Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society, New College on the Mound, University of Edinburgh  
Thursday, 23 February, 2012, 08:15 AM - Interfaith, Siddiqui
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Racism is bad. It's not as bad now as it used to be. It used to be very bad, now it's just bad.

We all have prejudices. Now that I think about it, even non-white people can have prejudices. There's a tribalism in us that we all have to overcome. This innate tribalism isn't the result of evolution. That's such a silly argument that I'm not even going to mention it. Our tribalism is the result of the Invisible Magic Friend. He decided to make us different colours with different faiths, languages and cultures because he thought history would be more entertaining that way, as we "got to know one another".

I know a Protestant theologian whose daughter is marrying a Hindu. Now I know what you're thinking. How can a good Protestant girl, who quite properly believes in the only true Invisible Magic Friend, marry someone who not only has a different Invisible Magic Friend, but has lots of Invisible Magic Friends? It's unbelievable, isn't it? After the theologian had recovered from the shock and got up off the couch, he decided to permit the marriage on the grounds that his daughter's happiness might be more important.

As a Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, I find myself troubled and challenged by this bizarre behaviour. Could I allow one of my children to marry someone with the wrong Invisible Magic Friend, or even worse, a Hindu? I'm really not sure. This is the kind of complex and difficult question that shows just how important my Inter-Religious Studies courses are. I might even raise the question at the next inter-faith buffet.

18 comments ( 506 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 199 )

Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 
Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 08:17 AM - War, Banner
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Happy Ash Wednesday everyone! Yes, it's that jolly time of year when we all get to spend six wonderful weeks contemplating the suffering of Christ.

But it's not only the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend who suffers, lot's of people suffer. Whether it's war, famine, pestilence or natural disaster, all over the world there are lots of people suffering, just like Christ did. You don't even have to take my word for it, you can get all that suffering transmitted into the comfort of your own home.

Now, with the arrival of Lent, you can join in too. You can do your little bit of suffering to show that you really care. Just by giving up your favourite legally available addictive drug for a few weeks, you can show solidarity with Christ and everyone who suffers as Christ did.

Of course, you won't suffer the way a starving child in sub-Saharan Africa does. They suffer the way Christ did, which you won't, but at least as you forgo your evening glass of wine, you'll be able to say, I have given up my evening glass of wine, I know what it is to suffer.

But aren't we all enjoying all this suffering a bit too much? How many of us rush home from work to see the latest Famine in Ethiopia, or Somalia's got Pirates? I know I am. That's why I'll be giving up something for Lent, to show that I'm not just treating others' pain as a form of entertainment.

Lent is about recognising other people's suffering. It's got nothing to do with me showing how holy I am.

14 comments ( 704 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 218 )

Iain Duncan Smith 
Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 09:26 AM - Politics, Not TFTD
I wish to comment on some comments by the elite, who seem to think that shelf stacking at Tesco, for about a fifth of the minimum wage, is not a worthy career for an ambitious young person. I will use my own example to inspire those young people who are not too proud to start at the bottom rung of the ladder.

My university education took place in a town with an ancient and distinguished university that awarded degrees. After attending a nearby language college I realised that I had learned all that I needed to learn and saw no need to sit any exams or obtain any formal qualifications.

My working life started out in the Guards, where I served as a humble aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir John Acland. On leaving the guards, I married the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe and spent some time considering my future career. It was at this point that I joined GEC-Marconi, where various official biographies used to state that I was a director. This turned out to be mis-remembered and my actual position at GEC-Marconi is now not mentioned by anyone, even on the internet.

With successful careers in the army and the defence industry behind me, I thought it appropriate to turn my talents eleswhere. I founded my very own property company which subsequently collapsed, whereupon I found myself once again contemplating where I could next be of service. I decided to serve on the board of Jane’s Information Group, a directorship that was real and not actually mis-remembered at all.

Having had no previous interest in politics, it was at this point that I decided to become a Conservative MP. My wealth of education, talent, experience and connections, was such that I rapidly rose to become leader of the Conservative Party, where I served with distinction before returning to the backbenches again.

