Rev Dr Dr Prof David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College Durham 
Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 07:30 AM - Politics, Wilkinson
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Should we have an elected Lords? Parliamentarians say mostly, although some say a little bit and some say not at all. Some said we should ask the people whether the people should choose the Lords, and some said we shouldn't ask the people whether we should ask the people to choose the Lords. David Cameron isn't sure whether we should ask the people to ask the people to choose the Lords and would rather just wait and see what way the wind's blowing on this one.

And will an elected House of Lords do what the elected House of Commons tells it to? Or will they think that because they're elected, they've got just as much right not to do what the House of Commons tells it to? The current House of Lords is filled with experts on all sorts of things, like theology. They are the nation's wise ones.

But what does it mean to be wise? Surprisingly, just being a bishop or even a professor, does not necessarily make you wise. The Invisible Magic Friend's Big Book of Magic stuff says that fear of him is the beginning of wisdom. Indeed, given his reputation for capriciousness, smiting, vengefulness, favouritism and genocide, regular doses of praise, obeisance and all round flattery might well be considered wise.

There's also wisdom in humility. As a Rev Dr Dr Prof, let me just assure you that humbleness is a sure fire indicator of wisdom. Saint Paul said so too. He said wisdom was the life, death and resurrection of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, which if you think about it, actually means there is wisdom in humility.

So do you really want to elect people to the Lords who want to be elected in order to take power? Wouldn't you prefer Lords who are the humble servants of the people elected to take power?

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Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Monday, 2 April, 2012, 07:24 AM - Politics, Sport, Bell
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

And in Argentinian sports news, River Plate beat Boca Juniors 6-5 in their Superclásico match three weeks ago. I was there and the Boca Juniors were stunned that they did not win when they thought they had the right to win.

The John Bell American tour then moved on to the United States, where a lot of the "Grand Old Party" as the Republicans think of themselves, are looking forward to winning the presidential election later this year. They too think they have a right to win. With such leading candidates as Mitt Romney, a man with admirably flexible opinions, and Rick Santorum, a man with no flexibility whatsoever, who can blame them.

But it's not just sports fans and politicians that think they have the right to be heard without criticism, religious leaders do too. Some even think they should have a reserved slot on the radio where they can talk, uninterrupted, every morning at just after 7.45 in the morning.

They're precisely the sort of people who had Jesus executed. They think they know all there is to know about the Invisible Magic Friend. When the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend comes along and tells them the truth, they can't handle the truth. He's not the genocidal, Jewish maniac god that the Chief Rabbi told you about last week. He's actually the god of peace and love and all things cuddly.

You can trust me on this, I know all about the Invisible Magic Friend.

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From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Illustriously Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich  
Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 09:43 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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13 comments ( 659 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 185 )

Canon Angela Tilby, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford 
Tuesday, 6 March, 2012, 08:33 AM - Politics, Tilby
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

There's a bit in the Gospels where the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend ties up the Invisible Magic Baddy and steals everything from him.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, that's exactly like the re-election of President Putin in Russia. President Putin is seen as the "strong man" in Russia. His campaign adverts frequently showed him wrestling a bear to the ground and tearing it limb from limb. Just the sort of man whose finger you want on one of the world's two largest nuclear arsenals.

Many Russians like Putin's strong man image. They like the idea of the ex-KGB chief who arm-wrestles a Siberian tiger before breakfast. The trouble is, the strong man can only be replaced by a stronger man, or, if people don't like strong men any more, by a weaker person. Either way, he gets replaced, followed by years of either a stronger man, or not.

Aren't we, and by we I do of course mean you, all a bit in awe of the strong man? Don't we all like our leaders, bare breasted, strangling a raging rhinoceros with only their rippling muscles? I know I do. But perhaps there's more to governing a country than dispatching wild animals in single combat. Perhaps we should admire leaders who follow the people.

And now, I will leave you with one of those quotes that is so ambiguous, so laden with multiple layers of meaning, that it will leave you all scratching your heads, wondering who is this person with such deep thoughts that they cause me to scratch my head in wonder?

Before we can bind the strong man without, we need to deal with the one within.

