Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Monday, 16 April, 2012, 08:27 AM - Money, Bell
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Here's some ancient wisdom for you: be nice to the rich and powerful. Laugh at their jokes. Tell them how immensely rich and powerful they're looking today.

The rich and powerful are in the news at the moment. Their money can be tremendously useful for helping poor people. This is a good thing. But there is a down side to having vast amounts of cash. The rich often believe that they should be able to buy dinner with the Prime Minister, where they will be treated to a delicious Cornish Pasty from a shop that closed two years ago, with side helpings of baked beans and mash.

I met a poor person once. It wasn't in Argentina or the United States but was in Paraguay. He was desperately poor. I couldn't help thinking how very not rich and powerful he was.

I don't want it to seem like I'm demonising money. I'm a great fan of money. Jesus himself talked a great deal about money and how important it was for rich people to be charitable to poor, holy people like himself and his followers. It's what rich people do with their money that's important. They should definitely not use it to enjoy a delicious Cornish Pasty with the Prime Minister.

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5 comments ( 466 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 168 )

Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) - I'm ordained you know!  
Saturday, 14 April, 2012, 09:06 AM - Vishvapani, Burma
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Isn't David Cameron's meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi just fantastic?

It's tempting to see this as the triumph of peace-loving, gentle Buddhism, over a ruthless military tyranny. What is often forgotten however, is that the ruthless military tyrants are Buddhists too. They're bad Buddhists though. They may have built temples and endowed monasteries and went on pilgrimages and prayed a lot in public, but apart from that they're not really proper Buddhists.

Proper Buddhism, real Buddhism, my Buddhism, is the sort of rosy tinted, mantra chanting, incense burning, sandal wearing, tree hugging, gentle, peaceful kind that I talk about. So this isn't really the triumph of Buddhism over tyranny, it's the triumph of good Buddhism over bad Buddhism. Good Buddhism has recently discovered that democracy is really a part of good Buddhism and has been all along. We need to see that good Buddhism triumphs and bad Buddhism is never allowed to be bad again.

Provided we can keep the good bits of good Buddhism, like democracy, and discard the bad bits of bad Buddhism, like tyranny, Buddhism will remain relevant and have much to teach us all.

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15 comments ( 586 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 157 )

Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations  
Friday, 13 April, 2012, 08:10 AM - Faith, Singh
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

There's a big Sikh festival coming up. Happy Versace everyone!

To put this into perspective for you all, Versace is exactly the same as the Christian feast of Easter, which I know is probably more relevant to most of you. Easter celebrates the resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, which definitely, 100%, no doubt about it, happened. That's exactly the same as Versace, who died, wasn't invisible or magic and didn't rise from the dead. Thanks to Easter, Christianity became the lovable, enlightened religion that we've all so come to admire.

Our 9th Guru died. Then we had a 10th Guru. He was the last Guru. He made Sikhism what it is today. He committed all Sikhs to fight for fairness and niceness. He also invented Versace so that we would all wear nice, distinctive clothing.

Given that we're so naturally modest, it can often be hard for people of faith, like you and me, to live up to the high standards required by our beliefs. This is especially so in a society that has abandoned families and thrown itself into an orgy of wild, selfish hedonism. More than ever, we people of faith are needed to bravely stand up and say with a loud, clear voice, "Tut, tut!"

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7 comments ( 441 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 169 )

A polite request for more restrained language 
Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 03:11 PM - Not TFTD
Most comments here are intelligent, witty and polite. However, being the internet (the network that was designed to bring everyone together in greater peace, understanding and harmony), people sometimes get a bit carried away.

When I read something here that makes me feel uncomfortable, I generally just ignore it and read on. Recently this got me into some trouble. A couple of comments were so shockingly over the top that I had to request that such comments stop. Rather naively however, I maintained my normal policy of not deleting the comments. The result is that various blogs now describe me as an anti-Catholic bigot who tolerates discussion of violence.

As a result of this, whenever I see a comment that I think is a bit over the top, especially when it's directed personally at the TFTD presenter, I'll replace anything I find objectionable with an appropriate euphemism. I'll enclose any such edits in curly brackets {thusly}.

With this in mind, a couple of yesterday's references to Rev Winkett have been suitably bowdlerised.

I'd prefer not to do this at all and would like to politely ask everyone not to post unnecessarily rude comments.

There, I feel better now.
17 comments ( 585 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 116 )

Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian 
Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 08:12 AM - Materialism, Money, Brook
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

If you're a workaholic, celebrity, Christian writer like me, you probably get rather irritated by all these holidays we've been having lately. Even holidays that celebrate the definite, 100% certain, no doubt about it, resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, get in the way of making money.

That's why the Invisible Magic Friend made it a commandment to have a day off every week. Since you'll probably be at a loss for what to do, you can spend it praising him and telling him how generally wonderful he is. (You've got to remember there were no large, out of town, DIY chains with ample parking in those days.) You'll doubtless recall the well known proverb: Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Economists have pointed out that having time off to enjoy ourselves is hugely expensive. If we scrapped all these unproductive days off, we could generate vast amounts of extra wealth that could be used to not enjoy ourselves even more.

At this point I'd just like to introduce the terms "macro" and "GDP." They give my talk an air of authority and knowledgeability that are sure to impress a Radio 4 audience.

I, for one, will do my best to take quality time out of my busy schedule and try to spend fewer hours slaving over a hot word processor.

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6 comments ( 512 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 141 )

Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James Piccadilly, handy for Fortnum and Mason 
Wednesday, 11 April, 2012, 09:30 AM - Winkett
Rating 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.

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17 comments ( 941 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.6 / 217 )

Rev Dr Dr Prof David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College Durham 
Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, 08:54 AM - Wilkinson
Rating 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.

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2 comments ( 443 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 127 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Monday, 9 April, 2012, 07:59 AM - Bell
Rating 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.

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5 comments ( 481 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 160 )

Easter Bonnet Competition 
Sunday, 8 April, 2012, 08:09 AM - Not TFTD
There 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...



or 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. :)
12 comments ( 534 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 141 )

Rev Dr Giles Fraser - Grumpy Ex Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Saturday, 7 April, 2012, 08:20 AM - Gibberish, Fraser
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

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.

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13 comments ( 482 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 156 )


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