Pause for the Obvious 
Friday, 15 May, 2009, 05:53 AM
Inspired by Stonyground's comment on the last thread, I went to the Wake up to Wogan website and listened to the last five Pause For Thoughts, before realising that they were available as transcripts. (I'm trying hard not to picture the thought of me waking up to Wogan.) Anyway, I wish I hadn't. They're like TFTD on a couch. Here goes...

Isn't modern medicine just fantastic? Aren't we lucky God created doctors for us? Wasn't that nice of him?

The Pope's in Jerusalem. He prayed that Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the three best religions, would just learn to get along. Amazingly, for some reason they don't. The fact that no two religions have ever gotten along shouldn't make us despondent. It's surely possible. Oh, and come along to see me and my little show at the Albert Hall in June, we've got some fantastic acts lined up for you...

The Pope reminds me of Nazi death camps. They were terrible too. But we so often forget all the good things that came from the death camps, like all the great books from the survivors. Victor Frankl couldn't have written such a great book, inspired as he was by a prayer from the Hebrew scriptures found in the rags he was forced to wear. Life goes on and life teaches us wisdom, like how to be inspired by Nazi death camps.

It's Christian Aid week. Remember, even in the recession, there are still people worse off than you. Please give generously. Watch for the envelope through your door. [Ed. They seem to have missed me, although I have had an increase in the number of Halal Pizza leaflets.]

We're all sinners, yes even you. [Ed. Wrapped up in bits of Pride and Prejudice and how not to send hasty emails.]


Stonyground, if you inspire me again like that, you'll be banned. :)
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Reverend Roy Jenkins - Baptist Minister in Cardiff 
Thursday, 14 May, 2009, 08:32 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Once a month we meet in our church and discuss world affairs. We discuss wars, politics, disasters, misfortune and injustice. Then we say how terrible it all is, shocking, awful, disgusting, depressing. We wring our hands and cross our foreheads in concern. Then we decide what we can do about it. The answer is invariably nothing, so we talk to the Invisible Magic Friend.

"Dear Invisible Magic Friend, who art so really, really big, and definitely capable of doing anything thou wantest, take pity on these, thy poor other people that we've talked about this evening. We don't know why you've chosen to make their lives so miserable, but, loving them so infinitely more than we do, if you could, please, please, please consider the possibility of making them just a tiny little bit less miserable, unless it means visiting your miserableness on us instead, we'd be ever so grateful."

Occasionally, we do manage to stir up a letter writing campaign and actually get things done. I've even heard that there are some people without an Invisible Magic Friend who do this too, although I can't think why. It's small things like this that can make a big difference to someone's life, but mostly we just hand it over to the Invisible Magic Friend who's so much better at dealing with the bigger issues. He always listens carefully to everything we ask for, before saying no. Some cynics criticise this on the rather feeble premise that it doesn't actually work, but that misses the point. The point is that it's all terribly spiritual, it makes us feel better. At least we're trying. Just because it's never worked before is no reason to give up. It might work one day, and then who's going to look silly?

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Oliver McTernan, director of the NGO Forward Thinking 
Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 08:28 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Oliver McTernan here, from the NGO Forward Thinking, a proactive, demand-driven, facilitative organisation that works to promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment, to promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East, and to facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular worlds. Hi.

Barack Obama is preparing one of those grand, all encompassing Middle East peace plans so beloved of American Presidents. Without wishing to appear dismissive, cynical or negative, it's a waste of time. It won't work. I mean why even bother. What's the point? We all know nothing will come of it. They always want to just talk to the reasonable people on both sides, to put the people of good will in charge of the agenda, but they really need to include the extremists, the terrorists; sit down with them over a nice cup of tea and really sort things out.

You've got two groups of people that absolutely loathe one another here, for reasons that are absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with religion. It's complete coincidence that everyone on one side is Jewish and everyone on the other is Muslim. In fact, religion has so little to do with the problem that what we really need is more religion. A good dose of the Jewish prophets should do the trick. After all, muslims have only got one prophet, so they're a bit short in the prophet department.

