Tuesday, 28 April, 2009, 08:24 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
President Obama has banned any further torture of detainees. Former vice-president Cheney has angrily defended it. "We tortured people to make them confess and they confessed to all sorts of terrible things. The more we tortured them the more they confessed. You can't deny it does the job." I know that torture still happens because, along with several other notable people, I was once on an Amnesty International awards panel.
All the great religions stand up for niceness, that's why they get along so well with one another. Think how much worse people would be if they didn't have religion telling them to be nice. We Sikhs, for example, understand that before we torture, kill and maim people we first have to think of them as sub-human. Everyone is equal, which is why we dress differently, to show that we know this and you don't.
You should be nice to other people because they were made by the same, one, Invisible Magic Friend. If there's anyone out there who was made by a different Invisible Magic Friend then they're fair game. As one of the Sikh gurus said, "It is the same Invisible Magic Friend who is invisible in the magic temple that is invisible in the magic mosque."
Monday, 27 April, 2009, 08:43 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Money's been getting rather a bad press lately, what with the national debt spiralling by more than the cost of a couple of large world wars and those responsible being rewarded with generous pensions. People have become reserved about how much money they have. So I just want to point out that there's nothing wrong with being wealthy. Some of my best friends are wealthy. Be proud of your money, tell all your friends how much richer than them you are. Money is not corrupt or contaminated. Don't be afraid to be nice to your money. Take it out of your wallet or purse and stroke it lovingly. Jesus was a big fan of money too. He couldn't get enough of it. And he just adored rich people, even hinting that all they needed to get into heaven was a very large needle.
The "trickle down" effect is the theory that you should rejoice that I have access to vast quantities of cash, because I'm going to give it all to you. Unfortunately, it turns out there's a slight problem with the theory. People who accumulate enormous amounts of money generally tend to do everything they possibly can to hang onto it.
Sunday, 26 April, 2009, 07:58 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
As I sit here, fist hard against my forehead, being intellectual, I cogitate upon the great problems that burden liberals and atheists, who, lacking the benefits of established doctrine, are unable to adopt a consensus regarding Islam. I speculate on the possibility of writing a new theory book on the matter, adding to my already prodigious output, surpassed only by Barbara Cartland and her romantic novels.
Liberals, like cats paralysed by the oncoming lights, are uniquely terrified by Islam. Their instinct not to interfere in the great market place of ideas neutered by the thrusting, assertive confidence of exotic religion. This is simply fraudulent cultural Capitalism, as you may discover by purchasing one of my many books on the subject (available from all good evil capitalist imperialist booksellers). It is the pretence that the state be agnostic about belief. "Any honest liberal, however, will acknowledge that the neutrality of the state is a form of partisanship."*
Dawkins preaches a self-satisfied, old-fashioned, and therefore wrong, Whiggish rationalism, that is no match for any ancient, and therefore right, religious ideology. Amis, Hitchens and Dawkins, who have the audacity to suggest that even brown and black people should enjoy freedom of religion, are modern day cultural imperialists, as parochial and condescending in their outlook as colonial slave owners. They are, in short, worse than Hitler. Their arguments are too tedious, and expressed too simplistically, in language accessible to mere common people, for we intellectuals to address directly. Therefore I shall continue to restrict myself to supercilious sneering with loaded, emotive adjectives that disguise the essential vacuousness and repetitiveness of what I say.
Their lack of nuance, stating simply that religion is bollocks, without the postscript of a properly academic "on the other hand..." reveals them as ill read, intellectual lightweights. How can one take seriously anyone who does not distinguish between the epistemological differences of Aquinas and Duns Scotus?
This conclusively demonstrates that liberal atheists, with their dogmatic "tolerance" and their nerve to criticize even non-white religions, are in fact the new white supremacists.
*[Ed. Sorry, I couldn't think of any caricature of this that was more absurd than the professor's own words. Note the clunkily injected ad hominem - any liberal who disagrees must be dishonest. You'd think a professor of literature could be a bit more subtle. This is argument by rhetoric rather than logic, where winning over the audience is more important than ascertaining objective truth. It's the style adopted by politicians, clerics, lawyers and second hand car salesmen. Ironically, in his CIF piece, Eagleton quotes dismissively from Tony Blair, the very epitome of pious appearance over substance.]
