Saturday, 18 April, 2009, 09:00 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
"Pop" songs are now more popular than hymns at funerals, except in Scotland where Scottish Catholics continue to prefer pope songs. I myself often allow popular melodies such as Hallelujah to be sung. "She tied you to a kitchen chair, She broke your throne, and she cut your hair" - very moving, and what better way to remember the dearly departed. I have so many, many happy memories of other people's funerals. For originality, wit and creativity you really can't beat a jolly good funeral. Churches are still pretty popular with the dead and bereaved, which is very good for me as it means I get to run no end of funerals. Some people get stuck in very boring, unfulfilling work that they don't enjoy at all. They should take up presiding at funerals, it's tremendous fun. I particularly look forward to Christian funerals, where everyone has a good cry about their loved ones going to heaven.
Friday, 17 April, 2009, 07:43 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
It appears that some of you are not abandoning your parents in the traditional British fashion. Why aren't you getting married and having babies? It's the Catholic way, lots and lots and lots of lovely babies. This just isn't good enough. There are all sorts of things you can't do when your parents are watching. Yes, many, many things that you'd rather your mum and dad didn't see you doing and of course, chief amongst these, is being more spiritual. How on earth are you going to be more spiritual with your parents sitting there on the couch, sniggering at you? I know when I want to be more spiritual I sneak into my room, make sure the door is locked and, as quietly as I possibly can, have a really good prayer. I feel so much better when I'm done. Of course, if I've dribbled too much while praying then I have to have a tissue to prevent embarrassing stains. I can always tiptoe down the stairs afterwards and dispose of the evidence without anyone being any the wiser that I've secretly been having a frantic spiritual session all alone in my room. As Saint Paul said, "When I was a child I thought like a child, but now I am a man and I have my Invisible Magic Friend to keep me company and boy, do we get spiritual together."
Friday, 17 April, 2009, 07:36 AMWell that was a surprise. There I was, listening to the Today Programme and who should I hear but my old choir master Stephen Rhys. They're getting ready to do Carmina Burana in May along with Putney Choral.
I can only echo the words of Edward Sturton, if only they didn't have to stop singing for TFTD.
Thursday, 16 April, 2009, 07:24 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
I wonder if anyone on Thought For The Day has ever pointed out how evil materialism is? I think it's about time someone did. This is a topic that for far too long has remained uncommented upon by religious commentators. I really can't recall even hearing the word "materialism" on this slot before, can you? So I'm going to take the bit between my teeth and grab the bull by the horns. I'm going to tackle this controversial subject in a novel and unusual way: I'm going to talk about Jesus.
The current economic crash is all the fault of materialism. You have coveted employment so that you may have a roof over your heads and feed your children. Such foul depravity! Well, as a vicar, let me just just tell you that if people didn't go around making things and wanting things then there'd be no economy to crash. Simple really, problem solved. But materialism isn't just about material things. Many of you have got your fingers burned by irresponsibly saving for a rainy day or selfishly trying to invest to secure your future. Such pure, unmitigated, wickedness shall not go unpunished. As Jesus made clear in his famous beatitudes: blessed are the destitute for they shall provide objects of pity for the clergy who continue to get paid anyway.
Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 07:22 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Today is the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. This reminds me of Jesus' Resurrection. That's the great thing about being Bishop of Liverpool - its numerous tragedies and consequent boundless opportunities to talk about Jesus and sing Abide With Me. Wherever there's misery and disaster, you'll find the Church there. 96 people died at Hillsborough due to multiple organisations' incompetence. Jesus also died, but he came back. Isn't that just fantastic! Today, I'll be joining those who grieve for their lost friends and relatives, talking to them about Jesus and singing Abide With Me. God, I love being Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons they're both so wonderfully miserable.
Wednesday, 15 April, 2009, 05:55 AMOver at pharyngula they're busy crashing a poll based around this beautiful image from the Chandra X-ray observatory.
This reminds me of a very different Hand of God picture taken by Hubble a few years ago. In this picture God isn't so much offering a helping hand as perhaps sending the rest of the universe a message.
Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 07:28 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Happy Vaisakhi everyone! Yes it's that happy time of year (again) where I get to tell you about Guru Gobind Singh and how fantastic it is to be a Sikh, and I include women in that. Guru Gobind Singh declared that everything we needed to know from now on was already in our holy book. He taught us there is exactly one Invisible Magic Friend, no more and no less and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong. He made it clear that everyone was equal and created a new superior group for those that were the very best at being equal. The Gurus were just brilliant, weren't they? But don't worry, even though leaders of your religions often weren't as good as the Gurus, you can still do something worthwhile with your life. Almost any religion can stop you from being the negative and irresponsible layabout that you naturally are.
