Canon David Winter 
Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 11:00 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Jade Goody is dying. Fortunately she just got baptised, so at least her life has been transformed and her soul has been redeemed. Not everyone approves of her rise from B-list celebrity status, but if Jade wants her last few moments of life to be seen in full public glare then what right do you have to try and stop her? I think all you people who have been trying to stop her should stop trying to stop her at once. Many of you may have been thinking that she's trying to emulate Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. I'm sure that's what most Sun readers are thinking. "She's just trying to emulate Saint Thérèse of Lisieux," they'll be saying down the pub. But Jade is just an ordinary person like you. She's no Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She's just trying to make sure that her life has a proper ending.

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Breathtakingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries 
Friday, 13 March, 2009, 08:28 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Happy comic relief day everyone! Yes, it's that joyous evening of television entertainment that we all look forward to so much all year. All our favourite TV personalities, like Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton, will be getting involved in all sorts of zany stunts and unlikely situations. I myself will be appearing in the House of Lords wearing a red plastic nose. I'll be wearing full episcopal vestments and handing out boxes of tomatoes to audiences for my Gresham Professor of Divinity lectures, and I'll be doing the evening service dressed as Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Show. But it's not all tasteful laughs and ingenious good humour. There's a serious side to all of this. In these dark days, when they tell me people who aren't Lord Professor Reverend Barons may be losing their jobs or having their houses repossessed, it's tempting to not think about really, really, really poor foreign people, and babies. Stimulating poorer economies is in our own interest and we could also do so out of common humanity. But never mind all of that, Jesus was a really, really, really poor foreign person, and a baby once, so if you don't help them you'll be spitting in the face of baby Jesus. Then there's the example of the hilarious St. Paul. with his laugh a minute letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians, all part of the rollicking good fun of the bible. So why not let your hair down, do some good and have a laugh, just like the church likes to do.

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Professor Mona Siddiqui, of the University of Glasgow 
Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 08:29 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

As Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow, let me just assure you that freedom of expression is a really good thing. The people of Northern Ireland have been freely expressing that they'd like to be not blown up any more. Meanwhile muslims in Luton have been freely expressing who they would like to blow up. Being tolerant of people who want to blow up other people is a mark of a liberal democracy. Their opinions might not be popular with everyone, but there you go. Then again, there are limits to freedom of expression. I don't have any particular examples in mind here, I just thought I'd point out that there are some people that you really don't want to annoy.

Why is everyone disagreeing with one another anyway? We already know what the correct opinion is on virtually everything. After all we have... let's not call them "religions" which is such an overused word, let's call them "competing moralities", only one of which is the right one and I make no comment on which one it is. People shouting and screaming on marches is so undignified. Much better to express your opinion quietly, here on Thought For The Day for example, where everyone is heard and gets their say. You can say things like: what a nice chap The Prophet was.

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4 comments ( 311 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 161 )

Brian Draper, associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 08:34 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Researchers at the Institute of Neurological Disorders have discovered that religious people use their brains when they're being religious. Not only that, but we use exactly the same brains as we do when we're not being religious. Isn't that amazing? The clear conclusion is that our Invisible Magic Friend gave us our brains so that we could be religious. I'm from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we work to equip Christians to engage biblically and relevantly with the issues they face, including Work, Capitalism, Youth Culture, Media and Communication, and I'm using my brain to be religious right now. People who are religious have a thing called Spiritual Intelligence that you don't have. That's what makes us spiritual. It gives us things called values. Science has now proved that our brains exist to make us religious. Of course, many non-religious people have brains too. So they can be spiritual as well, it's just not very likely because otherwise being religious would be completely pointless, wouldn't it? Jesus had a very big brain full of spiritual intelligence: the first shall be last, up shall be down, and the Tooth Fairy shall be triumphant. It's all so very mysterious and intangible and infinite and... well... spiritual.

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4 comments ( 325 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 165 )

Marvelously Reverend Tom Butler, Lord Bishop of Southwark 
Tuesday, 10 March, 2009, 08:33 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Binyam Mohammed shays the British helped to torture him. And why not, indeed (hic!) I hear you ask? If it shaves lives then what'sh a little bit of watherboarding (hic!) here and there, or a few voltsh t'the testicles? You shee that's because you don't have the fine moral shense that we Christians have (hic!). Alright, Shaint Augustine thought it had to be done. OK, the church had itsh own holy thumbscrews (hic!) 'nd a manual on all the intereshting thingsh you could do with a pair of pliars (hic!). But that wash (hic!) then you shee? We're different now. Did you know we're all made in the image of (hic!) God? Eh? Did you know that? We're holier than you (hic!) and we don't think you should go around crushing fingers, or hammering nails through dangly bits (hic!), or screwing boltsh into eyeshockets, or depriving people of their sherry bottlesh, or any of that short've shtuff, you shee?

