Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian 
Thursday, 13 January, 2011, 09:02 AM - Bible, Brook
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Isn't the King James Bible just fantastic! Even atheists think the King James Bible is just fantastic. It's so just fantastic that it's influenced our entire culture. Eloquent phrases such as And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts have drifted effortlessly into the English language.

But it is not just the fantastic beauty of the King James Bible that is so admired. It was written as a translation that everyone could understand. You didn't have to be wealthy or learned, or even a celebrity Christian writer, to read it. Ordinary people, like you, could appreciate its fantastic clarity in passages such as:

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

"Why indeed?", I hear you ask.

But even its fantastic beauty and fantastic clarity pale into insignificance compared to its fantastic truth. You see every single word of the Big Book of Magic Stuff is true, especially in the King James version.

Take the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (or the feeding of the 4,000 on a bad day, or the feeding of the 100 when there are no messiahs handy). I bet no one's mentioned that for a while. A little girl asked, "Is it true? It'd be a much better story if it was true." So, yes, of course it was true. Except all the bits that have been proved false. They're just metaphorical, although in a fantastic King James Bible way.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge 
Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 08:58 AM - Be nice, Murad
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The shootings in Tucson have opened up the debate on political rhetoric in the United States. Before I mention Sarah Palin, I'd just like to mention Barack Obama. There.

Palin has courted controversy by showing a map of Democrat seats highlighted by gun-sights, including Gabrielle Giffords, the Representative shot by Jared Lee Loughner. There are calls to use more restrained language between political opponents.

But it would be wrong to criticise Palin unduly. She is not the first politician to show a map targeting her opponents in gun-sights. Politicians from all parts of the political spectrum have been inviting weapon laden citizens to gun down their opponents for years. It's quite normal in the United States.

Even United States politicians are sometimes shocked by the level of discourtesy shown by British political commentators though, particularly in cartoons. I can't emphasise enough, how offensive cartoons can be when they satirise people. I'm not thinking of any particular person or people here, just people in general. Cruel, misrepresentative, cartoons really ought not to be allowed in any sort of civilised society.

The companions of The Prophet, whose name I'm not going to mention, decided right at the start that Islam was going to be a courteous and civilised religion, where rudeness would be totally unacceptable. They remained courteous and civilised all the time they were invading the Middle East, North Africa and Persia not at all rudely. So you see, fundamentalists who want to advance their religion through being rude aren't really proper Muslims like I am.

We need more of the kind of courtesy and respect shown by those early founders of Islam.

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Not by Screaming Dom Anthony Sutch, but Cosmicly Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons, Platitude of the Year Winner 2009 
Tuesday, 11 January, 2011, 08:25 AM - Money, James Jones
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned bankers bonuses recently? You may be tempted to envy people who have bet billions of pounds of your money, on financial instruments that only they understand, and are rewarded by doubling their basic pay and then getting huge bonuses on top.

Envy really is an ugly thing and it would be a mistake to envy the well earned remuneration of our beloved bankers. The country owes the banks a trillion pounds in national debt. Personal debt to the banks is also one trillion pounds. Given how beholden we are to this wonderful generosity on the part of the banks, it really would be wise to be nicer to bankers. We gain nothing at all by making bankers as poor as everyone else.

Here in Britain we have some of the best bankers in the world. Do we really want them to move abroad where they might do for some other nation what they have already done to for us?

Early Christians had to handle similar problems with the derivatives markets. Some were only lowly slaves while others were obscenely rich. It was Saint Paul who hit upon the brilliant solution to this: the rich should give some of their money to the poor. So the bankers could donate a laptop, say, to their local secondary school, or perhaps give some of last seasons designer shirts to those who are too lazy or too stupid to become one of our excellent bankers.

The Invisible Magic Friend looks kindly upon such marvellous generosity and it really does make up for them being parasitic leeches who contribute nothing to the economy. And if there happen to be any non-executive directorships available on any of these wonderful banks' boards, I'd just like them to know that I'm available.

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Dom Anthony Sutch resigns from TFTD 
Monday, 10 January, 2011, 04:45 PM - TFTD, Sutch
Over allegations of touching a schoolboy in his care inappropriately.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ITO=1490
.

Thanks to one kind reader for passing this on to me.
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Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings, an Anglican priest  
Monday, 10 January, 2011, 08:06 AM - Be nice, Billings
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

If anyone had told me I'd be going to see a film about George VI, I'd be staggered. Who would want to see a film about a war time king who overcame his own shyness and speech impediment, in the wake of the abdication crisis, to lead his country during its time of greatest peril. I mean, how dull does that sound?

The spoken word is really important. In the Big Book of Magic Stuff, the Invisible Magic Friend literally speaks the universe into existence. "Let there by Bakewell Tarts," he says, and there were Bakewell Tarts, and he saw that they were good.

But even though words are really, really important and ever so useful for starting universes with, actions are more important than words. You really have to be nice as well. George VI was nice and so is the Invisible Magic Friend. The Invisible Magic Friend was so nice that he sent his visible bit to be tortured to death for us so that he could forgive us for not being very nice. That's how nice he is.

So when you're tempted to be not nice, remember George VI and Jesus.

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The last Clemmies of 2010 
Sunday, 9 January, 2011, 09:18 AM - Clemmies
Happy King James Bible Day everyone! Yes, good old Auntie Beeb is having a day devoted to the KJV on Radio 4. The KJV is loved by all, Christian and non-Christian alike, a kind of perfect marriage of Shakespeare and Aesop's Fables. Fortunately this doesn't mean that they're cancelled really important programmes, like "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue".

