Isn't the English defeat of the Aussies at cricket just fantastic! It's all so spiritual and theological and philosophical and stuff. I mean I don't want to be accused of hyperbole or anything, but this is probably the greatest victory for England in the history of anything. This glorious victory of the invincible England Cricket team will be written into the annals as our finest hour. What a humiliating defeat for poor old Australia. No, really, you mustn't laugh.
It's all about endurance, you see. It's about continuing to play cricket even when you don't want to play cricket any more (if such a thing were possible). The Australians just don't have that willpower to strive for ultimate victory.
Jesus was, of course, a big cricket fan. Together with his twelve man cricket team, he could often be seen having a quick innings by the Sea of Galilee, or bowling a maiden over on one of his frequent stopovers at Jerusalem. Being an Englishman himself, Jesus would have taken enormous pleasure at the pounding meted out to the Aussies. As Jesus himself said, "Blessed are the English Cricket Team, for they shall win the Ashes."
Saint Theresa [Ed: which one? ] was also a fantastic cricket fan.
David Sheppard, the late Bishop of Liverpool, often said that captaining the England Cricket team was what prepared him for being Bishop of Liverpool. "Frankly," he said, "I don't understand how anyone can be a bishop without first having captained the England cricket team."
Cricket is all about hard work, persistence, endurance, determination, forbearance, only breaking for tea. And it's not just true of cricket, the same can be true of some other sports too.
I'm the bishop in reshidensh at a large public shkool (hic!), and by "plublic", I do of coursh mean "private".
D'ye know what? Well I'll tell you what. Shport ish sho important. Teenage boysh 'nd girlsh need to spend (hic!) to shpend loadsh o'time runnin around tiring themshelves out. They got sho much energy (hic!). If they don't use up all that energy in shport then they find other waysh to tire themshelves out.
The good shportsh playersh (hic!) always get picked for teamsh, but the rubbish ones might never know how much they enjoy shport unlesh they're forshed to play (hic!).
I watched shum boysh (hic!) return from their firsht crosh country run. "Well done!" a shixs former said to the boy who was shecond and the boy who wash eighth and the boy who wash 36th (hic!). "Being 36th inshtead of 37th could mean we win the cup. Now where'sh the little git who was 37th."
Shaint Paul (hic!), that great Chrishtion writer (hic!) that evry'un sho loves and admires, compared runnin to the raish fur heaven - shumbody hash to come (hic!) lasht.
Evry'uns lookin forward to the London Ollypics. What a great time to make kidsh play shportsh (hic!).
Oliver McTernan here, from the NGO Forward Thinking, a proactive, demand-driven, facilitative organisation that works to promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment, to promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East, and to facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular worlds. Hi.
Has anyone mentioned the world cup yet? Just to follow on from the previous discussion about collecting Panini cards, FIFA are to look again at introducing goal line technology into the game. The head of FIFA has traditionally opposed this. "It would change the game by introducing more correct decisions," he said.
He has a point, which leads me seamlessly to what I want to talk about: the Invisible Magic Friend. Scientists have shown that technology is a bad thing. And these aren't just any common old scientists, these are neuroscientists, and at a top university too. So when they say technology is bad, you know it must be true. They almost have as much authority as the Big Book of Magic Stuff - that's how much authority they have.
By constantly interacting with technology, everyone is forgetting to stop and think about the Invisible Magic Friend. You can't think properly about the Invisible Magic Friend while playing Grand Theft Auto IV. The famous 18th century French Jesuit, Jean Paul de Cuisson, whom I'm sure needs no introduction, agrees with me so I must be right. The present moment has so many possibilities. Why waste it by doing things when you could spend your time more profitably thinking about the Invisible Magic Friend?
A lot of people ignore the present. They're constantly either in the future or in the past instead of being where they should be, in the now. You must learn to flap your arms like a pigeon so that you can soar above the clouds of things from other times. And when you get tired of all that flapping, don't allow your tiredness, weariness, laziness, bone idleness, indolence, apathy, procrastination, jealousy, distrust, hatred, greed, rage, murderous intent, lust, or desire for a beer overcome you.
