Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, POTY 2011 
Saturday, 31 March, 2012, 07:20 AM - Environment, Pepinster
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

It's fifty years since the publication of Silent Spring. This warned us that if we don't start working with nature, soon there won't be any nature left.

Fifty years on and insecticides are killing all the bees. No bees means no pollination of crops. No pollination of crops means no food. Once again, if we don't start working with nature, soon there won't be any nature left.

Has anyone mentioned the Garden of Eden lately? Thought not. Anyway, it all started in the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden is a parable since we now know that it definitely didn't happen. It's a parable about Adam being tempted by a talking snake into eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It's been downhill ever since, with humanity working against nature to the point where there's no nature left, except for one brief interlude by the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes who planted some gardens by the sweat of his brow.

Adam, from the fictional Garden of Eden, was a bad gardener who set us all on the path against nature. Fortunately Jesus came along and rose from the dead. This repaired the damage done by the fictional Adam. In fact Jesus was so good at repairing the damage done by the fictional bad gardener that he was even mistaken for a gardener. That's why Mary Magdalene told him to stop loafing about and get on with his work.

So Jesus made everything better and we don't have to worry about working against nature until there's no nature left any more. Except that we do because that's what I started off telling you.

Anyway, next week is the anniversary of Jesus rising from the dead, which is great news for environmentalism. Hurrah!

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Exuberantly Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons 
Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 07:04 AM - Environment, James Jones
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Liverpool has got a park in it and that park has got trees. Parks with trees in them are, on balance, a jolly good thing. C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian author, famously wrote, "Parks with trees in them are a jolly good thing," which just goes to prove that I'm right when I say that parks with trees in them are a jolly good thing.

Now the government wants to knock down all the trees and build houses and factories instead. Of course people need houses but they need parks with trees in them as well. To understand how to balance the town and country planning regulations we naturally turn to the Big Book of Magic Stuff. The Big Book of Magic Stuff starts out in a garden, with trees in it. It also ends in a garden with trees in it. Obviously "garden" shouldn't be taken literally, it applies to all parks with trees in them.

A famous professor of town planning says we should build sustainable cities. He has shown how it is possible to build sustainable cities. I think we should build sustainable cities. C.S. Lewis thinks we should build sustainable cities. If we don't build sustainable cities then C.S. Lewis thinks there might not be any trees left.

6 comments ( 852 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 223 )

Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 14 March, 2012, 08:27 AM - Environment, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

You know that we religious types don't like to say we told you so, but in the case of eating red meat we Hindus told you so. The experts might recommend red meat in moderation but I say why not go the whole way? Get rid of red meat, white meat and fish altogether. What did that innocent little lamb or cute little piggy ever do to you?

Welcome to Akhandadhi Delia's organic vegetarian kitchen. We've got all sorts of delicious recipes for you. You'll be amazed what you can do with a good selection of grains, beans and lentils. For something extra special, you can always add a root vegetable or two. The ancient Hindu Big Book of Magic Stuff defines two types of food. There's "variety", that leaves you feeling satisfied and wanting a good doze. Then there's "boring", which means vegetable stew every night that leaves you feeling lean and hungry and ready to do a whole night's worth of meditating about the Invisible Magic Friend. Which would you prefer?

But why stop there? Plants have rights too you know. There they were, not harming anybody, happily photosynthesising, when suddenly a huge metal scythe removes all their vital greenery. How would you like that to happen to you? It isn't very nice is it?

So I recommend not eating at all. It will keep your body lean and pure and it's good for the environment too!

21 comments ( 830 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 242 )

Canon David Winter, former BBC head of Religious Propaganda  
Saturday, 3 September, 2011, 07:31 AM - Environment, Winter
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

There aren't enough houses in Britain. Last year we built the fewest houses since the 1920s. Some people own their homes. Others would like to to own a home, but they haven't got the money. Some are trying to save the money but aren't quite there yet. Some of the people who've managed to get themselves a nice home in a nice area, don't want any more homes built there, spoiling the nice area.

