The Olympic Torch, a great symbol of light, has arrived in Britain.
Light and darkness, darkness and light, these are in many ways opposites. Ancient Greek mythology understood the difference between darkness and light. I can get to mention Zeus and Prometheus here, whom you will doubtless recall, were made up. For them, one was dark and one was light, in many ways symbols for all that is dark and all that is light.
The gnostic gospels, which you will doubtless recall are not proper gospels, used darkness and light, night and day, sunset and sunrise as symbols of the battle between darkness and light, night and day, sunset and sunrise.
The Olympic Torch, a great symbol of light versus darkness, day versus night, sunrise versus sunset, will be carried around the country by 8,000 runners, some of whom have a faith. They have faces, hands, noses, big toes, but are nevertheless, in many significant ways, different people.
The Olympic Torch will end up in Stratford, where athletes around the world will compete under the Olympic Flame, a great symbol of light versus darkness, day versus night, sunrise versus sunset, where what is to be revealed will be revealed.
Today would have been the 21st birthday of Cpl Jake Hartley. together with Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, and Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, he died in a blast in Afghanistan this week.
I was contacted to find out what to do, I recommended some emergency prayers.
I would also like to say how very humble I am.
The last entry on Cpl Hartley's Facebook page was, "I'll be fine mum trust me."
Two thirds of people in Wales think presumed consent for organ donation is a good idea.
It's an emotional subject. To find out whether the people of Wales are right or wrong, we must consult the Big Book of Magic Stuff. It turns out that the Big Book of Magic Stuff has quite specific instructions on slavery, holy war, something called "women" and a large number of offences that you should be put to death for. It does not have any specific instructions about organ donation. I'm therefore going to make them up and post rationalise it in an attempt to make the Big Book of Magic Stuff seem relevant to modern ethical problems.
Jesus, whom you'll recall was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, did rather a lot of healing. This suggests that healing and preventing suffering is probably a good thing. From this is turn, we can infer that donating the organs of the deceased to benefit the living might also possibly be considered to just maybe be a good thing. After all, there is an after-life, despite what Giles Fraser may say, so the bit we float around in in the before-life doesn't matter that much.
In conclusion, Christian theology unambiguously and definitively can't make up it's mind, proving once again the value, relevance and moral leadership of the modern church.
Saturday, 25 February, 2012, 08:26 AM - MarshallRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
You will soon be able to buy the Sun on Sunday. The Sun is a newspaper. No, honestly, it is. So now you'll be able to read page three, seven days a week, including Sunday.
Noam Chomsky was seriously cynical about newspapers. As he famously remarked, "I was reading the Sun newspaper and I just had to ask, WOW! just take a look at today's page three!"
Newspapers like The Sun are now facing serious challenges from the internet and especially from social media. Page three must now compete with more diverse news stories such as, "Eric from Clapton is currently washing his car, although he may be reading page three".
The Middle Earth word, οβιτνευσιον or hobbitnewsion, was first used by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has a variety of translations but one of its more literal forms can be read as "hobbit news". This was the interpretation that J.R.R. Tolkien and some of the first film makers intended. So we see that news is not new and there has in fact been news for a very long time.
The launch of the Sun on Sunday, reminds us of the great tradition of war correspondents, who risk and often give their lives in places such as Syria and other trouble spots around the world.
With the internet, the Sun on Sunday, Lord of the Rings and the Big Book of Magic Stuff, it has never been more important to distinguish what is real from what is just utter fantasy.
Has anyone mentioned the Olympics yet? There's only 199 days to go, so I think it's important that I point them out to you, otherwise you might not notice.
That's why the Cabinet met at the Olympic site yesterday and David Cameron said, "Hey look at me, I'm at the Olympic park. Isn't that just great?"
I took a bus out to the Olympic park the other day and I can confirm that it really is there. Not only that, but there's a fantastic new shopping centre as well. The people of Stratford, East London, are now really happy and contented. Anyone who says otherwise is just one of those horrible cynics who can safely be ignored.
The really important thing about the park is it's legacy, like giving the local kiddies somewhere to splash around and have some fun in.
But "legacy" does not just mean buildings. It is much more than that. It is something that is hard to define, is much more intangible. What is the word I'm looking for? Let me see. Ah, yes it's SPIRITUAL!
Did someone say "spiritual"? That reminds me of the wisdom books of the Old Tasty mint. The wisdom books wisely speak of the wisdom of maintaining our faith legacy. Those who wisely maintain the wisdom of their legacy of faith are known as wise people, say the wisdom books. As it wisely says in one of the wisest of the wisdom books, "Those who wisely maintain the wisdom of their legacy of faith are wisely wise and full of wisdom, but those who foolishly discard the wise wisdom of the legacy of faith are full of foolishness and are fools."
Are you believing what I'm believing? Are you wisely wise as the wise wisdom book proclaims? Or have you foolishly discarded the wise legacy of faith and become a fool?
Long term isolation from others is not desirable for most of us.
A little bit of isolation can be good but lots of it is bad.
In other words, we like to engage with others.
In other, other words, we don't like to be in solitary confinement, or in yet other, other words, to be cut off.
I've seen people in solitary confinement, when the only person they were allowed to see was me. You cannot believe how terrified they were.