Saturday, 25 April, 2009, 10:33 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Even my school teachers found me annoying. Passionate as I am about all forms of learning, I found the imposition of school rules irritating. Rules are for lesser people, whose dull, mundane minds must be constrained by regulations less they try to express their creativity without the proper capacity. I would certainly be one of those proudly sent home from Wilmington Enterprise College for minor rule breaches. The headteacher at that Dartford school should take a lesson or two from my father who ran a perfectly ordinary prep school in Cambridge that just happened to produce some of the world's leading musicians, mathematicians and artists.
This is why we need religion: to broaden young people's minds after the suffocating pettiness of school. The one thing you can say about religion down the ages is that it has never sought to impose ridiculous rules on people or demand uniformity of behaviour or censor criticism. Wherever new ideas and freedom of expression has been found, you always find religion championing the bright light of learning and diversity.
Another great thing about religion has been its consistency. Jesus never changed one iota of Jewish law. That's why, even today, it's still illegal to eat shellfish, wear polycotton shirts or allow disabled people near a church. The trouble comes with religious fanatics who think the rules are everything. The Pharisees were like that, trying to outdo each other in piety and getting rewarded with empty religious titles, social prestige and even distinctive clothing to advertise their distinguished rank. Thank goodness modern clerics don't behave like that!
Friday, 24 April, 2009, 12:59 PMI get email! This one's a beauty. As a Rev. Dr. I do, of course, forgive him.
IP Address: 220.127.116.11 (c-24-18-155-112.hsd1.wa.comcast.net)
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.104.22.168 Safari/525.19
Email: The Baptist
On Friday, April 24, 2009, 12:40 PM, John wrote:
You are a fraud. A flippin' money grubbin, ego-strokin' FRAUD. 'Holy Miracle Water'?!?!?
You are EVIL.
Playing on people's ignorance and desire for something more than the physical world with your stupid PATHETIC lies.
I hope you are tortured for the rest of your life. I hope that if there is reincarnation that you cursed to come back not as a living being but as a toilet.
You SUCK. Lying, deluded piece of worthless despicable CANCER!!!
I hope you get the flesh-eating virus and then feel horrified and scared because you KNOW you can't pray for healing because YOU DON'T REALLY BELIEVE IT YOURSELF!!!
You make me want to vomit!!!
I'll pray to the great and mighty cockroach for your salvation.
Friday, 24 April, 2009, 08:37 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
I had a friend from Kenya over recently. "Leave your hut in Kenya and come and see my beautiful mansion in Britain," I said. "Come and see how rich and prosperous we all are and then go back to your hut with no free education, health service or even street lighting."
"My!" She said when she saw my beautiful mansion. "God must really love you and consequently hate me." And I thanked God for so loving me. Then I told her our guilty secret: we all have huge debts to pay off on our houses, debts that come from banks that are intrinsically evil and the spawn of Satan. It's not just unregulated asset bubble debt that's bad, all debt is bad. You can trust me on this, I'm a celebrity Christian writer. As a celebrity Christian writer, let me just assure you that no one, in the entire history of the world has ever paid off a mortgage. No capital investment has ever generated jobs or a long term return. I feel so sinful for having a home loan, when this beautiful, humble, god-fearing poor person does not. She is so much better than me, so much better off not having any debts. She may only own a hut, but it is her hut. I would invite her to flagellate me for my iniquities if she hadn't already returned to her pure, godly, simple way of life.
We have been very selective on the bits of the bible we choose to obey. The bible told us all not to borrow money but we ignored God and look at the national debt we've incurred as a result. We now owe even more money than poor countries like Kenya. It's time to implement every single rule of the bible properly. You will not hear from me again, for I will have surrendered my mortgage, sold my house and gone to live for ever in a hut in Kenya, free of unholy debts.
Thursday, 23 April, 2009, 08:39 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Ha, ha! I'm the first TFTD presenter to cotton on to Susan Boyle. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it all you very reverends, right reverends, most reverends, eminences and reverend doctors. And only twelve days after the rest of the world! Who says the Church doesn't live in the modern world?