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Iain Duncan Smith 
Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 09:26 AM - Politics, Not TFTD
I wish to comment on some comments by the elite, who seem to think that shelf stacking at Tesco, for about a fifth of the minimum wage, is not a worthy career for an ambitious young person. I will use my own example to inspire those young people who are not too proud to start at the bottom rung of the ladder.

My university education took place in a town with an ancient and distinguished university that awarded degrees. After attending a nearby language college I realised that I had learned all that I needed to learn and saw no need to sit any exams or obtain any formal qualifications.

My working life started out in the Guards, where I served as a humble aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir John Acland. On leaving the guards, I married the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe and spent some time considering my future career. It was at this point that I joined GEC-Marconi, where various official biographies used to state that I was a director. This turned out to be mis-remembered and my actual position at GEC-Marconi is now not mentioned by anyone, even on the internet.

With successful careers in the army and the defence industry behind me, I thought it appropriate to turn my talents eleswhere. I founded my very own property company which subsequently collapsed, whereupon I found myself once again contemplating where I could next be of service. I decided to serve on the board of Jane’s Information Group, a directorship that was real and not actually mis-remembered at all.

Having had no previous interest in politics, it was at this point that I decided to become a Conservative MP. My wealth of education, talent, experience and connections, was such that I rapidly rose to become leader of the Conservative Party, where I served with distinction before returning to the backbenches again.

My career proves that, provided one is willing to work hard and stick with it, anyone can overcome an underprivileged background and rise to become a government minister. So just ignore what the elite are telling you and don't be too proud to work 40 hours a week for £53.
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The Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate  
Thursday, 29 December, 2011, 08:37 AM - Politics, Sacks
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

This programme is all about leaders, which is why they have important religious leaders like me on. There are two types of leaders. There are political leaders, people who seek power, like kings, who fight their petty little wars and are soon forgotten. Then there are important religious leaders, whose words inspire and bring hope to the masses of ordinary people.

Important religious leaders, whose wisdom and humility echo down through the ages, never seek political power. They are not the kind of people who try to control others or bend them to their will.

The Big Book of Magic Stuff has many examples. Who, for example, remembers any of its kings. Names such as David, Solomon and Herod are largely unknown. Whereas, among the prophets, who can forget the unforgettable Obadiah. The words of the famous Haggai are so famous that I need not even quote them. A famous poet agrees with me, so I must be right.

In our own time, there are such inspirational religious leaders as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. With their vast reserves of cash, I would just like to say how admirable and wonderful they are. I didn't get where I am today without telling the rich and influential how admirable and wonderful they are.

Then there are the ordinary people, teachers and nurses, the kind of people we don't allow on Thought for the Day. Although not as important as great religious thinkers such as myself, I'm sure they go about their humdrum little lives in a reasonably competent fashion, possibly doing something vaguely useful from time to time.

In the tough times that we face ahead, the inspiration of we great religious thinkers will be even more important and relevant than ever before.

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5 comments ( 1011 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 202 )

Why did Cameron veto the treaty changes? 
Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 04:11 PM - Politics, Not TFTD
I've seen a great many articles and comments on whether Cameron is a hero or a fool, whether he "played a blinder" or fell into an inscrutable Gallic trap. As always, everyone else in the country seems to understand this and I seem to be the only person who is utterly confused. For the life of me, I can't figure out why he actually vetoed the changes?

Well, I'm not quite the only one, Channel 4's Faisal Islam seems to share some of my confusion.

The government line, or at least the Tory line, seems to be that the changes weren't in Britain's interest. Fair enough, but AFAIK, the changes applied only to the Eurozone and to prospective Eurozone members. The UK was never going to have to follow its rules or submit its budgets to Brussels for approval. So it's difficult so see how this could be against British interests.

As for City regulation, again there was nothing in the proposed treaty changes that would have given Brussels any new regulatory powers over the financial industry. Or have I missed something incredibly obvious?

Cameron appears to have wanted to claw back some powers to Britain. The others said no. Bluff called. Did Cameron and Clegg seriously think that a conference to bring stability to the Eurozone was going to countenance concessions on financial regulation? The only thing achieved by actually wielding the veto was to antagonise everybody else in Europe and to guarantee that Britain had no seat at the regular heads of government meetings that the inter-government treaty now intends to hold.

