I get email 
Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, 10:25 AM - Not TFTD
It's not just P.Z.Myers who gets email. I got one too. To save space I've edited it down a bit.

Dear Most respected brothers and sisters in Christ

Greetings to you from our Heavenly father and soon coming savior Jesus Christ! I am pleased to introduce my self Pastor XXXXXX, serving the Lord for the last 5 years in the coastal area of Andhra Pradesh state {South India}. God made a miracle in my life when I came to see your website; I was encouraged to note the activities of your ministry that touched my heart greatly. Ours is an independent ministry serving the lord with utmost faith only. [snip] I was encouraged after having gone through your Id, website and decided to work with your ministry. On my behalf, church elders, and saints, I invite you to visit India in the year 2011 to minister with us as we are much interested to see you in person, [snip]. We all praying for you daily in our personal, family and church prayers and request you to continue to pray for us, [snip] I look forward to hearing from you soon. Yours in Christ,

I'm pretty sure this is genuine - there are no paragraphs, which is pretty common among Christians.

What do you think - should I go? I must say, I've always fancied seeing India and it would give me a chance to wear my clerical collar again.

(Or should I just play along until they ask for some money for all those essential upfront expenses?)
7 comments ( 699 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 517 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, 08:01 AM - Interfaith, Bell
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Two Scottish Catholics were repairing a road outside a brothel. They see a Protestant minister go in.

"Och, wid ye look at that, Jimmy!" said Jock. "Those Protestant reverends sinning in a house like that!"

Then they see a Rabbi dash in. "Did ys see that, Jimmy?" Jock asked in shock and disbelief, "Is nothing holy to those Jewish rabbis?"

Then they see a Catholic priest quietly sneak in. "Oh no, Jimmy, look!" said Jock, removing his cap and crossing himself, "One of the poor girls musta died....

That was a joke.

Sectarianism is Scotland is no joke as we see from the parcel bombs sent last week. The roots of Scottish sectarianism are deep and mysterious. By an astonishing coincidence, all the people on one side appear to be Catholics and all the people on the other appear to be Protestants.

There is no simple, quick fix to the problem. If there were a simple quick fix, such as merging Catholic and Protestant schools so that children weren't separated in their formative years and taught to treat the other as "other", don't you think we'd adopt it? It's exactly the same as in Northern Ireland, where once again, by complete coincidence, all the people on side are Catholic and all the people on the other are Protestant.

Some people in these sectarian groups seem to think they're better than the other side. I can't think why people who have been taught that they have the only true faith and the other side are heretics would come to this conclusion. It's all very puzzling. Some think that maybe we should all just get together and try to get alone. I don't want to dismiss that obviously silly idea, but just getting children to grow up together and makes friends with each other isn't going to stop them hating one another.

No what we need, is for people to be proud to be Catholics. Only that way can they learn to love the heathen protestants.

8 comments ( 1243 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 524 )

Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings 
Monday, 25 April, 2011, 07:39 AM - Christian persecution, Interfaith, Billings
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

As anyone mentioned Easter yet? Happy Easter everyone!

Phew, well thank goodness the papers said some nice things about Christians for a change. At least the various denominations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre managed to avoid a brawl this year.

Quite why some people don't like Christians is a bit of a puzzle. They seem to think that Christianity is, in some unspecified way, divisive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans (both high and low church), Calvinists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic and Evangelical Christians couldn't be more united. It's ridiculous to suggest that Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans (both high and low church), Calvinists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic and Evangelical Christians are in any way in conflict with one another.

It's probably unwise to say we feel "persecuted", although we do. Think of all the high profile cases lately where, quite unreasonably, we haven't been allowed to push our beliefs on others, or even discriminate against The Gays - a fine, ancient church tradition that must surely be allowed to continue.

Everyday church attendance may be constantly dwindling but we get good turnouts on big days like Easter, when people know that we put on a bit of a show. Even more encouraging, government spending cuts will soon start to bite. There'll be big increases in poverty, destitution, homelessness and drug and alcohol dependency. What's more, there aren't going to be the government agencies to help them. It's boom time for the churches again. "Want a nice, hot, cup of thick, nutritious soup? Just step inside, into the warmth and sing a few hymns to Jesus. Is that really so much to ask?"

