The ASA Gestapo and Cranmer 
Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 09:02 AM - Not TFTD
Archbishop Cranmer's blog is in trouble with the Advertising Standards authority over an advert against gay marriage.

It probably doesn't come as any great surprise that I'm not a regular reader of Archbishop Cranmer. Anyone claiming to be a long dead archbishop who thought that replacing the Pope with the monarch was socially progressive is clearly going to be quite conservative in their tastes.

That Cranmer is a supporter of the Campaign 4 (less) Marriage is therefore hardly unexpected. C4M has become the rallying banner for those religious conservatives who have had enough of being cruelly persecuted by The Gays (who apparently have taken over from The Jews as the secret cabal who run the world for their own benefit - I'm expecting to see the Protocols of the Elders of Compton Street any day now). That he'd proudly display an advert for C4M is just him displaying his right-on right wing credentials.

The C4M advert contained the following.

1. Picture of couples on their wedding day.
2. The words "I Do".
3. The words "70% of people* say keep marriage as it is ... (Source: ComRes poll for Catholic Voices)".
4. The words "Help us keep the true meaning of marriage. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION Click here ... Coalition for Marriage".

Now, much as I might dislike C4M and despair that so many people seem to support it, for the life of me I can't see anything objectionable in the above advert.

Unless there's something dodgy about that 70% figure?

Surely C4M, a predominately Christian led campaign wouldn't break a commandment and bear false witness? Surely Christians, renowned for their honesty, openness and superior moral values would not be guilty of something so despicable as fibbing?

Technically, the advert is sort of telling the truth. 83% of the people they asked did oppose Gay Marriage (why they brought it down to 70% is a bit of a mystery). What they neglected to point out was that they were all practising Christians. Now while I'm fully ready to admit that Christians remain people, the 70% figure now looks seriously misleading. It would seem that the Advertising Standards Authority have a reasonable reason to investigate.

Cue howls of Christian Persecution, liberal intolerance, a totalitarian state and the end of freedom of speech.

Whether Cranmer should be held liable for dodgy stats provided by C4M is debatable. Nevertheless, the ASA asked for some justification and suggested that their investigation be kept private. As they make clear on their website, the ASA tries to resolve things informally. But that's not good enough for Cranmer. Like his 16th century namesake, Cranmer most be a martyr and you cannot be a martyr in private.

Yet again, the single defining characteristic of Christianity in this country appears to be their increasingly hysterical claims of persecution, and I use "hysterical" in both senses of the word.

So let Cranmer enjoy his martyrdom at the hands of the hideous, jack booted functionaries of the Advertising Standards Authority, the real Cranmer suffered far worse, at the behest of: devout Christians.

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Canon David Winter, former BBC head of Religious Propaganda  
Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 08:26 AM - Winter
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Isn't the weather just terrible! It's all Prince Charles' fault, for predicting it. We used to think it was the Invisible Magic Friend's fault. We'd pray to him to give us the right weather, but even when we prayed to give us nice weather in Southend-on-Sea, he still ignored us. Now we know better. Weather is caused by global warming. Before global warming we didn't have any weather.

There was weather in the Big Book of Magic Stuff, even before global warming or scientists. In one of its jolliest stories, the Invisible Magic Friend killed everything except Noah and two kangaroos, two penguins, two staphylococcus aureus etc. In fact Noah took two of everything, except when he took 14 of them. After killing almost everything, the Invisible Magic Friend said sorry to the people he hadn't killed. Then he created rainbows to remind him not to kill everything again.

That's why science has been totally unable to explain rainbows.

Oh, and don't forget Jesus.

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Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Friday, 11 May, 2012, 08:39 AM - Bell
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

Many of the greatest human evils arise when gangs of men, specifically men, not women, act as a group. Whether it's the groupthink that led to the current financial crisis, wage slavery in factories, setting up concentration camps, declaring war, or running terrorist or paedophile networks, in a patriarchal society, it is almost always gangs of men who are the ringleaders. Men will even slaughter one another in the name of the Invisible Magic Friend.

