I'll be doing the sport relief run this Sunday to help other people.
As Chief Scout, the Scouts teaches all boys (except atheists) how to help other people. All scouts (except atheists) promise to help others.
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend said you should love your neighbour. It was while climbing one of the last unclimbed mountains in the Antarctic that I realised that your neighbour is the person in your street who needs help.
As someone who really knows how to survive on a diet of insects and urine I know that helping others makes you feel good. Honestly it does, why not try it?
We Christians really believe in helping others. As an SAS instructor who knows how to silently kill someone in under 20 seconds, it really surprises me that non-Christians haven't realised how important it is to help others. Having a belief just makes me so special.
As I was climbing Mount Everest, I thought to myself, thank goodness the Invisible Magic Friend is with me. As the first person to circumnavigate the UK on a ski jet, I can tell you that no man can do anything in isolation.
Anyone who has paraglided over the Himalayas will tell you that Jesus is your guide, helper and friend. Faith and love are so important.
As the longest indoor free-fall record holder, let me tell you that the sport relief run will help a lot of people.
The Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People has come up with the startling new idea that people who look after elderly people should actually care about elderly people. They've called this new idea "compassion".
The government has taken this new idea on board and has instantly set up degree courses in compassion all across the country. Nurses will now spend at least three years learning how to be compassionate. For many this will be vocational training but some will move on to advanced research in compassion in places like Trinity College, Cambridge. In decades to come this will make Great Britain one of the most compassionate countries in the world.
Christianity, of course, invented compassion. The Romans in particular didn't have any compassion. Fortunately, Jesus came along. He pointed out that even Samaritans and prodigal sons can be good and that's how compassion got invented.
Good morning Justin, good morning John and good morning to you all.
I am a poor old man. My sight is poor, my legs are old and bent. The fresh faced youngsters at my college tell me science is the only tested form of knowledge. So I've read the popular science books by Dawkins and Hawking and watched every TV programme with Brian Cox in it.
My eyes are dim, I cannot see and all this science was very interesting but it didn't help me with my bus pass application. It told me about the what and the how but not the why? What's it all for? Why are we here? Why am I telling you this? Why are you listening to me telling you this? Why am I asking you why you are listening to me telling you this? It's very important that there be some external reference to define why, otherwise we might just make up our own why and think how terrible that would be.
I am just a poor old man. My legs are grey, my ears are nulled, my eyes are old, and bent. That's why Jewish mysticism helps. In the beginning there was Nothing. It likes to spell itself with a capital N due to it being the only nothing around at the time. Then, out of nothing, came the spark of divine thingness, which explains how we came about and why.
My legs are old and bend, my ears are grizzled. Jewish mysticism may be a myth but it's a true myth and is much more useful when filling in my bus pass application. And so we see that helping the poor, spreading laughter and just generally being nice puts Humpty Dumpty together again.
I'm just a poor old man, my eyes are poor, my nose is knackered.
Jaw-droppingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Isn't the capitalism of the last three decades just terrible? But before we all relish the scapegoating of Fred Goodwin (Boo! Hiss!), let us look first to the plank in our own eye.
For we are all weak, flawed, worm like things, wallowing in sin, error, stupidity and greed. Which of us has not bought huge multinational banks and crippled the new owner with unserviceable debts? Who amongst us has not at one time paid ourselves tens of millions of pounds, lived a lavish lifestyle and left the resulting financial mess for the taxpayer to sort out?
We cannot ignore our own personal responsibility for the banking crisis. Jesus himself was at pains to point out that we all play our part in the stability of the financial system. His whole life was one of service to others, constantly creating affordable growth portfolios for the prudent investor, performing the kind of miracles that the banking sector could sorely do with today.
A friend of mine who worked in financial services, found that the service element had disappeared and that, shockingly, everyone was just out to make money. Fortunately he had already made enough money himself and was able to retire comfortably, leaving the sordid business of making a profit to others.
It is possible to be both successful and responsible. The motto of a famous American corporation reads "We don't just do this for the money you know." If only financial services companies would learn to be nice corporations like that.
Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
I want to suggest to you this morning, the radical idea that things should be more fair. I know that many people think that things should be unfair but I think things should be fair and here is why.
Many great religious leaders have said that things should be fair. For many centuries, leading religious thinkers have thought about this and almost all of them have concluded that things should be fair, rather than unfair.
Consider people who are very, very rich, such as bankers. Undoubtedly being a banker involves great skill. After all, without them, we wouldn't be where we are today, so it should be suitably rewarded. However, it shouldn't be rewarded all that much.
I think I'll mention Jesus at this point. I find that talking about Jesus works rather well at inter-faith buffets and fancy it might go down equally well with Radio 4 audiences. Jesus said that it was easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to get into the kingdom of heaven. I think he was probably referring to bankers' bonuses. He certainly seemed to think that fairness was a good thing.
Now I've got all this way and haven't mentioned any of the gurus, so I think it's about time I did. Guru Nanak thought things should be fair, rather than unfair. I think that just about wraps it up as far as any discussion goes regarding whether things should be fair or unfair.
For all these reasons, Stephen Hester turning down his bonus makes the world a better place by making it fairer. He'll just have to scrape by on his annual salary of £1.2m instead.