In other, other, other words we don't like to be lost in isolation.
Visiting friends in France recently, they now see Britain as isolated. They think that Britain only cares about its own self interest, unlike France.
Well who won the war anyway? Damned ungrateful French.
Early Christians used to isolate themselves in the desert in order to be holy. Then they'd come back as holy people. So we will come back to the EU as holier too.
The Old Tasty mint book of Proverbs says isolation is a bad thing, therefore it is.
In summary, using my initial words and not any of the other words, a little bit of isolation can be good but lots of it is bad.
Saturday, 3 December, 2011, 08:09 AM - MarshallRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Ambassadors are in the news. Iran and Britain have decided to stop having ambassadors. The 2012 Olympics, on the other hand, have decided to have some royal ambassadors. They'll royally tell everyone that the 2012 Olympics are really royally great.
This got me thinking about ambassadors. Here is what I thought.
An ambassador is someone who speaks up for someone or something and says, "Someone or something is really great." They usually arrive at the place where they're going to do their ambassadoring and say, "Hello, I'm the ambassador for someone or something. Now it's time for me to get on with the job of saying how great someone or something is."
In the New Tasty mint of the Big Book of Magic Stuff, Saint Paul mentions "ambassadors" twice: once in his second letter to the Corinthians and once in his letter to the Ephesians. That's how important ambassadors are: Saint Paul mentions them twice. He doesn't mention them in his letters to the Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, in his first letter to the Corinthians, in either letter to the Thessalonians, or to Timothy, Titus, or Philemon, but that doesn't reflect on how important ambassadors are.
As an Anglican priest I know that a person who is really good at saying how really good someone or something is, will be really good at being an ambassador for that someone or something, because a really good ambassador is really good at that.
That's my thought for today.
People use emails. To say things. To each other. MPs use them too. And other things, like Facebook. To communicate. To say things to people. People like to communicate. Communication didn't just evolve, or anything, to like, communicate, or stuff. It's a gift. From the Invisible Magic Friend. People communicate electronically. And in other ways. Sometimes not electronically. Although there's a lot of it about. Sometimes I meet with people. We talk. We communicate. Not electronically. Although sometimes we do. Some of them have families. Some have careers. Some have families and careers. And they communicate, just like I'm doing now. As a famous person whom you've never heard of said, "Yes."
Er... That's it really.
Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 08:54 AM - MarshallRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
All four miners in the Swansea Valley colliery have been found dead. The tension and grief in Rhos Community Centre, where the families waited, was almost unimaginable. Toys for the children, flowers and good wishes, arrived from all over the world.
At times like these, you are no doubt interested in the theological significance of "the pit". Theologically "the pit", as we theologians like to call it, is referred to in the Old Tasty mint as being cut off from the Invisible Magic Friend. You might like to go and look up Psalm 88 at this point. Unfortunately, the rather mean spirited BBC doesn't give me sufficient time to read out the whole of Psalm 88. Which is a great shame, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. Take this bit for instance.
Why, LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
Indeed, nearly all the Psalms are full of a great deal of people asking why the Lord hasn't done anything to help the long suffering worshipper, but they go on worshipping and praising him anyway and say what a great comfort he is to them.
If only the BBC would give me a bit longer. The one thing we reverends are really very good at is talking. I could fill the entire Today Programme with my readings and annotations from the Psalms. I'm sure it would be a great comfort to you all in this time of grief.
Don't forget to look on the bright side, however. Like many thousands before them, who died in desperation and darkness down "the pit" (as we theologians like to call it), they are now all happily together with the Invisible Magic Friend in heaven. Unless they're in the other place of course.
I'm sure this will be nearly as great a comfort to you as my readings and annotations from the Psalms.
Saturday, 20 August, 2011, 08:35 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Spirituality, Think of the children, MarshallRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Weren't last week's headlines about young people just terrible! Every single one of them, except the Christian ones, were out rioting. Few can now afford higher education and fewer still will ever own a home. What has gone wrong with all modern youth, except the Christian ones?
Former Big Brother host, Russell Brand, speaking from Beverly Hills, and quoting Gandhi, criticised the lack of spirituality in modern youth. I agree with that, so he must be correct. And when I say "spirituality", I don't mean that wonder and awe that taps into the natural curiosity and enthusiasm of young people. No, I mean the much narrower, silly definition about invisible magic stuff.
Pope Benedict has gathered almost a million young people from around the world to worship him in Madrid. That's what I call being properly spiritual. Well done Pope Benedict! That's how to teach them right from wrong. You don't see Christians going out rioting.
You see, without Christianity, young people don't understand how to be generous or think of other people. They're just their natural, selfish, greedy selves.
Young people from Walsingham recently spent a week together being Christian. This is the kind of useful, constructive, insightful experience that more young people need to give meaning to their otherwise purposeless lives. All the ones that weren't being Christian were out rioting.
When modern youth look at today's adults, they see only the shallow cynicism of today's teachers, doctors, aid workers, poets, scientists and philosophers. No wonder their souls are empty and they go out rioting. How much healthier it is to see young people worshipping the leader of the greatest paedophile cover up conspiracy in the history of humanity. What an inspiring tonic it must be for these young people! Isn't Pope Benedict just fantastic!