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 disciple making communities. Hi.
What do we Christians think of death? Nothing really. We just pass over to a different form of life where we live forever in Happy La-La land, smiling and praising the Invisible Magic Friend for not burning us all in hell for all eternity for not praising him enough. So we've got no worries about death. No concerns at all. Can't wait for it actually.
But you lot have to seriously consider the possibility that your existence will come to an end one day. I can't think of anything interesting to say so I'll just go over Lord Gould's Lessons From the Death Zone. Obviously I can't show you a You-Tube video on Thought For The Day but I can quote extensively from it.
"In six weeks I will be dead."
"This is an extraordinary experience."
"It's only when they say you're going to die, get used to it. It's only when that happens that life screams at you in it's intensity."
Another dying man at a hospice, spoke of challenging our assumptions, giving, needing, dreaming, laughing, loving.
A famous poet said something interesting about death too. In fact, it seems almost everyone except the Christian faith has got something relevant to say about death.
So whether you believe in Happy La-La land or not, the message is: live life for the moment.
Friday, 20 April, 2012, 02:09 PM - Not TFTDAs many of you will know, the government is creating elected police commissioners soon. One of their new responsibilities will be the purchase of help for victims of crime and help for witnesses at court. This funding is currently provided centrally to the Victim Support charity.
This will mean duplication of essential services between commissioning areas leading to higher cost and lower efficiency. There'll be less communication across the victim support service as a whole, leading to gradual fragmentation of the service and perhaps to a postcode lottery in standards. Worst of all, the funding of victim and witness services will become subject to the vagaries of local politics.
I'd like to ask you to sign this e-petition, asking the government to reconsider this role of elected police commissioners and if possible, help to spread the word.
More information in the comments section.
It's a very womanly thing to do, to speak as one woman, or in this case two women, to another, urging Asma Assad to stop the violence in Syria.
We women have always focused on individuals. I won't bore you with any Shakespeare this morning but will entertain you instead with the other benefits from my classical education. In the New Tasty mint of the Big Book of Magic Stuff, it is Pilate's wife who warms him against condemning an innocent man. This story is every bit as real as Lysistrata or Calpurnia. Oops, some Shakespeare popped up accidentally after all. Silly me, I just can't help myself.
Anyway, classical allusions done, it's now time to imagine a young, hot, passionate Anne Atkins, lately married, gaily frolicking in the summer sun, sweating profusely as my manly husband thrusts his way through his conjugal rights, both of us panting heavily until we cry out in an ecstatic climax. Then, nine months later, lying there, legs akimbo, enduring the pain of labour as the head of my first infant child emerges, ready to suck upon the teat of my lactating nipple.
Enjoy your breakfast.
Friday, 20 April, 2012, 04:37 AM - Not TFTDP.Z. Myers can deny it all he likes but the internet, like the Daily Mail, doesn't lie. Previously known as a respectable biology professor and atheist blogger, he has had his scandalous double life exposed. Shamefully, he is in fact a secret pointy hat wearer!!!
Thursday, 19 April, 2012, 07:01 AM - SacksRating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)
Lord Sacks' reflections on Yom Hashoah, the jewish Holocaust memorial day. He points to rising anti-semitism in Europe and warns that hatred can be directed at any minority group.
A parody wouldn't be appropriate.
Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter)
And now for an insight into the headlines from a faith perspective: I've been to Indonesia you know? I visited this really bizarre temple where all sorts of loopy religions were practised as well as the only sensible one.
Britain is only just coming to terms with multi-faith prayer rooms. Blackburn Rovers have commendably turned one of their toilet blocks into a multi-faith prayer room. There, at half time, if the Rovers aren't doing too well, devout Methodists and Druids can pop in for a quick prayer to the Invisible Magic Friend.
Other football clubs have not yet been so enlightened, but give it time. Meanwhile multi-faith prayer rooms are appearing everywhere. They are places where people of all faiths come together in peace and harmony to worship their own Invisible Magic Friend, or, in the case of particularly wrong religions, friends.
The issue of what decorations, books and other religious paraphernalia should decorate these multi-faith prayer rooms, which welcome people of all faiths - no, honestly, they do - is one that has to be decided by someone. The question is who should decide this? The answer of course is that the correct religion should!
I find this all tremendously encouraging. It just goes to show the fantastic growth of all faiths in this country. Above all it should not simply be taken as a sign that motorway service stations will stop at nothing to try and attract you in to buy some fried chicken and fries.
So if you're driving along the motorway and find you desperately need to stop for a quick trip to the loo, why not make the trip complete with a visit to the multi-faith prayer room. No matter what you're religion, you're sure of a warm welcome from all the devout members of the correct one.
The blast furnace at the Redcar steel plant on Teeside has been relit. It has been resurrected. Speaking of resurrection, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend was resurrected. As you all know, this definitely, 100%, no doubt about it happened. It gives us all hope, doesn't it?
Speaking of hope, weren't the 1970's just awful! Power cuts, industrial action, terrorism and worst of all, black and white TV, full of gritty, "it's grim up north" hour long plays. Yet even in the 1970's, some people occasionally smiled. It gives us all hope, doesn't it?
Speaking of hope, the Breivik trial in Oslo is all about hatred and terrorism. Most of us aren't hate filled terrorists. This comes from our Judeo-Christian tradition (but not any other Abrahamic religions that you might think of). Anders Breivik doesn't come from a Judeo-Christian tradition, which is why he's a hate filled terrorist. It gives us all hope, doesn't it?
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.
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.
Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
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!"