Has anyone mentioned the Olympics or the Golden Jubilee yet? No? Well I'm not going to either.
Did anyone see Great Expectations on the telly over Christmas? It was really good!
Dickens was a really good writer and this year sees the bicentenary of something or other connected with him. As well as being really, really popular, Dickens' works are also very strong on morality. No honestly, they are. If you want to be moral, you could do a lot worse than read Dickens. And the great thing is, even if you don't have an Invisible Magic Friend, you can read Dickens to learn how to be moral.
The central character of Great Expectations is Pip, who wants to be a gentleman, but he learns that personal virtue is more important and then the book ends. I just want to throw in the word "didactic" at this point. That should get even a few Radio 4 listeners searching for their dictionaries.
Another character is Miss Haversham. She's an elderly spinster in a wedding dress, who we associate with decay an putrefaction. Putrefaction's not a very nice word to associate with anyone, even Miss Haversham, but I'll use it anyway.
This is all very moral. It's also Art.
It's also Karma, which is the belief that things affect other things, but you can read Dickens and learn to be moral even if you're not a Buddhist. In fact, you don't have to have any religion at all to read Dickens and learn to be moral. Even secular people can read Dickens and learn to be moral.
Hasn't 2011 been just terrible? It's been awful. Absolutely abysmal. There's youth unemployment and all sorts of social ills.
Fortunately, Christianity invented something called "hope". This isn't just blind optimism. It isn't.
Christians also invented things called "faith" and "love". The Bishop of Liverpool might think the phrase "God is Love" is too vacuous, but God is Love, and this is not a contradiction. God is the ultimate reality. It is.
A famous theologian thought love was a really good thing, so it must be true.
Since love and hope are such good things, faith must be too. A child told me that faith was believing what you know isn't true. Foolish child! Don't worry, we will soon correct such wrong notions. Nor is faith simply a crutch for those who can't accept that the universe wasn't made for our benefit. It isn't.
To show how correct everything I'm saying is, my charity collected the money to switch on an old woman's heating. That's how right I am.
We, and by we I do of course mean you, have the ability to transform from an ugly, selfish, sinful pond nymph, into a beautiful, generous, virtuous dragonfly.
Homeless people die, on average, 30 years younger than the rest of us. A woman of 43, living on the streets, can expect this to be her last Christmas. We might scarcely notice her, in her dirty sleeping bag or cardboard box, forced there through desperation and poverty. Yet she is a unique person, with secrets and memories of happier times.
This Christmas, my church, along with many others, will act as a refuge for those with nowhere else to go, providing warmth, a hot meal and an ear to listen.
We do this because homeless people are made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend and because the Invisible Magic Friend was born at Christmas in an animal's feeding trough. Otherwise we might just not bother.
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
Monday, 12 December, 2011, 08:17 AM - Be nice, Courage, hope, perseverance etc., Democracy, Freedom of speech, LongleyRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
David and Goliath is a story from the Old Tasty mint of how the little guy stands up to the giant and goes on to be hereditary, autocratic dictator. It's the perfect metaphor for people standing up to dictator's today in a long list of Arab countries, plus Russia and Congo.
The people who stand up to people like the hereditary, autocratic dictator David, are just like David before he became a hereditary, autocratic dictator. They are showing something that we Catholics call "courage", which is when you stand up to autocratic dictators.
Courage was invented by the Greeks, along with justice, temperance and their sister, Prudence. Together these are the four cardinal ways of being good. They were such good ideas that we Catholics decided to adopt them and keep them alive for the sake of humanity. Has anyone mentioned Saint Augustine or Saint Thomas Aquinas lately? Thought not. Well they thought the four ways of being good were good too, so they decided to pass them on.
Being good took a bit of a dive after the Renaissance and then disappeared completely due to that wretched, secular Enlightenment. But the world hasn't been a complete wreck since then. After the war, philosophers rediscovered being good again. They found out that Catholicism, along with all the great religions, had advocated being good. Even Confucianism advocated being good. Confucius invented being good at about the same time as the Greeks, but he was very far away. It was still mainly religious people who thought being good was a good idea though.
So as autocratic dictators are swept away by people like David before he became an autocratic dictator, being good is surely an idea whose time has come.
Resplendently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
And the Big Question on everybody's lips this morning: what role will the Church of England play in the imminent depression?
As a Resplendently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, let me just set everyone's mind at rest. The C of E won't be like those loud, brash Americans. As everybody knows, we Christians are a meek, mild bunch who are not at all pushy. You won't find us poking our noses into everything and shouting about how we need to be listened to. Just listen to me now on TFTD, I'm ever so polite and reasonable.
For some reason, when we tell people about the Invisible Magic Friend, they seem to think that we in some way lack credibility. I know, it's astonishing, isn't it! Our shyness comes from the fact that we know we are right. It's not at all connected with the fact that last time people were openly religious we had civil wars and massacres, or that every time we mention it now people give us a very odd look.
A famous poet agreed with me, so I must be right.
Did you know that one of Hitler's attempted assassins was a Christian? Just one little example of how great we Christians are. He pointed out that one day you'll all be forced to be Christians. Until that happens, we'll continue to be very quiet and unthreatening.
In the meantime, do try to be nice to one another.