Open thread 
Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 08:36 AM - Not TFTD
Tomorrow morning I'll be going through the traditional pre-holiday ceremony of panicking at the airport, trying to figure out where I put the passports, suddenly realising that I've put my toothpaste in the wrong bag and that it now needs to be destroyed by security, all while trying to push a wheelchair and persuade our luggage to go in roughly the same direction as us.

There will therefore be no Platitude Of The Day from me tomorrow. I hope some of you will pitch in to make up. For the next week and a bit I'll be in Florida so POTD will probably arrive a little later than usual (assuming BA manage to re-unite me with my laptop adaptor).


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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 08:33 AM - Brook
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The Big Book of Magic Stuff tells us that people who don't give all their money to the church and then tell lies about it, get struck down dead by the Invisible Magic Friend and almost certainly don't go to heaven. This is called being moral and it's why there are so few liars in the world today.

The affairs of Peter and Iris Robinson remind us just how despicable being a hypocrite is. But even more hypocritical are people who go around having a go at hypocrites when they themselves are being hypocritical and pretending to be holy. I often find myself saying one thing and doing another, and when I say "I", I do of course mean "you".

Jesus invented hypocrisy. Being a native Aramaic speaker he naturally picked a word based on Greek to express the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders of the time. "Don't do as they do, " he said. "Don't call yourself Rabbi or Father or Teacher," which is why Christian clergy don't have impressive sounding empty titles like that. Christianity's all about getting rid of hypocrisy.

Every time I'm (i.e. "you're" ) hypocritical we lose some "grace". Grace is the magic currency that you can't see but that definitely exists. You can get some grace back by not living a lie (this is called being "honest" and I commend it to Radio 4 listeners). The aim is to end up with a positive balance of grace. As a famous writer, celebrity and Christian, let me just assure you that Somerset Maugham (a writer who was nearly as famous as me) was spot on when he observed that being a hypocrite was a full time job.

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Reverend Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Tuesday, 12 January, 2010, 08:58 AM - Winkett
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

Many old people are going around deliberately eating and living healthily and so living to a ripe old age. As a result we're getting more and more old people. The government has decided that we can't afford to have them sitting around in rest homes watching daytime telly. Instead, they're going to be allowed to not retire. From now on we're all going to be allowed to work until we drop.

Coincidentally, there were old people in the bible too. They didn't sit around in rest homes all day watching telly, which goes to show that we shouldn't leave old people sitting around all day in rest homes watching telly.

We must never forget that retired they may be but they are not redundant. There are former builders, pilots, doctors and some were even priests. You really do need to remember that old people are people too.

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Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 11 January, 2010, 08:25 AM - Be nice, Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Good morning Jim, good morning Justin and a very good morning to you all.

Long, long ago, in a university far, far away, I decided to become a Rabbi. It was there that I was introduced to the Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism. This is how I found out about all the amazing mystical things that there are and how being Jewish enables you to understand them even though they remain mystical.

Some Kabbalists are just phonies. You have to watch out for them. They don't really know anything about mystical things and just talk a load of old rubbish. I managed to find a proper Kabbalist who said things that I agreed with and therefore couldn't be a phony. He told me that real religion, true religion, is about giving without strings.

My goodness, I thought to myself, this means there are an awful lot of people going around being religious and not even realising it. There's really mystical religiousness everywhere. For example, a student loaned me his toothbrush once. My goodness, I thought to myself, how very religious of you. This is what keeps Britain Great.

And now for my traditional closing joke. A man buys his wife a cookbook for a present when she's expecting to be taken out to the Ritz.

Well it's been a long day thinking about mystical religious things. Good night Jim, good night Justin, good night Invisible Magic Friend.

GOOD NIGHT

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Mrs. Robinson for Number 1 
Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 10:05 AM - Not TFTD
For some reason that iconic 60s song, "Mrs. Robinson", seems to be enjoying a huge revival in popularity. I've always been a big Simon and Garfunkel fan, so for once I'm happy to support the internet campaign to get it to number 1. Well worth 69p. (Note - please don't download until Sunday 10th Jan.)

For those that don't want to join in, there's always the spoof version.

I also can't resist putting up a picture of my new heart throb, Kirk McCambley. (Sorry Terry.)
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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 08:43 AM - Be nice, Morality, Science, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

A memorial to animal bravery was opened a few years ago. Naturally I thought this was a stupid idea. Catholic theology reliably informs us that animals have no soul. They were placed here by the Invisible Magic Friend as a food supply, beasts of burden and for our occasional amusement in zoos, circuses and so forth. So don't forget children, when you die and go to heaven, don't expect to see your favourite rabbit, gerbil or puppy up there. They've all been consigned to oblivion - live with it.

Now those whacky scientists are claiming that altruism exists in animals, that human instincts and morality have parallels in other species, that human kindness has a biological origin in our evolutionary past. Yeah. Right. Now I'm going to prove to you that human altruism isn't just biology. When resources become scarce, even the most kindly animals will turn on one another. Humans are not like that. Now that oil is running out for example, we can expect all nations to share what they have equitably in a spirit of peaceful cooperation, without resorting to profiteering or the use of force.

We know all this because we are Christians in a Christian country who follow the teachings of Jesus, that we should love our enemies. Christendom has been loving its enemies for thousands of years which is why our history books are so devoid of any references to war, exploitation, slavery, imperialism or genocide. That's why we're so much better than soulless animals, or indeed any other religion.

