Friday, 9 March, 2012, 12:07 PM - Not TFTDWe all know the Catholic Church has a fairly warped sense of morality. They "closed" their adoption agencies in England and Wales rather than face the theoretical possibility that a homosexual couple might walk into one. (In reality, those agencies are all still operating, just without the word "Catholic" in their title and without funding from the Catholic Church.)
You wouldn't think the Catholic Church could get much more petulant than that but they certainly seem willing to give it a try. Francis House, a homeless charity in Sacramento, has lost its funding from the local diocese. What crime, you might wonder, have the poor and homeless in Sacramento committed? Have they been pushing atheism, or worse, saying nice things about President Obama? Nope.
"We serve the poor. We don't have a litmus test for homeless people when they come in," said a spokesperson.
The diocese has supported this charity for many years, so what has changed? Answer: the director of the charity has changed. The new director is Rev Faith Whitmore, a Methodist. That isn't the problem, the Catholic Church is willing to overlook the fact that she's the wrong type of Christian. No, the problem is that Rev Whitmore is an outspoken advocate of a woman's right to choose and of gay marriage.
That's right, because the charity's director does not uphold Catholic teaching in these areas, the diocese has removed it's funding. Francis House won't collapse as a result, but it's enough to hurt, and it will certainly affect the poor and homeless that rely on its services.
As one Catholic priest put it, "If the bishops are going to de-fund every organization headed by someone who disagrees with their views on gay marriage, birth control and abortion, they are going to find very few agencies to fund."
Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society, New College on the Mound, University of Edinburgh
Growing numbers of us are living long enough to suffer from dementia. Those in the next generation are beginning to see that we too might end up as dependants, stripped of our memories and identities. For some, continued medication might help, but in the end death awaits us all.
Even though I know that heaven definitely exists and that, as a Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, eternal happiness almost certainly awaits me, I'm curiously reluctant to go there. This world is of course fleeting and insignificant, but I do rather hope that in the eternity ahead, I can remember something of who I was here in this trivial, unimportant existence.
Thursday, 8 March, 2012, 07:59 AM - JenkinsRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Prince Harry is in Jamaica.
He visited a school named after William Knibb.
William Knibb (a Baptist, just like me, as it happens) fought to abolish slavery.
Although slavery has been officially abolished, many people today suffer the same conditions as slaves did.
The visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, sacrificed himself to the whole of the Invisible Magic Friend so that the Invisible Magic Friend wouldn't enslave us any more. Yes, thanks to Jesus, and only 2,000 years later, the end of slavery could be in sight any day now.
I'm sure this makes current day slaves feel much better.
Wednesday, 7 March, 2012, 08:52 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Being the ordinary, laddish, everyday bloke that I am, I'd just like to say something about football. If there's one thing you can be absolutely certain about, it's that Today Programme listeners just love some sports news. Sports news and religion, life just doesn't get any better than this, does it?
Anyway, Hinduism is the oldest religion. That means it's the best religion there is, because oldest means best. Being the oldest religion, Hinduism has lots of traditions. One tradition was the caste system. After about 2,000 years, Sri Chaitanya said "Let's get rid of the caste system," and everybody said "yes." So for the past 500 years there hasn't been any caste system in India. Which just goes to show how brilliant Hinduism is for completely getting rid of the bad thing that it introduced in the first place.
The good bits of tradition are worth keeping because they're the good bits. Don't get rid of the good bits. Sometimes you have to get rid of the bad bits of tradition though. That's because, although they used to be good bits, they've now become bad bits. Getting rid of the bad bits isn't really changing things. By definition, religion is good, so only keeping the good bits is just making religion what it always was: good. Take gay marriage. Here's what I think about gay marriage.
Even though Hinduism is the oldest and the most super religion there is, all religions are really the same. That's why followers of all religions get on so well with one another. The only reason I don't keep swapping between all these, same, religions is because Hinduism is the best one.