To put it another way, people are naturally cautious.
Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?
Someone said there's an England match on this afternoon. But why do people get so excited about football? After all, it's only a game. It's not as if most people's lives are going to be significantly changed by the result this afternoon. Yet enthusiasm for the game is a worldwide phenomenon. Did you know, there are more members of FIFA than the UN? Not a lot of people know that.
As it happens there is an ancient Hindu text that explains people's obsession with football. A football game is in fact an illusion that doesn't really exist. Fans give themselves over to that illusion and start to get excited when they imagine England get possession and get upset when they lose possession. This is like life in general, which is another illusion, this time taking place inside the illusion of the football game.
The more we tie ourselves to material things, as many non-Hindu Radio 4 listeners tend to do, the more we get caught up with this illusion within an illusion within an illusion that is materialism within life within a football game. In fact, it is widely known that poor people are much happier than rich people. So George Osborne yesterday was actually just trying to spread a little happiness around.
So, now that I'm aware of the illusory nature of football, please, please, please, please can we get through to the knockout stage? Please?
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 todayís world. Hi.
Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?
It can be a frustrating experience being an England supporter. You never quite know what you're going to get. But after, all it's only a game and we know how to lose graciously. After all, we've had plenty of practise. So well done Algeria! (Grrrrrrrr!!!!)
Speaking of football, life never quite gives you what you expect. As the famous Algerian goalkeeper (and incidentally an atheist and Nobel laureate), Albert Camus observed, it can seem positively absurd.
I remember as a young theological student, just setting out on my lifelong study of the important and practical field of theology, one of my classmates' pregnant wife died in a car accident. It all seemed so useless and random and meaningless. A naive, foolish and less theologically trained person might even conclude that there was no loving Invisible Magic Friend, listening to our prayers and helping us through life. But I knew better. I was not weak willed, as some lesser mortals are. I did not lose faith. I knew that if I just kept repeating the profound theological argument, "there is and Invisible Magic Friend - there is, there is, there is!" that I would eventually convince myself.
The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life is pointless, that all our efforts are futile, that we pass through life and are forgotten. What the book is reminding us is that life is not pointless, that all our efforts are not futile, that we pass through life and are not forgotten, because there really is an Invisible Magic Friend whose plan for us just happens to look exactly the same as it would if he weren't there.
So the moral of all this is: relax, enjoy life and remember that there's more to it all than England not winning the World cup (again - grrrrrrrrr!!!).
In a moving and profound statement to the press yesterday, Wayne Rooney described the rosary beads that he wears round his neck during training "It's my religion," he explained helpfully. Doubtless his sacred talisman bestows blessings not afforded to other, less religious, players.
Speaking the day before their World Cup match against Algeria, the plucky England striker, who was booked for swearing at a referee in the run up practise matches, sought to advertise his devout Catholic faith. But as an exemplary Catholic footballer, Rooney's trip to South Africa has not been without controversy. There was the (alleged) example of his taking a pee on a posh golf course. However, at least it wasn't as bad as the infamous visit to the 52 year old hooker and grandmother, known as the Auld Slapper. This was a youthful aberration at a time when he was a much less holy footballer than he is today.
Rooney's passionate faith is long held. Once, when asked what he would do if he couldn't play football, he explained that he wasn't really much good at anything else, so maybe he'd be a priest. It is a faith that he shares with other great Catholic luminaries, such as Middle East Peace Envoy, His Hollowness Saint Tony of Bliar, and with earnings to match. The cost of his £4.25 million mansion almost covers the amount he's being sued for by his former management firm.
Proudly sporting his tattoo that reads "Just Enough Education to Perform", Rooney, with his deep Catholic faith, is an inspiration and a role model for the youth of today.
Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?
Personally I can't stand football but I'm going to talk about the England vs. USA match on Saturday night anyway. Many of you ordinary people probably get quite excited by the whole thing, so I'll use it as today's excuse to talk about religion, which I will cunningly switch to when appropriate aspects of human emotion and failings are touched upon.
