A Chinese teenager has sold a kidney to buy an iPad. I know what you're thinking. That's shocking, especially considering that there are far cheaper Android based equivalents.
But, in a sense, aren't we all (and by "we", I do of course mean "you" ) like the Chinese boy? Aren't you all so superficial that you think having more stuff will make you happy? Yes of course you are.
Many of you will be stuck in boring, tedious, dead end, meaningless jobs. You have to suffer a long, often frustrating commute. You may be undergoing that long, frustrating commute even as I speak. To those of you in your early twenties who have already realised this, I say, don't worry, there's only 40 years or so to go. Then you get to retire.
Of course many of you have to prostitute yourselves to your pointless jobs in order do things like eat. What a shame.
This reminds me of Pentecost, which by a marvellous coincidence just happens to be this Sunday. Those early Christians held all their goods in common. They shared everything and only bought and sold for the common good. We don't do that nowadays. That kind of collective ownership is all a bit suspect and communist and not at all the way that respectable Christians behave, but I think it would be a very admirable way for some of you non-Christians to behave.
Tuesday, 7 June, 2011, 08:34 AM - ButlerRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
You know it'sh not all bad news. (Hic!) It'sh not all doom and gloom and (Hic!) despair and hopeleshnesh. There's good things. No, really, there ish. Take the foreign aid (Hic!) aid budget, that'sh go'in up. That'sh someth'in to cheer 'bout, ishn't it? (Hic!)
Chrishtianty's alwaysh been big on collect'in money and pass'in shum of it to the poor. Sh'aint Paul shtarted it off. (Hic!) He was a right champion fund raiser he wash, help'in the church back in Jelushalem (Hic!) who otherwise might reshent him callin 'imself and aposhle.
That'sh not the only good news. Two drug comp'nies hiv decided to (Hic!) to sell their new vacsheens at a price devlepopping countries can actually afford. OK, it'sh not exactly (Hic!) charity, but it'sh someth'in to be happy about it, ishn't it? Well ishn't it? Yesh it ish.
And there'sh even more good news. Help for Heroes has raised nearly £100m for injured sholdiersh. That'sh pretty good news, (Hic!) ishn't it?
Sho really, ever thin's not ash depreshin and shynical and unremitt'ly awful ash we normally fink. I fink I need a drink. (Hic!)
Good morning Sarah, good morning Justin, and good morning to you all.
University students are beginning to celebrate the end of their exams. For some, the result will not be all they had hoped for. I can sympathise with that. Sixty years ago, a mental breakdown took me from anticipating a first to barely scraping through. Being gay, any relationship was a criminal offence. As a Marxist, I had no Invisible Magic Friend to turn to. Even my parents had threatened suicide.
It's only when you've experienced failure, what it's like to be at rock bottom, when your pride has been stripped and revealed as false, that you learn mercy and compassion. You have to make mistakes in order to learn how to do things right. Sometimes this involves many false starts. It took my first two relationships to learn that you must love people as they are, rather than as you would want them to be.
And to the students with a first class degree in politics and economics who still can't get a job - well at least you're clever enough to know why you can't get a job.
Sunday, 5 June, 2011, 08:37 AM - Clemmies
Before announcing the May Clemmies, here are a few words from our sponsor, Pope Benedict XVI.
On the forthcoming accession of Croatia to the EU, he said he understood "a fear of an overly strong centralised bureaucracy."
On how women can't be priests but that otherwise there is absolutely no discrimination against women in the Church, "In Rome, for example, there is even a Church where not a single man can be seen in any of the altarpieces." (Light of the World, p.150-151)
With commitments to localism and sexual equality such as these, we once again see the liberal, reforming tendencies of this remarkable Pope. And now onto the main business of the day.
Rhidian Brook got things started by telling us all what a splendid Royal Wedding street party they had and how the Invisible Magic Friend popped in to make it a very solemn occasion.
Abdal Hakim Murad complained bitterly that Osama Bin Laden, a man so well known for respecting others' religious rites, wasn't given a proper Islamic burial.
Giles Fraser revealed what a subversive, radical, dangerous, revolutionary organisation the Church of England is.
Joel Edwards had a bit of a laugh at silly old Harold Camping for trying to predict the date of the second coming using scripture. Scripture quite clearly says that the second coming is going to be a surprise.
Anne Atkins explained how the private lives of doctors who want to preach to people in their surgeries should be respected and how this is yet another example of Christian persecution.
Rob Marshall makes a rare bid for the Clemmies by pointing out how faith sustained people throughout the Balkan conflicts, not to mention causing them.
Anne Atkins on why Jesus is exactly like the Space Shuttle: about to be grounded because we can't afford it any more.
It's very difficult to choose this month. I'm excluding Anne Atkins. If we gave her a Clemmie every time she got 5 out of 5 no one else would ever get a look in. I think she does it deliberately. I'm very tempted to give it to Giles Fraser for the sheer rib tickling hilarity of a subversive Church of England. Similarly, Joel Edwards deserves a mention for his scriptural proof that Harold Camping is a loony. In the end, mainly because we so rarely see him at the Clemmies, I'm awarding this month's prize to Rob Marshall. Well done Rob! I hope I don't need to remind you that James Jones won the 2009 Platitude Of The Year with a very similar thought about how Christianity brought peace to Northern Ireland. So Rob Marshall could very well be in with a chance thanks to this month's contribution.
