Happy Euro 2012 everyone! Yes, today I'm going to talk to you about football.
Which brings me neatly onto the subject of the blanket bombing of German cities by Bomber Command at the end of World War II.
A memorial is about to be unveiled to the 55,000 young men who died from Bomber Command. It's taken a long while because of the controversy surrounding the destruction of cities like Dresden.
So was this bombing justified? In order to find out, we naturally turn to the 13th century Catholic Theologian and military strategist, Saint Thomas Aquinas. Jesus said to love one another, do good to those who hate you. Thanks to the genius of Saint Thomas Aquinas, we now know that what Jesus actually meant was, declare all out war against your enemies.
The Catholic Church has refined this complex theology to: declare all out war against your enemies, but only after you've tried talking to them first. Hitler was a good example. He was a very bad fascist dictator, whom the Catholic Church (eventually) decided was much worse than all the other fascist dictators that they'd established concordats with. The Catholic Church officially approves of war against Hitler.
However, it's important when blanket bombing civilians that this is done in a moderate and proportionate fashion. Excessive blanket bombing really is unacceptable.
So there we have it, proof once again of the value of Catholic theology in action.
Enjoy the football.
There'sh lotsh of shport coming up (hic!) and we're gonna lose at everyfing. Absolutely everyfing. I mean why are our athletes sho rubbish?
They're not rubbish really. (hic!) It'sh because they're actually sho brilliant that they jusht appear to be rubbish. They end up getting all exshited and throw out all the cuddly toysh. They need to relash, chill out, (hic!) maybe have the occasional, shmall glass of sherry.
Shaint Paul had the shame problem. He tried to do good (hic!) but ended up founding Chrishtianity inshtead. He wash talking thish over with the Invishible Magic (hic!) Friend who told him to relash, chill out, maybe have the occasional, shmall glash of sherry.
Erashmus, the centuries dead theo... (hic!) theo... (hic!) ologian, he should be made England coach. He'd be a lot better than the one'sh we've had recently.
You all need to relash, chill out, maybe have the occasional, shmall glash of sherry, like I do. I'm the ex-Bishop of Shufrock. It'sh what I do. (hic!)
Jesus told a parable where workers were hired at different times of the day but all paid the same amount. Those who worked longest complained but the employer told them they were only casual labour and he could do what he liked. Humans may think this is totally unfair but the Invisible Magic Friend is allowed to be unfair because he's in charge.
This is similar to the work for prisoners being proposed, except that in the parable they weren't prisoners and had a contract for an agreed wage. It's also similar to the unpaid jubilee stewards who were told to sleep under London Bridge in the cold and the wet, except that they were treated even worse than the Invisible Magic Friend treats vineyard workers.
It's also similar to the Beecroft Report that recommended allowing employers to behave more like the Invisible Magic Friend and get rid of various inconvenient workers' rights. This debate, unhelpfully, becomes polarised between those who think workers should have rights and those who don't.
Which brings me neatly to my just seeing It's a Wonderful Life for the first time. That's a nice film with Jimmy Stewart playing someone nice.
Hard working people like vicars need to be treated fairly and employers should be more nice like Jimmy Stewart and not like the Invisible Magic Friend.
Which brings me neatly to the Spanish economy. Oh dear.
Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-Religious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society, New College on the Mound, University of Edinburgh
While Britain celebrated the jubilee, Egyptians are celebrating the imprisonment of Mubarak. The sentence brings to an end 30 years of his rule and 40 years of dictatorship.
The presidential elections that take place in a few weeks time however, do not mark the end of Egypt's revolution. The future president must uphold the supremacy of civil law and guarantee justice and equal rights for all.
Those who wish to use Islam to suppress human rights will no doubt find a theological justification. That's the great thing about religion, you can find theological justifications for just about everything, including doing what is right. For example, there's a good bit in the Koran where the Invisible Magic Friend praises the actions of just leaders.
Egypt's president must resist the temptation to abuse the privileges of power. Those who lost loved ones will continue to demand a just society and it is up to Egypt's leaders to deliver it.
Has anyone mentioned the Diamond Jubilee yet? No? Good job I was here then. It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee you know!
Her Majesty became Queen in 1952 but it was 1953 before we could afford a coronation. The archbishop gave her a copy of the Big Book of Magic Stuff, because she hadn't been able to afford one up until then. This is a book full of wisdom, such as totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys, or So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, and many, many other wise things.
Ever since then, Her Majesty has been head of the Church of England, faithfully being faithful to the faith for 60 years. In being faithful to the faith, she has also been faithful to the many other faiths in Britain today. It is no exaggeration to say, that without her, there would be no freedom of religion in our country.
