Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 10 April, 2010, 08:43 AM - Health, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Martina Navratilova, a superstar in the world of tennis, has cancer.

This just goes to show that even the fittest people can be struck down by the Invisible Magic Friend at any time, so you had better be nice to him. You may think you're in control of your life but that's just the Invisible Magic Friend lulling you into a false sense of security. Just when you think everything is going swingingly, when the spring sunshine promises a summer of roses and wine, when everything in the garden is blooming and life is just tickety-boo, that's when he'll pounce and make your life a misery. He's like that, he just can't stand the idea of people going around being happy all the time.

It's all the fault of contraception. Several of His Holinesses have told you how evil it is, yet you've gone ahead and planned the size of your families regardless. Now look what's happened, Martina Navratilova has cancer. Well, I hope you're pleased with yourself.

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Rev John Bell of the Iona Community 
Friday, 9 April, 2010, 08:18 AM - Be nice, Environment, War, Bell
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Good morrrrning.

The US and Russia have agreed to dismantle thousands of nuclear warheads. These weapons are capable, not only of destroying the human race, but also of inflicting devastating damage on planet Irth. Humans should not be allowed to destroy planet Irth, that's the Invisible Magic Friend's job. Last time he did it, he used flooding as his preferred weapon of mass destruction. He managed to kill most of humanity and most of the animals and plants on planet Irth as well. When the flood was over, Noah took some of the few animals he had saved for planet Irth and immediately sacrificed them to the Invisible Magic Friend.

Then the Invisible Magic Friend invented rainbows. Up until that point, sunlight had never been refracted and reflected by water droplets over the Irth. So the rainbow is a reminder that the Invisible Magic Friend is really most awfully sorry for killing nearly everything because he had the humph. Rainbows have actually got nothing to do with all this silly new age, gay pride nonsense.

Religious leaders, in agreement with other moral experts, are united in their belief that destroying the Irth would be a very bad thing. Indeed, many have come to the conclusion that warfare itself may be a bad thing. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone on planet Irth could just get along?

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Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Human Rights Commissioner, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation 
Thursday, 8 April, 2010, 08:45 AM - Christian persecution, Edwards
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

The evil forces of international secularism are cruelly oppressing we Christians yet again. The nurse, Shirley Chaplin, has been told she cannot be a Christian and remain a nurse. Her only crime was to wear a three foot tall, flashing, neon cross on her head. She brought comfort to her patients by hosing them with holy water, burning incense, and introducing 24 hour evangelical choirs to pray for divine intervention. Her reward? To be treated like some sort of superstitious loony and wickedly banned from her profession by health and safety fascists.

Then there was the case of the devout Christian bed and breakfast owners, Susanne and Francis Wilkinson. The Wilkinsons were cruelly asked by a homosexual couple if they could stay the night. As a human rights commissioner, I have to ask, have these homosexuals no shame? Why would they do such a thing? Do they not realise that by staying in a Christian B&B they would defile and desecrate that holy place, forcing the owners to reject the message of love of their Lord Jesus?

Does this satanic government not realise that we have the right to proselytise in the workplace? That we have the right to deny goods and services on the basis of our prejudices? How can society fail to realise that we are doing this for your own good, bringing you good, decent, holy, Christian values?

I wish to make it absolutely clear that I have no strong opinions on this subject. It is my duty to be completely objective and not take sides. I simply wish to mention the tale of Daniel who remained true to the faith of his people in the face of wicked and unjust laws. It just goes to show that it was ever thus, we good people of the Invisible Magic Friend, persecuted by the forces of darkness, cast into scorching furnaces, daily made to tread the lions' den. Oh, how we have to suffer!

Just because we think we should be exempt from the law, is no reason for this intolerance of Christianity. After all, it's not like we exaggerate the extent of our suffering or demand opt outs on a daily basis.

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Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Wednesday, 7 April, 2010, 08:13 AM - Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Good morning Evan, good morning Jim and good morning to you all.

