Friday, 16 January, 2009, 08:28 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Baroness Vadera has been shouted down for suggesting that things might
get better. But things could get better. Then again they might not. I play football with a bunch of lads. (I play football because I'm a very down to earth kind of celebrity Christian writer, and like to mention it because I know how talking about football connects with simple, ordinary folk, such as yourselves.) One of the lawyers on the team was telling me how hard things are, what with the calamitous decline in crime and litigation.
It sounds like we only have ears for prophets of doom. Jonah was a prophet of doom. After escaping from inside a giant fish, he went to Nineveh and prophesied that the Invisible Magic Friend would smite them all. And Jonah was right, him being a really good prophet of doom, the IMF would have smighted them all if he hadn't changed his mind. "Look," he said to the Invisible Magic Friend. "By not smighting them all thou hast made me look a complete plonker. I've got my reputation as a really good prophet of doom to think of you know."
So, as this story illustrates, we should listen to really good prophets of doom, if there is indeed imminent doom. We should also listen to really good prophets of hope, if there is indeed imminent hope. To find out if there really is imminent doom or imminent hope, it's best to consult a prophet. Although we should recognise that even really good prophets of hope or doom sometimes get it wrong if the IMF changes his mind, as he is sometimes wont to do.
As Edgar says at the end of King Lear, or was it Albany, "Exeunt, with a dead march."
Thursday, 15 January, 2009, 10:07 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
There's a big row brewing over the removal of a cross for a soap opera wedding. When we're told to make our Thought For The Day relevant to current affairs, this is precisely the kind of thing they have in mind. After all, this is the biggest news item on everyone's agenda these days. Never mind Gaza, the economic depression, Russia playing politics with gas supplies - it's what's going on in Coronation Street that Today listeners want to see properly analysed. So, to get to grips with the full significance of this momentous piece of television history, here is my own profound insight into just what we can learn from this astonishing turn of events.
Early Christians didn't make crosses. Then they did.
Thursday, 15 January, 2009, 07:55 AMThe BBC's Department of Religion and More Religion seems to get pettier and more hilarious by the day. They really do reflect religious attitudes very well in this respect. About the time I started this Blog, Jonathan Bartley, one of the TFTD presenters, had the temerity to suggest that TFTD should become more inclusive - choosing presenters from outside the major religions. This contradicted the dogma of the infallible Department of Religion - God's vicegerent at the BBC. He was found guilty of heresy and excommunicated from the Holy Department, never more to be heard on the blessed TFTD slot.
The Holy Department still doesn't get it. What Bartley was saying is exactly what I've been saying all along. Opening up TFTD will make it stronger, more relevant, better. It could turn the nation's favourite kettle boiling moment into one of the highlights of the Today programme.
I wonder if anyone from the Holy Department will ever come out of their cloister to discuss this openly with anyone?
Wednesday, 14 January, 2009, 08:39 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Bush is just full of it - special relationships that is (hic!). I had a shpecial relay...shion..ship once, (hic!) with a would-be mayor of New York. We promished him faith people, cos that'sh wot we got lotsh of, faith (hic!) people, and he promished us money, cos that's what he's got lots of - all the mayor's money. He shaid he'd come back and lishten to (hic!) us but he jusht wanted to give us a speech. Well we made him lishten to us! Nobody treat'sh people of faith (hic!), faith like that! That'sh how Chrisht...ianity got shtarted you see - not having special relay...shion..ships like we had once with a guy who was mayor. You see? (Hic!) There'sh no clear answers is there? (hic!) No clear anshwers. Jusht like it is in politics, well that's what faith's like, ye see?
Maybe just one teensy weensy little sherry to start the day off (hic!).
Tuesday, 13 January, 2009, 08:28 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The row about Prince Harry just keeps going on and on. It's just the usual media hysteria which I'm not going to add to by raising the subject yet again. I'm not going to mention that using the abbreviation "Paki" is often meant in a derogatory sense. I mean it's not that long ago that it was perfectly acceptable to count Sikhs's as "heathens". It's all water under the bridge. No need to keep going on about it. There's certainly no need to give it all another airing on TFTD. So now that we've cleared that up, I'd just like to point out that Prince Harry's abusive and insulting remarks, unimportant and easily dismissed as they are, are just absolutely typical of the way young people behave these days. The country seems to be awash with heirs to the throne running around disrespecting everyone. I blame the parents.