I hope they'll include some of my favourite bits from the KJV. Like this bit from Ezekiel.

Eze 13:18 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls!

Eze 13:20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows

Well yes, woe indeed. If there's one thing I can't stand it's that particular type of woman that goes around sewing pillows to armholes. Or maybe they'll include one of those fantastic genealogies that we all enjoy so much.

Matthew 1:1-16

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph...

...who didn't begat Jesus and therefore isn't of the House of David after all.

But enough of all this fond reminiscing, we have work to do, it's time to list the candidates for the Dec 2010 Clemmies.

Rev Dr Giles Fraser rightly condemns the murder of women accused of witchcraft, but says it would all be so much better if only they believed in the correct invisible magic stuff.

Rev John Bell just seemed to be having a rant about just about everything.

Akhandadhi Das told us that young people yearn for spiritual things and that's why we need more RE in schools.

Rev John Bell has a go at fundamentalists who take the Bible literally, and then demonstrates that you shouldn't do this using the Bible as his authority.

Clifford Longley informed us that the American War of Independence and the American Civil War were actually wars of religion and if only people took religion a bit more seriously we could have some more religious wars again, just like the good old days.

Clifford Longley has already won three Clemmies in 2010. Giving him a fourth will start to look like favouritism. Rev John Bell has had two outstanding contributions this month and is obviously trying hard. But the real reason he wins this month's Clemmie is for the single sentence: "The Holy Spirit is not a private poltergeist but a revealer of public truth."

Now that is class!

Look out for next week and the Platitude of the Year Award 2010.
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Rev Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest  
Saturday, 8 January, 2011, 10:04 AM - Sport, Marshall
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

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.

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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet  
Friday, 7 January, 2011, 09:03 AM - Environment, Science, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Have you cut down on your meat consumption? We have. I mean I don't wish to boast or anything, but it's our way of helping all those poor people around the world who can't afford food.

The world's rapidly increasing population is putting a huge strain on agricultural resources. Obviously placing any constraints on population growth would be a really bad thing. The Catholic Church's wise and benevolent policy of never-ending exponential growth in the number of babies born, means that those clever sciency types are just going to have to get their fingers out and figure out some way to produce a corresponding exponential growth in food production. The world's agricultural capacity really is infinite, if only those lazy food technologists would stop lounging around in their labs all day and do something useful for a change.

As always, religion provides the correct approach when science fails us. All we need to do is do it the Jesus way, feeding 5,000 with fives loaves and two fishes, leaving twelve baskets left over. This was such a success that he did it again, this time feeding 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fishes, leaving seven baskets left over. This is only part of a long tradition of miraculous food making. There's manna from heaven, and water from rocks, never empty flour and oil supplies, the solution to peak oil, and of course, Elisha's cheap version of Jesus' tricks,

Now I'm not suggesting that we use miracles to solve the world's food problems, that would be just silly. What we, i.e. "you", have to do, is cut down on resource intensive foods like meat. You need to follow my virtuous example in this respect. That way the the Chinese and Indians can eat meat instead.

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Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 
Thursday, 6 January, 2011, 08:36 AM - Banner
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy Epiphany everyone! It's the day when we celebrate the three kings coming to adore the birth of the Invisible Magic Friend, which definitely happened shortly before the massacre of the innocents, which also definitely happened and was necessary so that the prophesy could be fulfilled and which, for some reason, the other three Gospels thought was so important that they forgot to include it.

There's a very good painting of the epiphany by Bruegel. In it, some pretty ugly looking kings, present their gifts to an almost as ugly Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. They don't look at all like the beautiful people we normally expect to see in biblical depictions.

What was Bruegel trying to say in this picture? Was it that true beauty lies beneath the skin? That we shouldn't judge by appearances? Maybe he just wasn't a very good painter? No, what Bruegel was saying was the Invisible Magic Friend was being born into a world of ugliness and violence. Even though everything became much better after the arrival of Jesus, the world remains a violent place.

In Egypt we have Muslims killing Christians for not being Muslims. In Pakistan, we have Muslims killing Muslims for not being Muslim enough. What this goes to show is that people are naturally violent and hateful - even some religious people.

Bruegel's Epiphany shows that what we need is more religion in order to make people peaceful.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge  
Wednesday, 5 January, 2011, 08:55 AM - Murad
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

Isn't Facebook just fantastic? I'm not one of those dreary old stick-in-the-mud Shaikhs that neglects modern technology. I'm really hip and with it Shaikh, who is cool with all this new fangled interwebby type stuff. Isn't it just amazing how this plucky young programmer built a new form of communication up from nothing to a $50 billion company?

But absolutely amazing and fantastic and wonderful as all this brilliant new technology superbly is, there are still dangers. Governments can spy on us, identity theft can take place, there is cyber bullying and worst of all, evil corporations can harvest our digital footprints to send us junk mail!!!

Recently I met some real people, not Facebook friends but real descendent of the Prophet. They didn't use all this new fangled technology to be friends with one another. As descendent of the Prophet, they shared hospitality, told stories around the old camp fire and generally did what real humans have been doing for thousands of years.

Facebook "friends" trivialise and belittle the word "friendship". It devalues the true meaning of friendship. That's what all this trashy new technology does to human relationships. Facebook is just rubbish, I don't know why I even bother with it.

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