Monday, 13 April, 2009, 07:50 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Some Christians, like the Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Evangelicals, the Presbyterians, the Calvinists, the Lutherans etc. think that the really important bit of Christianity is the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend being executed on the cross so that he can be sacrificed to the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend for all our sins. No, no, no, no, no, this is all wrong. The really important bit about Christianity is the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. It's this unique event that gives us all hope, that brings a new dawn, that brings light to the world, that is our inspiration, the culmination of the Christian message. That's why the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend is so important. Those who go around questioning whether he physically rose, or spiritually rose, or even whether he rose at all are just a bunch of petty nitpicking party poopers. As a Rev Dr, let me just assure you that I'm not in the least bit interested in what actually happened. I'm going to go on being inspired by the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend whether it happened or not. In these dark times, knowing that the Resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend by the invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend really happened (or not) is just the kind of hope for the future that we all need.
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Metropolitan of Canterbury, Primate of all England, Titular Head of the Anglican Communion
Friday, 10 April, 2009, 08:29 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
6.59 and now, on this depressingly secular and godless news and current affairs programme, a short hymn to celebrate Good Friday.
When Iiiiii surveyyyyyy, the wonnnndrous crosssss
On whichhhh, the prinnnnnce....
And now a short advert for Radio 3, an equally godless den of secular music.
Yes, it's Radio 3 listeners' most popular programme: Belief. This week on Belief we have an exclusive interview with His Holiness and Top Catholic, Rt. Rev. Saint Tony of Bliar.
"I think Faith is so important."
It's a quarter to eight and time for Platitude of the Day.
It is Good Friday, and, on the day in which many of you celebrate by staying in bed and not listening to me, you are given an extra special treat here, on this popular wireless programme, of listening to me, England's Top Christian and highest non-royal in the Order of Precedence.
As England's Top Christian let me just assure you that saying "sorry" is so important.
(...at this point, you may wish to pause and reflect upon this simple, but powerful message, that I, your moral and spiritual leader, am giving to you, my flock of sheep, with time for your less Christian, fluffier minds, to absorb its profundity, as it were, with a view to enhancing your own depth of spirituality, which we all need to grow in the strength of our undoubted humanity and Christian fellowship...)
Our forgiveness is so often conditional upon someone saying "sorry".
(...you may here, at this very point in the passing of, what is commonly known to those for whom chronology is of some temporal significance, call "time", wish to take "time" to appreciate the restraint that I, as in myself, the essence of which is me, am exercising in refraining from polysyllabic words, that, given that were I to use such scholarly constructs might place an undue burden upon my, for want of a better phrase might refer to, in the abstract at least, as my audience's intellectual faculties...)
Jesus didn't wait for the Romans to say "sorry". He asked for their forgiveness.
(...it being my fervent wish, as in a desire that one may wish to bring to fruition, in its totality, so to speak, given the rather general and somewhat heterogeneous demographic composition of what is, to all intents and purposes a more diverse congregation than a prelate of one's personal standing might...
I'm sorry...I've forgotten what the object of this verbiage might have been, if indeed it had one, so to speak, as it were...)
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN! He is an impostor. I, the Most Reverend and very nearly eminent, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster presumptive, am the real Primate of All England. I know because His real Very Holiness, Reichsführer Benedict the umpteenth says so. SEX, SEX, SEX. It's all anyone ever talks to me about. Anyone would think the Catholic Church was completely obsessed about sex.
Sarah Montague: I'd like to ask you about condoms and AIDS.
No one's interested in that. Condoms are bad. Abortions are bad. Homosexuality is bad. Bad, bad bad.
Sarah Montague: But if someone has a partner...
SHUTUP. The pope never said that anyway. Condoms are bad. They're advertising abortions on the telly now. Two for the price of one, buy one get one free. It's terrible. It's evil.
Sarah Montague: His Holiness and Top Catholic, Rt. Rev. Saint Tony of Bliar, says the Church must move with the times.
Yesssss. Now look, without wishing to sound in any way condescending or dismissive, I'm sure this, whatsisname...Bliar is a very decent chap, and he is very welcome as a distinguished lay person with no training in theology whatsoever to do as I say. "Moving with the times" - that may be OK for a political party, but this is the Catholic Church. We just don't do that sort of thing. Remember kiddies, sex is a very dirty, wrong, bad, evil, sinful thing.
Thursday, 9 April, 2009, 07:25 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!