Poor Robert Green. He had the ball safely in his hands, then let it go again as it went into the net. We all make mistakes. Robert Green's sole purpose in life is to hold onto balls. This time, the ball slipped through his fingers like a slippery ball. Not only that, but he lost the slippery ball in front of millions of people. How dreadfully embarrassing.
Other players sympathised, which is what makes football exactly the same as religion. Yes we have a few beliefs, like the existence of an ever present, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, unprovable supernatural intelligence that is responsible for the whole universe and a good deal more besides, who listens to prayers, performs miracles, has three distinct lumps, one of which came to earth, born of a virgin, performed some more miracles, got tortured and executed and rose from the dead two days later according to the prophecy that he'd rise three days later, appeared to his disciples, went up into the sky on a cloud and will return on the day of judgement, but there's much more to Christianity than that.
You see, some people don't have any family or friends to sympathise with them. Without church they'd be lonely and no one would be nice to them. Provided they profess to believe what we believe, the friendless continue to be welcome at our church. Of course, if they commit heresy we'll just have to boot them out and they'll remain friendless, which is exactly what they deserve if you ask me.
This is called being moral.
Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?
Yes, it's (nearly) time. It's finally (nearly) arrived. The moment we've all been waiting for is finally (nearly) here. After four years since England last didn't win the World Cup, it's finally (nearly) time for essentially the same players to have another go.
But what of South Africa? Yes Nelson Mandela got released, yes they dismantled apartheid, but all that pales into insignificance, this is THE WORLD CUP!!! It's just so, so, so.... it's THE WORLD CUP!!! And ENGLAND'S playing in it!
Of course Jesus Christ was a big England fan. It says so in Mark's Gospel, "The Kingdom of God is (nearly) here." What else can that mean other than that England will win the 2010 World Cup? There were doubters in Jesus' time. There are doubters even today, but it says it in the Old Testament too:
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
"a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
"a time for England to win the World Cup and that'll be in 2010 CE."
Ohmygawd, I can hardly contain my excitement. It's the World Cup - THE WORLD CUP. IT'S THE WORLD CUP!!!! Oh, oh, oh, oh...
You know it's monotonous, when a famous writer, celebrity and Christian improvises an absurdly clumsy attempt to mix poetry and prose.
You know it's pedestrian, when a Thought For The Day presenter turns to the one subject that's even more interesting than religion.
You know it's repetitive, when people start shouting the name of some country called Ing-a-laand and singing "La-la, lala la la-la" to the tune of Colonel Bogey.
You know that it's coming, when the quote "They think it's all over... it is now," is repeated on every major news programme for a month.
You know it's predictable, the inevitable recriminations when they lose.
You know it's unbelievable, when they say this is a tremendous opportunity for Africa and will do far more to help that stricken continent's problems than Live Aid and Glen Eagles combined.
You know it's exploitative, when some kid from Rwanda proudly wears an Arsenal shirt bearing the name of a player who earns more in a week than they will in a lifetime.
You know it's hypocritical, when players pray to the Invisible Magic Friend for victory in a game instead of for those who really could benefit from such a thing as divine grace.
You know it's ridiculous, when someone uses words like "transcendent" to describe a sporting event.
You know it's a lie, when those who don't speak in hushed and hallowed tones about football are dismissed as cynics.
You know you really do need to get a sense of proportion, it's only a bit of fun.
You know it's the World Cup.
I'd like to talk to you today about everyone's favourite subject: football, and by "football" I do of course mean "religion". I don't think anyone on Thought For The Day has ever compared football and religion before so it's about time someone did. Football and religion have so much in common. Both are largely male dominated and struggling to rid themselves of their homophobic instincts. Both unite millions in passionate, pointless allegiances that often result in violence when they clash. Both will welcome anybody, from peasants to billionaires. Provided you can buy the season ticket and the merchandise, we're not fussy. As St Paul famously said, "We'll take anybody's money."
It's so nice to see two things that aren't obsessed with taking money off people to pay the salaries of the few. That's the sort of vulgar, secular commercialism that's best left to less holy professions.