Saint Paul said so too, so I must be right.

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Reverend Dr Giles Fraser - Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Friday, 8 January, 2010, 08:22 AM - Science, Fraser
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

I've been enjoying the programmes about the Royal Society this year. One of the founders of the Royal Society, Christopher Wren, believed in the Invisible Magic Friend. Those were the good old days. Scientists may not have wanted to discuss politics or religion at the Royal Society but as this great age of discovery unfolded, it's leading lights, geniuses like Wren, were all believers.

Geniuses like Wren, who built St. Paul's Cathedral, of which I just happen to be Canon Chancellor, appreciated that the new Christianity, true Christianity, my Christianity, was united with them in casting aside dogma and questioning absolutely everything (everything except parthenogenesis, resurrection from the dead, the need to be saved and the apostolic succession of course). This was a new church that had swept away all the dusty old dogma and superstition of the past, looked out into the universe in wonder and amazement and then hurried back into church for a quick prayer.

Today, when we no longer have geniuses like Wren around, the relationship between science and religion is again becoming strained. Certain well known but rather mediocre scientists, who shall remain nameless but who certainly aren't geniuses like Wren, insist on shrilly pointing out that religion has nothing to back up its claims. I'd like to make a special plea today to people like you-know-who to just shut up and stop being mean to us. It's all so unnecessary. Religion has so much to say, so much to add, so much to contribute about... about... er... well, lots of things. I mean we come on here every day don't we? And nobody could accuse us of being dull, repetitive, contradictory, vapid or vacuous.

Let's not return to the time of Galileo when the scientific method just happened to be right. I mean it's not as if the modern church goes around interfering in matters beyond its competence, is it?

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Congratulations to Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings 
Friday, 8 January, 2010, 04:40 AM - Democracy, Environment, Money, Not TFTD, Billings
I would just like to offer my warmest congratulations to my fellow Rev Dr, Canon Alan Billings. Canon Dr Rev Billings has just been appointed as one of the Communities Secretary John Denham's faith advisors, where he will be advising on the big issues facing society such as the economy, parenting, achieving social justice and tackling climate change. It's clearly important that, on the big issues facing society such as the economy, parenting, achieving social justice and tackling climate change, we hear from as many faith leaders as possible. It's only by listening to different views from their Invisible Magic Friend that we can hope to tackle the big issues facing society such as the economy, parenting, achieving social justice and tackling climate change

Dr Canon Rev Billings is the former director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at the University of Lancaster and is a well known expert on the economy, parenting, achieving social justice and tackling climate change.

With the likes of Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings advising the government of our green and pleasant land, we can be assured that our country is in good hands. It's advisers like him that have made Britain what it is today. What could possibly go wrong?
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Reverend Rob Marshall, an Anglican priest  
Thursday, 7 January, 2010, 08:24 AM - Marshall
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

You may have noticed some snow recently. This just goes to show that the Invisible Magic Friend likes to provide a variety of weather. He particularly likes to provide a lot of weather in Britain, which gets a great deal of weather indeed. The Venerable Bede said in the 8th century that Britain got a great deal of weather even then. So it seems that we've been having a great deal of weather for some time now.

What does Christianity have to say about snow? Well the bible tells us, in several places, that snow is white. In Kings it says that snow is white. This is confirmed in Psalms, in Isaiah, in Daniel, in Mathew and in Revelation. Indeed, this would appear to be one of those rare instances where all mentions in the bible seem to agree, namely that snow is indeed white. One of the things I myself have noticed about snow is that it is generally of a white disposition, confirming once again the reliability and usefulness of holy scripture.

But it isn't just the Bible and the Venerable Bede who mentioned snow. A poet mentioned snow as well. Robert Bridge's poem London Snow makes considerable reference to snow. He says it falls at night and covers everything. It covers roads and roofs and railings and trees and St. Paul's Cathedral. He too is in agreement that snow is white.

I will now end on a line of great mystical significance, that will leave you to ponder if there may not be some hidden meaning, some profound metaphor that goes beyond frozen precipitation, that fair invigorates the mind with most wondrous imaginings, for the snow does fall on all, "making unevenness even".

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Reverend Roy Jenkins, a Baptist minister 
Wednesday, 6 January, 2010, 08:16 AM - Humility, Jenkins
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy feast of Epiphany everyone! The true meaning of Epiphany is that it's all about humility. You all need to be a bit more humble. I'm going to be humble now by showing that I don't know all the answers. We don't know where the wise men came from or even if there were three of them, but they most definitely, definitely came and were certainly very wise indeed and I say that in all humility.

The three wise men were astrologers. That's not the kind of astrologers that you get in tabloid newspapers - that would be silly, no they were the kind of astrologers that studied the heavens. Being so very wise, the three wise men definitely followed a star in the sky. Rather than take them round in a circle as you might expect, it led them to where the baby Jesus, who just definitely happens to definitely be the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, was definitely being born.

What, you might be wondering, is the relevance of all this to today's news? We're at the start of several months of electioneering, where one of three wise men will be elected to run the country. They need a bit of humility too, like me. They need to be wise, like the three wise men were. They should do this, not by consulting widely, acting carefully and weighing up the needs of the country as a whole, but by studying the stars, kneeling before Jesus the prince of the universe and asking him what to do.

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