Today's news is all about the election, which is why I want to talk to you about the spiritual aspects of eggs. Eggs are crucial to all religions, no matter which government is in power.

A Muslim family gave me an egg once, which I thought was very religious of them. Then there are Easter eggs. These are in the news too, just like the election, except Easter is now slightly in the past. Easter eggs remind Christians how deliciously chocolaty was the resurrection of their messiah - except he wasn't really the messiah and he didn't resurrect but the Easter eggs are certainly made of chocolate.

Then there's the correct religion, the Jewish religion. We built the pyramids on an egg and so eggs remind us of the mortar used to bind the great stone blocks together. I remember it distinctly. I'm pretty sure it was a Labour government. Eggs remind us that every problem becomes a blessing when we offer it to the Invisible Magic Friend.

How are you today my Invisible Magic Friend?

I'M UNCHANGINGLY AND ETERNALLY WELL THANK YOU.

Would you like an egg?

NO THANK YOU.

How about some problems to turn into blessings?

WHATEVER.

Thank you. I knew you'd understand. Have I mentioned the Holocaust? Young Anne Frank had some problems which unfortunately did not turn out to be blessings. A tale which surely inspires us all.

And now it's time for my closing yolk. The youngster at the passover meal compliments the host on their eggs. "You haven't asked me about my problems," says the host. "How are your problems?" "Aaaghh! Don't ask!"

Time for bed. Good night Evan, good night Jim, good night Invisible Magic Friend.

GOOD NIGHT LIONEL.

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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife 
Tuesday, 6 April, 2010, 08:25 AM - Bible, Atkins
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

I'm a complicated sort of person. People like some bits of me: my lush, seductive voice, my playful good looks, my intellectual achievements, my ability to list the works of Plato and Socrates. Then there are aspects of me that others shockingly fail to appreciate.

I don't wish to make ridiculous comparisons, but this is precisely the same problem that Jesus had. Philip Pullman is playing that same sad old game with his new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. There's nothing new in his idea, I remember a friend at school saying she believed in the preacher Jesus but didn't accept that he was the Invisible Magic Friend. Tired, unsophisticated, childish old ideas like that become less true with time, which is why I put my faith in the Bible.

In the Bible Jesus said he was the Invisible Magic Friend, so it must be true that he said it. As Duncan, Lewis and others have pointed out, with devastating logic, this means that Jesus was either a lunatic a liar or Lord. Obviously the fully corroborated, eye witness accounts given in the Bible are true. It follows that Jesus must therefore be Lord. I've pointed this out to you all several times before. It utterly baffles me that people, some of whom are nearly as intelligent as myself, fail to grasp this simple, unassailable argument.

I really don't understand why anyone would want to read such patronising nonsense by someone like Philip Pullman.

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Reverend Roy Jenkins - Baptist minister in Cardiff 
Monday, 5 April, 2010, 08:32 AM - Gibberish, Jenkins
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

This time of year usually spawns some silly tabloid stories about the history, literature or archaeology of Jesus' time - the kind of thing that might test the faith of the more weak willed Christians. Fortunately, proper Christians like me pay absolutely no attention to such discoveries.

This year though, things have been different. The papers have been full of the painful revelations in another Church. It gives me no sense of satisfaction to raise the subject yet again. Far be it from me to gloat over the discomfort of the Church that we created the Reformation to get away from. I'm not going to say "we told you so" or anything like that. No, past differences are forgotten. All water under the bridge. No need at all to mention the worldwide wave of child abuse covered up by a sexually frustrated hierarchy that must preserve its own authority at all costs because their faith relies on it. Wouldn't even dream of mentioning it. After all, the Vatican has shown real humility over the issue.

