Rev Roy Jenkins, Baptist Minister in Cardiff 
Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 08:05 AM - Courage, hope, perseverance etc., Old age, Jenkins
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Lots of people need to use food banks (run by Christians) in the UK, and the numbers are rising fast. It's shocking that, in our own country, there are people who need the help of we Christians. We Christians normally only have to help poor foreigners.

I spent a couple of weeks in a food bank with some fellow Christians. We Christians heard tales from people who suddenly found themselves destitute. As well as their financial situation, many suffered the anguish of a sense of failure. As a Baptist minister I've obviously never felt that but, as a Christian, I can imagine it must be terrible.

It takes a great deal of courage to walk into a food bank run by, and donated to, by we Christians. But no matter how successful we are, even we Christians, we all remain dependent on others. As we get older we, including we Christians, often need to rely on others for our personal care.

We also need the love of others and the love of the Invisible Magic Friend. It takes a great deal of courage to admit that we need the love of the Invisible Magic Friend, but we do, and by "we" I do of course mean "you". Are you getting near the end of your days on this Earth? Do you have the courage to admit that you need the love of the Invisible Magic Friend? Or are you a hopeless coward who pretends that human love is enough? We Christians, who run all the country's food banks, are courageous. Are you as courageous as we are?

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Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society, New College on the Mound, University of Edinburgh  
Friday, 9 March, 2012, 10:02 AM - Old age, Siddiqui
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Growing numbers of us are living long enough to suffer from dementia. Those in the next generation are beginning to see that we too might end up as dependants, stripped of our memories and identities. For some, continued medication might help, but in the end death awaits us all.

Even though I know that heaven definitely exists and that, as a Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, eternal happiness almost certainly awaits me, I'm curiously reluctant to go there. This world is of course fleeting and insignificant, but I do rather hope that in the eternity ahead, I can remember something of who I was here in this trivial, unimportant existence.

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Soberingly Reverend Tom Butler, ex-Lord Bishop of Southwark 
Friday, 24 February, 2012, 08:39 AM - Old age, Butler
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I think a dignity code for the elderly ish a jolly good idea. (hic!)

Long, long ago, when I wash a young curate, I worked in a parish. No, honeshtly I (hic!) did. Then I went to Africa. Then I came back from Africa. It'sh all very intereshting and exciting really. Anyway, after I'd left my parish to go to Africa (hic!) and then come back from Africa, I vishited the parish that I'd left to go to Africa and then come back from. This shtory isn't really about Africa. I'm only menshinning Africa so that I can tell you I came back from Africa after leaving to go to it. (hic!)

Did I ever tell you the shtory how I vishited an elderly lady in the parish that I'd left to go to Africa and then (hic!) came back from to vishit? No? Well there was thish elderly lady. I wash telling her all about how I'd left to go to Africa (hic!) and had now come back from Africa and how intereshting it all wash. Do you know what she shaid to me? I'll tell you what she shaid to me. She shaid she'd rather watch the (hic!) racing.

Everyone's different you see. It never occurred to me that she'd rather watch the rashing than lishten to me telling her how I'd left to go to Africa and then (hic!) came back from Africa. Each to their own I shuppose?

William Shakespeare shaid their were sheven ages of man, but that'sh rubbish. What did Shakespeare know? The only reason I mention him (hic!) him wash to shay how rubbish he ish. I'm not going to talk about Shakespeare any more. Thish shtory ishn't about Shakespeare any more than it'sh about Africa but if I didn't pad things out with these little irrelevant detailsh it might shound as if I'm not really shaying very much. (hic!)

Hindus got it right. Hindush shay there are four ages of man: stewing, louseholder, rage and ashcerbic, where you throw out all the cuddly toysh. And you know what? I'll tell you what, they're all equally important, espeshially the elderly, retired bit.

And that'sh what Chrishtianity'sh all about. (hic!)

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Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Saturday, 7 January, 2012, 08:34 AM - Old age, Draper
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

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.

Am I talking nonsense? Does what I say often sound like gibberish? Do I sound as if my reasoning is confused and my grasp of logic tenuous? Thanks to those clever scientists we now know why. As we head towards middle age, we soon go into rapid mental decline.

I once had a razor sharp mind that could slice through superfluous detail and get to the heart of any argument. My analytical powers knew no limit. I was able to discern in a flash, myth from reality, delusion from fact, false invisible magic stuff from real invisible magic stuff. Sadly, as I find myself in my late forties, my faculties are not what they were. Lines are becoming blurred. What was once clear as day to me, is now fuzzy and indistinct. I am beginning to fear that my best days are behind me and I now face the inevitable decline where perhaps I won't even be capable of being an Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

But even as I look back on the dazzling achievements of my past, still, even in the muddled cloud of my impending decrepitude, there are things to look forward to. As my once firm grasp of reality begins to fade, I will transform and become ever more spiritual. As the tyranny of hormones and ambition evaporate before my bespectacled eyes, as I more and more simply enjoy being on a planet that goes on forever spinning beneath my feet, as my medicine cabinet continues to grow in size, as I find I can get away with ever more outrageous bad manners, the true me begins to emerge.

As St Paul said, weakness is strength, up is down, black is white and I really need to get my prescription changed.

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Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 15 October, 2011, 08:51 AM - Be nice, Old age, Draper
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

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.

The Care Quality Commission's recent report unearthed shocking levels of care among the elderly in English hospitals. It's the kind of thing that makes most of us very angry. There's a tendency to point fingers and scapegoat nurses for the deplorable way elderly patients are being treated.

Then I asked myself how many elderly people I knew. The answer was not many. Despite the increasing age of our society, I only really knew one elderly person and that was the old lady next door. I never help with her shopping or gardening. I rarely think about her, except when her TV is too loud.

There is no manual to learn kindness from. I realise now that I learned a lot these things from my grandparents, but that was at a time when generations tended to live closer together and had more interaction on a day to day basis. It never does harm to show more compassion. As a famous religious person put it, "The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better."

If we all show a little more care for the elderly then perhaps, when our time comes, there will be people who look out for us.

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Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 6 July, 2011, 08:14 AM - Be nice, Old age
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Be nice to old people. Hindus do.

When you're a child you are dependent on older people. When you're old, you are dependent on younger people. When you're neither too young nor too old, you aren't dependent on anyone, but you might want to consider looking after people who are too old or too young.

Hindus have multi-generational homes. This seems to work quite well. You might want to consider doing things the way Hindus do it because it seems to work so well. Don't be in such a rush to put mum and dad in a home. Hindus don't do that.

In one of the Hindu Big Books of Magic Stuff, there's a story of an old man who asks if one of his five sons will swap his infirmity for their youth. Four sons selfishly refused, but the fifth said yes, because without his father he wouldn't have a life to lead, and I believe his mother was also involved somewhere along the line.

Your parents gave you your invisible magic bit, so don't put them in a home. If you're really lucky, your own children, whom you gave their invisible magic bits, won't put you in a home either. Doing it this way is the Hindu way.

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