Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 08:22 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Today is the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. This reminds me of Jesus' Resurrection. That's the great thing about being Bishop of Liverpool - its numerous tragedies and consequent boundless opportunities to talk about Jesus and sing Abide With Me. Wherever there's misery and disaster, you'll find the Church there. 96 people died at Hillsborough due to multiple organisations' incompetence. Jesus also died, but he came back. Isn't that just fantastic! Today, I'll be joining those who grieve for their lost friends and relatives, talking to them about Jesus and singing Abide With Me. God, I love being Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons they're both so wonderfully miserable.
Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 06:55 AMOver at pharyngula they're busy crashing a poll based around this beautiful image from the Chandra X-ray observatory.
This reminds me of a very different Hand of God picture taken by Hubble a few years ago. In this picture God isn't so much offering a helping hand as perhaps sending the rest of the universe a message.
Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 08:28 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Happy Vaisakhi everyone! Yes it's that happy time of year (again) where I get to tell you about Guru Gobind Singh and how fantastic it is to be a Sikh, and I include women in that. Guru Gobind Singh declared that everything we needed to know from now on was already in our holy book. He taught us there is exactly one Invisible Magic Friend, no more and no less and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong. He made it clear that everyone was equal and created a new superior group for those that were the very best at being equal. The Gurus were just brilliant, weren't they? But don't worry, even though leaders of your religions often weren't as good as the Gurus, you can still do something worthwhile with your life. Almost any religion can stop you from being the negative and irresponsible layabout that you naturally are.
Monday, 13 April, 2009, 08:50 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Some Christians, like the Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Evangelicals, the Presbyterians, the Calvinists, the Lutherans etc. think that the really important bit of Christianity is the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend being executed on the cross so that he can be sacrificed to the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend for all our sins. No, no, no, no, no, this is all wrong. The really important bit about Christianity is the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. It's this unique event that gives us all hope, that brings a new dawn, that brings light to the world, that is our inspiration, the culmination of the Christian message. That's why the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend is so important. Those who go around questioning whether he physically rose, or spiritually rose, or even whether he rose at all are just a bunch of petty nitpicking party poopers. As a Rev Dr, let me just assure you that I'm not in the least bit interested in what actually happened. I'm going to go on being inspired by the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend whether it happened or not. In these dark times, knowing that the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend really happened (or not) is just the kind of hope for the future that we all need.
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Metropolitan of Canterbury, Primate of all England, Titular Head of the Anglican Communion
Friday, 10 April, 2009, 09:29 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
6.59 and now, on this depressingly secular and godless news and current affairs programme, a short hymn to celebrate Good Friday.
When Iiiiii surveyyyyyy, the wonnnndrous crosssss
On whichhhh, the prinnnnnce....
And now a short advert for Radio 3, an equally godless den of secular music.
Yes, it's Radio 3 listeners' most popular programme: Belief. This week on Belief we have an exclusive interview with His Holiness and Top Catholic, Rt. Rev. Saint Tony of Bliar.
"I think Faith is so important."
It's a quarter to eight and time for Platitude of the Day.
It is Good Friday, and, on the day in which many of you celebrate by staying in bed and not listening to me, you are given an extra special treat here, on this popular wireless programme, of listening to me, England's Top Christian and highest non-royal in the Order of Precedence.
As England's Top Christian let me just assure you that saying "sorry" is so important.
(...at this point, you may wish to pause and reflect upon this simple, but powerful message, that I, your moral and spiritual leader, am giving to you, my flock of sheep, with time for your less Christian, fluffier minds, to absorb its profundity, as it were, with a view to enhancing your own depth of spirituality, which we all need to grow in the strength of our undoubted humanity and Christian fellowship...)
Our forgiveness is so often conditional upon someone saying "sorry".
(...you may here, at this very point in the passing of, what is commonly known to those for whom chronology is of some temporal significance, call "time", wish to take "time" to appreciate the restraint that I, as in myself, the essence of which is me, am exercising in refraining from polysyllabic words, that, given that were I to use such scholarly constructs might place an undue burden upon my, for want of a better phrase might refer to, in the abstract at least, as my audience's intellectual faculties...)
