Thursday, 9 April, 2009, 08:25 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Time for today's regular insight into current events as seen from a Faith Perspective. What shall I give you the benefit of my religious wisdom on today? The incompetent terror chief? Unprovoked police violence? The struggling battle with climate change? I know, what did you watch on the telly last night? I watched a programme about hospitals. It was after a hard day's vicarring. We reverends really have our work cut out in Holy Week. It's just one continuous round of services reminding people about Jesus' death and Resurrection. Did you know it was time for Jesus' death and Resurrection? I just thought I'd mention it.
Anyway, this telly programme about hospitals had lots of injured people in it, mostly sinners suffering their undoubted just rewards for all their sinning. It was full of drunks and thrill seekers, godless materialist sinners the lot of them. There were also some doctors and nurses, doing their jobs professionally, helping all, being totally fair and non-judgemental, just like we Christians. They're a kind of secular, and therefore not as good version, of Holy Week. Jesus was very, very ill on the cross, but then he got better. As T.S. Eliot so beautifully put it, "We need a lot more sick people to remind us about being sick."
Blimey, I thought, these health care practitioners work almost as hard and are nearly as useful as we vicars!
Wednesday, 8 April, 2009, 08:14 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Brian here, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in today’s world. Hi.
I want to talk to you today about face transplants. I'm struck by the stunning similarities between face transplants and Jesus' death and Resurrection. Oh, yes, Jesus' death and Resurrection, I'd forgotten all about that. It's the anniversary this week. Did you known that? Good job I reminded you then. Even though he hadn't had a face transplant, Mary didn't recognise him.
"Are you the gardener?" she asked.
"No, it's me, Jesus," he laughed. "I've risen from the dead!"
"Oh, silly me," Mary chuckled in embarrassment. "I didn't recognise you, what with you being dead for the last two days."
"Three days," Jesus corrected her. "The prophecy said three days. Look Friday, Saturday, Sunday, that's three days.
"Yes but it's been less than 48 hours since..."
"It's three days, OK! Just go tell everyone I've risen and I'll be around."
Then Jesus appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. He still hadn't had a face transplant, but they didn't recognise him either.
"Who are you?" they asked.
"It's me, Jesus, back from the dead!"
"Oh yes, so it is!"
Yep, it's that old Jesus and face transplants and moisturising cream connection thing again.
Tuesday, 7 April, 2009, 11:49 AMThis Downing street petition needs as much publicity as it can get.
The idea is that we have a block of flats for MPs to stay in (complete with adult channel movies in every room). Something not too far from central London. There are loads of run down blocks of flats in the east end that could be refurbished for a modest outlay. Each flat could hold a couple of MPs. They can have shared kitchens with their own shelf in the fridge and little post-it notes saying "Please clean the cooker when you are finished, you're not the only person who lives here you know."
Tuesday, 7 April, 2009, 08:17 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The banks have all collapsed, just like in Mary Poppins. This shows that you should not put your trust in man made institutions. This was not caused by God. Yesterday there was an earthquake in Italy. This was not predicted by scientists. Scientists will never be able to predict earthquakes, which just goes to show how completely useless science is. This earthquake was not caused by God either. I shall now demonstrate how incredibly useful religion is.
You must place your Trust-In-God. Before doing so however, you must realise that Trust-In-God won't actually make a blind bit of difference. He won't save you from banking collapses or earthquakes no matter how much you Trust-In-God. God's like that. He likes all the worship and trust and things but when it comes to saving your hide, don't expect Him to help you out, except of course for all the miraculous times that he does intervene and that therefore prove His existence.
If you do think that Trust-In-God is likely to be helpful then you are going to be sadly disappointed. If He let His own son be tortured to death by the Romans, what makes you think He's going to bother helping you out. Each time you face disaster you will either have to abandon your Trust-In-God or start making endless and increasingly convoluted excuses for why God has decided to ignore you - something which we Christians never do. As a Rev Canon Dr and an Anglican Priest, let me just assure you that when you place your Trust-In-God, He knows exactly what a horrible time you're having, which is surely a great comfort. He just isn't going to do anything about it.
Monday, 6 April, 2009, 08:29 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Happy Holy Week everyone! Yes, we've got a whole week just choc full of Christian feast days. Here on TFTD we'll be taking you through each one in laborious detail as if you've never heard the story before. Isn't that something to look forward to!
Of course, near the end of the week, we'll have the death of Jesus, and some of us might be tempted to think, "Well that was a waste of time wasn't it?" Because of course none of us know that he's going to be resurrected three days later, or two if you can count, but that's a secret right now so don't tell anyone.
This reminds me of my own loss of faith not long after I'd been priested, and I'd been priested hard. It was the funeral of a child, with a small white coffin in my own cavernous church. Suddenly it seemed as if all the arguments for my Invisible Magic Friend were complete nonsense. Of course we all known the whole religion thing is nonsense from start to finish, but this was the first time I'd had to face up to this. For days I felt that my whole way of life was pointless. But I soon picked myself up again. I didn't let the little problem of why a good IMF allows children to die for no obvious reason get me down. I thought to myself, "What the hell am I going to do if I don't remain priested? I've spent all that time studying and worshipping and getting really well and truly priested, if it's all a lie then I frittered away years of my life for nothing." You see, I don't have any trade, knowledge or skills about real things. This is all I know how to do - being holy. My salary and my pension depend on it.
So I determined to stick to my commitments. Yes, it's all stupid. Yes, there's no evidence for any of it. As St. John of the Cross famously observed, "Shit! None of this makes any sense!" Even Jesus said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!". He said "hast thou" because he spoke in 17th century English. Despite this, I have Faith. I have the courage and strength to go on preaching it all regardless. This is what atheists, with their tedious facts and rational arguments, just don't get. We all know it's a load of bollocks. What do you want us to do, admit it? That's what being spiritual is all about, an obstinate determination to stick with the absurd no matter how futile it all seems.
I would now ask you all to respect my beliefs and stop questioning them.
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.