My career proves that, provided one is willing to work hard and stick with it, anyone can overcome an underprivileged background and rise to become a government minister. So just ignore what the elite are telling you and don't be too proud to work 40 hours a week for £53.
4 comments ( 1239 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 262 )

Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian 
Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 08:39 AM - Art, Gibberish, Brook
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I was In Bruges admiring a painting of Jesus when my daughter said, "Oh no, not another painting of Jesus. Didn't they paint anything else then?" I had to smile at the simple boredom of a child. The answer is, no, they didn't.

Anyone who could paint in those days painted who they were told to, and they were told to paint pictures of Jesus: Jesus being born, Jesus being killed and occasionally Jesus doing other things apart from being born or being killed. Of course they were painted in a huge variety of slightly different ways but I have to admit, even I found it all incredibly boring.

Then it hit me. A lot of art and public works were done for money or prestige. How much of it was really done to glorify the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend? The more I looked around In Bruge, the more I came to realise that motives of adoration and praise become confused with motives of self aggrandisement. What an original thought this was. As a celebrity, Christian writer I thought to myself, is it possible that anyone has ever questioned religious motives before?

A retired bishop has got so confused about all of this that he's written in his book that he's confused.

Everyone's favourite earliest Christian author, Saint Paul, famously said that Jesus was the invisible image of the Invisible Magic Friend. Even by Saint Paul's standards that seems obscure. Fortunately it all makes sense when you realise that I haven't actually read the Big Book of Magic Stuff and the few bits that I have read I don't remember very well.

5 comments ( 1021 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 247 )

Unnaturally Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Monday, 20 February, 2012, 08:18 AM - Harries
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Private things, done by private people in private, should remain private. As private people, we all have private things that we would like to keep private. So we should respect the right of other private people to keep their private things private, so that they will respect our right to keep our private things private.

Public people who do things in private that affect the public need to be transparent. Even though they may have private things that they want to keep private, they may also have private things that need to be made public because they affect the public. A free press ensures that anything that public people do in private can be made public so that the public can know about the private things that public people do in private that might affect the public. However, there is a balance to be found here. The free press must not abuse their ability to make private things public if the private things that public people keep private ought to be kept private.

The Freedom of Information Act allows all sorts of things to be made public that used to be private. Public figures have to be careful what they do in private because the FOI act can make them public even if they want them to remain private.

The New Tasty mint records the words of Jesus: "Exclusive! Read all about it! I know all your dirty little secrets and I'm gonna tell everybody! So there!"

This would seem to suggest that the Invisible Magic Friend doesn't want anything to by private.

Makes you think, eh?

5 comments ( 1100 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.8 / 231 )

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, POTY 2011 
Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 08:13 AM - Pepinster
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Far too many people are getting drunk at home these days. It's an utter disgrace. What do you think pubs are for? If you want to set an example, go get drunk in a pub instead. Getting drunk in public is the way you were meant to get drunk. Public drunkenness is what the Invisible Magic Friend wants, although I do hope people won't use that as an excuse to bring up that hoary old chestnut of the Soberingly Reverend Ex-Lord Bishop of Southwark and the cuddly toys. That really was just one incident. It was a long time ago and it's just not funny any more.

It's all the fault of the breathalyser. Thanks to this invention of the devil, people are afraid to go down the pub, get sozzled and then get behind the wheel of a car. All for fear of seriously injuring or killing someone.

But it's not just pubs that people aren't getting drunk in any more, they're not getting drunk in church either. Many church's are having to shut their doors most weeks, or even close entirely. Whatever happened to the sense of community we all had, guzzling down a bottle or two of Benedictine wine? I have many happy memories of over indulging and throwing up in the baptismal font, or at least I would have many happy memories if only I could remember anything.

So this lent, don't just give up drinking at home for six weeks, make a visit to your local and get drunk in the company of a bunch of complete strangers instead.

