The Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate 
Friday, 16 March, 2012, 08:23 AM - Lessons of history, Sacks
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer have a print edition.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica was a big book full of knowledge and a great symbol of civilisation. Can you think of any other big books children? Yes, the Big Book of Magic Stuff! It's even better than the Encyclopaedia Britannica and it's still available in the printed edition.

Writing was invented by those clever Mesopotamians, but cuneiform wasn't really appropriate for writing down the Big Book of Magic Stuff, that's why the Hebrews invented the alphabet. It's thanks to that invention that you all know that you were created in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, except for not being invisible or magic and sometimes not over friendly.

Then that nice Mr. Gutenberg invented the printing press. The Big Book of Magic Stuff could now be owned by anybody. Thanks to the march of progress, Europeans could now print heresies and fight religious wars over them.

Finally we come to the internet and electronic book readers. Once again, knowledge about the Invisible Magic Friend is spreading thanks to a new medium that he curiously has only now made available.

We Jews love all these new techie toys but we remain the people of the Big Book of Magic Stuff. It's just not the same venerating a Kindle. So we still have thousands of scribes, usefully employed creating a handwritten Torah.

Have I ever mentioned the importance of the Lessons of History? History is really important. It's by studying history that humans have been able to avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over again.

23 comments ( 1323 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 341 )

Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 21 January, 2012, 08:01 AM - Lessons of history, Draper
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little 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.

Kodak going bankrupt marks the end of a long era in which many of us grew up. It brings memories of photographic memories, of waiting for films to be developed at the chemist and returned to us before being excitedly viewed and placed in the photo album.

But the world moves on. As Isaiah once said, "The world moves on." That's why religion is never stuck in the past and never acts as a highly conservative force to prevent anything ever changing.

If you yearn for the past, remember that one day, today will be the past and you'll then be able to yearn for today. Then you can truly say that nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

8 comments ( 922 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 215 )

Rev Dr Giles Fraser - Ex Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Friday, 13 January, 2012, 08:30 AM - Art, Lessons of history, Morality, Fraser
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

I want to start with the architectural theorist Charles Jencks. I know what you're thinking: is there in fact an academic discipline called Architectural Theory? The answer is yes, and Charles Jencks is one of them.

He said modernism ended.

Modernism was rubbish. It didn't produce any great art like religion used to. After Modernism came Post-modernism. It was rubbish too and didn't produce any great art like religion used to either. You can go to the V & A at the moment and you'll see what I mean. All the modern stuff is rubbish and all the old stuff, when there was lots more religion, is really good.

What this proves is that people need to belong to a tribe. How can you say that my tribe's better than your tribe (in a totally non-chauvinistic and multicultural way of course) if you don't have a tribe. Modern art doesn't have a tribe, whereas good art, the stuff we used to do in the past, is part of the Christian Tribe.

Scottish Nationalists, good fine, noble, tribal people, understand this and are looking forward to the tremendous fun we're all going to have sorting out who owns the oil and the debts of RBS and HBOS.

As ex-Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, I sense that people are searching for something bigger than themselves, like St Paul's Cathedral perhaps. They want a society where there was ethics, and morals, and no greed, or pain, or suffering. They want the good old days (in a totally non-nostalgic sense) when everything was just hunky-dory, and Christianity was in charge and produced art that wasn't rubbish.

8 comments ( 1231 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.6 / 407 )

The Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate  
Wednesday, 21 December, 2011, 08:14 AM - Courage, hope, perseverance etc., Lessons of history, Sacks
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

There's a big Jewish festival underway. Happy Hanukkah everybody!

Hanukkah celebrates the rebellion of the Jews against Antiochus IV. He put a statute of the wrong Invisible Magic Friend in the temple and banned us from mutilating the winkles of baby boys. He was obviously a bit mad.

Antiochus inherited power, which is a bad thing unless you're a Jewish king. The good guy was Judas Maccabeus who put the real Invisible Magic Friend back in the temple and started mutilating baby boys' winkles again in defiance of the evil Greeks.

By an incredible coincidence, this is exactly like the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il. Vaclav Havel didn't fight an underground gorilla guerilla war against Kim Jong-Il, or anyone else for that matter, in exactly the same way as Judas Maccabeus did against the mad King Antiochus.

So it shall always be, as brave men fight for the freedom to mutilate baby boys' winkles against the stench of tyranny. Courage shall always triumph over insane despots who attempt to put the wrong Invisible Magic Friend in the temple. The human spirit soars like a great human soaring thing. The light of hope banishes the darkness of totalitarianism where a bunch of unelected men tell everyone else what to do.

Thanks to men like Judas Maccabeus, no one will ever again challenge our right to mutilate baby boys' winkles.

9 comments ( 1292 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.2 / 28 )

Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 5 December, 2011, 08:19 AM - Be nice, Lessons of history, Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

Good morning Evan, good morning Jim and good morning to you all.

Well here we are in another crisis. It doesn't really matter what it is because there's always a crisis of some sort, this is just the latest one. It's mostly our own fault, whatever it is, for not learning lessons from the past and being too short sighted about the consequences of our actions.

Many crises ago, back in the last century, people sought scapegoats for their crises, and for once that really is how Nazi Germany started.

We were poor but happy back then. We left our front doors unlocked, because quite frankly, there was nothing worth stealing.

So here are some of my personal tips on how to deal with the latest crisis.

Don't worry about things that might never happen. There are much worse things that probably will happen and that you haven't even thought of yet.

Now some jokes.

