From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Illustriously Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich  
Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 10:43 AM - Money, Politics, James
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

It's becoming increasingly difficult to buy a meal with the Prime Minister and keeping it all hush-hush. What no one denies is that having a meal together is a sign of warmth and friendship, or at the very least, a six figure sum of money.

Sometimes an occasion is ruined by the person who insists on foisting their opinions on others. They talk right over everyone, never letting anyone else express an alternative point of view. It's almost as if they think they have some god-given right to be heard to the exclusion of everyone else at the meal.

Communal meals - I wonder where I'm going with this? Let me see, I'm a bishop talking about communal meals, I'll bet you can't guess what particular Christian communal meal I might be about to talk about. I can just imagine you all, sitting out there, the anticipation building to a frenzy, wondering what Christian communal meal I'm going to mention.

OK, I'll put you out of you're misery, it's the Eucharist! The Mass! Holy Communion!

I was at a communal meal that wasn't the Eucharist, the Mass, Holy Communion. I overheard a poor man telling a rich man how difficult it was being poor. The rich man replied by telling the poor man how difficult it was being rich.

This is what we need: rich meeting poor over a friendly chat. We need more poor people paying six figure sums to have a chat with the PM.

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Phenomenally Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons  
Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 08:37 AM - Economics, Money, James Jones
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Isn't Liverpool, the city that I'm lord bishop of, just brilliant.

We just gave one of my fellow lords, Lord Heseltine, the freedom of the city. That's just brilliant.

The city has just played host to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, which was just brilliant. Entrepreneurs are just brilliant. Loads of them came to visit my cathedral. It's the largest in the country you know, which is just brilliant, isn't it. They all had lunch with me, which was just brilliant.

A lot of the money to build my cathedral came from entrepreneurs and I think that's just brilliant. It just goes to show how really, really, brilliant entrepreneurs are.

Christians, and I think people of other faiths too, are really keen on helping children. Brilliant.

I'd just like to compare Liverpool to a person with diabetes and talk a lot about blood flow and extremities. I think that's a brilliant metaphor, don't you?

Tomorrow's the budget. Maybe there'll be lots of money for entrepreneurs. That'd be just brilliant.

The Big Book of Magic Stuff doesn't really have anything to say about entrepreneurs. Even the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend doesn't say much about entrepreneurs. Come to think of it he wasn't over keen on having people conducting trade in the Temple. I'm sure he'd approve of loads of entrepreneurs having lunch with me, the lord bishop, in Liverpool Cathedral though - the largest in the country. Just brilliant.

There is a bit in the New Tasty mint where Saint Paul does say something marginally relevant though. He doesn't mention entrepreneurs as such, but he does say "When you get rich, can you give us some of it?" Brilliant.

Isn't my fellow lord, Lord Heseltine just brilliant!

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 08:34 AM - Money, Brook
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Don't be ashamed to tell everyone how much money you earn. Have a guess how much money I earn. Did you guess right?

Stephen Hester isn't afraid to tell how much he earns. Who's to say he isn't worth it? His bonus is just a tiny amount of the money he's saved by sacking over 20,000 people. This is a man who earns more in a day than a soldier in Afghanistan earns in a year. That's how dangerous running RBS is!

Don't waste your time being envious of people who are much richer than you. Do you really think that a rich person sleeps easier in bed at night than someone worrying how to pay the gas bill? I mean really? How much is too much anyway? It's all relative, isn't it?

As I said before, I haven't actually read the Big Book of Magic Stuff, but I'm sure it says somewhere not to worry about things like this, to be content with what you have. You don't want to have too little, or too much. People who earn too much have to worry about how to spend their vast excesses of cash. It's a real problem that I don't think poor people properly appreciate.

As long as you have your daily crust of bread, what more could the little listeners of Radio 4 possibly want?

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter) 
Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 08:47 AM - Economics, Money, Murad
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Well, I don't really understand what's happening, but something is clearly happening. As someone who has no expertise whatsoever in economics, banking or financial trading, I think I'm the ideal person to come on to the BBC's flagship news programme and give you an uninterrupted three minutes, no questions asked lecture on the morality of these things I don't understand.