16 comments ( 1288 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 202 )

Soberingly Reverend Tom Butler, ex-Lord Bishop of Southwark  
Friday, 17 February, 2012, 08:32 AM - Science, Theology, Butler
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Quantum Physhics ish all a bit of a myshtery. (hic!) I mean, nobody really undershtands any of it, do they? Even the people who undershstand it (hic!) shay they don't undershtand it. Thingsh can be in two plaishes at onesh and be both a partishiple and a wave at the shame time. (hic!) Dushn't make any shensh doesh it? It'sh all very confusing. (hic!)

Thish is exactly the shame ash Chrishtian theology. It'sh all very confusing too and nobody undershtands it either. The Invishible Magic Friend (hic!) can be all over the place and there can be three of him and only one of him at the shame time. It'sh all very mishterious. (hic!)

Jusht like Quantum Physhics, Chrishtian theology has proved to be amazingly useful (hic!), at least to Chrishtian theologians. They've written loadsh and loadsh of booksh about how mishterious it ish and how you'll never undershtand it. Quantum Physhics and Chrishtian theology have both been teshted to remarkable degreesh of (hic!) accurashy. Chrishtian theology is now mishterious to over 13 deshimal plashesh, making it the most baffling and incompre-hen-shible bogledegook ever invented by people with nothing better to do.

Yet the Church Fathersh (there were no Church Mothersh - Shaint Paul wouldn't allow it) invented all this obshcure, shelf contradictory drivel, thoushands of yearsh before shcientists got around to it. Just goesh to shoe, doeshn't it? (hic!)

I wonder if it'll make a bit more shensh after a shmall sherry. (hic!)

15 comments ( 894 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 318 )

AAA vs. Andrew Copson 
Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 05:00 PM - Not TFTD

9 comments ( 1115 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 161 )

A sad duty 
Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 03:45 PM - Clemmies
Unfortunately I have a very sad duty to perform. One of our most prolific and erudite contributors has passed away. Yes, Clemmie the guinea pig, after whom our monthly awards are named, is no more. She died peacefully in her pen overnight at the grand old age of seven.

Clemmie was chosen as our award mascot because of the depth and profundity of her philosophical musings, such as, will I nibble some lettuce or try a piece of carrot for a change? It was questions such as these, spiritual questions, that led many of us to consider whether there might not be more to life than just fresh or dried vegetables. Her metaphysical speculations were certainly on a par with even the most advanced TFTD and set the standard that we expected all TFTD presenters to aspire to.

She will live on in our hearts and in the monthly Clemmie award. Only the presenter that has matched the insight, wit and intelligence of Clemmie the guinea pig will ever be honoured with a monthly Clemmie.

Goodbye Clemmie. If there be a guinea pig heaven then may you enjoy all the green vegetables that it has to offer.

9 comments ( 1015 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 229 )

Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian  
Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 08:13 AM - Christian persecution, Secularism, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

It turns out most Christians don't believe that Jesus was the Invisible Magic Friend after all. This is not surprising and nothing to get excited about. Most Hindus don't believe in any of that rubbish either.

What this means is that people are searching for religion and spirituality. Even atheists are. I think you'll find that most atheists secretly believe in the Invisible Magic Friend, life after death and that there's an indeterminate something other than this rather boring, uninteresting universe. After all, it is impossible to prove that anything you might think up does not exist, therefore there's a 50-50 chance that it either does or does not exist.

And if there really isn't something beyond this boring, tedious old universe, then where does altruism come from? Eh? Eh? You can't answer that Mr. oh-so-clever evolutionary biologist can you? Which means the only possible explanantion is that the Invisible Magic Friend didit. So maybe you should be just a little more humble when we suggest that the universe was created by an Invisible Magic Friend specifically for us.

Religion and secularism are of course complete opposites of one another. True secularism does not favour one set of beliefs over another. That's why attacking the official state religion and questioning its right to run everything is being intolerant, hypocritical, narrow minded and shrill. You might only use words and arguments rather than burning people, but I think you can see that it's really pretty much the same thing.

So in conclusion let's all have a respectful debate where the atheists and secularists just shut up and listen to us talking.

19 comments ( 1370 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 319 )

<<First <Back | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | Next> Last>>