There's a bit in the Gospels where the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend ties up the Invisible Magic Baddy and steals everything from him.
Yes, I know what you're thinking, that's exactly like the re-election of President Putin in Russia. President Putin is seen as the "strong man" in Russia. His campaign adverts frequently showed him wrestling a bear to the ground and tearing it limb from limb. Just the sort of man whose finger you want on one of the world's two largest nuclear arsenals.
Many Russians like Putin's strong man image. They like the idea of the ex-KGB chief who arm-wrestles a Siberian tiger before breakfast. The trouble is, the strong man can only be replaced by a stronger man, or, if people don't like strong men any more, by a weaker person. Either way, he gets replaced, followed by years of either a stronger man, or not.
Aren't we, and by we I do of course mean you, all a bit in awe of the strong man? Don't we all like our leaders, bare breasted, strangling a raging rhinoceros with only their rippling muscles? I know I do. But perhaps there's more to governing a country than dispatching wild animals in single combat. Perhaps we should admire leaders who follow the people.
And now, I will leave you with one of those quotes that is so ambiguous, so laden with multiple layers of meaning, that it will leave you all scratching your heads, wondering who is this person with such deep thoughts that they cause me to scratch my head in wonder?
Before we can bind the strong man without, we need to deal with the one within.
Monday, 5 March, 2012, 07:53 AM - Rabbi Lionel BlueRating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)
No parody of this, just listen to the warmth of Rabbi Lionel Blue's spirit.
Then compare it to the dogmatic frigidness of Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Even John Humphrys sounds lost for words. As Chris points out in the comments, I wasn't the only one struck by the contrast in their views.
Sunday, 4 March, 2012, 08:33 AM - ClemmiesI cannot express how honoured I feel to be the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland to present the world famous Clemmies. As you can see, I'm sporting a pretty impressive gold, pointy hat, which just goes to show how solemn these award ceremonies are.
But first, a word about homosexuals. Sensible people, like Roman Catholic Cardinals, opposed civil partnerships because of the mental and physical harm they cause to people of a homosexual persuasion. We opposed them because we care, but for some reason nobody ever listens to us when it comes to sex. Now look what's happened. Thousands of homosexual couples are utterly miserable and society has completely collapsed.
Now the government wants to make things even worse. They want to take these marriages, in all but name, and call them "marriages"! If things are bad now, just imagine how much worse they'll be then!
Sorry, I'm forgetting about the Clemmies. Anne Atkins compared herself to the Invisible Magic Friend and you to a bunch of dogs that have to be trained. Which I'm sure you'll agree was well worth hearing over breakfast.
The repercussions of changing the name to "marriage" will be immense. Once again we will be victims of this tyranny of tolerance. It's madness, pure madness I tell you!! How can you uphold a universal human right by giving it to everyone? It's grotesque!!
Oh, oh, you'll love this. This is me at the London Oratory with an absolutely gorgeous pink, satin cape. I mean, how can you not take someone seriously with a satin train like that?
Where was I? Oh yes Baron Wimbledon put those awful, shrill, militant, intolerant etc. secularists in their place and about time too.
Speaking about intolerance, just because people like me want to defend marriage by not letting everybody do it, we're called intolerant bigots!!! I know, it's incredible isn't it? When has the Catholic Church ever been intolerant or bigoted? Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable!!!
And another thing, same-sex marriage means the extermination of mothers and fathers. I'm not exaggerating, honestly, I'm not!!! Won't someone please, please think of the children!!! Trust me on this, when it comes to the best interests of children, there's really no one better than a Roman Catholic bishop.
The what? The Clemmies? Oh, yes! Akhandadhi Das examined that silly piece of research by that shrill, awful, intolerant, militant Richard Dawkins that showed Christians don't really believe any of it. Mr. Das was able to demonstrate that what it really showed was that atheists really did believe it.
And while we're on the subject of same-sex marriage, why not allow three men or a whole bus-load of woman to marry? They say same-sex marriage is optional, but just imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave”!!!! When you see that same-sex marriage is equivalent to legalising slavery it puts it all in perspective, doesn't it!?!?
