Aren't Orthodox icons really nice? The traditional Easter icon is of Jesus standing over the pits of hell. Jesus says, "Sorry for putting you here, it must've been terribly inconvenient," and offers a helping hand to those he's decided to save, while leaving all the sinners to justifiably burn forever. Isn't that just truly inspirational?
Of course, hell isn't an actual place, with fire and smoke and darkness and huge physical suffering, like we used to tell you for centuries. No, no, no. In the modern church, hell is a kind of mystical, insubstantial, mysterious, blurry sort of woo-woo type thingy. Yesterday, on the other hand, the Moscow underground was a place of fire and smoke and darkness and huge physical suffering. And it wasn't Jesus pulling people out, but fire and police and ambulance people, risking their own live to help others.
Anyway, back to the really important subject of icons. I look at icons and I think, "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if all that were true?" As you can see, this is not the result of "logic" or "rationality" or even "common sense", all of which are grossly over valued. People who go around deluding themselves with their so called "evidence" and their illusory "deductive logic" need to look at some icons and say "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if all that were true?". Then, like me, you can imagine life after death and build up a whole theology imagining it was true. Then when you say it often enough, "It is true. It is, it is, it is." you'll eventually come to believe that there really is a life after this one and that's were ultimate truth lies. Just like yesterday's suicide bombers.
Monday, 29 March, 2010, 07:19 AM - JenkinsRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Happy Holy Week everyone! This is the biggest week in the Christian calendar and it's so relevant today. You see Jesus was betrayed. No, honestly, he was. Betrayed by Judas for thirty pieces of silver. Of course, being God, Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed. He knew Judas would betray him from the moment he said "How would you like to be an Apostle Judas?" In fact he knew Judas would betray him from the moment he created him and so knew that Judas would have to spend eternity in damnation as a result. Talk about drawing the short straw!
Anyway, back to betrayal. Jesus being betrayed is so relevant today because lots of people are being betrayed. Politicians are betraying voters by all being the same. Moscow commuters are being betrayed by being blown up. (How's that for last minute topicality?) Religious institutions are betraying children by raping those in their care - not mentioning any names mind you. And while we're not mentioning Catholics, I'd just like to point out that I'm not a Catholic. That's a totally different type of Christianity, not the same thing at all. We don't associate with other Christian sects when they're embroiled in a disgusting scandal. It's only when they're being nice that we're one big happy Christian family who can take credit for each other's good works.
And it's not just people doing the betraying who are betraying people. Other people are betraying people too by not standing up for those who have been betrayed. Again, not mentioning any names. I wouldn't want to be accused of spreading petty gossip or idle tittle-tattle about trivial, unimportant things.
So there you have it. The best week of the year, where Jesus gets horribly tortured and killed, Christianity at it's best (that's my sort of Christianity, not the other sort that we're not mentioning this week).
Saturday, 27 March, 2010, 08:51 AM - PepinsterRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
I was fortunate enough to visit St Walburge's church where I was able to enjoy its peaceful silence, uninterrupted by the distraction of worshippers. This magnificent church has the misfortune to be set in Preston. The surrounding houses have all been demolished and the population had the good sense to get out. Phew, what a dump.
But St Walburge's is not the only part of the Catholic Church to be silent lately. It appears that several bishops... well quite a few bishops... well rather a lot of bishops actually... ok most of them... oh, alright then, all of them have been covering up child sex abuse by Catholic Priests all over the world for at least the past 50 years. It got so bad in Ireland that the Pope had to issue an unprecedented personal apology that everybody in Ireland made such a mess of things and if only they went to church more often this would never have happened and it's all the fault of secularists anyway and why does everybody keep picking on him? Other hierarchical worldwide churches do it too. The whole media have got it in for him and everything is just so unfair!
Fortunately the Catholic Church in Britain, after a mere 2,000 years of being morally infallible, has decided that this is not good enough and in future, paedophile priests should be subject to the same law of the land as everyone else.
Meanwhile it's nearly Palm Sunday, followed by Maundy Thursday, Good Friday (being "good" because Jesus got crucified on it), Holy Saturday and finally, the holiest day of all, the feast day of the goddess Eostre.
So it's business as usual for the Roman Catholic Church.
Friday, 26 March, 2010, 08:21 AM - SacksRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
There's a big Jewish festival coming up. Happy nearly Passover everyone! This celebrates the genocide of Egyptian children by our god, who is of course the best god. This definitely happened, even though the Egyptians don't seem to have spotted it.