We're everywhere. We've got the buildings, we've got the people, we've got the schools, we've got our hands on the social services in all the most deprived areas. You just see if church attendance doesn't start to go up. Although we're still persecuted because we don't get to do absolutely everything we want.

Oh, and Jesus did rise from the dead, so there.

5 comments ( 712 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 503 )

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 08:38 AM - Gibberish, Pepinster
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Happy day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday everyone! It's a very inbetweeny sort of day, which Christians like to spend in the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend's tomb. It's a sort of way of getting away from it all, from the hectic, hurly burly lifestyle of a busy Catholic newspaper editor.

A lot of people like to spend "Good Friday", "inbetween Saturday" and "Easter Sunday" at a monastery. It's a nice little earner way of getting a way from it all too. Of course, you could still celebrate all the Easter liturgy at your local church, but that wouldn't be very tomb like. Being at a monastery is far more tomb like and therefore far more satisfactory.

Picking a monastery totally at random, because I don't get any commission or anything like that and it would be totally improper to advertise profit making religious services here on the BBC, I recommend Ampleforth Abbey. Why not visit them for a short retreat, or even just a day out. You can browse there amply stocked shop (also available online) where you will find a wide range of tasteful merchandise, including liqueurs, ciders, gin and brandy. Plus it's Easter services are amongst the most tomb like services available in the Catholic Church. But don't take my word for it. In a an independent survey, nine out of ten worshippers said Ampleforth Easter services were the most tomb like Easter services they had every attended.

Tomorrow we celebrate Easter, when Jesus rises from the dead, wanders around for a while and then goes up into the sky on a cloud. This so astonished everyone at the time that they decided to write it down a mere thirty years later.

4 comments ( 714 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 593 )

Serenely Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich 
Friday, 22 April, 2011, 07:48 AM - Gibberish, James
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

One in four Britons will see their 100th birthday. Yet this startling fact was not greeted with the expected glee. When teenagers were asked if they were looking forward to being 100, surprisingly few of them said yes.

What these teenagers fail to think of is all the lovely wisdom they'll collect on their way to being 100. I've collected 60 years worth of wisdom myself and am now so wise that they made me a Lord. Of course, not everyone accumulates wisdom at the same rate, which is why not everyone gets to be a Lord like me. Jesus, for example, was the wisest person there ever was. He was so wise that they had to crucify him. He was only 33 when he died.

Oh, Happy Good Friday by the way! This is the day when we celebrate the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend being tortured to death, which is why we call it "Good" Friday.

Methuselah - he was very old indeed and so was probably very wise, assuming he didn't suffer from dementia.

The Invisible Magic Friend is the Ancient of Days. That really does make him incredibly wise. He definitely doesn't have dementia. You wouldn't believe how wise that makes him. He's even wiser than me - that's how wise he is.

Of course you don't have to be old to be wise. Many people become wise through suffering. Suffering can be a tremendous way to acquire wisdom. If you suffer for a very long time and grow old suffering, just think how much of that lovely wisdom you'll have.

2 comments ( 577 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 503 )

Campaign Against DHMO 
Friday, 22 April, 2011, 06:15 AM - Science, Not TFTD
Many of you will have seen the pharygula link to the Guardian piece concerning Real Water.

In the interests of informing my readership about the dangers of plain tap water, I would like to point you all to the campaign against Dihydrogen Monoxide. Remember, knowledge is power.
7 comments ( 781 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 500 )

His Grace, the Most Reverend Father in God, Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan 
Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 08:13 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The news today from a faith perspective: it is Maundy Thursday. In an ancient ceremony, the Queen gives out maundy money to maundy recipients who then almost immediately auction them on maundy eBay.

Now you may think this is all rather quaint and anachronistic, but then that's exactly the kind of response I'd expect from Radio 4 listeners. In fact, out there in the real world there is the most tremendous interest in the Court Circular. Just look at how excited everyone is over the Royal Wedding. Why, at Lambeth Palace we hardly talk about anything else these days. Makes you think, eh?

The monarch used to wash the feet of some poor people on Maundy Thursday in imitation of Jesus. Of course we don't do that sort of thing any more. Little bits of histrionics like that were alright for Jesus, but you can't expect the Queen to go around behaving like that. She is the head of the Church of England after all!