That's why President Obama will fail in the Middle East, just like everyone before him - he doesn't talk enough about the Jewish prophets in his peace plan. I don't want to sound like a "not invented here" naysayer, but such initiatives must come from the people themselves, not be imposed from above. They have to come from grassroots organisations such as, oh let me think now, mine for example! The Middle East doesn't need American peace plans, it needs peace plans from a good British NGO headed by an ex Catholic priest. That should work much better.

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Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings, an Anglican Priest  
Tuesday, 12 May, 2009, 08:27 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Now look what you bloody secularists have gone and done! Once upon a time, people were honest and noble and honourable and God fearing. They knew that the Invisible Magic Friend observed every single naughty deed and every single naughty thought they ever had. Like a great voyeuristic curtain twitcher in the sky, He was there with His invisible camcorder, peeping into your soul, recording on invisible tapes for the Day of Judgement, and boy, you had better fear His wrath.

"Remember that time you stole the lollipop from Mr. Jones' corner shop? Did you ever say sorry to Mr. Jones? No, you didn't. You did not repent. I've got it all on tape. As a loving, merciful father, I know that there's only one thing fit for thieving, lying scum, like you - torture for all eternity in the fiery pits of hell! Next!"

Our MPs and public servants were always scrupulously honest in the past. They never handed out government jobs to their friends or used public funds for private gain. Why? Because they were afraid of Judgement. But, no, you oh-so-clever secularists had to go and banish Him from the House of Commons, leaving a bunch of fickle Godless MPs behind.

At least if they were up to no good in the past we didn't have to find out about it, causing us to loose faith in our hallowed institutions. Damn secularists with their damn Freedom of Information act. Now we have to sort it all out. What was wrong with keeping it all hidden and letting the Invisible Magic Friend deal with them? They'll be wanting to know about vicars' expenses next. It's an outrage I tell you, an outrage.

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Clifford Longley, a distinguished person who talks a lot about religion 
Monday, 11 May, 2009, 09:18 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Thank goodness we have His Incredible Holiness the Reichsfuehrer to explain the source of the problems in the Middle East. It turns out, it's nothing to do with religion after all. Jews weren't persecuted by Christians because they were Jews. They didn't feel the need to flee because of that persecution. It's pure coincidence that Israel's geographical location happily coincides with the promised land of milk and honey. There was no Muslim antipathy towards Jews or Christians before Israel's creation. It's all the fault of slimy politicians, and we all know how self serving they can be.

Fortunately the Catholic Church has never played any part in politics. All through the Byzantine Empire and the medieval Latin Church, Christians always believed in strict separation of Church and State. In recent times, even in countries where the Church has enormous numbers of followers, like Ireland, Spain and Argentina, Catholic hierarchies never try to force the hand of elected politicians. That's because the popes have always been big fans of democracy. Secularists (a bit like real people but without a religion) even criticise the Catholic Church's failure to speak out against Hitler.

Stay clear of all those horrible ideologies that want you to think they're right and everyone else is wrong, that make you all want to think alike and act alike. Stick to Catholicism instead.



Hello Boyz, look what a big shaft I've got!

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A statement from the Excruciatingly Honourable Phil Woolas MP, Minister for Borders and Immigration 
Saturday, 9 May, 2009, 11:40 AM
It appears that some of the more disreputable, scurillous rags that pass for newspapers these days, have chosen to reveal some expenses that I am supposed to have claimed while selflessly working for you all as a government minister. I wish to deny these totally untrue and libellous accusations. I have never received any public funds for women's clothes, tampons or nappies. I would never dream of using taxpayers' money to subsidise my own personal fetishes, and besides, my choice of undergarments and what I do in my own private life do not affect my duties as a minister.

