us, awaiting the stamp of our identity and the work of the year ahead. (You've got to admire the metaphors, haven't you. But what would you expect from an award winning author such as myself?) As someone who's just come back from a secluded holiday paradise, I know how difficult it is to slow down. For those of you who couldn't afford a secluded holiday paradise this year, let me just tell you it was hell. I know what it's like to be busy all the time. Famous and talented people, such as myself, spend long hours sweating over a hot email client every day. I have so many friends that the texting seems endless. This is what Adam and Eve condemned us to when they got us thrown out of the Garden of Eden for listening to a talking snake: unending toil at a computer keyboard. Lazing about on a beach in a secluded holiday paradise just isn't enough, especially when you're normally as busy and active as I am. To be truly rested you need an Invisible Magic Friend to worship. Trust me, I'm a celebrity Christian writer, playwright and journalist, I know about these things.

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Staggeringly Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons 
Tuesday, 2 September, 2008, 09:02 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I've been in prison a lot. It's always the same, the intimidating high walls, the passport ID to show that I really am as staggeringly reverend as I claim and not some weirdo in a camp outfit, the removal of one's mitre and the embarrassing raising of one's cope to endure the intimate searches for drugs and contraband. It all goes so much smoother once I'm inside though. Prisoners, with their frequently substandard education and low self-esteem, are people who really know how to treat a bishop. There's something about being surrounded by rough, lonely, young men, with a surfeit of tattoos and testosterone, that makes you want to really get behind them. Prison is the only place where I've ever received a round of applause for one of my sermons, which goes to show what a discerning bunch of people those awaiting Her Majesty's pleasure really are. It's so very gratifying to find so many Christians behind bars. One is reminded of the parable of the prodigal son, who having squandered half his father's hard won wealth, wandered home to see if he could get his hands on the other half. So we have to ask, "How would Jesus build prisons?" Would he roast the fatted calf? Or would he simply make it a dumping ground for macho men, with it's sweaty, oppressive atmosphere and nothing to do but pump iron all day...

Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.

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Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge 
Monday, 1 September, 2008, 07:22 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy Ramadan everyone! For an entire month you'll get to hear about how we muslims practise self-restraint. Of course you won't hear us tutting about all you fat lazy slobs that stuff your faces with doughnuts all day; that kind of pious, sanctimonious snobbery isn't the Muslim way. We'll just quietly have our absolutely humongous breakfast each morning and an even larger evening meal to satiate our grumbling guts. That way we ensure that our total food intake remains roughly the same while still getting to point out how superior we are to all you non-fasting types. Of course other faiths also encourage occasional fasting. We just like to make strict rules about it and make sure everyone knows we're doing it, that's all. Even the lowest of the low, secular people, recognise that controlling your weight and restraining your impulses is a good thing, although they'd probably do it for some insignificant, vulgar reasons like health or beauty. We reach for higher ideals, such as getting to know our Invisible Magic Friend better. Trust me, when you're in an office full of people having their bacon sandwiches and pork scratchings, you really need an Invisible Magic Friend to talk to. But it doesn't bother us, because we know that every day we're just getting holier and holier.

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Holy crocodiles Batman! 
Sunday, 31 August, 2008, 07:35 AM
The trouble with trying to parody religion is that it's so utterly insane to begin with. That's probably why the Landover Baptist site is so funny - it really is believable.

Which bits of divine dottiness shall we look at this week? How about the guy who went to worship his holy crocodile, but instead of blessing him it ate him. Or the ever so delightful women preachers at Regent's Park Mosque (Women preachers? Islam's really let itself go these days.) I expect the West Midlands police will be knocking at the door of the Undercover Mosque team any day now. I think I'll go for the doomsday cult who locked themselves away in a bunker.

You'd think at least one of these people would've seen at least one satirical sketch at some point in their lives about end of the world followers, but apparently not. Their prophet, who believes that barcodes are the instruments of Satan, ordered them into the bunker last November to await the end of the World in May this year. He himself didn't join them, as God had other tasks for him. It took them a while, but eventually the Russian authorities diagnosed him as insane and locked him up. (They used to do that to people who disagreed with communism. Now it's people who disagree with the Russian Orthodox Church.)

One unfortunate consequence of this is that there was no one to tell them to come out of the bunker. So the Orthodox church sent in a world "expert" on the Book of Revelation. I've never read the book myself, it sounds a bit too much like the paranoid ramblings of someone having a really bad trip, but apparently the Apocalypse specialist was unable to sway them. They did ask for a cow though, so they could have fresh milk. What the poor cow was supposed to eat in the depths of a concrete bunker, I don't know.

What I find interesting about the Times article is its none too thinly disguised mocking tone. Surely they're not having a laugh at these people's irrational beliefs simply because there is no evidence for them, other than the word of their prophet? I mean, we're always being told that faith is so important, and the crazier and more irrational the belief, the more virtuous it is to keep faith with it. I liked the comment at the end from the Russian Orthodox priest: the emergence of the cult was a consequence of "the absence of a system of spiritual and moral education" in Russia. Yep, that's what I'd prescribe for them too: more religion.

Most of them did make it out safely in the end, although not before two rotting corpses had made conditions inside unbearable. They even came out before the end of May, prefering to take their chances on the outside.


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