Bewilderingly Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich 
Tuesday, 8 February, 2011, 08:23 AM - James
Rating 0 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

The book What's Mine is Yours describes the internet phenomenon of hiring out goods that are otherwise being unused: renting a room, hiring a bicycle or a car from someone else.

We all have such unused goods. The average power drill gets used for just 12 minutes in its lifetime, so it makes sense to share what we've got. ebay alone trade £1,800 every second. We buy goods we've never seen from people we've never met and send them the money first. The internet has built trust in a world where it's been diminishing in almost every other way.

Having exclusive access to our own goods used to be seen as a sign of our independence. As the population rises, with much of the world's wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, collaborative consumption makes sense. Of course, religious communities invented collaborative consumption long before the internet arrived. It makes everyone equal before the Invisible Magic Friend. The first Christians all did this, until Christianity went mainstream, when most Christians decided they weren't going to share any more.

The vast majority of ebay users have discovered that you really can put your faith in other human beings.

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Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 7 February, 2011, 08:33 AM - Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Good morning Sarah, good morning John and good morning to you all.

Isn't the news, whatever it is, just terrible? There are all these people out demonstrating, trying to change the world. Long, long ago, when the earth had not yet cooled, I used to demonstrate, trying to change the world, but we never succeeded. No one ever does. It's all so depressing.

This morning, I asked my Invisible Magic Friend to make all this disturbance and hullabaloo go away. But if he didn't save millions from the gas chambers why should he act to make me feel better? It all seems so hopeless, so pointless, doesn't it?

There's a lot of religion about, much of it bizarre, and that's pretty depressing too. The Invisible Magic Friend really seems to have made a complete mess of everything. The reason why this is, is a mystery, a depressing mystery, but never forget, the Invisible Magic Friend is your friend, always there to help you, unless you're faced with a gas chamber that is. He created us to straighten out the mess that he created, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it, so it's not really a mystery after all.

You're probably all as depressed and disillusioned as I am, what with all these terrible things happening. Isn't the world just awful? Never mind, cheer up. A bit of hard work to try and change things will soon lift you out of these terrible doldrums that you seem to have gotten into, even if you'll never actually succeed in changing anything. Think about all the excellent recipes you can conjure up from the leftovers in your fridge. There, that cheered you up a bit, didn't it? Put a coin in a collection box and whistle "Always look on the bright side of life." You'll soon forget about what a dreary, abysmal place the world really is.

John Bunyan's pilgrim hymn is a good song to sing, the one with the hobgoblins and foul fiends in it. Of course, I don't believe in hobgoblins and foul fiends, that would be just silly. What sort of silly person believes in hobgoblins and foul fiends? So say something nice to the Invisible Magic Friend and have a happy day, no matter how dreadful the news is.

Well, I must be going, it's time for bed. Good night Invisible Magic Friend.

GOOD NIGHT LIONEL.

Begone foul hobgoblin!

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Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Saturday, 5 February, 2011, 09:13 AM - Environment, Materialism, Draper
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly 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.

Ed Milliband says we now face the prospect, that for the first time in a hundred years, the next generation will be worse off than their parents.

At this point I'm supposed to wax lyrical about the benefits of a more spiritual lifestyle, how a nice walk in the woods is so much better than more material possessions, how it is better to store up treasure in heaven and all that. It would be such a cliché to do so that obviously I want to avoid doing that at all costs.

But what if we could teach our children to live better lives with fewer resources, which they'll have to now that we've consumed them all. In a way, we'd be leaving them a great legacy.

"My son, I leave you a world with less oil, less fresh water and food per person and a dearth of other non renewable resources. Everything for you will be more expensive and there are many things you will never have at all. What a great opportunity this is for you to learn to be frugal, to consume more responsibly and lead a simpler, yet spiritually more fulfilling life."

What is the point of accumulating wealth in this life, when we should be storing up treasure in heaven? As Ecclesiastes (one of the nice books of the Big Book of Magic Stuff that we do so like to quote here on Thought For The Day) says, in the end you're all going to rot.

You can't take your vast accumulation of possessions or your hard earned fortune with you. Be contented with what you have accumulated in the next life, which will be so much better than this one.

Rejoice, oh next generation, for you will be able to live better for less.

(Thank the Invisible Magic Friend I managed to avoid all those tiresome clichés.)

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Resplendently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord... 
Friday, 4 February, 2011, 08:43 AM - Be nice, Harries
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned Egypt yet? Yes, I know about no morals without God, Hindu advice to move on, the relevance of the 10 commandments and how very ordinary the Egyptians are. I mean someone talking about something really relevant to the news?

