Wednesday, 11 April, 2012, 08:30 AM - WinkettRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
I get it all from you non-religious types. Christianity's rated pretty low by some of you. One woman even finds it easier to admit that she's gay than that she's a Christian. Yes, it's got that bad, even gays are more acceptable than Christians!
I've hear it all. It's a load of hocus pocus. It's a load of old rubbish. A lot of infantile, made-up stories for children. Well, have I got news for you lot. New research shows what we've known all along: that we religious types are better than you lot. You might think we're all a bunch of deranged loonies, with ridiculous beliefs and bizarre rituals, but it turns out we're more politically active and more involved in civic participation. How else do you think something as crazy as religion continues to get such massive government subsidy?
Not only do we like running things more than the rest of you, we're also more charitable, we volunteer more, we're more patient, compassionate and trusting, and just all round nicer, fluffier and more useful than you. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, "I can't understand why faith and politics shouldn't mix," but then there's no reason why European history should be his strong point.
Of course, there's absolutely no reason why less holy people shouldn't do any of the good things that the godly do. That would be silly to suggest that.
They just don't.
Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, 07:54 AM - WilkinsonRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The ceasefire plans in Syria are falling apart. This is what happens when people don't trust one another.
The Dalai Lama says we shouldn't destroy our neighbours. He's not a Christian, but he's very religious and holy so I think he's worth listening to when he says we shouldn't destroy our neighbours.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Syria and the Dalai Lama, that's exactly the same as Easter, what a coincidence! Jesus dying on the cross is where trust begins. I'm a Rev Dr Dr Prof, you can trust me on this.
I know a senior clergyman in Nigeria who wants to learn about Islam. He wants to learn what we both have in common. [Ed - hint: homosexuals.]
That's the kind of courage we need to bring faiths together. The question is where might I make the first move? I rather fancy I might try one of the many inter-faith buffets that are often being arranged.
Monday, 9 April, 2012, 06:59 AM - BellRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Is it easier to celebrate a tragedy or a victory? This is the question I asked myself this weekend: Is it easier to celebrate a tragedy or a victory?
I'm going to give you a few examples where it seems to be easier to celebrate a tragedy than a victory, but given that it's Easter and I'm mentioning the words "tragedy" and "victory", you probably already know where I'm going with this.
The Titanic was a tragedy, having to restart the boat race was a tragedy, an over ripe banana is a tragedy, but the greatest tragedy of all is seeing an innocent person persecuted. And so we finally come to where you all knew I was going all along, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend being tortured to death for our sins was a tragedy. But he came back to life again, which is a victory. Hurrah!
I am now going to end with an insight that was really worth getting out of bed early for on a damp Bank Holiday Monday morning.
Jesus loves you.
Sunday, 8 April, 2012, 07:09 AM - Not TFTDThere used to be a tradition of Easter parades that often included an Easter Bonnet competition. As a tribute to that almost forgotten ritual, I thought I'd liven up your Easter Sunday with some spectacular bonnets found on the internet. The first one is worn by the current Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury.
I think you'll all agree, that is one impressive pointy hat, but he's got a little way to go to match some of his more ebullient colleagues. Here's a blast from the past, late Archbishop Fulton Sheen from New York.
He's currently aiming for sainthood and with a hat like that, who can blame him? He's not without his modern day rivals though. Here's Bishop Athanasius Schneider for example.
Sadly, our own little C of E has a little bit of catching up to do, as can be seen from Alistair Sim's 1972 portrayal of one its bishops in The Ruling Class.
But as far as humongous headgear goes, even the Catholics are completely outclassed by the Sikhs. Just have a look here...
Finally, let's not forget the astronomy picture of the day.
I'm 100% confident that these are the most extravagant hats ever worn by anybody, unless of course you know different...
Have a happy Easter everybody.
Today is the most boring day in the Christian calendar, which I'm sure you'll agree, is really saying something. It's so dull. It's so drab and dull and tedious and boring. There's nothing for us priests to do. I know lots of you will be wanting to go to church today to enjoy a nice mass. Well don't bother, there isn't one.
It was even worse for the disciples. All they knew was that the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend was dead. They didn't know he was going to resurrect himself tomorrow. Such was their despair that they went shopping, or did some DIY around the home.
That's a bit like me after my resignation from St Paul's. I haven't done any proper priesting since then. I've been reduced to writing columns for The Guardian. You feel so useless when you can't do any priesting. Fortunately, I'll soon be doing a proper job again, bringing the Good News to the desolate waste of Newington, a place so remote that it's actually south of the river.
My career will be resurrected there, just as Jesus was resurrected. Yesterday's speaker foolishly said that this was all a fact. It's not a fact. It's more than a fact. It is definitely, unquestionably, 100% certainly as more than a fact than it is possible to be.
I'm not going to wish you a Happy Easter, because you're all still supposed to be miserable or bored, preferably both.
Friday, 6 April, 2012, 07:24 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
This week, the Prime Minister told Christian leaders that Christianity's really fantastic, and let's not get all flustered over this you-know-what marriage thing as he's definitely the person that Christians should vote for.
