Strikingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Friday, 10 February, 2012, 08:16 AM - HarriesRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
There was an item on here the other day about birdsong.
Isn't the sound of the birds really pretty?
Jaw-droppingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Isn't the capitalism of the last three decades just terrible? But before we all relish the scapegoating of Fred Goodwin (Boo! Hiss!), let us look first to the plank in our own eye.
For we are all weak, flawed, worm like things, wallowing in sin, error, stupidity and greed. Which of us has not bought huge multinational banks and crippled the new owner with unserviceable debts? Who amongst us has not at one time paid ourselves tens of millions of pounds, lived a lavish lifestyle and left the resulting financial mess for the taxpayer to sort out?
We cannot ignore our own personal responsibility for the banking crisis. Jesus himself was at pains to point out that we all play our part in the stability of the financial system. His whole life was one of service to others, constantly creating affordable growth portfolios for the prudent investor, performing the kind of miracles that the banking sector could sorely do with today.
A friend of mine who worked in financial services, found that the service element had disappeared and that, shockingly, everyone was just out to make money. Fortunately he had already made enough money himself and was able to retire comfortably, leaving the sordid business of making a profit to others.
It is possible to be both successful and responsible. The motto of a famous American corporation reads "We don't just do this for the money you know." If only financial services companies would learn to be nice corporations like that.
Would you have done any better than the captain of the Costa Concordia? How would you fair, if, as in the Lord's prayer, you were "put to the test"?
The Novel "Lord Jim" begins in a similar vein, when the novel's title character abandons a ship in distress. He spends the rest of his life trying to restore his belief in himself. He never accepts that he, like many of us, can simply be afraid.
Even those who demonstrate great physical bravery, risking their lives to save others, might not have the moral courage to stand up to dishonesty, or the kind of widespread cultural evil spread by extremism. That kind of bravery is exceptional, like the farm boy from the Sudetenland who wrote.
"Dear parents: I must give you bad news - I have been condemned to death. I and Gustave G. We did not sign up for the SS, and so they condemned us to death.. Both of us would rather die than stain our consciences with such deeds of horror. I know what the SS have to do."
We can only hope that all of us, on this Holocaust Memorial Day, and faced with a similar choice, could search deep within us and draw upon such strength.
Resplendently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
And the Big Question on everybody's lips this morning: what role will the Church of England play in the imminent depression?
As a Resplendently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, let me just set everyone's mind at rest. The C of E won't be like those loud, brash Americans. As everybody knows, we Christians are a meek, mild bunch who are not at all pushy. You won't find us poking our noses into everything and shouting about how we need to be listened to. Just listen to me now on TFTD, I'm ever so polite and reasonable.
For some reason, when we tell people about the Invisible Magic Friend, they seem to think that we in some way lack credibility. I know, it's astonishing, isn't it! Our shyness comes from the fact that we know we are right. It's not at all connected with the fact that last time people were openly religious we had civil wars and massacres, or that every time we mention it now people give us a very odd look.
A famous poet agreed with me, so I must be right.
Did you know that one of Hitler's attempted assassins was a Christian? Just one little example of how great we Christians are. He pointed out that one day you'll all be forced to be Christians. Until that happens, we'll continue to be very quiet and unthreatening.
In the meantime, do try to be nice to one another.
Radiantly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Friday, 2 December, 2011, 08:23 AM - HarriesRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Isn't everything really gloomy at the moment? The economy is in meltdown. (Mervyn King said so yesterday. There, that's the news out of the way.) All over the planet there is violence and disorder, injustice and the poverty. It all seems so hopelessly catastrophic and irreparably horrible.
This is perfectly in accord with the teachings of Christianity. Christianity is an inherently gloomy religion, always expecting the very worst from humanity and never being disappointed. There was a good person once, in 17th century England, but he died and ever since it's been downhill all the way.
On the other hand, there's the invisible magic afterlife to look forward to. So always look on the bright side of death. Don't despair, for that is a sin. No matter how terrible everything is, and it really is terrible, your life after you die is going to be really amazing, unless it's really terrible.
In this particularly gloomy season of Advent, we can reflect that one of the advantages of all this evil is the large number of opportunities it provides to do good, bringing joy into the gloomy lives of our children and our children's children. You can do this even if you're not a Christian. That is surely something that we can all agree on, although it's still much better to do good while being a Christian.
Sumptuously Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Gaddafi is dead - somewhat muted hurrah!
In an ideal world he would have been tried for his crimes and given an opportunity to defend himself, but toppling a tyrant isn't easy and we can understand if he somehow accidentally got shot in the process.
We humans have an inherent sense of justice and fairness that no other animal has. It clearly couldn't have evolved so it must be because we are made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend. Of course the Invisible Magic Friend is perfect and everything he does is just brilliant. We're not quite that good. We're frail and weak and flawed and imperfect and just hopelessly useless and drab and awful. When he was making us in his image he obviously made a few mistakes. No, that can't be right, forget that bit.