Jesus didn't wait for the Romans to say "sorry". He asked for their forgiveness.
(...it being my fervent wish, as in a desire that one may wish to bring to fruition, in its totality, so to speak, given the rather general and somewhat heterogeneous demographic composition of what is, to all intents and purposes a more diverse congregation than a prelate of one's personal standing might...
I'm sorry...I've forgotten what the object of this verbiage might have been, if indeed it had one, so to speak, as it were...)
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN! He is an impostor. I, the Most Reverend and very nearly eminent, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster presumptive, am the real Primate of All England. I know because His real Very Holiness, Reichsführer Benedict the umpteenth says so. SEX, SEX, SEX. It's all anyone ever talks to me about. Anyone would think the Catholic Church was completely obsessed about sex.
Sarah Montague: I'd like to ask you about condoms and AIDS.
No one's interested in that. Condoms are bad. Abortions are bad. Homosexuality is bad. Bad, bad bad.
Sarah Montague: But if someone has a partner...
SHUTUP. The pope never said that anyway. Condoms are bad. They're advertising abortions on the telly now. Two for the price of one, buy one get one free. It's terrible. It's evil.
Sarah Montague: His Holiness and Top Catholic, Rt. Rev. Saint Tony of Bliar, says the Church must move with the times.
Yesssss. Now look, without wishing to sound in any way condescending or dismissive, I'm sure this, whatsisname...Bliar is a very decent chap, and he is very welcome as a distinguished lay person with no training in theology whatsoever to do as I say. "Moving with the times" - that may be OK for a political party, but this is the Catholic Church. We just don't do that sort of thing. Remember kiddies, sex is a very dirty, wrong, bad, evil, sinful thing.
Thursday, 9 April, 2009, 08:25 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Time for today's regular insight into current events as seen from a Faith Perspective. What shall I give you the benefit of my religious wisdom on today? The incompetent terror chief? Unprovoked police violence? The struggling battle with climate change? I know, what did you watch on the telly last night? I watched a programme about hospitals. It was after a hard day's vicarring. We reverends really have our work cut out in Holy Week. It's just one continuous round of services reminding people about Jesus' death and Resurrection. Did you know it was time for Jesus' death and Resurrection? I just thought I'd mention it.
Anyway, this telly programme about hospitals had lots of injured people in it, mostly sinners suffering their undoubted just rewards for all their sinning. It was full of drunks and thrill seekers, godless materialist sinners the lot of them. There were also some doctors and nurses, doing their jobs professionally, helping all, being totally fair and non-judgemental, just like we Christians. They're a kind of secular, and therefore not as good version, of Holy Week. Jesus was very, very ill on the cross, but then he got better. As T.S. Eliot so beautifully put it, "We need a lot more sick people to remind us about being sick."
Blimey, I thought, these health care practitioners work almost as hard and are nearly as useful as we vicars!
Wednesday, 8 April, 2009, 08:14 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Brian here, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in today’s world. Hi.
I want to talk to you today about face transplants. I'm struck by the stunning similarities between face transplants and Jesus' death and Resurrection. Oh, yes, Jesus' death and Resurrection, I'd forgotten all about that. It's the anniversary this week. Did you known that? Good job I reminded you then. Even though he hadn't had a face transplant, Mary didn't recognise him.
"Are you the gardener?" she asked.
"No, it's me, Jesus," he laughed. "I've risen from the dead!"
"Oh, silly me," Mary chuckled in embarrassment. "I didn't recognise you, what with you being dead for the last two days."
"Three days," Jesus corrected her. "The prophecy said three days. Look Friday, Saturday, Sunday, that's three days.
"Yes but it's been less than 48 hours since..."
"It's three days, OK! Just go tell everyone I've risen and I'll be around."
