Holocaust Memorial Day 
Wednesday, 27 January, 2010, 09:53 AM - Lessons of history, Sacks
I'm not going to do a POTD today. Holocaust Memorial Day is too important an event to be used for mockery. The lessons of hatred and prejudice, exercised on the industrial scale of the Nazis, still haven't been learned, as the people of Rwanda can testify. Only the other day we had the fascist thugs of the English Defence League attacking mosques and intimidating Muslim taxi drivers. We all know who these people are. They're not brave defenders of secular values, or even of Christian values, they're the Paki-bashers of the 70s out in force again, egged on by the constant demonisation of Muslims in rags like the Daily Mail.

It's because Holocaust Memorial Day is so relevant today that I found the Chief Rabbi's TFTD so uplifting, until that is he started rabbitting on about Faith and deliberately confusing Faith in his god with more verifiable and tangible forms of Faith. I don't know whether Faith in God or Faith in humanity inspired the fighters and archivists of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I do know that they must have been very brave, very angry people, willing to stand up to the might of the German army rather than calmly accept the fate that had been decided for them. Their nobility and humanity speak for themselves. To use this as a propaganda instrument for his Invisible Magic Friend demeans their memory.

Answer me this Chief Rabbi: where was your God during the Holocaust?

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Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, the international director of Micah Challenge 
Tuesday, 26 January, 2010, 08:49 AM - Democracy, Edwards
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Amidst its first post civil war elections, tension is mounting among the majority Buddhists about the role of the minority Hindus in Sri Lanka society. Meanwhile, amidst postponed elections in Afghanistan, tension is mounting between the fanatical religious extremists, the Taliban, and the slightly less fanatical religious extremists that constitute the remainder of the population. Meanwhile, amidst power sharing problems in Northern Ireland, tension is mounting between Catholics and Protestants.

Some foolish, naive people, who aren't even Rev Dr Drs, might conclude that religion has a corrosive effect on the democratic process. Nothing could be further from the truth as centuries of history throughout the world ably demonstrates. The isolated examples above are simply the exceptions that prove the rule. True religion, my religion, is a big fan of democracy and always has been. Even today, Christianity continues to press for democratic reform of the House of Lords and the removal of the privileged position of the bishops.

True religion, my religion, has a long democratic tradition. When the people of Israel demanded a king, the Invisible Magic Friend dissuaded them. He told them to form a constitutional convention to establish checks and balances between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary and to agree a fair system for free and regular elections, thus banishing theocracy and hereditary monarchy from Israel forever.

So we should welcome the role of religion in bringing democracy to the world. If only Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland would embrace true religion, my religion, then they too would benefit from the peaceful democratic values that true religion has given us.

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Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic person who talks a lot about religion 
Monday, 25 January, 2010, 11:56 AM - Sex, Longley
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Surprisingly, the government and opposition are disagreeing about something. This time it's about marriage. The Conservatives (fine upstanding Christian party that they are) want everyone to live in a state of holy matrimony, whereas Labour (evil socialists) want everyone to wallow in sin. The Invisible Magic Friend has decreed that lifelong heterosexual monogamy is the only allowed form of sex and it is therefore the Church's business what you all get up to between the sheets. It's why so many people care about what the Church thinks about marriage.

Catholic Priests have taken a particular interest in the sex lives of young boys, making them confess to any sexual naughtiness that they might get up to in orphanages, Church schools or Scout troops and making sure that they are properly punished over a priest's knee. This ensures that Catholics grow up with a healthy, guilty attitude to just how dirty and shameful sex is.

To hear some people talk you'd think the Church was obsessed about sex but the Catholic Church is actually notoriously liberal on the subject. We have to be. Marriage is big business. So to capture our fair share of the market we can hardly go around denouncing the filthy, sinful lifestyles of debauched cohabitants. We'll happily overlook their squalid past provided they hire the church and the priest and hand over the money. As always, it's so nice to see the Church taking the moral high ground.

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Brian Draper, associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 12:54 PM - Evil, Gibberish, Draper
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Brian here, in Southampton, 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.

The horrific tales of torture perpetrated by two young boys, reminds us of the good old days when things like this never happened, or at least, never made the papers. Things would just seem to be getting worse and worse and worse and everything's just falling apart because everyone's stopped being Christian.

Or is it? Latest crime figures show an unexpected fall in crime, despite the severe recession. This is, of course, exactly what is scientifically predicted by Christianity.

The Invisible Magic Friend initially made us perfect, apart from one little flaw that enabled us to eat some forbidden fruit on the advice of a talking snake. At that point we became irredeemably evil, until the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself, and we've been getting better and better ever since, in perfect agreement with the revised crime figures, but not yet completely recovered as the occasional episode of juvenile sadistic torture shows.

It's so useful to be a lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we equip Christians with the practical resources to engage relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in today’s world.

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Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Friday, 22 January, 2010, 01:33 PM - Justice and mercy, Fraser
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

The jailing of Frances Inglis for a so-called "mercy killing" and the release of Munir Hussain, also as an act of "mercy" bring into question the balance between justice and mercy.

Some see the application of justice as the pitiless adherence to a strict book of rules, with no room for flexibility. Mercy is just a load of emotional twaddle for weak willed softies.

Martin Luther thought the Invisible Magic Friend had to be a merciful god, because a just god would burn every single one of us, and it'd still be too good for us, miserable bunch of useless, unworthy sinners that we all are. Portia from the Merchant of Venice agreed with him, so he must be right. Right?

Wrong! Mercy is granted by the powerful to the powerless and let me just tell you, the powerless don't want mercy, then want criminals hung up by their genitals. They want them poked with red hot irons. They want to hear the screams of those who violate parking regulations as they beg for mercy. As a Rev Dr and Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral let me just assure you that it says somewhere in the Psalms that the Invisible Magic Friend applies the rule book regardless. No matter what your circumstances, no matter how you've lived the rest of your life, if you've broken one of those rules then your stuffed.

