From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Illustriously Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich
It's becoming increasingly difficult to buy a meal with the Prime Minister and keeping it all hush-hush. What no one denies is that having a meal together is a sign of warmth and friendship, or at the very least, a six figure sum of money.
Sometimes an occasion is ruined by the person who insists on foisting their opinions on others. They talk right over everyone, never letting anyone else express an alternative point of view. It's almost as if they think they have some god-given right to be heard to the exclusion of everyone else at the meal.
Communal meals - I wonder where I'm going with this? Let me see, I'm a bishop talking about communal meals, I'll bet you can't guess what particular Christian communal meal I might be about to talk about. I can just imagine you all, sitting out there, the anticipation building to a frenzy, wondering what Christian communal meal I'm going to mention.
OK, I'll put you out of you're misery, it's the Eucharist! The Mass! Holy Communion!
I was at a communal meal that wasn't the Eucharist, the Mass, Holy Communion. I overheard a poor man telling a rich man how difficult it was being poor. The rich man replied by telling the poor man how difficult it was being rich.
This is what we need: rich meeting poor over a friendly chat. We need more poor people paying six figure sums to have a chat with the PM.
Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 08:36 AM - WinkettRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
There's to be a minimum price for alcohol. Fortunately, this mostly affects the cheap beer and cider that poor people drink, a decent bottle of plonk won't be affected.
Public drunkenness, binge drinking, "pre-loading". Tut, tut, tut. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Of course, it's always been getting worse and worse. The Victorians complained about how drunk the lower classes were becoming in order to forget their otherwise drab and miserable lives.
Nowadays, it's not unknown for respectable people to have a glass of wine in the evenings. Tony Blair has even admitted that he once or twice had a second, that's right a second, gin and tonic.
So what does the Big Book of Magic Stuff have to say about alcohol? Well nothing really. When the Big Book of Magic Stuff says nothing, or is contradictory, or even says the opposite of what we'd like it to say, we describe it's message as "complex". Jesus changed water into find wine (Jacob's Creek Reserve Pinot Noir, 13 A.D., vibrant and complex with a lush black cherry bouquet and rich overtones of spice). Monks have often brewed and sold beer and we still drink wine at the Eucharist, so it's obviously not all bad.
It's surely a sign of our times that we need alcohol to oil the wheels of social interaction, just as it's been a sign of the times for most of recorded history. I think it's now becoming clear though, and I know this may come as a shock to many of you, that too much alcohol is a bad thing.
Liverpool has got a park in it and that park has got trees. Parks with trees in them are, on balance, a jolly good thing. C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian author, famously wrote, "Parks with trees in them are a jolly good thing," which just goes to prove that I'm right when I say that parks with trees in them are a jolly good thing.
Now the government wants to knock down all the trees and build houses and factories instead. Of course people need houses but they need parks with trees in them as well. To understand how to balance the town and country planning regulations we naturally turn to the Big Book of Magic Stuff. The Big Book of Magic Stuff starts out in a garden, with trees in it. It also ends in a garden with trees in it. Obviously "garden" shouldn't be taken literally, it applies to all parks with trees in them.
A famous professor of town planning says we should build sustainable cities. He has shown how it is possible to build sustainable cities. I think we should build sustainable cities. C.S. Lewis thinks we should build sustainable cities. If we don't build sustainable cities then C.S. Lewis thinks there might not be any trees left.
I was talking to some young apprentice priests. I asked them what the opposite of faith was. They said doubt, which is wrong. The opposite of faith is certainty. Faith involves a certain amount of doubt. We all have doubts about whether the Invisible Magic Friend really exists or not.
Ever since he expelled us from the Garden of Eden because of the talking snake incident, humans have been wondering whether the Invisible Magic Friend really exists. (This is a parable by the way as it has now been proved that it couldn't possibly have happened.) Sometimes they've wondered whether lots of Invisible Magic Friends haven't existed.
It's especially difficult to have faith in the Invisible Magic Friend at times of personal loss. Why does the infinitely friendly Invisible Magic Friend allow such beastly things to happen? People with faith in the Invisible Magic Friend have been trying to explain this for thousands of years. Most of the explanations are rubbish. However, in the Book of Job, where the Invisible Magic Friend torments Job for a bet with the Invisible Magic Baddy, there's a much more convincing explanation. There we find that we mere mortals are incapable of understanding the ways of the Invisible Magic Friend, which is why he hasn't bothered explaining them to us. I think most people accept that that's a pretty reasonable explanation of why there's no explanation.
On the other hand, when tragedy strikes, having faith in an Invisible Magic Friend can be an enormous comfort blanket.
Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 09:04 AM - Not TFTDRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Terence Weldon, a radical, militant, homosexual person, has once again said that the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality are not very nice. He states that science has shown that homosexuality is widespread throughout the animal kingdom.
Actually, Mr Weldon is entirely wrong. Apart from actually being a homosexual, Mr Weldon has no expertise whatsoever in what it means to be homosexual. In order for homosexual persons like Mr Weldon to find out about homosexuality they should consult a fine Catholic Psychologist such as Dr Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, Ph.D., who is an expert in the subject and speaks authoritatively for the World of Science. Dr Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, Ph.D., could inform homosexuals like Mr Weldon that "there is, in fact, no such thing as homosexual love and anyone who says otherwise must be really stooooopid!"
Research performed by the Catholic Medical Association has proved that homosexual persons have higher suicide rates, higher rates of substance abuse and that many suffer from multiple psychological disorders. This proves, once again, that the Catholic Church is right to tell homosexual persons that they are inherently disordered, an intrinsic moral evil, that they will never find true love, that they should refrain from all sex ever, and that all homosexual relationships should be banned and denied any form of legal recognition, thus bringing true happiness into their lives.