It's because of the suffering of the Jewish slaves that we Jews are able to empathise with other people's suffering. Because you haven't heard 3,000 year old stories about enslavement, you probably don't empathise with other people's suffering. You certainly don't worry your forehead or wring your hands as much as I do. I expect when you find homeless people on the streets you just give them a good kicking and then wander into the pub and have a laugh about it, what with you not being Jewish and all.
Jewish people do all sorts of good things that they certainly wouldn't do if they weren't Jewish, like bringing help to the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Everyone who helped with the Haiti earthquake was in fact Jewish. A Jewish friend of mine helped bring fresh water to 300,000 people in Haiti. Being part of the same religious club as him I think that makes me just as brilliant. Then there was a Jewish woman who saw the problems of genocide in Rwanda and said, "This is a job for a Jewish woman."
My Jewish friends will help anybody, regardless of race or colour. We'll even help people of a different religion, anybody at all, except Egyptian first born - they're just evil scum who deserve to be exterminated en masse in their sleep.
Friday, 26 March, 2010, 04:12 AM...hear no evil...
...speak no evil.
By Morten Ingemann, via the Freethinker.
Happy Spring time everyone! The daffodils have arrived and the season of growth is upon us. The chancellor is predicting healthy economic growth too.
Now then, now then, now then, just hold on a minute. Let us pause to consider if an expanding economy is a "good thing". Just how many of you actually need jobs? Look at the lilies of the field, or me, for instance, who neither toil nor spin. I'm doing all right, as indeed is the rest of my church. In fact, despite the worst economic disaster since the last economic disaster, not one single C of E vicar has been made redundant. Pretty good eh? The whole thing works out fairly well so long as you all keep toiling and spinning for us. Just don't toil and spin too much because that's just being greedy and materialist and hedonistic and selfish and sinful.
I don't think it's going too far to say that Jesus predicted the world exactly as we see it today: billions of you toiling and spinning, supporting important bishops like oneself so that we can tell you how wicked you are with all that toiling and spinning. Tut, tut.
Oliver McTernan here, from the NGO Forward Thinking, a proactive, demand-driven, facilitative organisation that works to promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment, to promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East, and to facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular worlds. Hi.
Proving that we British can still beat the world, England has become the top destination for Libel Tourism. The rich and powerful from all across the globe flock to England in private jets to stamp on the vile journalists, bloggers and commentators who have offended them.
Freedom of expression and the free exchange of views and ideas is of course terribly important. Terribly important indeed. No one would argue otherwise. I'm a big fan of freedom of expression. Everyone should be free to air their views on any topic. Open criticism of scientific, political and ideological positions is exactly what we need in an open, democratic society.
There are some things you shouldn't say, some ideas you shouldn't criticise. You really might upset someone. I don't have any particular group in mind here, it's just a general point about people in general who might be offended if you say they are wrong. They might start crying because you've called somebody, not anyone in particular just a general somebody, something that they don't like. You may even upset them so much that you drive them to violence and murder, you wicked bloggers you.
If you'd all just shut up about certain things, not that I have anything specific in mind, and just do things the way they tell you to, then everything would be so much calmer an generally nicer. A guy from the 1st century who believed in the Invisible Magic Friend said so too, so I must be right.
Albert Gubay, founder of Kwik Save, is giving away his fortune of £480m, stipulating that half of it must go to the Catholic Church, furthering all the good work that that splendid institution does. Albert made a pact with the Invisible Magic Friend, "Make me rich and I'll give you half the money," to which the Invisible Magic Friend agreed. Now, at the age of 82, Albert has decided this would be a good time to fulfil his half of the bargain.
Pacts with the Invisible Magic Friend always work out well for both sides, except when they don't. You do have to be careful what you promise. Jephthah promised to kill the first thing to run out of his house if he was allowed to slaughter Ammonites, thinking it would be the pet dog or one of the slave girls. Unfortunately the IMF sent his daughter out to greet him. That's just one of the IMF's little pranks - he has a wicked sense of humour.
When the IMF gives you what you ask for, that just proves that he exists and cares about you. When he doesn't - well that's up to him, but you still have to keep your promises otherwise he might toast you for all eternity. This includes the promise of (heterosexual) marriage. Too many of you are going around, ending unfulfilling relationships and seeking happiness. It's not good enough - you're breaking your promises to the IMF and that means damnation I'm afraid.