Any group of people can be capable of great evil. A famous theologian said so, so I must be right. You can see this in something as simple as a youth group, where regulars, including those who are normally well behaved, gang up on a new member.

The Rochdale paedophile gang would never have wanted their own daughters to be abused, yet were capable of unspeakable crimes against others' daughters.

It's what men are capable of collectively that we need to be most afraid of.

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From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Glitteringly Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich  
Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 08:07 AM - Think of the children, James
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Isn't all this children's entertainment just fantastic! Isn't Punch and Judy just fantastic! Samuel Pepys thought so. With its wife beating and its baby battering, its the perfect children's show.

Aren't children just fantastic! Nowadays, child abuse has gone somewhat out of fashion, although some men still have a bit of catching up to do.

Jesus thought children were fantastic too. If you didn't think children were fantastic before then I'm sure you will now.

Children are great at seeing through stuff that's just phoney and made up. I suppose that's why I find them so irritating.

We could all learn a thing or two from children.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter) 
Wednesday, 9 May, 2012, 08:24 AM - Old age, Murad
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

Up to one in eight people are carers, looking after sick or elderly family members, many of whom suffer from dementia. They are often isolated and exhausted. Many suffer from depression.

This huge amount of self sacrifice, tells us that perhaps we are not the selfish society that some would have us believe.

For those of us who are not carers, we can do more to help. The advice of a certain well known prophet, was to keep in touch with our parents' friends and so honour both them and their carers.

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Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation  
Tuesday, 8 May, 2012, 08:46 AM - Democracy, Gibberish, Edwards
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Isn't democracy just fantastic? The people of France have just elected a new leader. The people have Greece have just voted and have decisively said, we don't know what do to. In Russia, Putin and Medvedev have democratically swapped jobs again.

It's easy to be cynical about democracy. I know many of you long for the good old days, where absolute monarchs, assisted by a small hereditary peerage, decided what was good for you. That's only natural. As Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy's just rubbish."

But we cannot be as dismissive of the will of the people as Churchill was. Democracy after all, was invented by the Invisible Magic Friend. The whole people of Israel elected their first king. Well actually it was only the men. Well no, actually it was only some of the men, the priests actually, some of the priests, well one priest, Saul, who said the Invisible Magic Friend had told him who to make king. It was still democracy, just with a very small electorate.

The New Tasty mint is just choc full of commands to elect democratically accountable governments. Many voters, even in secular countries, continue to have an Invisible Magic Friend, which just goes to show how important he is for democracy.

Many of us just wouldn't be able to vote without the help of the Invisible Magic Friend.

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Rev Dr Giles Fraser - Grumpy Ex Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Monday, 7 May, 2012, 09:29 AM - Evil, Fraser
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

"I DON'T BELIEVE IT!" Said Victor Bin Laden, the retired terrorist leader who just couldn't get the staff.

This is the way to deal with evil: to laugh at it. I know, I read it in Harry Potter, where it was written. If there's one thing people who take themselves too seriously can't stand, it's to be laughed at.

Naturally, Terry Eagleton, has something to say about it. As a Marxist Philosopher and an author almost as prolific as Barbara Cartland, he certainly doesn't take himself too seriously. He followed Saint Augustine, who used to think evil was a real force in the world, then he decided it wasn't, and it was this latter view that was correct.

Evil is not glamorous or powerful, it is cold and meaningless. Freud said something about evil too and Freud was terribly clever.

Evil isn't some supernatural reality in the way that other supernatural realities are. For that to be true there'd have to be some supernatural embodiment of evil, like a fallen angel or something. That's just silly.

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April Clemmies  
Sunday, 6 May, 2012, 06:42 AM - Clemmies
Well, it's that time of the month again: Clemmie time!

Not a bad crop at all this month. Unusually, Rev Lucy Winkett managed to appear twice. Her first outing explored the frequently brought up topic of art and religion, religion and art, religious art, arty religion etc. She topped this with the revelation that religious people are just so much better than the rest of us, which is why they're in charge.

Not to be outdone, Anne Atkins also appears twice this month. First we learned that the concerns of Pilate's wife were every bit as real as those of two fictional speeches from women in plays. Then we learned that Jesus approves of us having a sense of smell.

