Monday, 30 April, 2012, 09:50 AM - JamesRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Isn't the Levenson enquiry just fascinating?
No say a lot of young people. "Rupert who?" they ask.
Sales of newspapers continue to decline rapidly. Yet what is written in them continues to set the news agenda. We tend to invest more authority in what is written than what is said unthinkingly in idle conversion. An insult delivered in the heat of the moment can be easily ignored. A written insult, that someone has put some real thought and effort into, is more widely appreciated.
Scriptures are written down. That's what makes them every bit as reliable as newspapers. If Rupert Murdoch had been around in Jesus' day he would have written the letters of Saint Paul, or even the Gospels. They really are that authoritative.
Much of what is written these days is on social networks or texts. They are meant to be casual conversations, but they have the permanence of the written word. So be careful what you write.
Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world, seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciplemaking communities. Hi.
I'll bet you all got really excited over the London Marathon last week. I'm sure you were all running in it, or at the very least, if your weren't running it yourself, you almost certainly knew someone who did. Or if you weren't running in it yourself, and didn't know someone who was, even though you almost certainly did, you would even more certainly have sponsored someone who was. Or if you weren't running in it yourself, and didn't known anyone who was, and hadn't sponsored someone, you undoubtedly got caught up in all the excitement of the big day, or watched it on telly or had some connection with the London Marathon. I'll eat my boxer shorts if you didn't!
Sadly, people die running the marathon. The question is, why are we sad when a young person, trying to help others, taking part in a fun day out, suddenly dies? Why on earth do we care? Why are we moved? Why do we get emotional about it? What is it that tugs at our heart? Why aren't we selfish and self obsessed and cold and uncaring?
The answer is, it's being spiritual. It's like Fabrice Muamba who had a heart attack while playing football. Everybody prayed really hard for him. Doctors, paramedics and nurses spent hours praying over him, and thanks to being spiritual he got better.
You don't really need to listen to any more of this thought because it's basically just me saying what I already said on the BBC website.
Friday, 27 April, 2012, 04:04 PMJust got my copy of this week's Newsline and have come across the ghastly Godfrey Bloom MEP for the first time. I sincerely hope it's also the last time. Mr Bloom wrote an article defending the hotel owners who didn't want to serve a gay couple.
It's factually inaccurate, but contains such splendid observations as: "Especially, those as shallow as we have now; many bred from that appalling 1960s and 1970s generation."
Well, that should see off about a quarter of his electorate.
NSS Executive Director, Keith Porteous Wood, emailed him asking him to make some corrections. He got an email back from his secretary telling him not to be impertinent. Mr Bloom did reply in the end though. Here's what he wrote. It's quite astonishing.
1. A business, any business, in a free society, should be allowed to contract freely or decide not to contract, with whomever it wishes. This is a basic principle of civilised society, and it makes the UK and places where the influence of the British Empire have decisively and lastingly touched, such as the Commonwealth, superior places to live in. If the Christian hotel want to only contract with Christians of evangelical stamp, or even Assemblies of God Pentecostal evangelical stamp only, or Plymouth Brethren only, it is their business, not yours.
2. The coercion by government diktat does not become less despotic when it is blandly called 'the law'. The law may be an ass or an asset. Adolf Hitler made many laws for his inglorious Third Reich, and duly eliminated millions of Jews and homosexuals, but the fact that they called it 'the law' merely proved that the law can stink off the page of the book to high heaven, if I may use so telling a phrase to the Secular Society. If the law be not moral it is a bad law: it is no law. Politicians exist to change bad law, even those in the EU Parliament.
3. Western civilization was founded upon Christian values, not secular values. Your society is unnecessary and misguided, and contributes to the decay of Western civilization. Your principles are parochial, subject to the lobby group de jour, and limited to the mere wrangling of passing technicalities in legal terms. You are negative not positive in your approach. We know what you are against very clearly, if you are for anything positive, I have yet to divine it, if I may use so telling a term replying to the Secular Society. Please disband yourself.
4. Your points concern mere positive law, not substantive natural law based on true values. True values are based in natural law, which is objective, universal, and eternal in scope in application to human society. I am sure you are familiar with the pagan glimmerings of light which shine through in the famous exchange between Antigone and King Kreon in Sophocles' play, 'Antigone', which states precisely this in the 5th century BC. "Laws are for a day, but eternal principles cannot be changed." How else would we judge good and bad laws if a morality above it did not exist? Of course many parallel examples exist in Sumero-Babylonian, ancient Egyptian, and early Hebrew texts, among others, you may be familiar with some of them.
The new politeness regulations are arbitrarily suspended for all discussion of this arrogant, obnoxious twat.
Friday, 27 April, 2012, 08:31 AM - Not TFTDThis is getting plenty of coverage elsewhere, so I'll restrict my comments to Thought-For-The-Day related matters. The Coalition For Marriage petition starts with all the usual suspects, then at signature number 29 is our very own:
Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Director Network of Sikh Organisations).
Perhaps Great Uncle Singh will come on TFTD to explain to us why marriage equality will cause the skies to fall in and undermine the very roots of all things good and proper and moral. I'm sure one of the Gurus will have something to say about it.
Notable by his absence is the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. He has been repeatedly urged to comment on the gay marriage issue and he has repeatedly stated that he will not do so. Some might say that he has not openly supported gay marriage, but that would be almost impossible for the Chief Rabbi given the views of many Orthodox Rabbis on the subject. I applaud Lord Sacks for at least not siding with the tide of intolerance.
It seems that Christianity in this country is no longer content with merely being irrelevant. There are exceptions, but judging by the size of that petition, it seems the Church has decided to self-identify as the nation's premier anti-gay hate cult.
