Akhandadhi Das, Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Tuesday, 5 February, 2008, 10:56 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

I want to talk to you today about public energy policy. Of course, normally if anyone wanted to talk about this they would be continually questioned by that rude Mr. Humphreys. Fortunately this is "Thought For The Day" and he's not allowed to interrupt. Ha, ha! This allows me to sing the praises of wind power.

This is a religious slot, so somehow I have to make this area of critical political decision making sound religious. I have therefore decided to call it a moral question. Since virtually everything is a moral question I should be able to get away with that. I'll also throw in something from the Vedas about treating others the way you would like to be treated, which should keep the Department of Religion and More Religion happy.

I will now choose three criteria which any alternative energy source must meet and which happily are satisfied by that amazing wind power. I will conveniently forget other criteria such as continuity and control of supply and local objections (which may be safely ignored - they're not being moral). So there you have it, the invisible magic friends say "Wind power is lovely and will solve all our energy needs".

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Abdal Hakim Murad - Muslim chaplain University Cambridge  
Monday, 4 February, 2008, 01:14 PM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

It's the passing of an era. Tesco and M&S are finally banning cheques from their stores. Pure and godly cheques (which were invented by muslims) are being replaced by sinister plastic cards (not invented by muslims). People like me, who like to fumble for our glasses, while we find our chequebook, scribble out the pounds and pence, and finally sign our signature in the supermarket queue, are being left behind. It is an ancient tradition, dating back to at least the 1980s, where patient queues of people watched fondly on.

No longer do armies of bright young messengers hurtle along Lombard Street with their bags of cheques. Where once our wealth was held securely in a large, leather bound tome, lovingly inscribed in black ink, now it is debited instantly by electronical communications to devilish, non-muslim invented computers. There are more credit cards than people in the European Union. There are also more pencils, bottles, paving tiles and clothes hangers. Wickedness, sheer wickedness.

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Reverend Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance 
Sunday, 3 February, 2008, 11:49 PM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Sharon Coleman has won a milestone legal ruling which prevents discrimination in the workplace against those who care for disabled relatives. What's really important in this is not that we are becoming more and more aware of the challenges faced by disabled people and their carers, nor is it the fact that a secular legal system, enforcing man made laws has chosen to uphold carers rights; no, what is important is that my Invisible Magic Friend approves. Being so reverend, I am in constant contact with the IMF. Jesus says to be nice to disabled people and their carers. I'm sure you'll all agree thatthis carries far more weight than any ruling from the European court of justice.

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Hello from Florida 
Friday, 1 February, 2008, 11:46 PM
When I was 8 years old, my mum woke me up one night, got me out of bed and took me downstairs to watch a grainy image of Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Even though I was barely able to understand, I knew that something really special was taking place. The political rivalries that partly drove the space race were set aside that night. For one brief instant, all who could witness that moment sat transfixed, united in a shared common dream. Humans dead and gone, from Euclid to Newton, James Clerk-Maxwell to Thomas Edison, played their part in that historic achievement, and not just scientists: poets, philosophers, musicians and dreamers, saw an ancient dream of mankind fulfilled.

Today I stood beneath a gigantic Saturn V rocket, the culmination of thousands of years of human ingenuity and cumulative effort. I ate a soggy NASA chicken burger and limp fries underneath a lunar lander, oblivious to the sheer awfulness of the food. I touched a rock from the moon that was 3.7 billion years old, from a time when my distant ancestor was no more complicated than a bacterium. Children ran around screaming, unaware of the magnificent heritage that was only inches away. I hadn't felt so overcome by the sense of history, by the sense of human achievement, since I first stood in the sanctuary of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It's said that when the Emperor Justinian first stepped inside his great cathedral he was heard to whisper "Solomon, I have surpassed thee". Solomon and Justinian would both understand what I felt today.

And the purveyors of religious platitudes claim that they alone have the monopoly on inspiration; that science arouses no wonder or awe; that science can never provide that sense of purpose or sense of our place in this world.

That's their loss.
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Superb Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks 
Friday, 1 February, 2008, 11:38 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

America is much more religious than Europe. This surprised the French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville who was used to seeing democracy and religion as opposites. Strange, given that religion has always been such a big fan of democracy, always depending upon reason and persuasion rather than authority, power and patronage.

