Thursday, 2 April, 2009, 08:42 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Without wishing to resort to clichés, we can't pass the buck all the time. We must take personal responsibility for our lives. But most of us can't be bothered with that, so what we all need is a good leader that we can follow slavishly without having to think too much. And not just for the whole world. In our supermarkets and our clothes shops, in our pub quiz teams and our amateur dramatic societies, in our Dungeons and Dragons groups and our mega casinos, in our plastic storage jar manufacturers and in our reality TV shows, we all need someone who is good, inspirational and right all the time.
Simon Walker says we should distinguish between leadership and people who actually know things.
Simon says leadership is about trust and power.
Simon says leaders lead people from one place to a place that is not the same place as the one they've just been led from.
Simon says leaders take us from somewhere that is safe and familiar to somewhere that is dangerous and scary and just wants to make you scream.
Simon says Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi were all nice leaders.
Jim Wallace, that famous moral authority who needs no introduction, calls this "moral authority".
Francis of Assisi says "Oo! What a nice little birdie!"
I approve of Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. I do not approve of Hitler, Stalin and Pol-Pot. These latter examples are not leaders who may have my approval. They just want to make me scream. I also approve of Jesus Christ. One of the people I have previously cited also approves of Jesus Christ, so you may have confidence in the authority and leadership of my approval. Jesus Christ would make a fine leader of anyone's Dungeons and Dragons group.
Wednesday, 1 April, 2009, 08:50 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
As an Associate Lecturer at 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, part of me wants to get out there today and join thousands of other people who don't have a proper job. They're protesting, possibly even peacefully, about everything and how it's all somebody else's fault. But just opposing things isn't enough. We have to stand up for what is better: oppose war by loving our neighbours as Jesus commanded, oppose injustice by treating others fairly as Jesus surely implied, and counter global warming with lifestyle changes (although Jesus was curiously quiet on this). The G20 leaders, meeting in London, must feel the goodwill of millions in there with them, even if the millions won't be invited to the buffet.
As Gordon Brown said in his sermon to religious leaders at St. Paul's, "My dad never got to preach here." Quoting Martin Luther King, "We must handle 'now' now, because now goes by awfully quickly," Pastor Brown, after 10 years as chancellor, revealed that markets need morals and that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists knew this all along. Religious leaders have called upon the G20 to stop being horrid and start being nice. As Jesus said, "The last shall be first." So hang on in there you last people, you could be first any millennium now.
Tuesday, 31 March, 2009, 08:38 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
We're in danger of thinking that greed explains the current financial crisis. Is it really possible that entire boards of bankers were just too greedy and stupid? Can this whole thing really be explained by believing that these highly experienced and highly skilled executives didn't actually have a clue about the risk of giving 125% mortgages to people with no income? Is is really credible that such highly paid financiers could have taken such terrible risks with other people's money? As they are forced to retire in comfort in their multi-million pound mansions with guaranteed pensions, these are some of the questions that we must all reflect upon.
As a Reverend Canon Doctor and an Anglican Priest, let me just assure you that it is all the fault of the risk management profession. These slimy snake oil merchants deceived the noble and worthy bankers, whose sole aim was to safeguard the savings of widows and orphans, into believing that all they had to do was write a Risk Register, put it on a Powerpoint slide, and then everything would be under control.
How are we to change the behaviour of bankers? Alan Greenspan gave us the answer. When asked about the crisis he remarked, "Oh, shit!" In this sense, financial risk is like religious fundamentalism, or the passion of the second bit of the Invisible Magic Friend made incarnate. I trust my solution is clear.
Rev Dr Colin Morris, a Methodist Minister and (coincidentally) former head of religious broadcasting and BBC controller in Northern Ireland
Monday, 30 March, 2009, 08:31 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Last week we investigated the etymology of the fascinating word "taboo". In today's lesson I want to discuss the phrase "systemic failures". What exactly is a "systemic failure"? One conjures up visions of filing cabinets refusing to open. (That's just a little TFTD joke, ha, ha! )
To understand modern systems analysis we naturally turn to Saint Paul. As Saint Paul pointed out, my Invisible Magic Friend raised Jesus above all earthly principalities and powers. I don't think I need to point out the obvious implications for systems failures. As Emerson was wont to say, "The Cossack eats Poland, Like stolen fruit."
The modern day answer to systems failure is an "inquiry". Inquiries provide endless useful employment for friends of politicians and generally report many years after those who should be held responsible have retired. As a Reverend Doctor, let me just assure you that all this activity is what we holy people refer to as "sloth". As Jesus said, "Don't let a lack of knowledge stop you giving a definitive answer." Something that I think you'll agree the Church has faithfully upheld.
As my conclusion is somewhat vague, I would just like to point out that I'm stopping now.
Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 10:48 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
The media frenzy over who will be the next Archbigot of Westminster, continues unabated. Competition for the post is fierce. Who has the necessary skills to repeat, parrot fashion, every word uttered by His Extreme Holiness, Reichsführer Benedict the umpteenth? It's all a good sign that we Catholics, who have suffered such vile persecution in recent times, are now being considered for the job as head of the Church of England.
But we Catholics must be wary of our new found acceptance. By all means, go ahead and become friends with non-Catholics - some Anglicans aren't that bad - but be careful not to sully our pure and gleaming, superior morality, handed directly to the Reichsführer himself by our Invisible Magic Friend. Remember that these non-Catholics want nothing better than to spend all their time murdering babies and old people. Jesus said, "You," i.e. Catholics, "are the savoury condiments of the Earth." Do not be tempted into the evil ways of these non-Catholics. Tell the rest of the world how immoral it is. Continue to speak out for those made poor and destitute by wicked non-Catholics. Make sure they don't use condoms or become gay. For we have the one and only precious truth, which we must defend to the last against those who do not share our glorious insight.
Friday, 27 March, 2009, 07:58 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Happy two weeks before Passover everyone! Yes, it's that jolly time of year again when we celebrate the genocide of Egyptian first born by our Invisible Magic Friend, the original, the best and only real IMF. Passover is a historical fact, just like Noah's ark, where the lion and the lamb lay down together. Isaiah prophesied that this would happen again, so it will - I mean it's only been two and half thousand years, give a prophet a chance. The lion and the lamb are going to have to get along at the G20 summit next week, otherwise we're all screwed. What they need is a nice passover meal together.
Friday, 27 March, 2009, 06:47 AM
Why was the pope accompanied to Africa by a 7 foot drag queen? Is there something his poopiness isn't telling us?
Thursday, 26 March, 2009, 08:35 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I'm astonished to hear that some people are afraid to travel on the London Underground. I myself have the courage to realise that the probability of me being affected by any attack on the underground is minimal. The underground stops some way short of Norwich. Even if I was afraid of the underground, which I'm not, I hope that I'd have the courage not to be. For if I ever fear to travel on the London Underground then the terrorists will surely have won. I do fear some things however. Ghosts would be one. School bullies is another. Drunks just make me want to scream, and pretty much everything else for that matter. Some parishioners of mine, not me, are even afraid of ill health and the plague of street violence in rural East Anglia
Fear has it's place, however. As someone famous once said, "Do not poke a tiger with a stick." But being afraid of virtually everything, as I am not, is debilitating. The government, in its wisdom, has everything under control. Even as I speak, shop and hotel workers are being trained how to deal with crazed fanatics armed with grenades and automatic weapons. An army of migrant workers with poor understanding of English are being taught how to clean up the dust after a dirty bomb attack. High level security and early warning systems are being put in place. As the Home Secretary herself has reassuringly pointed out, we could all be blown up at any time.
Yesterday was the feast day of the Annunciation. For the benefit of Radio 4 listeners, that's when my Invisible Magic Friend sent the Angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she'd just been impregnated by him. She was not afraid. Let this be a message of hope and inspiration to you all. Remember, the Virgin Mary, like me, is not afraid to travel on the London Underground!
Wednesday, 25 March, 2009, 08:21 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I know what you all think about disabled people. You think they're second class citizens, that their lives are worth less than proper people. You want to just shut them all away and pretend they don't exist. I know I do, so you must as well. Oh sure, you all makes noises about the inherent dignity of human beings, but when it comes to dealing with the disabled you really just want them to go away. Well, 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 everyone is equal in the sight of my Invisible Magic Friend. Even the ones that he's disabled. For centuries, Islamic scholars have tried to figure out why a merciful IMF sends so much misery and human affliction. They haven't figured it out yet, but we do know that the IMF never disables anyone more than necessary. My IMF wants you to treat disabled people just like normal ones that he hasn't disabled, so I think that's what you should do.
Tuesday, 24 March, 2009, 08:36 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Jonafan Aitken wantsh to reform our prishons (hic!). He'sh been really inteshted in the welfare of prish'ners ever shince he became one. Ash a poly... (hic!) poly...tician, he used to lie lotsh. He jusht 'ad the mishfrot... mishfrunt... bad luck to get caught under oaf. While awaiting to (hic!) pleasure Her Majeshty he found Jesush, whom he had previoushly losht, while writing letters of recommenda...shun for hish fellow inmates. He now wants shupervised communishty hoshtels for low risk offenders - perjurersh for example (hic!). Thish won't happen (hic!) 'cos there'sh no votes in rehabitating offendersh. If only we could give'em a bit more Jeshus. Look at Jon'fan, he got lotsh Jeshus (hic!) and turned into a really nice bloke (hic!).