As if this were not evidence enough, Dr. Antonio Pardo, Professor of Bioethics at the university that shares a founder with Opus Dei has stated, "There is no homosexuality in animals, if there were, they would die out, wouldn't they? I mean it stands to reason."
Reason and Science therefore support the truth, as revealed through the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, that poofters have something wrong with them and that they are the ultimate other that we may all look down upon.
But enough of Terence Weldon, the homosexual who clearly knows nothing about homosexuality, what I want to know is, why does the Archbishop of Westminster not rant and rage and preach more hatred about him? It's his Christian duty!
We (and by "we" I do of course mean "me" ) all like a good soap opera. But it turns out that soap operas are increasingly over dramatic, full of dramatic story lines and dramatic scenes where characters dramatically face up to one another. The head of the Association of School and College Leaders thinks they provide a very poor role model for today's children.
Which brings me, rather neatly, onto tomorrow's Feast of the Annunciation. It was on the 25th March, 1 B.C., that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she'd just been you-know-whated by the particularly invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Now I know what you're thinking: that's just silly. Nevertheless, it definitely happened. It says so in the New Tasty mint, and that's the word of the Invisible Magic Friend. So no matter how incredibly silly and unlikely it might seem, it must be true.
This was a very dramatic event, which is how I'm tying it to recent news, since the head of the Association of School and College Leaders mentioned very dramatic dramas as being bad things, except this very dramatic drama was a good thing. Unlike totally made up very dramatic dramas, it was very undramatic. The scene was very calm and serene, with no histrionics of any type. I know this because that's the way I imagined it. Now you know this, because I've just told you about it.
The Angel Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid. "You won't be stoned to death as required by the Old Tasty mint. Just tell everyone the Invisible Magic Friend did it. Everyone will believe you and it'll all be just fine."
Now that I've got you on the edge of your seat, I know what you're wondering. What happens next?
[Ed - SPOILER ALERT. The baby grows up and gets killed, but unlike totally made up dramas he doesn't come back to life because the previous story was all a dream, or because his long lost identical twin returns from far, far away. He really, actually, comes back to life and goes up into the sky on a cloud.
You couldn't make it up, could you?]
Isn't the cold blooded murder of children and a Rabbi just terrible?
By an incredible coincidence, there's a big Jewish festival coming up! Yes, it's Passover time once again, where we celebrate the mass slaughter of Egyptian children by the Invisible Magic Friend.
The life of every single child is important, except Egyptian ones. It was the life of one tiny little baby, Moses, rescued from the clutches of the evil Egyptian Pharaoh, who grew up to free the Israelites from slavery. Many scholars (well at least many scholars who believe the Big Book of Magic Stuff) think the evil Egyptian Pharaoh was Ramesses, meaning child of the Sun God. That's right, those primitive, superstitious people worshipped the sun and thought Ramesses was semi-divine. Phew, what a bunch of loonies!
Anyway, after the mass slaughter of Egyptian children by the Invisible Magic Friend, Moses led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years. All without leaving a single archaeological artefact, they were very tidy ex-slaves. After that they found the promised land, which unfortunately was already inhabited, necessitating their regrettable genocide and enslavement.
But I don't want to keep going on about historically dubious events when I should really be talking about the young lives mercilessly gunned down by a crazed religious fanatic. It would make it look as if I was going to speak about the historically dubious events anyway and only squeezed the loss of their innocent lives in at the last moment because I couldn't really avoid it.
I'll be doing the sport relief run this Sunday to help other people.
As Chief Scout, the Scouts teaches all boys (except atheists) how to help other people. All scouts (except atheists) promise to help others.
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend said you should love your neighbour. It was while climbing one of the last unclimbed mountains in the Antarctic that I realised that your neighbour is the person in your street who needs help.
As someone who really knows how to survive on a diet of insects and urine I know that helping others makes you feel good. Honestly it does, why not try it?
We Christians really believe in helping others. As an SAS instructor who knows how to silently kill someone in under 20 seconds, it really surprises me that non-Christians haven't realised how important it is to help others. Having a belief just makes me so special.
As I was climbing Mount Everest, I thought to myself, thank goodness the Invisible Magic Friend is with me. As the first person to circumnavigate the UK on a ski jet, I can tell you that no man can do anything in isolation.
Anyone who has paraglided over the Himalayas will tell you that Jesus is your guide, helper and friend. Faith and love are so important.
As the longest indoor free-fall record holder, let me tell you that the sport relief run will help a lot of people.
Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 08:09 AM - TilbyRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Director General of the BBC are both resigning, but far, far more important, Dame Edna Everage is hanging up her gladioli for the last time. Famous for her purple hair and her over the top appearance, you didn't want to be the target of her wit. She would pierce anyone's petty snobbery and dissect everything about their lives.
In caricaturing people's obsessions, Dame Edna was doing exactly what Jesus did with his parables. Oh, how we've all laughed at Jesus in drag, with his camp, outrageous outfits. As Jesus famously said, "Thank goodness we Christians can laugh at ourselves possums."
Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 02:35 PM - Not TFTDJust adding my congratulations to Peter Tatchell for winning Secularist of the Year.
He is a man of principle who has consistently stood up for minority rights throughout the world, and has suffered the consequences. From being mugged by Mugabe's thugs, to having to live in a reinforced bunker in Elephant and Castle - nothing has stopped him speaking the truth.
The Establishment, naturally, detests him.
Well done Peter, thoroughly well deserved. If only there were more people in the world like you.