Where does real power lie? At the barrel of a gun said Mao, but Hanna Arendt thought otherwise. She pointed out that without the consent, at the very least of those holding the guns, military power cannot be exercised.

Thus, we see the idea of "free consent", an idea invented by Christianity. For example, Theodosius freely consented to ban paganism. And entire Latin American civilisations were freely consented to become Catholics. Acceptance of Jesus has always been by such free consent.

Despite all this free consent that's been going on, some level of coercion is still required. Ever since the Garden of Eden incident, we've needed police forces and jails to prevent people recklessly running around eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge and spoiling it all for the rest of us.

Jesus, while he was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, gave us the parable about what happens when he scatters his seed in various places, a parable that I think is particularly relevant to free consent, coercion, and events taking place in Egypt today.

Let us hope that we can all maximise such free consent with the very minimum of beating each other over the head.

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One woman's quest for justice against the Daily Mail 
Thursday, 3 February, 2011, 09:05 AM - Not TFTD
Juliet Shaw responded to a request from the Daily Mail for professional women who had left the city and moved to the countryside. They were doing an article on the advantages of living in the countryside.

Except they weren't. Having interviewed and photographed her, they ran a story about her being a sex obsessed fantasist, ruining her reputation and her business. They did the same with three other women in the same article. Her attempts to get an apology were stonewalled. Not being able to afford legal counsel, she determined to sue the Daily Mail herself.

The Daily Mail counter-sued, saying she was a time-waster and demanded legal costs from her. She was then forced to spend two years defending herself against their legal action, which she won. Phone calls from the Daily Mail's lawyers eventually forced her to settle out of court. She asked only for reimbursement of her losses and a printed apology. They said she could have one or the other. Being a practical woman, she took the money and decided to put the affair behind her.

I knew the Daily Mail was a scumbag rag, but I never knew it was that bad. I sometimes link to the Daily Mail. Visitors to their web site increase their revenue and help spread the Daily Mail venom.

I WILL NEVER LINK TO THE DAILY MAIL AGAIN.

It's a small protest, I know, but if it were to catch on?

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge 
Thursday, 3 February, 2011, 08:16 AM - Democracy, Freedom of speech, Materialism, Morality, Tilby
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned Egypt yet? Vast crowds of people are meeting in the streets, calling with one voice for jobs, fuel, hope, fairness, free speech.

Something similar happened to me recently. There was a power cut when I was shopping in Waitrose and everyone left the shop to meet in the streets. We met people who had left Marks & Spencer's for the same reason. We were all anxious and afraid, confronted by uncertainty. What was the meaning of this sudden break in the electricity supply? Fortunately the lights came back on an hour later. The crowds dispersed and I was able to finish my shopping list in Waitrose. This frightening, potentially life changing event, was over.

Not so for the demonstrators in Egypt. Their protests continue. As we see Egyptians demand democracy like we have, an impartial justice system like we have, freedom of speech like we have, healthcare for all like we have, we are reminded that there is more to life than the western obsession with comfort, safety and security. We, and by we I mean you, sleepwalk through life, with no ambition other than to enjoy yourselves. You have no conception of anything beyond your own selfish, pointless little lives, thinking about nothing other than your own material satisfaction.

The only thing you can aspire to, beyond the purely material, is to have an Invisible Magic Friend. Having an Invisible Magic Friend who is infinitely everything, allows you to put the finiteness of your own life into perspective. The Invisible Magic Friend lays down absolute rules about what is good, like stoning to death someone who collects firewood on the day reserved for worshipping him.

Without the Invisible Magic Friend you can't have any standards of goodness and you think about nothing other than your own appetites and egos. If you have any morals at all they're very loose morals.

That's why the demonstrators in Egypt are so inspirational. They're thinking beyond the mundane and fighting for spiritual abstractions like food, justice and democracy.

Would you get out onto the streets to demand all the things that you already have?

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Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 2 February, 2011, 09:00 AM - Gibberish, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

President Mubarak of Egypt must be feeling increasingly isolated. Other countries such as Jordan and Syria look on uneasily.

As Bill said to Ben in The Flowerpot Men, "flobba-lobba-dobba-lob", or what goes around comes around. This can be seen in the Trumpton Town Hall Clock, telling the time, steadily, sensibly; never too quickly, never too slowly; telling the time for Trumpton.

The heroes of Watch with Mother often valued the wisdom of age. We revere the likes of Captain Snort of Pippin Fort near Chigley.

Captain Snort is a soldier man,
Scarlet and gold a soldier man.
He'll work a boy as hard as he can,
To turn him into a soldier man.

But paradoxically, it encourages the elderly not to linger. As Sergeant Major Grout said to Captain Snort, "Atten-TION, isn't it about time you retired and let me take over old chap?"