Everything I have claimed has been a legitimate expense and entirely within the rules set by MPs for their own (tax free) profiteering. It has been recognised for many years now that the paltry 100K+ salary of a lowly, yet distinguished, government minister such as myself, is completely insufficient to maintain oneself in the style to which one would like to become accustomed. If we are to continue to attract the very best, very brightest people, such as the current government, into the House of Commons, then we have to ensure that MPs get a decent living wage. People on the dole live better than us. To rectify this shocking injustice, MPs are allowed to claim the cost of their staff, providing much needed employment for spouses, siblings, children and tennis partners.

The gruelling work of an MP demands that we have houses close to government and close to our constituents. Naturally these require regular renovation and refurnishing to bring them up to the standards that one would expected of the people's elected representatives. Being on behalf of the people, the cost is naturally born by the people. And if the occasional member should occasionally choose to sublet one or more of these refurbished properties, or sell them at a profit (all entirely within the rules of course) then what could be more proper than that we, the representatives of the people, should pocket the income and the capital gains (tax free) that belongs to the people, before starting out all over again?

I'm sure you will all wish me well, as I, your democratic choice and champion of your rights, seek to prosecute those evil journalists, who have sought to calumny humble, yet honourable, servants of the people such as oneself. Rest assured, we shall work tirelessly on your behalf, to hide as much of our expenditure as possible, so that fleecing of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife 
Saturday, 9 May, 2009, 10:48 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Now for more topical matters: Jesus definitely existed. There's more evidence for the existence of Jesus than anyone else who ever lived. How can you compare the evidence from the gospels with, say, the flimsy hearsay about someone called Gaius Julius Caesar. We have four, entirely consistent, entirely independent, eyewitness accounts, written decades later by people who heard stories from someone who met someone who had a friend who knew Jesus. What's Caesar got? Well let me tell you what he's got because I had all the benefits of a classical education. There are his own writings but they could be completely made up. And who would credit the letters exchanged between Cicero and Caesar more highly than St. Paul's imagined intentions of Jesus whom he had never met? I ask you, what is more believable, that Caesar conquered Gaul, or that angels announced the resurrection of Jesus, eh? Then there's all the archaeological evidence for Jesus, the coins, the contemporary statues, the inscriptions, especially the famous "Jesus woz ere" on the Temple Mount. There are enough fragments of the true cross to build a fleet of sailing ships. Then we have so much detailed information about the life of Jesus, about his meetings with John the Baptist, the disciples, the lepers he cured, people whose historical veracity is almost as well attested as Jesus himself. As the noted archaeologist Dorothy L. Sayers famously remarked Jesus of Nazareth is "the only God who has a date in history". Anyone who still has any doubts about the existence of Jesus must be completely loopy.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge. 
Friday, 8 May, 2009, 08:38 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

How gratifying it is to discover that we muslims are, in fact, more British than the ordinary British. A recent poll discovered that for sheer Britishness, muslim Brits completely out-Britished non-muslims. Muslims trusted British police, British courts, British politicians and British Parking Wardens more than non muslim British people. The obvious way to make Britain more British is to have more muslims. Be more patriotic, be more loyal, become a muslim today!

[Wave Union Jack]
"Land of Hope and Glory, mother of ji-had..."

Some people distrust religious and ethnic minorities. Religious and ethnic minorities are of course the same thing, so any commentator who says for example that Islam is a load of rubbish, is really being a dirty racist and should just shutup. It is very un-British to ban religion, as so many of these racist commentators have suggested. Therefore, as British muslims we are once again out-Britishing everyone else. We may have a distinctive way of life, but we still speak with traditional, British, regional accents; accents that you will hear spoken in Mecca, or at least you would if you less British, non-muslims were allowed to go there.

[Stand, wave Union Jack]
"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. Um-mah ne-e-e-e-ver shall be slaves."

We muslims like to uphold traditional British family values. We are more "socially conservative" (i.e. we hate poofters). As the Prophet says "love your neighbour as yourself," unless they're poofters. This is what makes religion so good at helping people to express themselves.