I don't understand government debt for example, but I do know that Greece has got far more of it than is good for it. This makes Greek government debt a bad thing. Italy also appears to have too much government debt. This makes Italian government debt a bad thing too.

We people of faith don't like to say we told you so, but if you'd all spent your time being hungry all the time, like a certain well known Prophet, and lived a more ascetic lifestyle, then we wouldn't be in this mess. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", have all gotten rather used to borrowing money to finance our increasingly lavish and decadent lifestyles, merrily frittering away money you don't have, until the bailiff comes knocking at your door. I take no pleasure at all in watching you suffer the consequences of your irresponsible and immoral lifestyle.

When the certain well known Prophet prayed to our version of the Invisible Magic Friend (a version with no visible bits whatsoever), he prayed to save us from debt. So it's not just Greek or Italian government debt that is a bad thing, all government debt is a bad thing, as is all personal debt. Everyone should pay back all their debts immediately, thus making the world a more stable, happier place.

Next time I'll be telling you all about something else that I don't understand.

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Thursday, 10 November, 2011, 08:26 AM - Economics, Money, Unbelievable stupidity, Brook
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

OK, so a major European economy is about to go down the pan. What's the big deal? I mean, it's not as if it's going to push the world into recession, make millions of people unemployed, crash the financial system, and destroy investments and pensions, is it? Does it really matter if your bank goes insolvent tomorrow and you lose all your savings?

It's about time we let those who are too big to fail, fail. I mean look what happened when Lehman Brothers failed. It's not like the stock market crashed to half its value, and those forced to buy annuities ended up getting half the pension they expected. Even if it did, those pensioners are all rich and powerful and they deserve it.

Time and time again, big things fail and it doesn't really cause that much harm. Look at the Roman Empire, can you honestly, honestly sit there and tell me that any one was worse off because of the fall of the Roman Empire? See what I mean? Look at me, I'm a celebrity Christian writer and I'm doing OK.

This fetish for big economies, big banks and big ships like the Titanic, is something that we, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", seem to hold as an irrational belief. I can only conclude that you are all utterly delusional.

Which brings me to the Tower of Babel, which definitely existed. This is the story of how people worked together in harmony to do something constructive. Not being irrational or delusional myself, I am able to inform you that the Invisible Magic Friend intervened. "I'm not having this," he said. "That tower's nearly twenty stories tall. You'll be up here with me in the clouds soon. You've got no business with all this evil bigness, that's my job. I'm going to confuse and scatter you so that you'll mistrust each other and have frequent wars."

Now some people think this was a negative, petty, spiteful thing for the Invisible Magic Friend to do, but it's really all just part of the Invisible Magic Friend's 10,000 year plan which I'm not going to tell you about.

What we need are not things that are too big to fail but things that are too populist sounding and trite to fail.

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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 29 October, 2011, 10:36 AM - Economics, Invisible magic stuff, Money, Pepinster
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

When Giles Fraser was installed as Canon Chancellor of Saint Paul's by a fully trained team of professional Canon Chancellor installers, we had a really good church service to celebrate.

Attending this heretical Protestant sect's cathedrals can be tremendous fun. In fact, attendance at Anglican Cathedrals keeps on going up. This is because more and more people are waking up on a Sunday morning and saying to themselves, what I really need this morning is a good Anglican service, and it's not at all because all the smaller parish churches are being forced to close due to dwindling congregations.

Now that Giles Fraser has resigned we're not having such a big party. Then again, there'll soon have to unplug Giles and install a new Canon Chancellor, so we can have a big party again over that.

Cathedrals are places where the Holy Spirit does his stuff. The Holy Spirit is the particularly invisible third of the Invisible Magic Friend. Although he does occasionally pop up as a dove or as a flame floating in mid air. These are the kind of details that lend such credibility to his existence.

There was also a visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Has anyone mentioned recently that he threw the money changers out of the temple? Well he did. The Vatican - you know the place stuffed with priceless treasures - has pointed out that capitalism doesn't seem to be working very well at the moment. I really don't think anyone would have spotted that, so thank goodness the Vatican is on the ball as always.

And now to leave you with one of those mysterious and seemingly meaningful statements that make it sound as if I've just told you something profound and wonderful.