What's the point of smell? We could easily do without it. Some things smell nice but that isn't really enough reason to keep a sense of smell.
The real reason to keep a sense of smell is because it brings back memories. Here are some things that smell nice and bring back memories.
Cups of tea
A young lover's sweaty, stain encrusted armpits, shirt
Brasenose College Oxford
Did I mention that I went to Oxford? To Brasenose College actually.
Jesus smelled nice when he had perfume on - and that's not at all gay by the way. It was probably some very manly perfume, like Old Spice - a bottle of which could easily pay for the world's poor and hungry.
He also smelled nice when he made 180 gallons of wine (the evidence for which was delivered in great detail yesterday, so there's no need for me to go into that). The wedding didn't even have to pay excise duty on the 180 gallons of wine.
So Jesus approves of smell, therefore a sense of smell is OK.
Me and some other celebrities were having a bit of a party and it got reported in the newspapers. Now I was there, with the other celebrities, and I can tell you that lots of things in the newspaper were just made up. I know what you're thinking, shocking, isn't it?
It just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspapers. On the other hand, people like me do believe everything we read in the newspapers. I mean, they can't make everything up, can they? Just because the one celebrity event that I have first hand knowledge of turned out to be misreported in the newspaper, doesn't mean they do that all the time.
It's because written accounts are so reliable that we can fully trust John's account of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned 180 gallons of water into wine (it was quite a big wedding, with a lot of local celebrities present - I'd probably have been there myself if it was held today). You can tell from details like that, and the reporting of the time and the place, that this was undoubtedly true. It was witnessed by so many people that the first three Gospel writers didn't even feel the need to mention it.
If that isn't convincing enough, millions of people today, 2,000 years later, continue to believe it to be true, so it really must be. People even swear on it that they're telling the truth - it's that trustworthy!
The University of Central Lancashire, not to be confused with the University of Outer Lancashire, has opened an Institute for Dark Tourism Research. They want to answer the question, why do people visit places of great tragedy, like the concentration camps?
I visited the concentration camps as part of an inter-faith tour. We went to Dachau, Auschwitz and Birkenau where we saw the bleak reminders of the evil done there. One of the victims was my grandfather.
I did some meditation and said some Jewish prayers.
Is this all just morbid curiosity, or is there some purpose to it all? In my case, it is a matter of trying to face death, of viewing the world as it is, not just in its beautiful aspects, but also its darker side.
Should we have an elected Lords? Parliamentarians say mostly, although some say a little bit and some say not at all. Some said we should ask the people whether the people should choose the Lords, and some said we shouldn't ask the people whether we should ask the people to choose the Lords. David Cameron isn't sure whether we should ask the people to ask the people to choose the Lords and would rather just wait and see what way the wind's blowing on this one.
And will an elected House of Lords do what the elected House of Commons tells it to? Or will they think that because they're elected, they've got just as much right not to do what the House of Commons tells it to? The current House of Lords is filled with experts on all sorts of things, like theology. They are the nation's wise ones.
But what does it mean to be wise? Surprisingly, just being a bishop or even a professor, does not necessarily make you wise. The Invisible Magic Friend's Big Book of Magic stuff says that fear of him is the beginning of wisdom. Indeed, given his reputation for capriciousness, smiting, vengefulness, favouritism and genocide, regular doses of praise, obeisance and all round flattery might well be considered wise.
There's also wisdom in humility. As a Rev Dr Dr Prof, let me just assure you that humbleness is a sure fire indicator of wisdom. Saint Paul said so too. He said wisdom was the life, death and resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, which if you think about it, actually means there is wisdom in humility.
So do you really want to elect people to the Lords who want to be elected in order to take power? Wouldn't you prefer Lords who are the humble servants of the people elected to take power?
Was Jesus gay? Rev Paul Oestreicher, a gentleman almost as distinguished as oneself, says yes. On the other hand, Matthew Parris says there's no such thing as gayness, and he should know because he is one, so Jesus can't be.
Some Church of England clergy think the CofE should go all out and embrace gayness. Other well known religions have still not fully embraced gayness, a tendency that no amount of camp outfitting seems to help with.
The CofE has a particular problem with gayness. Jews, Muslims and we Catholics can say what we like about gayness. Our religions can do everything they like to prevent gayness and can discriminate and persecute gayness to our hearts' content. The CofE, as the established church, might have to start being nice to gays. This would seem like a really good reason to become disestablished. Then, using proper Christian theology, they can be as horrible as they like about gayness too.
What's really important here is not things like human rights, equality and personal happiness or fulfilment, the question is, what does the Invisible Magic Friend think about gayness?
Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world, seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciple making communities. Hi.
What do we Christians think of death? Nothing really. We just pass over to a different form of life where we live forever in Happy La-La land, smiling and praising the Invisible Magic Friend for not burning us all in hell for all eternity for not praising him enough. So we've got no worries about death. No concerns at all. Can't wait for it actually.
But you lot have to seriously consider the possibility that your existence will come to an end one day. I can't think of anything interesting to say so I'll just go over Lord Gould's Lessons From the Death Zone. Obviously I can't show you a You-Tube video on Thought For The Day but I can quote extensively from it.
"In six weeks I will be dead."
"This is an extraordinary experience."
"It's only when they say you're going to die, get used to it. It's only when that happens that life screams at you in it's intensity."
Another dying man at a hospice, spoke of challenging our assumptions, giving, needing, dreaming, laughing, loving.
A famous poet said something interesting about death too. In fact, it seems almost everyone except the Christian faith has got something relevant to say about death.
So whether you believe in Happy La-La land or not, the message is: live life for the moment.