And the big news that everyone's talking about today, is what was on the telly last night. It was the second episode of 56 Up, the series that has been visiting the same set of people every seven years since 1964.
The initial aim was to illustrate class divisions, even in the very young, and how this affects someone's life chances.
I'm sure you're all asking what I asked, what does this tell us about the Invisible Magic Friend? Well, there are only two possibilities: either the Invisible Magic Friend gave us free will, or the the Invisible Magic Friend charted out our whole life in advance and there's nothing we can do about it. Whether we have free will or not is therefore a theological question, because we have to decide what the Invisible Magic Friend is doing. This illustrates, once again, the practicality and usefulness of theology.
Calvin thought the Invisible Magic Friend had predetermined who would be saved and who would be condemned before he created us, so there really wasn't much point in doing anything. Others think the Invisible Magic Friend looks on us as a kind of reality TV show - an endless source of entertainment.
The makers of 56 Up may be trying to give us a window into a small group of people's lives, but they're really doing the most fascinating theology.
My son asked if I ever fear for the future? The answer is no, I don't. My future will be relatively short. I've been gainfully employed as a vicar and can retire on a comfortable pension thanks to the Church Investment Fund.
For young people, burdened with student debt, a mortgage and increasing costs of child care, a lifetime of debt seems to loom before them. The prospect of potential economic collapse in the Eurozone raises further fears of the rise of political extremism.
How does the Old Tasty mint tell us to solve the Eurozone debt crisis? Well The LORD commands that all debts be cancelled every seven years. Sorry, did I say seven years? I meant fifty, although this only applies to property in the country, unless it's part of a walled town, but not if it's a house owned by a Levite, which I think is pretty clear. The LORD also provides some useful advice on the buying and selling of slaves but I don't have time to go into that in detail right now.
Some of you may be thinking that just cancelling all debts and returning property to their former owners (unless it's in a walled town, but not if owned by a Levite) is totally impractical, and you would be right. However, it is not a request from the LORD but a command.
So maybe the people of Greece should be given a bit of time to sort themselves out, because if Greece does default, and banks start to fail, and investment funds stop paying out, even a Church of England pension might be in jeopardy.
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.
Saturday, 19 May, 2012, 06:10 AM - Not TFTDFollowing advice from Stonyground, I had to google "trampoline jesus".
Naturally, no mention of trampolines and Christianity would be complete without a link to the Leaping Order of Saint Beryl.
The synagogue in Plymouth is 250 years old. Like the building itself, the small Jewish community in Plymouth has blended in effortlessly with the surrounding town.
Jews learned to do this from ancient times. Since the enforced exile, when the Jews wept by the rivers of Babylon, we have learned to keep our own traditions while blending in and contributing to our host culture.
As anti-immigration parties prosper across Europe minorities should be recognised for the heritage they bring with them, while at the same time adopting all that is best from their hosts.
It's what the Jews of Plymouth have done for 250 years and it works.
Happy Ascension Day everybody! On this day, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend was taken up into the sky and is now somewhere beyond the Oort cloud in interstellar space. At some point he'll turn around for his second coming, which Christians have been expecting any day now for the last couple of thousand years. Sometimes the Ascension is depicted literally as some bloke going up into the sky. Of course, when the New Tasty mint says he goes up into the sky, they really meant something quite different. You can tell it's not meant to be taken literally by the fact that it's extremely silly.
Isn't it just amazing how relevant this is even in the modern day and age? You see, when Jesus went up into the sky, even though he really didn't, he left his followers together, alone. Astonishingly, people remain together, alone, to this very day. I met a large group of people on a breast cancer walk the other day. They were all together alone too.
Isn't the economy just terrible! Jesus' Ascension is relevant to that too, even though it didn't literally happen. In these difficult economic times, more and more people are finding themselves together, alone. Youth unemployment is making them together, alone, too, just like with Jesus.
In reality we're all together, alone, with the Invisible Magic Friend and any bits of him that might be floating around between the stars.
People worship gold instead of the invisible magic friend. Loads of poor people in the third world have really hard time of it mining gold for us and our mobile phones (and by us I mean you). Of course there are loads of poor people in this country too, not mining gold, so I dunno really. Anyway, Jesus.
[Ed. This POTD brought to you by HornsDino.]
Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 07:17 AM - TilbyRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Isn't death just fascinating? I've always been fascinated by death. That's why I'm so excited by Dying Matters Awareness Week.
My first death was an elderly next door neighbour. I asked his widow lots of fascinating questions that really got me off to a fantastic start in my fascination with death. Of course I didn't have the vocabulary to wax lyrical about death as I do now, still I think I was pretty precocious on all matters deathly, at least for a three year old.
It's all so mysterious and fascinating and strange and mysterious and stuff.
Some people think death is the end and that there's no invisible magic bit to go to heaven or hell. You would think that people like that would be more candid when one of your loved ones dies, and say things like, "Well that's the end of your husband that you've been married to for the last 50 years. He's gone, dead, kaputt, finito, so you just better get used to it." Oddly, they don't. They tend to try and soften the blow, even though they don't believe in the invisible magic afterlife.
Fortunately, there are professionals like me to deal with death. I offer funerals at very reasonable and competitive rates. When it comes to the death industry, there's really no one better in the business. I can provide a wide range of poems, hymns and readings, especially from the Big Book of Magic Stuff.
As to the big question: is there an afterlife? The answer is yes. You can be comforted that your loved ones have definitely gone to heaven to be happy forever, unless they're burning forever in hell of course.
One of the most risk averse of all investment banks, JP Morgan, has just made a $2 billion loss, which, if you think about it, is a bit like having faith in the Invisible Magic Friend.
People had faith that JP Morgan wouldn't make a $2 billion loss. They might be right, they might be wrong, but they had faith and they were wrong. People have faith that the Invisible Magic Friend exists. They might be right, they might be wrong. I mean it's possible the Invisible Magic Friend doesn't exist. No matter how unlikely that might seem, anything is possible.
As Pascal pointed out you've got nothing to lo
As a Rev Dr, I'd just like to point out that I can do references to Shakespeare as well: Othello.
Nothing in life is risk free, so trust in the Invisible Magic Friend just as you trusted in JP Morgan.
Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 08:02 AM - Not TFTDArchbishop 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.