"That is the tension that Christianity holds at its heart."

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Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations 
Friday, 28 October, 2011, 08:30 AM - Gibberish, Lessons of history, Money, Singh
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

There's a big Sikh festival this week. Happy Bandi Chhorh everyone! Bandi Chhorh celebrates the 6th Guru's release from prison by the evil Mogul Emperor (who belonged to another well known religion).

This is exactly what is happening today in the Eurozone crisis. I think Sikh history has got much to teach us on how to restore confidence in Greek and Italian government bonds without imposing a politically unpopular cost on the people of Germany. All Angela Merkel needs is a cloak with 52 trillion tassels attached.

You know, as I was elevated to the Lords, some of my fellow lords, suggested to me that, when I spoke in the House of Lords, I might want to address their lordships on matters pertaining to Sikh interests. Nothing could be farther from the teachings of being a Sikh. I intend to poke my nose into absolutely everything, bringing the wisdom of the Gurus to everything from economics to constitutional reform.

As a Lord, it is my intention to speak for all you non-Lords out there, the ordinary, lordless people, except the ones of you who go rioting and are probably very bad people who don't have a respectable faith like Sikhism.

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 08:40 AM - Money, Brook
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Very few of us are rich, and by "us" I do of course mean "me". As a celebrity Christian writer, I am gradually becoming ever more fabulously wealthy. Naturally, I'm inclined to give all this wealth to the poor but I prefer not to. It's the job of the tax system to do that. If you can't be bothered to elect people to take the money from me then I really don't see why I should bother myself with you.

You can argue all you like over the 50% tax rate. It doesn't matter to me. You see I have a secret weapon, I have an accountant. Thanks to my accountant, I will always be able to find ways of hoarding my money that are eligible for tax relief.

As I sat at the harvest festival celebration I thought to myself, people used to share out the fruit of their labours. What a good idea. Wouldn't it be nice if people still did that? Yes, that would be really nice. A bit socialist, but nice all the same. I'm sure I'd do that if I were a farmer. Unfortunately I'm not a farmer, so I'll be moving my money from a savings account to a portfolio of investments that attract a more favourable rate of Capital Gains tax.

Jesus himself, whom you'll recall was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, had wise words for farmers, "Don't hoard your grain - share it out."

As far as I recall, Jesus didn't do any parables about tax avoidance, which presumably means its OK.

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Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings, an Anglican priest  
Monday, 8 August, 2011, 09:07 AM - Money, Billings
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

And in up to the minute news, last year I married a young Chinese couple in my Church. Both came from wealthy Chinese families, the kind of people we very much like to see in the Church of England. As China overtakes Europe and the US to become the world's industrial superpower, young people in China see Christianity as the modern way of thinking, the way of the future, the bright shining way forward, the religion of bold new ideas, the religion that dares to say: a guy died on a stick to save you from a talking snake.

These prosperous, well educated, young Chinese, recognise Christianity as the fresh, fashionable alternative to the outmoded ideologies of the past. Communism, a cruel, evil way of thinking, where individuals were barred from becoming outrageously wealthy and joining the Church of England, is now seem as the dogma of the past. Christianity welcomes those who have done well for themselves. Jesus frequently condemned communism and encouraged all of his followers to accumulate as much economic capital as possible.

But Christianity isn't only for the fabulously rich. You see, Christianity is the religion that cares. Christianity cares about people, about society, about you. As China's economic power and personal wealth begins to overtake the USA, you'll find more and more Christian preachers there - where the money is.

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Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 08:36 AM - Environment, Gibberish, Invisible magic stuff, Money, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

People are responding generously to the drought in the Horn of Africa. This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about The Force.

The Phantom Menace teaches us that "Greed can be a very powerful ally." We must learn to control our greed, to take only that share of the world that The Force has given us. If we go on like this we will destroy our world. Mmm. Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing. Master Yoda says we should be mindful of the future. Monsters out there, leaking in here. Weesa all sinking and no power. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble? We must learn to cooperate. As anakin said, "Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other."

Remember: your focus determines your reality. Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love. Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Only a Jedi could have erased those files. But who, and why, harder to answer. Meditate on this I will.

The relevance to the drought in Africa is obvious.

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