Bishop Tom Butler very lucidly explained why science is exactly[ the same as theology. (He's not really a bishop you know, not being a Catholic. They're just some strange bunch of folk that put on fancy dress and go around looking all important.)
This is me presiding over the Scottish Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, just to remind people of that whole, Scotland-Holy Sepulchre, equestrian connection thing. As you can see, I've got more than one pointy hat. It's just so embarrassing to be caught out wearing the same pointy hat more than once.
This month's winner is Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Inter-Religious studies who feels a bit unsure about her nice Muslim son wanting to marry a Hindu girl. Just you wait Mona, the government wants him to marry a Hindu boy!!!!! Oh the shame, the shame!!!!!
(What do you mean I'm beginning to sound hysterical?!?!?)
Two thirds of people in Wales think presumed consent for organ donation is a good idea.
It's an emotional subject. To find out whether the people of Wales are right or wrong, we must consult the Big Book of Magic Stuff. It turns out that the Big Book of Magic Stuff has quite specific instructions on slavery, holy war, something called "women" and a large number of offences that you should be put to death for. It does not have any specific instructions about organ donation. I'm therefore going to make them up and post rationalise it in an attempt to make the Big Book of Magic Stuff seem relevant to modern ethical problems.
Jesus, whom you'll recall was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, did rather a lot of healing. This suggests that healing and preventing suffering is probably a good thing. From this is turn, we can infer that donating the organs of the deceased to benefit the living might also possibly be considered to just maybe be a good thing. After all, there is an after-life, despite what Giles Fraser may say, so the bit we float around in in the before-life doesn't matter that much.
In conclusion, Christian theology unambiguously and definitively can't make up it's mind, proving once again the value, relevance and moral leadership of the modern church.
Google'sh a bit like God really, ishn't it? (hic!) It she's effryfing, nose effryfing and shends you to heaven or hell wif all it'sh adverts.
Unlike God, you can opt out of Google'sh privashy polishy. All you have to do ish log in, follow the 5 page inshtruction (hic!) sh, tab to the user shettings, go to the next (hic!) nexsht page, go through the page wif white text on a white background, fill in the questionnaire (hic!), accept the termsh and condishionss, ignore the warning ashking if you really want to do thish, wait for (hic!) wait for the confrmation email, click on the link in the email, shcroll down to the bottom of the page, find the link written in plain text on a plain background, click on it and your done. Shimple. (hic!)
It'sh Kafka... eggs, Kafka... elfs, Kafka else... like somefing from Kafka. Or something from Eff Shcott Fitzerald. Eff's a funny first name, isn't it? (hic!) He wrote a really good book called The Gate Grimsby. There'sh a big advert with glassesh on it and it shes effryfing and (hic!) like God it'sh got no opt out polishy.
'f course, God'sh not really like that. Well he ish really like that but not that way, if you know what I mean. He doeshn't really watch you all the (hic!) all the (hic!) time. Well he doesh but in a nice way. And he doeshn't really shend you to heaven or hell for all eternity. Well he does but s'done in a nice way, (hic!) s'not done in a horrible way. S'not like he throwsh out all the cuddly toy'sh and shays, I'm God, s'wat I do.
Err... What wash my point again? (hic!)
The Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People has come up with the startling new idea that people who look after elderly people should actually care about elderly people. They've called this new idea "compassion".
The government has taken this new idea on board and has instantly set up degree courses in compassion all across the country. Nurses will now spend at least three years learning how to be compassionate. For many this will be vocational training but some will move on to advanced research in compassion in places like Trinity College, Cambridge. In decades to come this will make Great Britain one of the most compassionate countries in the world.
Christianity, of course, invented compassion. The Romans in particular didn't have any compassion. Fortunately, Jesus came along. He pointed out that even Samaritans and prodigal sons can be good and that's how compassion got invented.