Saturday, 4 April, 2009, 09:53 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Today Programme listeners don't want to hear about the G20 summit, or the NATO summit. We're all sick to death about restarting the world economy and eliminating nuclear weapons. No, what Today Programme listeners really want to hear is me talking about sport. Y'see, I'm a down to earth sorta bloke. I don't bamboozle y'all with hi'fullittin talk about financial regulation and ICBM limits. What you really want is a nice sporting metaphor for religion and life. Fortunately, there's nearly always a big sporting event I can turn to, whether it's the Olympics, or the Rugby World Cup, or as with today, The Grand National. The Romans played sport too you know. Homer, whom I've read, has a really spiffing bit about a chariot race.
I'd like to quote some French bloke here because no one who spoke English ever said anything remotely similar. "It's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part." Like most of you, I won't be taking part today. Most of the runners have four legs and can run very fast, so it wouldn't be a fair competition. Of course there's all the usual whingers, moaning about the horses being whipped and put down when they're injured, but you get party poopers everywhere these days.
Horse racing is like life you see. It's terribly spiritual. I know this because the bible says so, so I must be right. After all, aren't we all just a bunch of old nags being whipped forward, forced over one hurdle after another until we reach the inevitable finishing post?
Friday, 3 April, 2009, 10:22 AMNews just in. His Grace, the Most Reverend, and imminently Eminent, Vincent Nichols, famous for getting Popetown banned by the BBC, is to be the new Archbigot of Westminster. Bishop Nichols is highly regarded for his liberal and enlightened attitude, favouring a woman's right to choose, women priests and bishops, non-sectarian schools, widespread sex education and use of condoms. He is known to believe that equal rights should be accorded to homosexuals. This marks a new dawn for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales and is one that this blog warmly welcomes. Thank goodness we aren't getting another celibate, deluded, idiotic, narrow minded cleric in a dress to lead the church.
Bishop Nichols is seen here rubbing magic oil into a young girl.
Friday, 3 April, 2009, 08:42 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Happy week before Passover everyone! Yes it's nearly time to remember the mythical enslavement of the Jews by the Egyptians and the subsequent intervention of the Supreme Invisible Magic Friend 3,300 years ago to kill millions of them. We Jews have a long memory and memory is a good thing.
J.K. Galbraith thinks memory is a good thing too, especially about how financial deregulation can lead to uncontrolled asset bubbles followed by an inevitable crash. Unfortunately all the 1920s bankers are dead now and none of today's bankers bothered to read Galbraith. They continued the mantras that "the market knows best" and "regulation is bad" right up 'till ... oops!
That's why remembering things is so important. If you remember bad things then you'll know not to do them again, unless you happen to be stupid. If you forget things, then you won't remember that bad things are bad, and even people who aren't stupid might do them again. We're getting very lazy about remembering things now, especially now that we have computers to remember things for us. This is precisely how Nazi Germany started. Remember: remembering things good, not remembering things bad.
What we need is an annual religious festival to remind us about every bad thing that can possibly happen. It worked for us. We've never been enslaved by Egyptian Pharaohs with a fetish for huge pointy tombs ever since. Makes you think, eh?
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?