Mercy! Bah!!!

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Reverend John Bell of the Iona Community  
Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 12:54 PM - Materialism, Bell
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Would you pay more for a long and happy life than for a foreign cruise? It's a tough one. But be on your guard. As election time approaches, politicians will offer you all sorts of gifts and bribes in order to get your vote. No, honestly, they will, so just be careful.

These days, in our valueless, materialist society, people seem to think they're entitled to all sorts of things: food, shelter, education, health care. You name it and you grubby little hedonists will vote for more of it. This is what that famous theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called "The Transvaluation of Values", thus proving once again the vital and practical value of theology in the contemporary world.

It's like that time when the Invisible Magic Baddy showed Jesus the whole world from the top of a mountain (for the Earth was flat in those days). Jesus refused to worship the Invisible Magic Baddy. "No thanks," he said. "I'm more into being worshipped myself. I'll just go and tell everyone I'm God."

So which will it be? Will you be tempted by politicians' promises to improve your life, or will you be good like Jesus and go around telling everyone to worship you?

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 01:25 PM - Democracy, Brook
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Poor old President Obama. He's been in office for a whole year and he still hasn't found an environmentally friendly alternative to oil, stopped global warming, brought an end to war and poverty, or stabilised the world financial system. People are getting pretty impatient, as the opinion polls show. Perhaps we should just be a bit more realistic in our expectations and realise that Obama is but a man. He's not a superhero. The Invisible Magic Friend told the Israelites that kings would mean nothing but disappointment for them. It would mean foreign wars and taxes - evils that seem to be unique to that form of government.

On the other hand, as a writer, celebrity and Christian let me just assure you that Jesus was a superhero. He was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. When he too turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, that wasn't because he promised more than he delivered but because we were all just rubbish at believing in him. I know, I read it in a book written by someone who said they'd been told it by someone who had seen and heard things.

So remember, modern day politicians, if you want your followers to be crucified, you've got to be prepared to go there first.

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Reverend Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Tuesday, 19 January, 2010, 01:42 PM - Winkett
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Did you know, more people live in cities than don't live in cities? Yes, that's a fact. Cities come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have all sorts of people in them: entrepreneurs, sexual deviants and canon precentors. The great cathedral builders thought to themselves, "What we need is a really, really big building that our Invisible Magic Friend can live in, even though he is already omnipresent. Then we can have canon precentors and live in a proper city."

But not all cities are ideal. It's possible for a homeless person to sleep on the steps of an empty building. The ideal city is properly described in the Big Book of Magic Stuff, in the Revelation of Saint John the Inebriated. In this ideal city there are no utility bills. Isn't that just fantastic! Unfortunately not everyone gets to go in.

Which brings me finally to the city of Port au Prince. Haitians really need our help just now, so please give generously. Which may leave you wondering why I didn't just say that in the first place.

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Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 18 January, 2010, 12:45 PM - Be nice, Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

I'll begin as usual by listing the problems that I have no control over: global warming, the financial crisis, the disaster in Haiti. My only advice is to give first and pray later. As I wait in yet another hospital room, I agree with my nurse that nurses are entitled to three year degrees rather than two year diplomas. Yet much of a nurse's work depends on kindness and you can't teach kindness in a degree programme. Isn't that right Invisible Magic Friend?

YES, THAT'S RIGHT LIONEL.

I told them that their monster machine squeaked and needed some 3 in 1 oil. They recorded birdsong as background music and found a teddy bear for a little boy to see when he woke up. Remember how it felt when others were kind or unkind to you. You can't like others unless you like yourself, so be kind to yourself and remember how it feels when you've been either kind or unkind to others.

Well it's nearly time for bed. Good night Evan, good night Justin, good night Invisible Magic Friend.

GOOD NIGHT, LIONEL.

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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 16 January, 2010, 12:19 PM - Environment, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

"Avatar", a film so plagued with clichés that it has been accused of plagiarism from multiple quarters portrays the lush idyllic planet, Pandora, living in harmony with its people. A bit like the Garden of Eden myth, whose prevalence in so many cultures means it's probably true and so we might as well pretend that it is true and base our morals and actions on it anyway.

Pandora meant "all gifted" to the Greeks. Fortunately we can ignore the Greeks because they worshipped a whole bunch of non-existent gods. James Lovelock invented the idea of the Earth as Gaia, a dynamic system that acts to sustain life. Fortunately he's just a bit of an oddball scientist, so we can ignore him too.

What we can't ignore is the garden of Eden myth, because that tells us that the Invisible Magic Friend gave us dominion over the earth - he put us in charge. We now realise that this does not mean, I repeat does not mean we can mine every rock, pollute every river, pump every last drop of oil and fill the air with every gram of carbon we can burn. No, this is not what "dominion" means. We now know that the word "dominion" means "be environmentally friendly" and actually that is what the bible has been telling us all along. So it's a good job we had the bible there otherwise we might have gone and done all sorts of horrible things to the planet.

As if it weren't enough that the Big Book of Magic Stuff has been telling you to reduce your carbon footprint for thousands of years, the pope says so too. And what is the biggest threat to the environment these days? Who is it that goes against the papally ordained natural order more than anyone else? You got it - those dirty, sinful, baby-hating gays. Naturally we love gays, but we cannot forgive what they are doing to populations of humans all over the planet. We're down to our last 7 billion people. Think of the damage to the environment if gays keep going against nature like this?

Oh, and wasn't the disaster in Haiti just terrible. That's what you get for going against the Invisible Magic Friend and not having proper building regulations.

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