[Stand, wave Union Jack and doff cap]
Allah bless yer Majesty, Defender of the Faith!

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Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, from Alyth Gardens Synagogue 
Thursday, 7 May, 2009, 09:05 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a bit like sibling rivalry: so similar, yet both regarding the other as so different. We all know how irritating these little spats between family members can be. It's a bit like Jacob and Esau, where Jacob tricked Esau out of his inheritance and went on to found the nation of Israel as promised to him by the Invisible Magic Friend. On second thoughts, maybe that's a rather poor analogy. Nevertheless, Jacob and Esau were eventually reconciled. Maybe Israelis and Palestinians will kiss and make up one day too.

The process will be long and painful, but a recent poll showed the popularity of a two state solution (the possibility of living together in a single state being regarded as unbearable). As Jew and Muslim travel together on this journey, we are encouraged by how the traditions and scriptures of both great religions emphasise our common humanity, mutual respect and desire for peaceful coexistence.

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Rev. Dr. Peter Hearty, not an Anglican Priest 
Wednesday, 6 May, 2009, 08:48 AM
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

It has come to my attention that religious people do not like having their beliefs ridiculed. This has provoked a sudden and severe attack of guilt within me and I feel the need to atone for my previous sneering, superior sounding posts over the past two years. I therefore wish to state unequivocally that I have the very deepest respect for all of the following beliefs.

- That there is only one true Invisible Magic Friend and His name is Yahweh, although I will never say His name out loud, because that would be blasphemous.

- That there are many gods and avatars of gods.

- That He released His people from slavery by His beneficial genocide of Egyptian firstborn (although not beneficial to the Egyptians, but they worshipped the wrong Gods, so we can ignore them).

- That there are three bits of the one true Invisible Magic Friend, although I in no way disparage the beliefs of the many who violently disagree with this. That we don't really understand how and why there can be exactly three bits, but that's OK because it's a mystery.

- That Jesus was the Messiah and the second bit of those three bits and that He came to earth so that He could be sacrificed to Himself to save us all from the punishment that he was going to inflict upon us.

- That Jesus is not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy. The real Messiah is still awaited according to prophecy.

- That the Angel Gabriel announced the conception of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

- That the Angel Gabriel did not announce the conception of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

- That the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to Mohammed in Arabic (and that it can't be properly understood in any other language).

- That the Angel Gabriel did not dictate the Koran to Mohammed in Arabic or any other language.

- That you should welcome people of all faiths as friends.

- That you should kill the unbeliever wherever you find him.

- That women should put their head in a bag to protect their feminist rights.

- That Jesus arose from the dead and went up into the sky on a cloud where the other bits of the Invisible Magic Friend are.

- That Jesus didn't really die on the cross but was secretly rescued and went east to become a Buddhist.

- That ever day in the miracle of the mass, bread and wine is transubstantiated into the body and blood of the second bit of the Invisible Magic Friend in a way that no scientific test can ever detect. This too is OK because it's a mystery.

- That the Pope is infallible and the representative of the Invisible Magic Friend on earth.

- That the Pope is the anti-Christ.

- That the universe is anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, even the bits that are demonstrably older and that man-made global warming is part of the international atheist liberal socialist conspiracy.

- That the best way to promote social cohesion is to separate children for the first 18 years of their life and teach them that their religion is right and everyone else's is inherently inferior and wrong. This is obvious to all sane, rational clear thinking people.

- And last but not least, something that all we people of faith can agree upon, we all hate poofs.

If I have in any way misrepresented the beliefs of any of the world's great religions, then please correct me. I really, really care about the details of your theology and feel it is important to portray them correctly. I wouldn't want to project some ludicrous, clearly made up, straw man parody of anyone's faith.

To all those who hold any of these sincere beliefs and have found my mocking offensive, I offer my heartfelt apology and promise never to do it again (honest, swear to God). Please come back daily to check.

Thank you.

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