Tuesday, 26 May, 2009, 08:29 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, in his latest dazzling adventure to explore places where several people have been before, has become the oldest Berkshire resident to climb Mount Everest. Edurne Pasaban likes climbing to the top of mountains too. Asked whether she was a really amazing person, she replied "No, I just like climbing mountains - lots and lots and lots of mountains. Oh, look, a mountain..." Outstanding as these examples of human endurance and resilience are, they pale into insignificance when it comes to the achievements of those who explore the spiritual. We spiritual people say prayers. Top that Sir Ranulph!
This is serious stuff. Jesus said forgive people 70 x 7 = 490 times, or possibly just 77 times depending on the translation, the bible's not that hot on mathematical formulae. The parallels with mountain climbing are clear. Then there's a bit where Jesus says give everything to the poor. Oh, the mountain climbing metaphors just never end do they?
So to anyone who wants to be really spiritual, like me, to be as brave, as fearless, as determined, I tell them to go climb a mountain.
[Cue Rodgers and Hammerstein]
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
'till you find your dream...
Monday, 25 May, 2009, 08:30 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
His Eminence, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, says atheism is the greatest of evils. Buried beneath this subtle, diplomatic language, His Eminence appears to be verging on giving the merest of hints that atheism is the greatest of evils. He may be the former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and a prince of the Church, but as a Catholic myself, I have to say he is wrong. My dad was an atheist and he wasn't evil. He was most annoyed that I chose to believe in the Invisible Magic Friend when I became a Catholic - which of all the world's great religions, I decided was the most rational and least superstitious.
Indeed it could be argued that virtue in an atheist is all the more admirable because they do not have the moral guidance of people like His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who in this case just happens to be wrong. An atheist must figure it all out from scratch: is it right or wrong to kill people just because you feel like it? Hmmm... difficult one that.
Conversely, evil in a believer is all the more remarkable. They do have the guidance of people like His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who in this case just happens to be wrong. Who would have thought that sexually repressed, celibate priests, committed to a strict, authoritarian, self serving, closed, patristic hierarchy, granted unsupervised and absolute control of a nation's children would turn out to be sadistic paedophiles? Astonishing!
This is terrible. No, not terrible that the Church has covered up child abuse, but that people are leaving the Church in disgust. "Virgin births, walking on water, rising from the dead and going up into the sky on a cloud - that was all OK, but holy people turning out not to be that holy? I would never have believed that!"
Interview with the Most Irrelevant and Imminently Emminent Vincent Nichols, Archbigot of Westminster
Sunday, 24 May, 2009, 10:32 AMYour drivelness, how do you react to the shocking exposure of child abuse in Catholic run Irish children's homes?
"Shocking! Yes indeed, very shocking. Tut, tut. But then again we must not forget all the good work done by these holy Catholic Orders, bringing young people closer to the Invisible Magic Friend in a very real and very intimate sense, filling those in their care with everything they could give them. They have shown great courage in facing up to their past, a past which, quite naturally, they have sought to obscure through legal obstructions and deals to guarantee their own anonymity and financial exposure (that being one type of exposure that they really are keen to limit)."
Thank you your smugness, that was most sanctimonious. They say you are ambitious?
"Well, I already have a very splendid pointy hat, which I think makes people revere me, take me seriously and see me as a great source of moral wisdom. But really, I am ever-so- 'umble. You really wouldn't believe how 'umble I am. When it comes to 'umbleness, nobody can out 'unble me. And if the Reichsfuhrer, in his wisdom, should choose to recognise my poor, and ever-so-'umble talents, than who am I to ever-so-'umbly disagree."
I'd like to turn now to His Hollowness, Saint Tony of Bliar.
"Oh gimme strength! Who does he think he is? He's trying to lecture us, US, on homosexuality. We've been making life horrible for homosexuals for 2,000 years. We're not about to change our nasty, mean spirited ways just because some fly-by-night politician suddenly thinks he's something big in the magic world. He chucked us out of the adoption business just because we wanted the right to be as bigoted as we choose. You only have to look at all the splendid work done by our brothers and sisters in Ireland to see what a loss that is. The children have to come first. That's why, for the good of the children, we had no choice but to close all the orphanages."
What about the Act of Settlement, that bars Catholics from the throne?
"Oh I never really wanted to be queen anyway. I've already got my own throne and I get to wear some fantastic gold chasubles every bit as sparkly as anything she wears. I get to carry an impressive big crozier everywhere I go so my flock of sheep can follow me. All she's got is a handbag. Far more important to us is that we be taken seriously. We need respect, by which I mean everyone shutting up and doing what we tell them to. We need dialogue, dialogue with everyone, excepts poofs and atheists of course, who are just evil."
Thank you your intolerance. One final question, you've been archbigot for a few days now. In that time you've managed to insult, alienate and dismiss atheists, secularists, child care workers, abuse victims and even one of your own fellow archbigots. How do you think things have been going?
"Oh, ever-so'umble as I am, I think my well known media-savvy skills have been shining through this week. You'll be hearing a lot more from Vincent Nichols in the years ahead. I'm nearly as good as my press secretary."
Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 10:41 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Sorry can mean lots of things. It can mean "Pardon me", or it can mean "Sorry you found out...", or it can be an expression of regret. Being truly sorry, however, is being spiritually sorry. The Big Book of the Invisible Magic Friend says you have to be sorry when you sin and being sorry means not doing what the Big Book of the Invisible Magic Friend says not to do. You probably don't believe me that not sinning is the best way of showing you're sorry, so just to prove it, Saint John the Baptist said so, so there. And Martin Luther said so too, so there again.
Friday, 22 May, 2009, 08:04 AMRating 0 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)
Aung San Suu Kyi, like Ghandi and Mandela before her, looks healthier and more confident than her oppressors. She has faced her fears while they still fear the loss of power. She has right on her side.
Thursday, 21 May, 2009, 01:11 PM"Catholicism has a very human face - we're clearly able to laugh at ourselves"
The Most Reverend (and very nearly Eminent) Vincent Nichols
This from the man who got Pope Town banned. In my experience, if there is one institution on this planet that is manifestly incapable of laughing at how absurd it is, it is the Roman Catholic church.
Thursday, 21 May, 2009, 09:11 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
The Catholic Church in Ireland, an early adopter of faith based social services, really is most awfully embarrassed today. The systematic and endemic emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children over a period of many decades is really quite unseemly. All this done in the name of Jesus, who loved little children, even when his disciples wanted to beat them up, a tradition that seems to have continued to this day. To the thousands of victims of these sadistic, predatory, priests, monks and nuns, I'd just like to say, Jesus will be having a jolly good cry about all of this.
Let's not forget, however, that the rest of the Christian Church is nearly as bad. In fact the whole church is guilty of mentally abusing children. Our reputation is being so terribly damaged by these continuing scandals that some parents won't trust us with there children, even when we where a nice black frock.
And abuse of children doesn't stop there. Much of the failure of Social Work departments is down to stretched resources; resources that you're unwilling to fund through higher taxes. So violent sexual abuse of children is in fact your fault, you evil, uncaring bastards. While you're all idly standing by watching children being raped, the Church has been at the forefront of trying to cuddle and make up with it's victims. As the Most Reverend, and very nearly Eminent, Vincent Nichols points out, that takes real courage.
Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 09:53 AMI just want to add my voice to the ever increasing chorus of bloggers offering their support for Simon Singh.
If the British Chiropractic Association could substantiate their claims then they would do so in the medical journals. The fact that they have chosen the blunt instrument of British libel law says everything you need to know about the strength of their evidence.
Regardless of the outcome of the case, and regardless of the wider impact for the law of libel, I think the BCA have shot themselves in the foot. Their claims are now being poured over in meticulous detail by sceptics world wide. The word is getting out that Chiropracty has very little supporting scientific evidence. They've probably done their organisation and their members, a huge disservice.
Good. I hate bullies, especially those who try to bully those who tell the truth.
Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 09:03 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I must say it's really nice to see everyone so outraged over MPs' expenses. The Hindu Puranas, a kind of Indian Bible, but better, is full of bull. One story tells of a nice, big, magnificent, holy bull, the kind of animal you can really adore and worship, not something grubby like an earthworm, which is not at all admirable. This fantastic, glorious, proud bull had three of its legs chopped off. The fine, worthy animal represents "Dharma", or "correct path". I say "Dharma" because this word is imbued with exotic eastern mysticism, whereas "correct path" is not. The three missing legs represent compassion, simplicity and purity, which you don't get any of in modern Britain The great, super, lovely bull hopped proudly on the one remaining leg: truth, or "sat", another word steeped in the glamour and romance of the mysterious orient, and not boring like "truth".
The clamour about MPs' behaviour shows that Britain still understand the meaning of truth, or "sat". Several little MPs have been helping themselves to public funds. When the people asked one MP, "Did you take £18,000 to buy some bookshelves for your castle in Scotland?", the MP replied, "Yes, now bugger off you tiresome little pleb, don't you know I have a perfect right to your money?" They will not return as glorious one legged bulls, but as lowly earthworms.
Now that Britain has discovered truth, or "sat", maybe it will discover compassion, simplicity and purity.
Tuesday, 19 May, 2009, 08:21 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Someone bought me some petrol at a petrol station in America. That was really nice of him. Many world religions emphasise that you should be really nice. I'm not going to tell you which religions don't emphasise being really nice, that would be rude. Jesus went further. He said you should be really nice and you should wash people's feet. "Do as I have done to you," He said, so that would be expulsion from the Garden of Eden, global flooding, eternal damnation, and if you're a non Jewish middle eastern tribe, possible genocide.
Secular people don't believe in being nice. They want to be horrid all the time and never do anything charitable or friendly. Its European election time. Being secular, most people vote for parties based on their own selfish self interest. They never vote for, say, socialist parties whose very existence is predicated on the redistribution of wealth. But what if people were to vote for nice, religious parties? Then we might have a nice European Union instead of the current horrid one. We'd have a whole Europe full of people giving free petrol to one another. This goes way beyond mere altruism, which by definition is "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others", and becomes unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.