Both women have two extraordinarily platitudinous contributions this month. Oddly enough, the remaining ones are all from different men. This proves that the Koran is quite correct when it says that a woman's testimony is only worth half that of a man.

Mostly Irrelevant Vincent Nichols lived up to his title by being... well... mostly irrelevant. He waffled on about what a brilliant Christian David Cameron is, how Christianity is a religion of peace, tolerance and love (except for they who shall not be named) and finished by reminding us of the FACT, the definite 100% historical, no doubt about it, I'll eat my boxer shorts if it's not a FACT, of the temporary death of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend on the cross.

Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad was delighted at all the "multi-faith" prayer rooms that are popping up all over the country. In time this will make us as tolerant as Indonesia.

Finally, we had Rhidian Brook. Rhidian told us that the newspapers made up stuff about a party that he and some fellow celebrities were attending. Nevertheless you should continue to believe everything you read in the newspapers. In fact, you should believe everything that's written down in general, especially the Gospels. They're so detailed. If it weren't for all that detail you might think that some of it had been made up.

It's not often that we get a theme running through TFTD but there seemed to be one this month. Anne Atkins gave us the power of women's voices in the written word. Vincent Nichols was keen to emphasise the FACT of the crucifixion as depicted in the Gospels. Rhidian Brook seems to think that everything that's written down must be true, despite the fact that he himself writes fiction. Even one of the non-contenders this month, Graham James, claimed that stories acquire authority just by being written down.

Rhidian Brook combined this theme with spectacular cognitive dissonance. He actually started with a perfect example of just how unreliable the written word often is and contrived to use this as evidence that the Gospels should be relied upon. For this, he wins this month's Clemmie.

At the centre of the moon lies the primordial delicious chocolate hobnob, placed there by the great biscuit make itself for the afternoon tea of all mankind.

It is written.
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Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) - I'm ordained you know! 
Saturday, 5 May, 2012, 08:29 AM - Vishvapani
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

There's a big Buddhist festival coming up. Happy Buddha Day everyone!

On Buddha day we celebrate our release from captivity and making our way to the promised land. No, no-no-no-no-no-no-no that's some other religion. On Buddha Day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savio... No, no-no-no-no-no-no-no that's some other religion too. On Buddha Day we recall the teachings of the 6th Guru who... No, no-no-no-no-no-no-no that's yet another religion.

What is it we celebrate on Buddha Day again? It'll come to me, just give me a moment.

Got it! On Buddha Day we celebrate the Buddha achieving enlightenment. Many artists' impressions of the Buddha show him at the moment where enlightenment is first achieved. There are lots of descriptions of enlightenment, but they're all different, so giving you any of them won't be very enlightening. Whatever it is, it's what all we Buddhists strive for. When the Buddha first got it, he was seen to smile as he looked within himself and said, "Aha! That's enlightenment!" That's what we see on all the artists impressions of the Buddha.

Somehow I need to connect this with a news story. We're celebrating Buddha Day. There are depictions of the Buddha made by artists. Edvard Munch was an artist. He created The Scream. It's the exact opposite of someone who has just found enlightenment. That's very enlightening. Someone with $120m to spare has just bought one of the painted versions. That's pretty enlightening too.

Learning to appreciate depictions of the Buddha has led me to appreciate art in general. It's all very enlightening really.

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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife  
Friday, 4 May, 2012, 09:13 AM - Atkins
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Aren't murder mysteries just fascinating? We all enjoy a good whodunnit. Take the death of Gareth Williams. It's the not knowing, the lack of a resolution to the mystery that is so troubling. It's the same with the missing girl Madeleine McCann. We're puzzled about what happened to her.

Can you think of a gruesome death that isn't a mystery children? Yes, it's Jesus! We know exactly, where, when, who, why, how. We have multiple, supposedly independent, eye witness accounts, written down only 40 years after it happened by people who directly knew someone who had heard about it. The fact that so many people believed it happened just goes to show that it must be true. After all, how could so many people be so gullible as to believe a story that it so utterly implausible.

And that's so relevant to the Gareth Williams and Madeleine McCann stories.

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