The Big Book of Magic Stuff is just full of cries for the Invisible Magic Friend to provide justice. As a Sumptuously Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, let me just assure you that he fully intends to do that some day. Don't let the fact that he hasn't done it in the last two and half thousand years in any way put you off. Jews, Christians, and I'll even include Muslims, all believe that the Invisible Magic Friend is going to bring perfect justice into the world any day now - a year or two tops.
In the meantime, we confused, mistaken, utterly rubbishy humans will just have get by as best we can. Even though we don't live in that ideal world where tyrants are brought to trial, I'm sure those who have suffered under Gaddafi's ruthless regime, those who have needlessly lost loved ones as he desperately made everyone fight to the bitter end, will probably feel a small sense of justice this morning.
Abundantly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Friday, 14 October, 2011, 08:51 AM - HarriesRating 3 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Isn't it great to have Friends. No, I don't mean the TV series, I was thinking of people we know who are, well... friends.
The Defence Secretary has a friend. David and Angela Dawes have suddenly discovered they have far more friends than they knew.
We can meet friends in lots of different ways: at university, at work, at the drama society, down the pub, as neighbours, doing charitable activities, on the bus, on the train, on the internet, at church, in the House of Lords. There are many, many ways to make new friends.
Friends bring fun and laughter into our lives. Friends can also bring consolation in time of need. Jonathan Swift had a friend, but she died. He was very upset because he liked his friend. Jesus had a friend called Judas, but he turned out not to be a very nice friend. We are all friends with the Invisible Magic Friend, which is nice because it means everyone has got at least one friend on Facebook.
And now a short poem.
I had a friend, he was gentle and kind,
He even was nice to my mother.
He sat on a stool with his ample behind,
Falling over one way or the other.
The Invisible Magic Friend really is the bestest friend you can ever have.
Wallopingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
I'd like to start by discussing clowns, the relevance of which will shortly become apparent. Georges Rouault liked to paint clowns - clowns and judges.
It isn't easy being a judge, having to judge things. It isn't easy being a juror either, having to judge things. That's the difficult task that the judges in the Amanda Knox appeal had to do. It couldn't be easy, faced with a mass of contradictory evidence, to decide on guilt or innocence. They decided to go for innocence, so the only person left in prison for the crime is the black guy.
Jesus said not to judge others. Some think this means that we shouldn't judge others, but as with anything in the Big Book of Magic Stuff that doesn't make sense, this is not meant to be taken literally. What Jesus meant, and I can speak for Jesus on this as I'm a Wallopingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, is that you can still judge guilt or innocence, but you can't judge the moral worth of a person.
Just because a person was caught red handed stealing all the handbags from a grannies' day out, does not necessarily make them a bad person. You don't know what pressure that person was under. Can you honestly say that, given the opportunity to steal grannies' handbags you wouldn't do the same? Well can you?
We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", are weak, frail, fallible creatures, made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, except that we are weak, frail and fallible. We are certainly fit enough to judge guilt or innocence, certainly fit enough to deprive someone of their liberty for the rest of their lives, or even send them to their deaths. What we are not fit enough to do is to think harshly of them. Only the Invisible Magic Friend is allowed to do that.
Devastatingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
I saw a young man the other day with a toolbox and an absolutely massive spirit level, of which he was justly proud. I had to admire such a long, straight tool. Compared to my own, somewhat less impressive tool, his was indeed very desirable. I couldn't help wondering what feats he had achieved with such a tool, the many customers satisfied by this young carpenter's strenuous erections.
Stanley Spencer painted a picture of Christ carrying his cross, surrounded by carpenters carrying ladders. Christ was a carpenter too, like the other carpenters carrying their ladders, the tools of their trade. Christ's cross was his tool, long and hard like the young man's tool, which he used to proudly save us all from being condemned by him.
But not everyone has a useful trade like a carpenter, or a bishop, or a messiah. Some people don't have any trade or useful employment of any kind. This does not mean that their tools lie unused. Many unemployed or retired people use their tools freely, to the delight of others. As Philip Larkin once said, as soon as you arise in the morning, reach straight for your tool. Saint Paul was quite explicit too, make your tool available to all.
The carpenter's erections, no matter how proud, are merely functional. Using your tool to freely benefit others is an art.
Staggeringly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean is on at the National Theatre and you really should go and see it. This is a very good play about the crazy Roman Emperor, Julian, who decided to stop being a Christian and worshipped all those silly false gods instead. I mean, how mad is that?
This is exactly what's going on today. People are turning away from the perfectly sensible religion of Christianity and becoming pagans. Except, now many aren't even worshipping false gods!
Where are you going to get all your morality from, eh? Tell me that. Without a Christian book to tell you how to be moral you'll all just run around naked doing whatever you like. As Saint Paul famously said, "It's just brilliant being a Christian. We're so much more moral than everyone else."
In centuries to come our grandchildren, and our grandchildren's grandchildren, won't have any morality left at all. I mean, do you think morality just happens naturally or something? Without a holy book, without a Christian holy book, they're all doomed. DOOMED I TELL YOU!