Then Jesus appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. He still hadn't had a face transplant, but they didn't recognise him either.
"Who are you?" they asked.
"It's me, Jesus, back from the dead!"
"Oh yes, so it is!"
Yep, it's that old Jesus and face transplants and moisturising cream connection thing again.
Tuesday, 7 April, 2009, 11:49 AMThis Downing street petition needs as much publicity as it can get.
The idea is that we have a block of flats for MPs to stay in (complete with adult channel movies in every room). Something not too far from central London. There are loads of run down blocks of flats in the east end that could be refurbished for a modest outlay. Each flat could hold a couple of MPs. They can have shared kitchens with their own shelf in the fridge and little post-it notes saying "Please clean the cooker when you are finished, you're not the only person who lives here you know."
Tuesday, 7 April, 2009, 08:17 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The banks have all collapsed, just like in Mary Poppins. This shows that you should not put your trust in man made institutions. This was not caused by God. Yesterday there was an earthquake in Italy. This was not predicted by scientists. Scientists will never be able to predict earthquakes, which just goes to show how completely useless science is. This earthquake was not caused by God either. I shall now demonstrate how incredibly useful religion is.
You must place your Trust-In-God. Before doing so however, you must realise that Trust-In-God won't actually make a blind bit of difference. He won't save you from banking collapses or earthquakes no matter how much you Trust-In-God. God's like that. He likes all the worship and trust and things but when it comes to saving your hide, don't expect Him to help you out, except of course for all the miraculous times that he does intervene and that therefore prove His existence.
If you do think that Trust-In-God is likely to be helpful then you are going to be sadly disappointed. If He let His own son be tortured to death by the Romans, what makes you think He's going to bother helping you out. Each time you face disaster you will either have to abandon your Trust-In-God or start making endless and increasingly convoluted excuses for why God has decided to ignore you - something which we Christians never do. As a Rev Canon Dr and an Anglican Priest, let me just assure you that when you place your Trust-In-God, He knows exactly what a horrible time you're having, which is surely a great comfort. He just isn't going to do anything about it.
Monday, 6 April, 2009, 08:29 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Happy Holy Week everyone! Yes, we've got a whole week just choc full of Christian feast days. Here on TFTD we'll be taking you through each one in laborious detail as if you've never heard the story before. Isn't that something to look forward to!
Of course, near the end of the week, we'll have the death of Jesus, and some of us might be tempted to think, "Well that was a waste of time wasn't it?" Because of course none of us know that he's going to be resurrected three days later, or two if you can count, but that's a secret right now so don't tell anyone.
This reminds me of my own loss of faith not long after I'd been priested, and I'd been priested hard. It was the funeral of a child, with a small white coffin in my own cavernous church. Suddenly it seemed as if all the arguments for my Invisible Magic Friend were complete nonsense. Of course we all known the whole religion thing is nonsense from start to finish, but this was the first time I'd had to face up to this. For days I felt that my whole way of life was pointless. But I soon picked myself up again. I didn't let the little problem of why a good IMF allows children to die for no obvious reason get me down. I thought to myself, "What the hell am I going to do if I don't remain priested? I've spent all that time studying and worshipping and getting really well and truly priested, if it's all a lie then I frittered away years of my life for nothing." You see, I don't have any trade, knowledge or skills about real things. This is all I know how to do - being holy. My salary and my pension depend on it.
So I determined to stick to my commitments. Yes, it's all stupid. Yes, there's no evidence for any of it. As St. John of the Cross famously observed, "Shit! None of this makes any sense!" Even Jesus said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!". He said "hast thou" because he spoke in 17th century English. Despite this, I have Faith. I have the courage and strength to go on preaching it all regardless. This is what atheists, with their tedious facts and rational arguments, just don't get. We all know it's a load of bollocks. What do you want us to do, admit it? That's what being spiritual is all about, an obstinate determination to stick with the absurd no matter how futile it all seems.
I would now ask you all to respect my beliefs and stop questioning them.