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Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, the international director of Micah Challenge  
Monday, 9 March, 2009, 08:33 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Violence has returned to Northern Ireland. After hundreds of years of two religions hating and killing one another, I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that some of them still hate the other religion. Though I was not yet International Director of Micah Challenge, a global organisation that prays and campaigns for poor people, I appeared before the multitudes of Northern Ireland during the troubles. Even then, remarkably, I was able to find people of one religion that didn't hate the other, which is important to me as a Human Rights Commissioner, defending the rights of all, black or white, Christian or some other religion, straight or straight. I think peace is a good thing and Saint Paul agrees with me, so I must be right. That's why I became a council member of Rt. Rev. St. Tony of Bliars' Faith Foundation, with its modest aims of eliminating poverty, ending war, and bringing all religions together in peace and harmony under St. Tony's benevolent leadership. As the chair of the Churches Media Council, I think we can all agree that the peace enjoyed by Northern Ireland today is entirely the result of religion. Clearly, more religion will make the province even more peaceful. After all, Christianity has always been so good at bringing people together. So let's all look forward to the day when Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness get on a plane together and fly away.

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1 comment ( 313 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 129 )

Canon David Winter 
Saturday, 7 March, 2009, 10:00 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, good news, gospel, rhubarb, rhubarb, redemption, rhubarb, rhubarb, made in god's image, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, good over evil, rhubarb, rhubarb, hope, President Obama, rhubarb, rhubarb, justice, peace, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, value not cost, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, ...

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Mind blowingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries 
Friday, 6 March, 2009, 08:42 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Here's something I'll bet you never thought of before: history gets written by the winners. No, honestly, it's true! The people that win always make it sound as if they were the best. How many books have you read by poor, dead, people? Proves my point, doesn't it?

Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a particular interest in history. Just like Karl Marx, we know that history's going somewhere. We know this 'cos we've got a written history that tells us so. We know there's definitely going to be a future. We just disagree about what will happen in it. Somewhere in that future, the future will stop and there won't be any more future. I AM THE A TO Z, says the Invisible Magic Friend in a psychedelic dream someone once had and that's now written down as a totally reliable part of our history. So now you know you just can't trust history (by which I mean ordinary history, not things like the gospels, you can trust them, and the koran 'cos that's religious too, although not as much as the gospels).

I bet you're wondering, what's the past all about then? What's it all mean? When the A to Z returns, all will be explained, he'll show us the way. You'll get to hear about the world from the point of view of the poor, the meek, the humble, the mind blowingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop. Billions and billions of people telling you their life story, that's something to look forward to, isn't it?

In the meantime, I'm so glad that historians have finally started to write about black people and women. I had no idea there were black people and women in history.

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5 comments ( 331 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 159 )

Professor Mona Siddiqui, of the University of Glasgow  
Thursday, 5 March, 2009, 08:44 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Sir Fred Goodwin has been called a scumbag millionaire. But this is to vilify one man, a single colossal banker. After all, which of us hasn't created a vast conglomerate with ridiculously exaggerated asset prices and sacked countless thousands of workers in the process? If Sir Fred wore sackcloth and ashes and gave all his wealth away to the poor, this would not bring about his redemption - he'd still be a scumbag.

Even I, as Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow, can't get my head around the current financial crisis, but let me quote from Voltaire as a token secular thinker, "Where money is concerned, we're all the same religion." Voltaire was, of course, wrong. Religion has a thing called "justice". The idea behind "justice" is that rich people should give huge lumps of money to poor people. Islam, which is one of these great religions, doesn't have any silly notions about rich men having to go through the eye of a needle. Islam welcomes the tremendously wealthy, the hugely rich, the extremely capital endowed, just so long as they got to be extremely wealthy by giving all their money away. Indeed, it is said that wealthy Meccans resisted the call of the prophet because, not previously having heard of religion, they didn't realise they were supposed to give all their money away.

So in summary, I don't understand the financial crisis, but thanks to religion, and Islam in particular, I think that whatever they did wrong last time they should do differently, and more justly, from now on.

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3 comments ( 331 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 148 )

John Bell, of the Iona Community  
Wednesday, 4 March, 2009, 08:51 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Once on a 38 bus, a drunken Scotsman shouted, "Who gave you penicillin, the tv and the phone. A Scotsman." Then a cockney asked "Who gave you you're whisky?" Then on totally different 38 bus, another drunken Scotsman asked, "Who gave you penicillin, pneumatic tyres and the tv. A Scotsman." By co-incidence, another cockney asked, "Who gave you you're whisky." Oh, how I laughed.

Scotland wants to restrict alcohol sales. Some in the drinks industry, in their completely objective and unbiased way, have said this is a bad thing. Civil libertarians are up in arms about their right to get drunk on the very cheapest possible booze. Surely if you educate people that getting paralytic every night has a down side people will stop doing it? But education is not enough. Alcohol abuse is a complex mix of sociological, biochemical and neurophysiological interactions, so naturally we seek out the opinion of some theologians. As St. Paul said, you only know you're a sinner because the law says you are. Or as Reinhold Niebuhr said, "Justice would be nice." Both of which, I think, nicely illustrate the point that spending the family income getting pissed is probably a bad thing.

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5 comments ( 289 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 177 )


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