This is what Christianity is all about. This is the one big idea that Christianity gave the world, that changed the world irrevocably, that ushered in a great new dawn of civilisation, a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing things. That idea was, of course, that the rich and the powerful should do a bit of feet washing, except for the Queen. Makes you think, eh?

What would it be like if all these people with their fancy titles and their pensions for life had to do a bit of serving for ordinary people like you and me. Some may already do this privately and to them I say, jolly well done, keep up the good work, but I think you should be forced to do it just so that you know what it's like to be forced to do it. Makes you think, eh?

As a Primate and a Metropolis, let me just assure you that, as we all watch the Queen not washing the feet of some poor people today, that the supreme power in the universe wants your feet to be well cared for, with no bunions, callouses or unwanted fungal growths.

Makes you think, eh?

14 comments ( 689 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 406 )

Rev Dr Giles Fraser, Grumpy Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Wednesday, 20 April, 2011, 07:38 AM - Fraser
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned Easter yet? Happy Holy Week everyone! And now let us be miserable and grumpy and reflect on the loathsomeness of being human. As James Alison famously said, "It's just great being a gay Catholic priest."

Do you know what those cheering crowds who welcomed the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend into Jerusalem did? Do you know what they did? Do you? I'll tell you what they did, just in case you don't know. They handed him over to the rotten Romans to be crucified. That's what they did. It was so mean and horrible and rotten and I just hate them. They were all such hypocrites and if there's one thing I can't stand it's hypocrisy. Which is a shame because everyone's a hypocrite. You're all hypocrites, every last one of you. Even I'm a hypocrite. I just can't stand all this hypocrisy. It's all so hypocritical.

The Press are all hypocrites too. Yes, Humphrys, you included, well may you hang your head in shame. They go around, sticking their noses into celebrities' secret places, sniffing out all the dirt. Then we go and read it and learn what a bunch of hypocrites they all are. Oh, I feel so dirty.

So where is the joy in all this? The joy is to recognise what a lowly, cowardly, hypocritical sinner you are. Shout it out loud. I AM A HYPOCRITE! Go on, you know you want to, you disgusting hypocrite you. Yes, I knew you were all along. As a Christian, it doesn't surprise me in the least to discover your true nature. Thank the Invisible Magic Friend we've got his resurrection to look forward to, that, and all that lovely chocolate.

11 comments ( 1256 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 427 )

Reverend Roy Jenkins, a Baptist minister in Cardiff 
Tuesday, 19 April, 2011, 07:39 AM - Be nice, Jenkins
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Dont hold me up as some kind of Mother Teresa, says Edna Speed, so I won't even mention Mother Theresa - another Christian driven by faith to do good works.

Edna Speed's charity, Fix the Family, provides accommodation and support for vulnerable, homeless families. The aim is to prevent the children being taken into care. This is work she has been doing for over 30 years, starting off with food parcels, prison visits and support at court. Judging by her success rate, over 75% find settled accommodation, her stress on developing parenting skills certainly seems to work. Part of her success is undoubtedly her own perseverance and relentless energy.

Now you don't have to be religious to do what Edna does. It just so happens that she is very religious, like Mother Theresa was and whom she is not like. I am often amazed by how many people who are not religious, like Edna or Mother Theresa are, do good work just because they want to - very puzzling. Edna has this devotion because of her Christian faith. If it wasn't for her desire to bring the love of the Invisible Magic Friend to some of the most needy, she would probably just lounge around all day not really bothering.

The work of people like Edna Speed and Mother Theresa (whom I'm not going to mention) just go to show how fantastic being a Christian is.

7 comments ( 1171 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 457 )

...and don't show this photo 
Tuesday, 19 April, 2011, 05:50 AM - Not TFTD
Following on from the cartoons that I don't want anyone to see, here is a photo that no one should see either.

Andres Serrano's photograph of a crucifix immersed in urine is intended to highlight the problem of Jesus' teachings being expropriated by crazy, stupid, right wing, religious nuts. This has infuriated crazy, stupid, right wing, religious nuts who have vandalised the painting while on display in Avignon. They also threatened violence against the art gallery's security guards.

This just goes to show that Christian nutters can be just as offended, crazy and violent as their Muslim counterparts. So please, to avoid any further unpleasantness, don't show this photo anywhere.
2 comments ( 1200 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 423 )

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