Easter is a time for all Christians, especially proper ones, to celebrate. Christ's death and resurrection has banished and defeated death. Although I have to admit that an awful lot of people do still die. In fact the vast majority, possibly even all of them, seem to die eventually. Despite this, I think we can still have full confidence in Jesus' teaching. Just look at his prediction that the meek would inherit the earth for example.

But let's not get too carried away. As the Pope (the guy that heads that infamous child molesting Church) said, "Christ's resurrection from the dead wasn't magic you know."

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The strongest field of Clemmie contenders yet 
Sunday, 4 April, 2010, 02:56 PM - Clemmies
It has been a bumper month for platitudes. In fact my cup so overfloweth with platitudinousness this month that I hardly know where to begin. But before we go on to look at some of the highlights, I want to wag my finger at John Bell of the Iona Community who got 0 out of 5. That simply isn't good enough John. It is nowhere near the standard we expect from Thought For The Day. You're just not trying.

Now, with that little unpleasantry out of the way, let's look at some of our more respectable performers. There was a very good batch of 4/5s that normally would have stood a very good chance of being up for the award - in any normal month that is.

Rev Dr Dr David Wilkinson Informed us that Darwin was wrong about God and suffering. He doesn't know what the right answer was but the conclusion that there is no loving God has to be wrong.

Another Rev Dr Dr, Joel Edwards, reminded us who the true vicitims of the Catholic sex abuse scandal are: Christians. Oh, how they are persecuted!

Anne Atkins was on form this month. even her weakest contribution was awful: that when God answers your prayers it proves he exists.

The Chief Rabbi told us that Jews can understand and empathise with other people's suffering because of their enslavement by the Egyptians 3,000 years ago. Which is remarkable when you think about it, especially since it almost certainly never happened.

Rev Dr Giles Fraser came up with one of the most original arguments for the existence of God that I've ever heard. Orthodox icons are really nice, therefore God exists.

None of these contributions, outstanding as they are, can compare with our 5/5s this month. I think it's only fitting that all three of them have already been recognised in the 4/5 category.

Rev Dr Giles Fraser explained why theology was such a lot of nonsense. Like abstract art, it was because people try to think about it and get answers from it. Theology has its own internal beauty that makes perfect sense as long as you don't think too hard.

The Chief Rabbi, in a second shot at the title this month, argued convincingly that religious massacres have nothing to do with religion and are, in fact, evolution's fault.

Then there was everyone's favourite vicar's wife, Anne Atkins who, with devastating logic, pointed out that Jesus had to be God because the Bible said so.

All of which leaves me with a problem. with so many outstanding entries how do I pick one above the others for this month's Clemmie. I've therefore decided to make a joint award this month to be shared by Giles Fraser and the Chief Rabbi. Well done both of you. It's probably too much to hope that standards this high can be consistently maintained, but I will pray to the BBC's Holy Department of Religion for you.

But we're still not finished. Although His Holiness is not eligible for the Clemmie (at least, not this month), I think some recognition is needed for his Irish "not-an-apology" letter, in which he says the Catholic abuse cover up is all the fault of secularists, liberals, homosexuals, the media, the Illuminati... And the way to make things better is to go to Catholic Church more and spend some more time with your priests. Having scored millions out of five, I feel it is only right and proper to give a special Lifetime Achievement award to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Well done, your holiness, long may you continue to spout heartless, hypocritical drivel.
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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 3 April, 2010, 08:21 AM - Sex, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy nearly Easter everyone! Although I have to admit, as a Catholic, I'm feeling a bit down at the moment. Tonight we celebrate the moment when Jesus definitely rose from the dead and so saved us all. Peter, the first Pope, from whom the Catholic Church derives its superior and infallible moral authority, must've felt dreadful when he realised that his friend and teacher was alive again. "Oh no," he thought. "I denied him three times, meeting him again is going to be so embarrassing."

