Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney 
Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 08:49 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The conditions at Stafford Hospital have been described as "third world". This is a gross insult. No third world country would have a hospital like that. This is what comes of worshipping bureaucracy. These managers get up in the morning and the first thing they think about is a nice juicy 40 page form to fill in. They realised that surgeons wasted enormous amounts of time on critically ill patients, most of whom would soon die anyway and wouldn't appear in the waiting time statistics. For every major heart attack, they could deal with hundreds of grazed knees, thus meeting government targets and improving customer satisfaction.

This bowing down before targets is idolatry I tell you, idolatry! As a Reverend Doctor let me just assure you that there is only one real Invisible Magic Friend, who in his goodness never sends you forms to fill in. He's more a sort of "thou shalt get on thy knees and worship me lest ye be smitten" type of manager. He doesn't set targets, other than the less-cursing-and-plenty-of-worshipping target. He's immeasurable, and everyone knows that immeasurable things are much better than measurable ones. If Stafford Hospital hadn't wasted so much time filling in forms about all their dead patients, then we wouldn't have all this fuss about form filling. Which just proves my point about going around measuring things.

Won't somebody please, please think of the patients?

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Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield)  
Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 08:35 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Some of you are rich and some of you are poor. Those of you who are poor are probably feeling pretty miserable right now. Your self esteem is probably at an all time low. You're not valued or respected. You feel unequal to people with loads o' money. You feel alienated. You're a worthless, useless, good for nothing, nobody. Being unemployed, you've probably got lots of free time to mope around feeling bitter and resentful at people who've done something more useful and productive with their lives.

You may still harbour some vestigial ambition or thoughts of recovering your self respect. We're all ambitious, envious and jealous of others. Even Buddhist monks go around muttering about other Buddhist monks, "Just look at him, he thinks he's so great because he's so close to Nirvana, well just wait 'till that bucket sitting on top of his cell door hits him."

If you're one of the downtrodden, hopeless basket cases, then don't waste your time with ambition or revenge. You won't get anywhere. Just put on some soothing music and burn some incense, or go look at the birds and the trees and pretty blue sky. Seek some solitude, which, since you haven't got any friends, shouldn't be too difficult. Feel some compassion for yourself. Compassion is a big word for Radio 4 listeners, but I'm sure you can look it up in the dictionary. As the Buddha said, even inferior people can feel sorry for themselves.

I don't want to raise the old cliché of Buddhists recommending meditation as the solution to just about everything, but we Buddhists do like to meditate. It's what makes us so patient, generous and mature. If you became a Buddhist and meditated with all that free time you have, then you could become patient, generous and mature too. Who knows, you might even start feeling sorry for other people too.

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5 comments ( 680 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 175 )

Inconceivably Reverend Tom Butler, Lord Bishop of Southwark 
Tuesday, 17 March, 2009, 09:03 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Happy Shaint Patricksh day (hic!). Cheers! Sheeing ash itsh a shpecial ocassion, I don't mind having one shmall little (hic!) drinky firsht thing. You she Patrick brought Chrishtianity to Ireland, both bits of it. Before that, Ireland wash a wild, (hic!) unruly place, full of all shorts of bad people who followed the wrong religion. I think I can shay, without fear of (hic!) contraception, that Chrishtianity hash made Northern Ireland what it ish today.

But d'you know what? I'll tell you what. D'you know, he didn't really drive the shnakes out of (hic!) Ireland. No! Shnakes never revolved in Ireland, which wash under the shea (hic!) with ice in it. Ice? Yesh please, two lumpsh. Cheers! But there's shtill shum shnakes there (hic!), who're not proper Chrishtians at all and go around shooting shouldiers. Thank goodnesh there'sh people of faith around to shtand up to them! (hic!)

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Rev Dr Colin Morris, a Methodist Minister and (coincidentally) former head of religious broadcasting and BBC controller in Northern Ireland 
Monday, 16 March, 2009, 08:29 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Some things are right and other things are wrong. We know this because religion tells us so. The great Christian (and therefore correct) author C.S. Lewis once compared all the great religions. Remarkably, they all said that some things were right and other things were wrong. Not only that, but they mostly said that the same things were right and the same other things were wrong. Thank goodness for all those holy books telling us which things are right and which things are wrong. As a Reverend Doctor, let me just assure you that otherwise we'd all be selfish and self-centred, thinking about no one but ourselves all the time. An example of a wrong thing would include murdering people in cold blood in Northern Ireland because of sectarian hatred. When I look up a holy book to find out if this is a right thing or a wrong thing I can easily find that it's a wrong thing, as long as you ignore all the bits where it tells you to kill other religions.

In-between things, that are neither always right nor always wrong, are called "unacceptable". These are things that change with the mood of the times. For example, it used to be acceptable to reward bankers with large bonuses for gambling, risk free, with other people's money, or for sacking thousands of people and so making loads more money. We know this is neither right nor wrong because none of the major religions have ever decried obscuring financial risk on complex derivatives valued against a rising asset bubble. No one ever thought that this was wrong. It's only since people realised what was going on that it's become "unacceptable". Cruelty to children is another thing that's merely "unacceptable". Being kind to children is just one of those modern fads that will pass in time. And for some strange reason, local authorities seem to think that beating up parking attendants is "unacceptable". They wish.

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11 comments ( 828 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 180 )

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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9 comments ( 826 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 180 )

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 ( 723 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 185 )

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 ( 750 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 188 )

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 ( 791 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 137 )


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