Where your home is is important to people. It was important to people in the past, whether they lived in an isolated dwelling, a hamlet, a village, a small town, a slightly larger town, a small city, a big city, or a vast metropolis. It's important to people today too.

You'll recall that Jesus of Nazareth came from somewhere. It was a place called Nazareth. That's why we call him Jesus of Nazareth, owing to him coming from Nazareth. Many other famous religious people came from places too.

In a place like Britain, I think everyone should have a right to a home. Otherwise they won't have anywhere to come from. Some people are just getting married and moving into their new homes. I do weddings you know. Other people die. They usually move out of their home when they die, making it available for somebody else who has saved long enough to get the deposit. Their invisible magic bits then move into their new, eternal, home, where they'll be happy forever, or possibly not. I do funerals as well you know.

6 comments ( 554 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 407 )

Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge 
Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 07:19 AM - Environment, Tilby
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Pay no attention to that man yesterday who said you were never closer to the Invisible Magic Friend than when you are with a beggar. In fact you are never closer to the Invisible Magic Friend than when you are in the countryside, with or without beggars. The countryside is where people are the most spiritual, which makes you wonder why we bother having churches.

There's a big fuss just now about building more electricity pylons in the countryside. The countryside isn't really the countryside, it's more a sort of agricultural industrial landscape. Hedged fields and thatched cottages are not what nature originally intended. They were created by humans and must be tended by humans in our efforts to tame nature and feed ourselves.

I may not be a fully paid up member of the Pylon Appreciation Society, but I like pylons: great big brooding metal giants bringing heat and light into our homes. Many of you may even by listening to Thought For The Day thanks to the power provided by a nearby pylon, and if that isn't an argument in their favour then I don't know what is.

I'd just like to finish an otherwise mostly sensible piece by talking about "communion", the City of the Invisible Magic Friend and the Garden of Eden.

6 comments ( 602 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 403 )

Dr Indarjit Singh CBE, director of the Network of Sikh organisations 
Tuesday, 9 August, 2011, 07:56 AM - Environment, Singh
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Isn't the violence in London just terrible! And now other cities, feeling a bit left out because London had all the riots and they didn't have any, have joined in too.

It all started when the police shot dead a young man carrying a gun. It raises legitimate questions about just how far the police should go when someone has a gun for perfectly innocent reasons. People in Tottenham often like to go grouse shooting for example.

I really wanted to talk to you today about the European Court of Human Rights' latest barmy decision that everyone has a right to a satellite dish. Apparently it breaches freedom of religion not to have one. I really do think this is the sort of thing that brings religion into disrepute.

Unfortunately there's been all this rioting, looting and civil unrest, which means that people aren't all that interested in the satellite dish story, so I won't bother to mention it.

What I will say is that if we had more religion, there wouldn't be all this rioting. You don't see rioting like this in more religious countries, do you?

3 comments ( 510 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 422 )

Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 07:36 AM - Environment, Gibberish, Invisible magic stuff, Money, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

People are responding generously to the drought in the Horn of Africa. This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about The Force.

The Phantom Menace teaches us that "Greed can be a very powerful ally." We must learn to control our greed, to take only that share of the world that The Force has given us. If we go on like this we will destroy our world. Mmm. Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing. Master Yoda says we should be mindful of the future. Monsters out there, leaking in here. Weesa all sinking and no power. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble? We must learn to cooperate. As anakin said, "Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other."

Remember: your focus determines your reality. Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love. Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Only a Jedi could have erased those files. But who, and why, harder to answer. Meditate on this I will.

The relevance to the drought in Africa is obvious.

10 comments ( 1180 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 467 )

Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Saturday, 5 February, 2011, 09:13 AM - Environment, Materialism, Draper
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in today’s world. Hi.

Ed Milliband says we now face the prospect, that for the first time in a hundred years, the next generation will be worse off than their parents.

At this point I'm supposed to wax lyrical about the benefits of a more spiritual lifestyle, how a nice walk in the woods is so much better than more material possessions, how it is better to store up treasure in heaven and all that. It would be such a cliché to do so that obviously I want to avoid doing that at all costs.

