It's the end of civilisation as we know it. America can no longer afford to return to the moon. The money is needed to sustain bankers' bonuses instead. Nobody can afford to go to the moon any longer (except China).
When the Roman Empire fell 1600 years ago, it was Christianity that held Europe together, thus giving the world music, architecture, literature, religion, philosophy, politics and science, that would otherwise have been lost everywhere (except China). All civilisations eventually fall (except China), so the West must eventually fall too. Saint Augustine the Hippo, who was living in Algeria, which together with modern day Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia, was one of the few remaining remnants of that shattered empire, knew that all civilisations eventually fall (except China).
"All civilisations fall," he said (except China). But never fear, not all things are as transient and fleeting as human civilisation (except China). The Kingdom of the Invisible Magic Friend (everyone knows that the only proper form of government is an absolute monarchy) will last even longer than China and all you have to do to get in is believe in it. Yes, that's it! Just click your heels three times and say "I believe Invisible Magic Friend, I believe!" This is called being knowledgeable and wise.
Of course, if you don't believe what I'm telling you, if you don't have faith that the Kingdom of the Invisible Magic Friend will last longer than China, then that makes you a rotter, an atheist, probably some sort of communist sympathiser and you'll have to go to the other place.
Terry Pratchett's Dimbleby lecture sets out a reasoned and articulate case for assisted dying. He is of course wrong.
Many people assume that just because religious texts go on and on and on about how the body is a temple holding your invisible magic bit and it is immensely sinful and evil and wrong to kill yourself, that this somehow puts us at odds with the case for assisted dying. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many sages and saints have prepared for death by starving themselves and have thus departed this world in an agonisingly spiritual way. This is not sinful and evil and wrong because they are not using western medicines to alleviate pain or hasten the process of death. They have simply decided not to go on living, which is a different thing entirely.
Wednesday, 3 February, 2010, 07:22 AM - Not TFTDMajor kudos to this guy:
I haven't laughed so much since the Coldstream Guards accidentally played the Emperor's Theme for the state visit of the King of Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, 2 February, 2010, 09:32 AM - ClemmiesIt's been a bumper month for platitudinousness. I really can't express how delighted I've been by the efforts of our presenters in starting off the year in such fine form. It all bodes very well for the months ahead. I offer my heartiest congratulations to the BBC's Holy Department of Religion and More Religion and trust that these very high standards will now be maintained.
Rev Dr Dr Joel Edwards put in a strong showing by pointing out that only fools think religious division causes fear, hatred, suspicion and inter-religious warfare.
Rev Dr Giles Fraser, in one of his many outstanding contributions this month, told us that people don't want a merciful God. Mercy is for wimps. They want a vengeful, pitiless God that'll smite sinners properly.
In his second nominated entry this month, Rev Dr Giles Fraser castigated people who think rationally. Thinking rationally in circumstances such as the Haiti earthquake, is in such bad taste.
Dom Antony Sutch also gave us his thoughts on sin and evil and natural disaster and evil and sin.
There have been so many other high scorers this month that I won't list them all, but special mentions go to Rev Dr Giles Fraser (yet again!) for his thought that all the best scientists were Christians, Catherine Pepinster for telling us that human altruism must come from God because we're all so nice, Clifford Longley for reminding us how liberal the Catholic Church is about sex, and Brian Draper, for pointing out that a fall in the crime statistics is exactly what you would expect from humanity being saved.
And many, many more, but even among these many fine contributions, the runaway winner this month, with a thought that delicately combined the most superb platitudinousness with intricate threads of being alternatively insulting and patronising goes to Rev Angela Tilby for suggesting that people don't vote because they don't go to church any more and have consequently become immoral and selfish and don't care about justice and stuff like we Christians do.
Very well done indeed Rev Angela.
Happy Candlemash day everyone! (Hic!) 'Sh time o' hope 'nd joy 'n shtuff. I mean Jeshush (hic!) Jeshush shacrificed himshelf to make the world a better place 'n jusht look (hic!), jusht look how mush better 'tis. And it'sh Groundhog Day too, when liddle critters do shum weather forecashting.
Now I know what you're all (hic!) all thinking. You're thinking, "that global warming shtuff's a load a rubbish", that'sh what your (hic!) thinking, what wiv glashiers not meltin and ush getting all shnowed in. But no. No, no, no, no (hic!) no. You've got to shacrifise like Jeshush did. Don't throw out all the cuddly toysh 'cause 've Climategate.
I'm gonna keep on shacrifishing 'fings (hic!). I'm the Bishop of Shufrock. It'sh what I do.
Monday, 1 February, 2010, 05:01 PM - Not TFTDThe NSS is running a petition to make the Catholic Church pay the cost of His Holiness' visit to the UK.
Monday, 1 February, 2010, 09:20 AM - Not TFTDI have, rather painfully as it happens, and so it appears have many of you.
It all started innocently enough on Saturday morning when an email that I'd seen the previous day on my laptop failed to appear on my desktop machine. Several hours of investigation later and I finally understood the meaning of all those emails from Virgin Media explaining that they were going to improve my email experience by migrating all my email to Google, but not to worry, just sit back and they would handle everything smoothly and seamlessly for me.