I love doing the Saturday morning Thought For The Day. People are so much more attent...
Olympics... work from home... can't build a car in the kitchen... I've never had a proper job... dentist... snacking... coffee... Gary Cooper...
Spirituality... chaplains in shopping centre... office... spiritual... time chatting... Saint Augustine said... work... pray... God... which means work... pray... God...
Friday, 3 June, 2011, 08:21 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Isn't the E. coli outbreak just terrible? People are dying from eating vegetables. It's at times like this that I wish I could eat some bits of a dead cow. Things are made all the worse by the fear of not knowing which of our beloved vegetables is responsible.
You may recall some previous episodes of Let's Speak Vaishnav Hindu Theology. Today I'll tell you about "fear", or "Keema Balti" as it is known in the more mystical sounding east. Fear leads to "anger", or "King Prawn Biriyani" as we Vaishnav Hindu Theologians call it. "Anger" leads to "hate", or "Vegetable Samosa" as it is more properly known. "Hate" leads to "suffering", or "Chicken Dupiaza with just a hint of coconut" as the Bhagavad Gita tells us - and I can't help thinking I've heard all this somewhere before.
So Germans are living with Keema Balti, Spanish farmers are demanding King Prawn Biriyani, the Russians are holding onto their Vegetable Samosa and we Brits are sticking with Chicken Dupiaza with just a hint of coconut.
Wasn't the abuse at the Winterbourne View care home just awful.
Do you know who comes to mind when I think about that? You'll never guess. It's Jesus! I bet that surprised you. Jesus was really good at healing the mentally ill. It says so right there in the New Tasty mint. Just think what Jesus could have done if he hadn't had to get sacrificed to himself in order to save us all. He could have healed hundreds of thousands of people, almost as many as a modern GP. But he was having none of it.
"I can't waste my time healing people," he said. "I've got to go and sacrifice myself to myself. It's the only way to save you. Come and hear about ME everyone!"
It was the last landing of the space shuttle Endeavour yesterday. This reminds me of Jesus. Like the space shuttle Endeavour, he had more important things to do than help poor people.
"You'll always have poor people," he said. "But you've only got ME for a limited range of time. Then I've got to go and sacrifice myself to myself in order to save you all. It's the only way. I'm god you know! I can do anything."
Even though Jesus cares desperately for every poor little kitten stuck up a tree, he's got far more important things to do. Every day he's got 2 billion people worshipping him! He's far too busy to heal the sick, provide for the poor or save kittens.
Now you're gonna get yours Ratko Mladic, you BAS***D! You EVIL F***ING BAS***D!!
You might think we Buddhists sit around all day meditating, wearing sandals and burning joss sticks. You might think Buddhism is the cuddly teddy bear of religions. Well, let me just tell you, my granddad died in a concentration camp because of EVIL F***ING BAS***DS like you, you BAS***D!!! Now you're getting you're karma. That's right, The Force is gonna get you.
You have caused a great disturbance in The Force and things cause other things. Good things cause goods things and bad things cause bad things. Now bad things are gonna happen to you because of all the bad things you did. You should have known that once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
Good karma always triumphs in the end. Don't mess with Buddhists, for my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. You BAS***D!!!!
Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 08:34 AM - ButlerRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
People are alwaysh having rows. (Hic!) In a Hishtory of Chrishtanity, every few hundred years, Chrish'ins would have a row and shtorm off to burn a diff'rnt set of (hic!) hereshtics. Current rowsh about whether wimmen can have a full set of magic powersh, or wever homoseshuals are real people or not, sheem mild in (hic!) in comparison.
And it'sh not jusht the church. Let me jusht tell you, people (hic!) people outside the church have rowsh about thingsh too. IN LIB YA, people are having rowsh about whether to keep a ruthlesh dicktracy... detractor... guy in charge (hic!) or try shum democrashy. There's always a bunch of people that want to keep thingsh as they are and 'nuther bunch of people who want (hic!) to change thingsh. And another thing, people get very (hic!) pash'nit about thingsh too. The people who want to keep thingsh as they are, they argue pash'nitly that they should keep thingsh (hic!) as they are. And the people who want to change thingsh, they argue jusht as pash'nitly that we should change thingsh (hic!). And they often have pash'nit rows about it 'cos they're so pash'nit about it.
So you see, people feeling pash'nit and having rows happinsh all the time. Shum people wan' (hic!) want to keep thingsh the way they are and shum want to change thingsh. Sh'natural. Sho whatever you're pash'nit about, I'll drink to that! (hic!)
Monday, 30 May, 2011, 10:09 AM - DemocracyRating 0 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)
Egypt has endured 30 years of Mubarak's tyranny. Fuelled by fear of radical Islam, he has been free to rule as he wished, using this fear as a tool.
When I, and millions of others protested against his regime, it was not just against the corruption of his government, but also against this politics of fear.
Yet still, anxiety remains. Islamists, secularists, Muslims and Copts continue to live in fear of one another, unable to engage in dialogue.
Despite this, we have a new self confidence. We dare to dream that the future will build an Egypt that can accommodate us all.