The Pope's letter this weekend is lengthy and detailed. However, if I was a Catholic priest I would be on my knees asking my congregation for forgiveness. Any institution that remains silent in the face of widespread harm to children taints everyone in its leadership. The widespread control of schools by the Catholic Church in Ireland only makes the problem worse.
When I enquired after former fellow child care colleagues in London, I was surprised to find that several were serving sentences for abuse. How do we deal with those who are sexually attracted to children? How do we help prevent them from turning their desires into actions? When I was on my student representative body, a young student came to me and admitted that he both wanted to be a priest and felt a sexual attraction to children, but he promised me he would never harm a child.
What would you do?
His Holiness, Reichsführer Benedict the Umpteenth, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, Patriarch of the West etc. etc. etc.
Saturday, 20 March, 2010, 12:40 PMRating Millions out of 5 (Unbelievably platitudinous)
It is with great concern that I write to to you as God's only true representative on Earth. It seems that some of your Irish bishops have been very naughty - very naughty indeed.
Some bishops in your country of Ireland have shown an inadequate response to the problem of a tiny proportion of priests (no more than 5% - tops) having sex with your children. Before you get all too concerned, let's not forget that other people abuse children too. Indeed there are more abusers outside the church than inside, so let's keep things in proportion, OK?
Coincidentally, a few bishops in other far flung places in the globe have behaved exactly the same - I can't think why. Thank God I handled things so much better when I was an archbishop. But don't dwell on this, just remember how brilliant the Irish church is. I'll pray for you to get over the mess you've made of everything. Remember too how your forefathers stood up to protestants and remained stubbornly loyal to the Holy See. What a bunch of selfish traitors you'd be to give up on that loyalty to me now. You've all been getting a bit too secular nowadays and haven't been paying enough attention to what I tell you to do. Now look where it's got you.
None of this would've happened if people followed orders. Unfortunately, a few rogue Irish bishops, doubtless through a misplaced loyalty to the reputation of the Church, haven't notified the proper ecclesiastical authorities and so haven't done the cover up properly. I've done everything I could to clean up after the Irish bishops' total bumbling incompetence on this, stonewalling every request for cooperation from the police. I told the Irish bishops to find out the truth, then bury it as quickly as possible but they even messed that up.
I really am most terribly sorry that some of you were raped by Irish homosexual priests. For some reason, in a society where being gay was an imprisonable offence, we seemed to attract a lot of them. I've known about the whole thing for decades, but now that everyone else knows about it, I really am very sorry. It must be awful for you, especially when you spoke out and were threatened and leaned on to shutup just like in every other diocese in the world. (Anyone would think someone had sent secret instructions to all the bishops telling them to hush the whole thing up.) But please don't worry, we've started an even more intense persecution of homosexuals. Yeah! And if you come back to us in a spirit of penitence and humility, we'll welcome you back to the Church and will happily hear your confessions and forgive all your sins again.
To the priests who caused all this trouble for me, you've been very, very, very bad indeed. Very bad. Don't do it again or you'll have to be moved to yet another parish.
To parents, I can only say that it is every child's right to be brought up a Catholic. It's a great shame that in so doing some of them have been scarred for life, some have even killed themselves (which I need to remind you is a mortal sin and so they won't go to Heaven), but on the plus side they still got to hear about how great we are.
To children - stay Catholic. It's really important that you keep contributing funds, kneeling in front of us and kissing our rings. It makes us feel really important you know.
To Irish bishops - for god's sake get your act together. This is a PR disaster.
To all the faithful of Ireland, I hope these words of encouragement and support make you feel much better. You face a difficult task after the mess that you and secularists have made of things. But don't worry, the priests of Ireland are right behind you and they're willing to go all the way with you.
And now to specific steps that I'm going to take to address all of this. First I think you should pray a lot. Pray really, really hard. Next, come to Confession more, and come back to the Adoration of the Eucharist a bit more too - congregations are getting a bit too patchy and takings are down. I'd also like the Bishops to go on retreat, do a bit more praying, a bit more apologising and figure out how you're going to handle this a bit better next time round.
And now, a prayer for Ireland. Dear Jesus - keep everybody Catholic. Amen.
There - now that everything's fixed, I've said I'm sorry, can we please move on.