Tocqueville put this down to America keeping religion and politics separate. Politics always divides people, religion never does, so by keeping the two separate America ensured that religion could concentrate on building moral values, on kindness and charity. Those of us who believe in the Invisible Magic Friend value the sanctity of human life. It's our job to pass these values onto amoral hedonists such as you. But we still believe in democracy, so you won't find us making life hell for family planning clinics, homosexuals or stem cell researchers - oh no, not us.

Religion's job is to teach us all to love one another. This is especially important now that there are so many different religions around, none of which are divisive, but many of which are quite difficult to love.

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Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley 
Thursday, 31 January, 2008, 12:07 PM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Do you feel like a lame duck president, wondering whether you've invaded all the countries you could have? Have you grown old and saggy, the kind of depressing mid-life crisis obsessed loser who listens to Radio 4? I thought so. I bet you feel really useless and boring. You've seen everyone else become successful and happy while you became stuck in the same dreary, miserable rut, full of failed relationships and unachieved dreams.

Never fear, this is where faith comes in. With faith, even a hopeless basket case like you can believe they really are something. This is the lesson of the three great Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, etc. The invisible magic friend created you with infinite self delusion. After all, if a dim-witted, draft dodging, evil little toad like G.W. Bush can become the most powerful man in the world, just think what you could do. You just wait and see, with 51 weeks to go and the full might of the United States military to play with, the evil little toad might surprise us all yet.

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Dr Indarjit Singh - Director of the Network of Sikh organisations 
Wednesday, 30 January, 2008, 12:26 PM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Lots of people are finding religion in order to get their children into good sectarian schools. This is good for religion. We get to indoctrinate a whole new generation of children without the interference of all those busy-bodies who might want to open up children's' minds to alternatives. We may even brainwash some of them into becoming religious themselves.

In days of dwindling attendance at religious services some ask if we shouldn't make our religion more welcoming to outsiders. The answer is clearly "no". While we do of course promote openness and inclusivity in all that we do, this does not extend to being flexible, or horror of all possible horrors, making compromises.

I think this is what the first guru meant when he said that we shouldn't get too attached to mere rituals. For example, it is precisely because the Sikh marriage service is so solemn and godly that we mustn't allow outsiders to participate in it until they have committed themselves to observing every little rule of Sikhism. Our rituals are not petty, meaningless symbols designed to separate us from everyone else. They are profound, spiritual ceremonies which promote our ethical superiority above non-Sikhs. We have found absolute truth and that is why no aspect of Sikhism must ever ever change.

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Blisteringly Reverend Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark 
Tuesday, 29 January, 2008, 11:19 AM
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

I've alwaysss had tremendous reshpect for scientishts (hic!). I mean, when all those clever boffins dishcovered earth was zillions of yearsh old, I believed them. I mean, thinking the creashun shtory in the bible is real, that'sh jusht silly. It'sh obvioushly a metaform... mutaform... jusht a shtory (hic!). Science has proven that if the laws of physics were jusht an itsy bitsy teeny weeny minishcule bit different, we'd all jusht be big blobsh of shtuff. Ash the puddle shaid to the hole in the road, "you were obvioushly designed for me." (hic!)

Sho why dosh everyone keep waffling on about parellel (hic!) univeshes? It'sh obvious the world was designed jusht for ush. Whattaweneed schientific theories for? Goddidit (hic!). Now they're fiddling with DNA an thingsh. Bloody schientists, who'd they think they are! Gimme another sherry (hic!).

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Abdal Hakim Murad - Muslim chaplain University Cambridge  
Monday, 28 January, 2008, 01:11 PM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Evidence shows that smaller schools are generally better schools. So we should keep lots of small village schools (which coincidentally allows us to have lots of separate sectarian schools, but that doesn't influence my opinion at all), not merge them into huge mega-inner-city schools. Evidence also shows that humans are social creatures with our most immediate social groups forming our strongest scoial bonds. However I have no need to build any argument on the basis of mere evidence. Mohammed said that being nice to your immediate social groups is a good thing. Less immediate social groups, such as those of other religions, can be taken as increasingly optional. He spoke with the full authority of the invisible magic friend and that's good enough for me.

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Disrupted platitudes 
Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 09:30 AM
I'm going to be a lot less platitudinous over the next couple of weeks. Platitudes will often arrive late in the day and sometimes may not arrive at all. Normal service should be resumed in a couple of weeks' time.
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