How many Jews does it take to change a light-bulb?
Two, one to change the bulb and another to tell him how to do it better.

How many psychoanalysts does it take to change a light-bulb?
One, provided the light-bulb really wants to change.

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light-bulb?
None, don't worry about me, I'll sit alone in the dark.

Don't be afraid to ask for help or courage. The best things in life really are free: friendship, kindness, complements and kisses. This isn't shmaltz but personally tested.

4 comments ( 920 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 288 )

Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations 
Friday, 28 October, 2011, 07:30 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.

6 comments ( 1022 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 277 )

From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Staggeringly Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich 
Wednesday, 31 August, 2011, 07:49 AM - Lessons of history, James
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

And in breaking news, we can announce that the Roman Empire has fallen. I repeat, the Roman Empire has fallen.

The great Libyan city of Leptis Magna now lies in ruins. As I'm sure you will all recall, North Africa was the bread basket of the Roman Empire. It was intellectually rich too as it had many Christians even before it became officially Christian. These great Christian intellectuals, intellectualised a great deal about Christianity. It's thanks to them that Christianity is as intellectual as wot it is today.

One citizen of Leptis Magna even went on to become Roman Emperor: Septimius Severus. He died at York. He told his sons, "Get on with each other, be generous to your soldiers and scorn everyone else." Septimius Severus, despite coming from North Africa, which was just packed full of Christian intellectuals, was not himself a Christian intellectual and so can safely be ignored.

Libya shows a shocking lack of Christian intellectuals these days. The new leaders of Libya should take some advice from the New Tasty mint, where Saint Paul wittered on, as ever, about Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Here we have no enduring city, but wait for the city that is to come.

The fall of the Roman Empire reminds us that all things pass. Fortunately, its great Christian intellectual tradition didn't die with it and I am still here to remind you of it.

3 comments ( 594 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 413 )

Rev Roy Jenkins, Baptist Minister in Cardiff 
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 07:22 AM - Lessons of history, Jenkins
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Anders Breivik shows no remorse for his killings, believing that history will judge his actions as fair and reasonable. This is what happens when a delusional mind, obsessed with a dangerous ideology, decides that the end justifies the means.

Other delusional megalomaniacs have made similar statements about the judgement of history: Stalin, Nixon, Gaddafi. Those who hold to such bizarre fantasies often do so in defiance of all the facts. They seem completely separated from reality.

None of this bothered Saint Paul. Unlike the various megalomaniacs whom I have previously discussed, Saint Paul wrote about Jesus, who told everyone he was really the Invisible Magic Friend in disguise. Saint Paul didn't care about the judgement of history. In his view there wasn't going to be any as Jesus was due to return any month now - a year or two tops. Saint Paul knew all about reality and what really mattered was Jesus' opinion of you.

If only psychotic fantasists like Anders Breivik would accept reality and realise that it wasn't the judgement of history that mattered, but what the Invisible Magic Friend thought about you.

7 comments ( 777 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 438 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 07:21 AM - Democracy, Lessons of history, Bell
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I've got a Big Idea. Here's my Big Idea, which is mine, belonging to me and which I invented. This is what it is, my Big Idea.

The people of Libya should be allowed to set up their own government.

There, that is my Big Idea, that I invented and that is mine.

Other people in the past have set up their own governments. The East Germans set up their own government by having the same government as the West Germans. The Russians set up their own government after they'd let go of all the other bits of the Soviet Union. South Africans set up their own government without killing all the whites. They were able to do that because they were Christians (the South Africans that is - although come to think of it, quite a lot of Germans and Russians are Christians too). As Christians, they realised that a bloodbath of revenge might be a bad thing.

None of these involve my Big Idea, because none of these involve Libya. Libya has got a problem. It's not full of Christians for a start. It seems to be full of people from one of the other religions. The last documented good person from Libya was Simon of Cyrene, 2,000 years ago. Despite this, I hold to my Big Idea, that Libya should form its own government. That means that it should not be formed by China, or Russia, or Britain, or France, or Kenya, or Chile but by some good people from Libya, assuming they can find any.

And that is my Big Idea for today.

6 comments ( 1088 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 403 )

Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation  
Saturday, 23 July, 2011, 07:29 AM - Democracy, Lessons of history, Morality, Edwards
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

One of my more knowledgeable American Christian friends asked me if Britain still had an empire. I explained that we have things that are even better than that. We have a Commonwealth, that every four years has some games that nobody pays any attention to. We have the monarchy that is universally loved and will some day enjoy King Charles III. Oh, yes and we've got democracy and stuff. He congratulated me on our success at the Battle of Trafalgar and asked me to convey his regards to that nice Mr. Dickens.

Back when we still had an empire, part of that empire was in Kenya. Now some of the people who were in that part of the empire are being allowed to sue Britain for their brutal treatment back then. This is a moral as well as a legal argument, and where do all morals come from? They come from the invisible Magic Friend of course!

In the good old days, when nations had proper absolute hereditary monarchies and none of all that democracy rubbish, the Invisible Magic Friend made King David king. King David was the bestest, most brilliant king there ever was (although there was that little sleeping with one of his soldiers wives, then having him killed and the Invisible Magic Friend killing his baby son in revenge incident - but apart from that he was just fantastic).

It's because of the Invisible Magic Friend and his brilliant morals that he gave us that we're all so shocked by the atrocities in Norway. The Invisible Magic Friend is just great isn't he? And that's why there needs to be justice for Kenyans.

5 comments ( 963 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 522 )

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