We all prefer to just run away when we make embarrassing little social faux pas like that. It's the same with institutions too, even superior and morally infallible ones like the Roman Catholic Church. The Church has been caught red handed, systematically covering up child sex abuse on a worldwide scale, thinking always of itself, protecting its reputation and assets and doing everything it could to silence its vulnerable victims. It is so embarrassing and will really spoil Easter for many of us this year.

Fortunately the Church has finally admitted the whole thing. It is no longer in complete denial, lashing out at the media and anyone else who dares to point out its crimes. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the last remaining cardinal in the British Isles who remains untainted by the scandal*, has even said he was "Sorry that a very small minority of priests have raped your children. It's time for forgiveness now."

It has vowed to change, to adopt a a more open, transparent and democratic form of governance. Priests will be allowed to marry, gay and women priests will be welcomed. The old authoritarian style has been cast aside and the Church has finally accepted that it is capable of error. Checks and balances will be put in place to oversee the entire Catholic hierarchy, including the Pope and his cardinals.

And in related news, it has been reported that pigs can now fly.

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*Edit - I tell a lie. Cardinal O'Brien also failed to report abuse to the police. Turns out that this was happening at my old school, Blairs College, while I was there. I knew the priest who was found guilty, Desmond Lynagh. Fortunately I didn't know him that well. When he was found out, they moved him to Stirling University, where I also just happened to be studying.
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Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres KCVO, Lord Bishop of London (the THIRD most senior bishop in the Church of England!), Privy Counsellor, Prelate of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Dean of the Chapels Royal, Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, Liveryman of the Merchant Taylors' Company, Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Weavers, Chaplain of the The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, Chairman of the Ecumenical London Church Leaders, Chairman of the Church Buildings Division, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners, Chairman of the Trustees of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace 
Friday, 2 April, 2010, 08:20 AM - Be nice, Gibberish
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I must say, presenting Thought For The Day is a considerable improvement over my last appearance on the Today Programme.

Happy Good Friday everyone! It's that jolly time of year again when we remember Jesus being horribly tortured and executed. And while we're on the subject of mutilation and agony, I'd just like to say something about volunteering. The second lump of the Invisible Magic Friend volunteered to sacrifice himself to all the lumps of the Invisible Magic Friend (although they are in fact just one lump). I think we can all see that this was the only rational way to prevent the Invisible Magic Friend from condemning us all to eternal torture for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge on the advice of a talking snake and so committing the original sin which has been passed down through all generations of humanity and of which we are all guilty. So if Jesus could volunteer to do all that, I think you could do a couple of hours at the charity shop once a month.

Barry and Margaret Mizen, after the murder of their son, volunteered to support other victims of crime. You should volunteer because Jesus told you to volunteer. Not in so many words of course. He didn't say from the cross "I think you should all spend so many hours a week giving some time to voluntary organisations because this will help improve people's lives and you'll feel better in yourself for having done so." No, what he said was "Woman behold thy son," which I think is pretty much the same thing really.

It's now time for me to say the word "spiritual".

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Whoppingly Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons 
Thursday, 1 April, 2010, 09:19 AM - James Jones
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Today is Maundy Thursday, when the Queen, who is the head of my church and therefore England's top believer, gives her Maunday Money to 84 Maundy pensioners, who would otherwise be maundiless. The grateful Maundy pensioners then take their 40 groats of Maundy money and go to buy a Maundy old sliced loaf, or alternatively auction the much sought after, specially minted Maundy coins to collectors.

Jesus celebrated Maundy Thursday by washing his disciples' feet. This is the true meaning of "community". "Go forth in the name of the Father, Me and the Holy Ghost," he commanded them, "and form ye communities of feet washers wherever you may go." This is how we can reinvigorate the disillusioned youth of today, by getting everyone to wash each other's feet and build a true sense of community.

The Queen no longer washes the feet of her subjects. That was OK for Jesus but it's not the sort of thing we do in the Church of England these days. The Duke of Edinburgh will, however, read the story of the Jesus' feet washing incident, just to remind the peasants how humble they should be.

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