But what if we could teach our children to live better lives with fewer resources, which they'll have to now that we've consumed them all. In a way, we'd be leaving them a great legacy.

"My son, I leave you a world with less oil, less fresh water and food per person and a dearth of other non renewable resources. Everything for you will be more expensive and there are many things you will never have at all. What a great opportunity this is for you to learn to be frugal, to consume more responsibly and lead a simpler, yet spiritually more fulfilling life."

What is the point of accumulating wealth in this life, when we should be storing up treasure in heaven? As Ecclesiastes (one of the nice books of the Big Book of Magic Stuff that we do so like to quote here on Thought For The Day) says, in the end you're all going to rot.

You can't take your vast accumulation of possessions or your hard earned fortune with you. Be contented with what you have accumulated in the next life, which will be so much better than this one.

Rejoice, oh next generation, for you will be able to live better for less.

(Thank the Invisible Magic Friend I managed to avoid all those tiresome clichés.)

3 comments ( 1025 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 562 )

Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet  
Friday, 7 January, 2011, 09:03 AM - Environment, Science, Pepinster
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Have you cut down on your meat consumption? We have. I mean I don't wish to boast or anything, but it's our way of helping all those poor people around the world who can't afford food.

The world's rapidly increasing population is putting a huge strain on agricultural resources. Obviously placing any constraints on population growth would be a really bad thing. The Catholic Church's wise and benevolent policy of never-ending exponential growth in the number of babies born, means that those clever sciency types are just going to have to get their fingers out and figure out some way to produce a corresponding exponential growth in food production. The world's agricultural capacity really is infinite, if only those lazy food technologists would stop lounging around in their labs all day and do something useful for a change.

As always, religion provides the correct approach when science fails us. All we need to do is do it the Jesus way, feeding 5,000 with fives loaves and two fishes, leaving twelve baskets left over. This was such a success that he did it again, this time feeding 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fishes, leaving seven baskets left over. This is only part of a long tradition of miraculous food making. There's manna from heaven, and water from rocks, never empty flour and oil supplies, the solution to peak oil, and of course, Elisha's cheap version of Jesus' tricks,

Now I'm not suggesting that we use miracles to solve the world's food problems, that would be just silly. What we, i.e. "you", have to do, is cut down on resource intensive foods like meat. You need to follow my virtuous example in this respect. That way the the Chinese and Indians can eat meat instead.

9 comments ( 765 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 510 )

Satish Kumar - Editor of Resurgence magazine and Buddhist scholar  
Tuesday, 28 December, 2010, 09:02 AM - Environment
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Fifty years ago, I read that Bertrand Russell had been jailed for organising mass acts of civil disobedience against the bomb. Thus inspired I decided to walk to all the then four nuclear capitals. Everywhere I went I was greeted by friendly faces, kindness and friendship. Each of the leaders of the nuclear powers received me graciously. When I asked them never to build any more nuclear bombs, and to get rid of their existing ones, they smiled and said they would think about it before pointing me in the direction of the next city.

What I learned most from my walk was the connectedness between indigenous peoples and the great earth mother goddess. We are all one, the people, the sky, the birds, the mountains, the forests, the rivers, the deer, the earthworm, the tiger, the storm, the volcano, the earthquake, the flesh eating bacteria - all are one. In the great mid-Western plains, I sat in a teepee with a young man of profound, ancient wisdom and primeval dignity, who had opted for a simpler life and who subsequently died due to lack of an appropriately profound, simple, ancient medical intervention. This wise intelligent way of life has much to teach us about living in harmony with nature, of which we are all part.

Today, nuclear proliferation is everywhere. Some might say that my 8,000 mile walk was therefore a failure. Not at all, I say. If I hadn't walked to all those cities, the Environmental movement, with its campaigns to oppose atmospheric Chloroflourocarbons and man made global warming would never have happened.

We are all connected and interdependent. So excuse me while I take the car from this radio studio where I have broadcast to thousands. There are trees in desperate need of a hug.

9 comments ( 1105 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 531 )

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