What has Britain gained from this fiasco? What could Europe have done through the proposed treaty changes that it is now prevented from doing? (Apart from stabilising the Eurozone, which is in all our interests, and which is precisely what George Osborne has been saying needed to happen for the last six months.)

Or could there be a more mundane explanation: that Cameron and his team were tired and just didn't realise the enormity of what they were doing? A straightforward, good old fashion, human cock up?
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Rev Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest  
Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 08:11 AM - Democracy, Politics, Prison, Marshall
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Long term isolation from others is not desirable for most of us.
A little bit of isolation can be good but lots of it is bad.
In other words, we like to engage with others.
In other, other words, we don't like to be in solitary confinement, or in yet other, other words, to be cut off.
I've seen people in solitary confinement, when the only person they were allowed to see was me. You cannot believe how terrified they were.
In other, other, other words we don't like to be lost in isolation.

Visiting friends in France recently, they now see Britain as isolated. They think that Britain only cares about its own self interest, unlike France.
Well who won the war anyway? Damned ungrateful French.

Early Christians used to isolate themselves in the desert in order to be holy. Then they'd come back as holy people. So we will come back to the EU as holier too.
The Old Tasty mint book of Proverbs says isolation is a bad thing, therefore it is.

In summary, using my initial words and not any of the other words, a little bit of isolation can be good but lots of it is bad.

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The Right Hon David Cameron PM MP First Lord of the Treasury 
Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 08:47 AM - Politics, Not TFTD
Richard Dawkins

Why do you support faith schools for children who are too young to have chosen their faith,thereby implicitly labelling them with the faith of their parents,whereas you wouldn’t dream of so labelling a “Keynesian child”or a “Conservative child”?

Rt Hon Dave

Comparing John Maynard Keynes to Jesus Christ, as he clearly does, shows why Richard Dawkins just doesn't really get it. It's only to be expected from a mere scientist. If only he'd studied harder or went to a better school he could have had a proper job in the media or public relations, like me, or as an advisor to the Great Norman Lamont. I might even have allowed him the privilege of being my fag.

Dawkins clearly hasn't thought very much about religion. We don't just allow any crazy old cult to run schools. They have to be proper religions, with invisible magic stuff that makes sense. My own religious convictions have always been a profoundly important part of my character, especially during constituency selection interviews and at election time.

This is why I do "get it", because I live in the real world, not the privileged ivory tower world of Dawkins. Comparing Christ to Keynes is just ridiculous. Christ's economic theories, of preaching for a living and encouraging the rich to give everything to the poor, especially to itinerant preachers, has always been a central part of Conservative Party tradition. Keynes is an intellectual minnow compared to Christ in terms of economics.

That's why I'm so keen to give this question a mature, in depth response, not a shallow, politician's dismissal. There'll be no patronising, joky evasiveness from me. No one will ever accuse me of snide, intellectual shallowness.

Sectarian schools are rooted in their communities. Just look at what a success sectarian schooling has been in Northern Ireland. Their schools are rooted in their communities - so rooted that they're separated by 20 foot high concrete walls.

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11 comments ( 812 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 195 )

Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Dean of Women's Ministry in central London 
Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 07:35 AM - Politics, Priestley
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Everyone, and I really do mean everyone, is talking about it. It's the greatest event in politics since something really important happened. I'm talking of course about Ted Milliamp's big speech to the Labour Party conference. It was full of such memorable sound bites as... er... well... there was something about business wasn't there?

We all enjoy a good sound bite. How we love to repeat them in daily conversation with our friends. Only the other day I said to a friend of mine "education, education, education." But sometimes sound bites, however clever they may be, can be turned around. There's that hilarious YouTube spoof of David Cameron, whose URL I'm not going to give you.

The New Tasty mint has got some fantastic sound bites of its own - you would expect no less from Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Who can forget his most unforgettable sound bite, that you must be "born again." Just in case you've forgotten, Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, explaining that spirit gives birth to spirit, the wind blows and he was the truth and the light, thus making everything much clearer.

Some people use the term "born again" as a club membership. They show disdain for those who are not born again. That's not what Jesus meant. They're not proper Christians, real Christians, like me.

I am now about to reveal a startling truth that has never before been revealed by any revelation before. Sound bites, however witty, intelligent or insightful they might be, by themselves, they don't actually change anything.

Except Jesus' sound bites.

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2 comments ( 1002 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 196 )


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