This is where Sikh teaching about respect and good behavior win out over all the other non-Sikh teaching. If you had been told to respect your parents and your teachers, as we were by Guru Nanak, then you wouldn't be running around having wild orgies in your secondary schools. That's why the Guru Nanak School in Hayes got such good reports from Ofsted. Clearly, the best way to improve all your non-Sikh schools is to turn them into Sikh schools where they'll be able to benefit from the wisdom and authority of people such as myself.
Friday, 9 January, 2009, 08:13 AMI'll be away over the weekend. Feel free to post summaries of TFTDs on Sat and Mon. Normal service should be returned on Tues.
Friday, 9 January, 2009, 08:09 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I was invited here to point out that Judaism has absolutely no problem at all with the theory of evolution. Like Christians and Muslims, I was going to tell you how rational Jews have reinterpreted the wrong bits of their scripture to make them symbolic. Unfortunately there's all this trouble in Gaza at the moment. That's when I realised that Darwin tells us something about Judaism. You see we Jews debate everything: whether the Invisible Magic Friend exists, whether he spoke to Abraham, Moses and the prophets, whether he led us out of Egypt and gave us the land of milk and honey, whether, despite being all knowing and unchanging, he responds to our prayers when we tell him things often enough. In a process of ruthless Darwinian dialectic, these ideas have been critically examined over thousands of years. They've been empirically tested against observation. The fact that we still believe them means they must be true and that's what we pass on on to our descendants.
Tonight we will pray for peace, just as we have for the past 3,000 years.
Thursday, 8 January, 2009, 08:31 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
When we hear the word 'Gaza', we all immediately think of Milton's
poem about Samson. Samson was the kind of muscular, sexy, intellectually- challenged hunk that we vicars tend to fall for. When the Philistines captured Samson, they mocked him. It's exactly the same today: Israelis and Palestinians mocking one another across the Gaza border. Irony, sarcasm, litotes - there is no end do the depth of their mockery for one another. They know each other so well that they know exactly how to hurt the other's feelings.
Is there any hope that they will pull back from this madness of mockery? Before someone gets really upset? The bible gives great room for hope here. You see Palestinians and Jews are both descended from Abraham. So they're really the same family. They've only been mocking each other for a few thousand years. I think we can expect peace and understanding to break out any millennium now. There'll be no need to bring the house down like Samson did, making him the first Israeli suicide bomber.
Thursday, 8 January, 2009, 05:03 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The question of "Thought For The Day" is a difficult one. There may be a case for widening the pool of contributors on Thought for The Day to make it more reflective of modern British demographics and opinion. While on balance we prefer to ignore this argument, nevertheless never let it be said that the BBC doesn't listen to its licence payers. Your word is our every command. With this in mind, we have indeed decided to greatly expand the number of TFTD presenters. Representatives of Astrology, The Raelians, Scientology, Wiccans and Satanism will all be invited to provide a unique perspective on current affairs as part of TFTD, thus making it a more balanced, inclusive slot.
The remaining 2 hours 57 minutes of the Today programme are completely dominated by atheists, it seems churlish to deny a mere 3 minutes to those with a faith perspective. In fact this argument is so good that I have decided to apply it across all Radio 4 factual output. Prayer For The Day will be rescheduled to the middle of Farming Today, thus bringing greater balance to a programme that is otherwise completely dominated by secular farming issues. Money Box, a veritable den of heathen personal financial advice, will be balanced with a reminder of how Christ suffered to save our investments. The Shipping Forecast, a profane and totally biased piece of meteorological dogma, will by balanced by a druid examining a sheep's entrails.
A rather loud mouthed, and unrepresentative bunch of Radio 4 listeners have complained about these exclusive religious slots in programmes that have nothing whatever to do with religion, but I think we can dismiss these as yet more evidence of the growing intolerance of militant atheists.
Wednesday, 7 January, 2009, 11:10 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Many muslims struggle with evolution. Yet evolution was hypothesised and taught in Islamic centres of learning over a thousand years ago. Even Islamic poets said it was true. One wit remarked "I am the Invisible Magic Friend. Darwin said, I was an ape. Each according to their aspiration." Oh, how we all laughed! But the important thing here is not to claim that evolution was invented by muslims. The important thing is how to reconcile Darwin's theory with the Koran. The clue here can be found in the story of Jesus' evolution into a prophet. As a scientist and an Imam, let me just assure you that, when the Koran says Jesus was born to a virgin, it actually means that he wasn't. We can learn something about Adam using this. It turns out that both Jesus and Adam were human beings. So when it says Adam was created from dust, it also means that he wasn't. There we are - evolution and the Koran perfectly reconciled, just as you would expect. For my next trick I will prove that up is down, black is white, and that David Hasselhoff was the greatest recording artist of all time.