Watch with Mother is full of instances of one series giving way to another. Muffin the Mule gives way to Andy Pandy, which in turn stands aside for Chigley, near Camberwick Green, In Trumptonshire. There is therefore an "orderly transition" as is being hoped for in many Middle East countries.

Sometimes we just know when it's time to go. There comes a point where we know that we have outstayed our welcome, that it's time to move on, that we're no longer relevant or meaningful, that we've said all that we have to say and there's no more to be said, when we find ourselves repeating the same tired, old, outdated platitudes day after day after day.

Perhaps the words of Lady Rosemary to Sir Basil, in The Herbs might be relevant here. "My name is Lady Rosemary,you'll find you cannot fool me. I have eyes both sharp and quick,to help me see through every trick."

Let us hope that President Mubarak has been listening to this broadcast.

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Stunningly Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich 
Tuesday, 1 February, 2011, 08:09 AM - James
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned Antony Gormley recently? It's certainly been a while, so how about I mention his new sculpture in Canterbury Cathedral. It's a model of the human body that looks a bit like Pinhead from Hellraiser, only with a few more nails in it.

A lot of people don't like their bodies, and to be honest if it feels like Antony Gormley's new sculpture, who can blame them. Don't be taken in by the fashion models, the movie stars and the sporting athletes. We can't all look like that. Learn to love your bodies. Caress it, run your hand down your soft, smooth thigh, make it feel wanted. If you're short, fat and baldy with an interesting skin condition, be proud of your appearance.

Gormley's Pinhead stands above the tomb of Thomas Becket, who wore a hair-shirt to make himself feel uncomfortable and stop all those terrible carnal desires. He probably felt a bit like Pinhead himself. I can't imagine where some clerics got such strange ideas from. Saint Paul was a big fan of the human body and was always encouraging Christians to go out and fondle one another.

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Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010 
Monday, 31 January, 2011, 08:44 AM - Dont do bad things, Lessons of history, Longley
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

There's a lot going on in Egypt. Egypt is an ancient civilisation. So were Greece and Rome - they were ancient civilisations too, but Egypt was even more ancienter. In fact, Egypt may even have invented being civilised.

Which brings me to the 10 commandments which are so vitally important to us in knowing how to be moral. Without a proper set of rules like these, none of us would know how to be moral.

1. There's only one Invisible Magic Friend and it's me. You're not to make any images of me, 'cos I'm invisible.

2. Don't use my name in vain.

3. Set aside every seventh day so that you worship me properly.

Egypt was so civilised that it even had a brief flirtation with monotheism. That's how civilised they were. This was about the same time as Moses, whose birth and death certificates are well preserved. It may be where Moses got the idea for there only being one Invisible Magic Friend, Makes you, think, eh?

After Akhenaten died, Egypt went back to not being quite so civilised again, but despite not being so civilised they still had a list of 42 commandments, "42" being the answer to life, the universe and everything. This has confessions like, I have not killed, or I have not stolen. Sound familiar? Makes you think, eh? Makes you think that maybe these rules didn't come from the Invisible Magic Friend on Mount Sinai, that maybe we just know that they're wrong. No - forget that, it doesn't make you think anything of the kind.

Not blowing people up is also one of the 10 commandments, or at least it would have been if there were high explosives at the time. When some Muslims decided to blow up Coptic Christians, ordinary Muslims went to Coptic churches in their thousands to protect the Christians. Then some other Muslims cut off all contact with the Vatican for asking ordinary Muslims to protect Christians.

Egypt has lasted this long. It'll probably keep going.

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Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 29 January, 2011, 09:31 AM - Be nice, Draper
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little 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.

Ordinary people are out on the streets in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. We should never underestimate the courage of ordinary people. Ordinary people in the West often do underestimate the power of ordinary people to change things.

Many ordinary people like you, spend a lot of your time trying to prove that you're not ordinary. But really you are just ordinary. Very, very, very ordinary indeed. And being ordinary is contagious. Ordinary people just spread ordinariness among other, ordinary, people.

Philip Zimbardo writes that many ordinary people are actually heroes in waiting. While many conform to the rules in an evil situation, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment, or Abu Ghraib, there are always some ordinary people who resist, who become heroes. The ordinary people who have risked their lives in ordinary street protests are such heroes.

They can inspire ordinary people like me, by which I mean you, to be less ordinary. Take Jesus for example. A perfectly ordinary messiah, part of a perfectly ordinary Invisible Magic Friend. He inspires me to love my neighbour as myself. It's his very ordinariness that makes him so extraordinary.

Perhaps the ordinary people in the Arab world will inspire you to be a bit less average, boring, mediocre and just plain ordinary.

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