Most personal email gets sent around the internet using a very well established protocol called the Post Office Protocol Version 3 (POP3). It hops from server to server until you eventually download it to your PC when it gets deleted from your ISP's server. Most email readers have an option to defer the deletion so that you can read your email on laptops and mobile phones but still download it later to your main PC. It's not a particularly secure system. Any of the servers that route your mail to you can eavesdrop on what gets sent, although you can always encrypt messages if you feel that strongly. It's a very well established, unsexy means of communication.
A growing alternative has been web based email such as Hotmail and Google Mail (Gmail). These work quite differently. In this approach all your emails get stored on a central server, possibly forever. This allows the holder of your emails to scan them for personalised advertising and other nefarious purposes, but that's OK because you agreed to that when you signed up to their service. (You did read all that small print, didn't you?) I've always avoided services like this. I don't particularly have anything to hide and even if I did, I wouldn't be so naive as to put it in a plaintext email, but I just don't like the idea of some mega-corporation routinely scanning all the mail I send and all the mail I receive. Even if I agreed to their terms and conditions, the people sending me emails certainly didn't. As the case of the Chinese human rights activists shows, such platforms are also inherently less secure.
Imagine my horror therefore, when I went to my Virgin Media Webmail on Saturday and discovered that every email sent to me over the last month was now sitting on a Google server, including every comment posted to this blog. Naturally I've deleted them now and taken steps to ensure that no communications from this blog now go anywhere near Virgin Media. I'm also in the process of migrating my personal email to a new address that also doesn't use Virgin. It's only taken me the bulk of the weekend. Virgin Media, one of the largest ISPs in the country, no longer has an industry standard POP3 service available. The reaction when this is pointed out on their help forum? "That's the platform and it isn't going to change."
Just be aware. If you have a Virgin, Blueyonder or NtlWorld email, or you send to such an address, or comment on a blog that communicates via such an address, then you're being Googled.
As with so many aspects of daily life, when deciding when to go to war, one naturally consults a theologian. Of course, most theologians are dead and have passed into the invisible magic world. We obviously can't talk to people in the invisible magic world (to claim that would be just silly) so distinguished personages and opinion formers, such as the distinguished Editor of The Times, consult distinguished Catholic gentlemen such as oneself, for a summary of theological arguments.
Saint Tony of Bliar, a distinguished Catholic, may not have consulted with his distinguished chancellor on whether to invade Iraq, but he did consult Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately, not being so skilled in theology as distinguished persons such as oneself, he got it wrong. Aquinas was trying to understand Christ's entreaty to "love your enemies". Obviously this is not meant to be taken literally. As a highly skilled theologian of the Catholic Church, Aquinas was able to show that what Christ actually meant was: "invade their territory, destroy everything they've built, steal all their riches, kill all the men, rape all the women and enslave all the children". Thus demonstrating, once again, the wide ranging, practical value of Theology.
It is a sad indictment of our modern world that the Chilcott Enquiry spent virtually no time whatsoever consulting distinguished theologians such as Saint Thomas Aquinas. Instead, they seem to be obsessed about pathetic little details like whether the Iraq war was legal. I mean, who cares about International Law? George W. Bush, a distinguished Christian gentleman, certainly didn't.
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.
Can you summarise a life in six words? "Andy Murray nearly won at tennis?" or "JD Salinger wrote a good book" or "Saint Tony wants to invade Iran."
Most of us, well most of "you" actually, will never be remembered - not even having been on Thought For The Day. Most of us (i.e. you) will simply disappear down the plughole of history; your insignificant, pointless little lives forgotten by all. We spiritual people have freed ourselves from ambition by recognising how irrelevant you all are. We also recognise that the universe couldn't possibly continue without us and therefore there must be an afterlife.
Mother Teresa who became so famous for helping the poor, achieved stardom by not being a star. If you gave up all ambition then who knows, maybe you too would become famous.
Friday, 29 January, 2010, 08:56 AM - BrookRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Billy Bragg has started a campaign to withhold tax until Royal Bank of Scotland bonuses are curtailed. As a hard working writer, celebrity and Christian, I'm tempted to join him. Then I remember the education, social services and health care that all my hard earned tax provides for less fortunate people like you, and I relent. America, the most Christian nation in the western world, still hasn't quite decided whether poor people ought to be treated when they're sick.
Naturally, as always in holy discussions about tax, we refer to the famous Gospel passage on the subject. Jesus, a sort of 1st century Billy Bragg, asked by the Pharisees to give a straight answer to a straight question, replied "Give what's due to Caesar and also what's due to the Invisible Magic Friend, i.e. me." This is clearly a complex, multi-faceted instruction that has to be examined at different levels in order to extract its full implications. Fortunately you have a famous writer, celebrity and Christian here to disentangle its meaning, to explore its many and wondrous theological ramifications, and to derive the moral and humanitarian message buried within. Jesus is in fact instructing us to meditate upon our priorities in life while filling in our tax form.