The tabloid photo looks OK from the neck down, but then you see her face and realise this is Susan Boyle, the frumpy, awkward, dumpy, Scottish lady. By some astonishing freak of nature, this plump, homely, ungainly creature, and I'm not being unkind here, has an OK singing voice. Now who'd have thought that was possible? Everyone knows that good singers have to be attractive, which is probably why Susan Boyle isn't that good. Now she says she wants to look nice and smart. Yeah, dream on Susan!
The really important lesson here is not that we shouldn't judge by appearances, or that someone's dream can come true at any time in life, or that the value of a human being isn't in their fashion sense. No, the really important point is how like Jesus, Susan Boyle is. She's ugly and unattractive, just like Jesus was. Admittedly they had to rough Jesus up a bit first, but at one point in His life Jesus was indeed nearly as repugnant as Susan Boyle. Jesus spoke with real authority. Knowing that you're one third of the Invisible Magic Friend does that for you. Susan Boyle sings with authority because, laughable and quaint as she is, she knows she's got a better voice than all the people who are more beautiful than her (and let's face it that's virtually everybody), a treasure in a clay jar.
Wednesday, 22 April, 2009, 08:42 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Jack Jones said he wanted a better society. Martin Luther said if you have them by the purse strings their minds and hearts will follow. Spike Milligan said, money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
Happy budget day everyone! There's nothing sufficiently depressing happening in Liverpool today, so I'm going to talk to you about the Church of England's official economic policy. We used to talk about helping the poor, looking after the sick and educating the young, but we can't afford any of that any more. It's time to slash government expenditure and close everything down, except the Church of course. This will make you all more spiritual. You like to think of yourselves as consumers, well, well done, this planet's consumed. Don't go around trying to blame the Church for this one, it's not like we told you to go forth and multiply or anything. As Jesus continually made clear, "Blessed are the policy makers, for they shall ensure that monetary and fiscal policy always makes reducing government borrowing its highest priority and stuff all the social services that have to be cut to achieve it."
It would be nice to think that today's budget will reflect these enlightened, spiritual values, but I wouldn't bet on it. For some reason no one ever pays any attention to us.
Tuesday, 21 April, 2009, 08:36 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
1. India's month long general election is taking place. This is very complicated.
2. A journalist threw a shoe at a minister over his evasiveness on the massacre of Sikhs 25 years ago, but like all shoe throwing journalists he was a very poor aim and missed.
3. Democracy doesn't guarantee good government or protection of a country's citizens. We need religion for that. My religion is quite a good one.
4. We Sikhs think democracy is a very good thing, even though it doesn't guarantee good government or protection of a country's citizens.
5. Sikh teaching says that, when we do things, or not, it has both practical and ethical implications.
6. If we were all a bit nicer then we'd all be a bit nicer.
Sunday, 19 April, 2009, 06:47 AMApparently it's compulsory for every newspaper, talk show, social networking site and blog to sing the praises of Susan Boyle. Well just to be different, I'm not going to. I'm not even going to mention her.
Susan Who? You mean you haven't seen the video? It's various You Tube incarnations have only been seen about 50,000,000+ times, so there's a fair chance that some people on the planet haven't seen it yet.
You might not even have heard her on this 1999 CD (if you happen to have one of the 1,000 copies of that CD in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, I'd put it in a safety deposit box right about now).
So what cynical smart-assed put-downs have I got not to say as I studiously ignore the Scottish singing sensation as she catapults to stardom and riches? Well for a start I'm not going to shout hurrah at how she made a mocking audience rise to their feet in praise of her. Nor am I going to canonise her as the patron saint of all us nobodies with dreams. And I'm not going anywhere near clichés like inner beauty and astonishing talent shining through. In fact, given all the moralising and platitudes that have been gushing forth around the world, I'm astonished that no one on Thought For The Day has mentioned her yet (come on Department of Religion and More Religion - you can do better than this).
Why am I so keen to make no comment on the internet arrival of the year so far? Could it be the instant media hype that tarnishes everything noble and beautiful? Could it be my well known prejudice against Catholics? No, it's far worse than that - she's got a crush on Piers Morgan!! It's so true, you put your heroes on a pedestal, only to see them come crashing to the ground.
On behalf of all of us Scottish, fat, frumpy, socially awkward, unemployed, nearly 48 year olds: KNOCK 'EM DEAD SUSAN!!!