I know what you're thinking, if David Cameron says something is true then it really must be true, for David Cameron is a man of principle, intelligence and integrity. He's not just another politician who says whatever his audience likes to hear. We religious leaders aren't that gullible you know. We don't just believe everything we hear.
Today, on Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was tortured to death, we remember that Christian values grow on trees. Some are really sweet and fruity and some are bitter, or even poisonous. Others fall to the ground and rot as soon as you touch them.
The cross pops up everywhere. That's the great thing about having a simple geometric pattern as your religious symbol. It stands for love, compassion, tolerance (except you-know-what marriage), justice. If it weren't for the cross, we wouldn't have any love, compassion, tolerance (except you-know-what marriage) and justice. In fact, Jesus invented love, compassion, tolerance (except you-know-what marriage) and justice.
The PM (isn't he just fantastic - I'd certainly vote for him), says we need the values of the Big Book of Magic Stuff: slavery, genocide, xenophobia and an Invisible Magic Friend who gets really upset when people don't worship him enough.
Did I mention that many elderly people have dementia? I don't.
Today, Good Friday, we commemorate the love of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend who died for our, and by "our" I really do mean "your" sins. Pay no attention to any not-really-a-priest from that not-really-a-Church of England, that says otherwise.
Jesus' crucifixion definitely happened. It did. It's a historical, 100% reliable, definitely true fact that actually, really, definitely happened. We have multiple, dependent accounts, from people who wrote down what someone had told them, that they had heard from someone who knew an eyewitness that had seen it all. It's the kind of rock solid hearsay that would stand up in any court.
That's why I can say, with equal reliability, that love even conquers death.
Thursday, 5 April, 2012, 02:41 PM - TFTDRadio Times is running a poll on whether to open up TFTD to non-religious speakers. Unfortunately it's all going horribly wrong. Over 95% currently want to take away the only regular stand up act on the Today Programme and possibly usher in the end of this blog.
Please, please, my small but faithful congregation, go and vote NO to any change in TFTD.
Radio Times poll
Happy Maundy Thursday everyone! Yes it's the day we've all been looking forward to, when the Queen performs the ritual of washing poor people's feet. Of course she doesn't do that any more. That sort of thing would be alright for Jesus, but it's not really appropriate for the head of the Church of England and head of state.
Some people think of rituals as being empty and meaningless but there is another side to rituals. They can show us a different world, where the powerful do something lowly, like washing a poor person's feet. That's why the Maundy Thursday ritual would be really meaningful if we actually did it.
"Maundy" comes from the Latin for "new commandment." The new commandment was this: be nice. What could be nicer than for the powerful to wash the poor's feet? This is the kind of ritual, the kind of tradition, that had it been performed for the last 400 years, would be really meaningful.
So, given that Her Majesty can't be expected to wash people's feet, who should? People that we all hate or, at the very least are extremely jealous of, would be good. Bankers, CEOs,
Hurry on along to the Tate Modern where you can see Damien Hirst's exciting new exhibition for the fantastic, value price of only £15.50 (concessions available). You'll be able to buy your very own rolls of Damien Hirst wallpaper for only £250 each. That's right, for only a few thousand pounds, you can turn an ordinary, dull, bedroom into a work of art! Don't forget to keep the off cuttings.
But that's not all, David Hockney has an almost as good exhibition at the Royal Academy, at the equally fantastic, knock down price of only £15.50 (concessions available). In the gift shop you'll find a wide array of David Hockney books, prints, catalogues, mugs, designer bags and serving trays, some for as little as £195.
Even better still, why not round off your day with a large collection of wrinkly, unflattering portraits by Lucian Freud, for the amazing price of only £15.40 (concessions available). Don't forget to visit the National Portrait Gallery shop where you'll find even more limited edition prints, books and souvenirs.
Anyone would think big art had become big industry, but I refuse to be cynical about these things. It's all too easy to be cynical about art, but many of these artists only sell exorbitantly priced trinkets as an ironic statement on modern day, grubby commercialism, which is all most of you seem to think about these days. Big art, like big religion, isn't really about money, but about raising people's awareness, and being able to join in on arty conversations at dinner parties. If you're the kind of person who queues for hours to buy plastic replicas of jewel encrusted skulls, then religion is definitely for you.
Alternatively, you could visit any of hundreds of galleries around the country, where entry is usually free, and buy an original painting that you actually like by a struggling local artist.
There are lots of new Titanic exhibitions and museums for people to go and see. For those of you who haven't heard, Titanic was the largest ship in the world in her time, but sank on her maiden voyage.
There were three classes of passenger, first class paid £79 per ticket, second class £13, and third class £8. You certainly got what you paid for in those days, with survival rates in the three classes of 60%, 40% and 24% respectively.
An inquiry concluded that excessive speed was to blame. It didn't feel the need to call any second or third class passengers to give evidence.
That seems shocking to us today and is an indicator of how our moral sense has improved in the last century. We are not less moral than we were. We are far more aware of issues like bullying, racism, poverty and corruption than we were in the past, when people worshipped the Invisible Magic Friend more.
As the Titanic sank, the bandsmen played the hymn, "Nearer my God to Thee." People found great comfort in drawing near to the Invisible Magic Friend in those days, especially if they were travelling third class.