Today, there will be a service of thanksgiving in Saint Paul's. We will thank the Invisible Magic Friend for the Queen. For without her, someone else would have been the monarch.
So when the great history of her great reign is finally, greatly written, there will be one great chapter about how she was faithfully faithful to the faith, and to other faiths that are not her faith, and that great, faithful chapter, should it be written by one so humble as oneself, should be entitled, "The Faithfully Faithful to the Faith Queen, and Other Faith Stuff too."
Monday, 4 June, 2012, 07:23 AM - Rabbi Lionel BlueRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Good morning Sarah, happy holiday to you. Good morning Evan, happy holiday to you. And good morning to you all, happy holiday to you.
I'm off to buy a Jubilee mug. It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee you know!
Long, long ago, when Edward VII and his charming wife Queen Alexandra were on the throne, granny bought me an Edward and Alexandra mug. Then, when George V and his charming wife Mary were on the throne, mummy bought me a George and Mary mug. Then, when Edward VIII and his charming mistress Mrs. Simpson were nearly on the throne, no one bought Edward and Mrs. Simpson mugs. Then when George VI and his charming wife Elizabeth were on the throne, everyone bought George and Elizabeth mugs. Then when Elizabeth was on the throne and her charming husband Philip wasn't, we all bought Elizabeth and Philip mugs. Then we bought Charles, Prince of Wales mugs, then Silver Jubilee mugs, then Charles and Diana mugs, then Andrew and Fergie mugs, then Golden Jubilee mugs and now it's time to buy a Diamond Jubilee mug.
Isn't the Queen just amazing? Here's a dog joke.
Man buys a dog. His wife says he always buys useless pets. "Not this time," he says and throws a stick into the pond. The dog walks on water to get the stick and walks on water back. "See, said his wife, now you've bought a dog that can't even swim."
God bless you ma'rm!
Sunday, 3 June, 2012, 08:44 AM - ClemmiesThe website has been given a new coat of finest NHS-green paint. This can mean only one thing.
Yes, I am honoured and deeply privileged, that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously consented to present this month's Clemmies. I would ask you all to now stand and join in a rousing chorus of our national anthem.
Gawd save or graaaaacious Queen,
Long live our nooooble Queen
Gawd save the Queen...
We are delighted that on this, the 60th anniversary of One's coronation on 2nd June 1953, that We should present the ancient and noble Order of the Clemmie.
We are impressed that so many of One's subjects have displayed such sterling efforts. Rev Dr Dr Joel Edwards, a descendent from one of Our sunnier dominions, gave some wise words on the nature of One's invisible magic bits. He gave some less wise words about democracy being a gift from the Invisible Magic Friend, of whom We are the representative in England. We were not amused at his dismissive tone towards absolute monarchs and he will certainly not be receiving the Order of the Clemmie from Us.
A certain Canon David Winter remarked on the inclement weather and that this was due in part to One's heir presenting the weather forecast. Disparaging remarks about One's heir, whatever One might think about him, excludes One from the Order of the Clemmie.
Rev Canon Angela Tilby, of One's Cathedral in Oxford, spoke at length on her fascination with death. One considers this to be a somewhat indelicate subject, given One's age, and One would prefer to move quickly on.
Rev Lucy Winkett, of Our Church in Piccadily, which is very handy for Fortnum and Mason, a store that has previously enjoyed the patronage of royal warrants, pointed out how very relevant Our Lord's lift oaf into space was.
Another of One's subjects, Akhandadhi Das, who doesn't appear to be part of the church of which One is head, advised immediate war with Syria. This confirms the opinion of One's former Prime Minister and Middle Eastern Peace Envoy. Mr Blair has since renounced the one true Church of England and has reverted to popery, so One does not feel inclined to look kindly upon this particular subject's advice.
My husband and I were most amused by Lord Sacks' contributions. Who would have known that the inventor of the TV remote control was responsible for so many of the modern ills in our society. I personally have never seen the point of such devices. Surely, One simply gets One's butlers to change the channel?
Informative as this was, We feel that it is his fawning sycophancy at which he most excels. One is used to grovelling flattery in One's role as monarch of so many realms, but Baron Aldgate's abject servility was most entertaining. Lord Sacks' latter contribution may not have been in May, but this is the jubilee award and, as the date of Our coronation suggests, calendars are for subjects, not for princes.
Therefore now I, Elizabeth, by the Grace of the Invisible Magic Friend, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, do now most solemnly by Our Prerogative Royal, confer this most ancient and honourable jubilee Order of the Clemmie upon Lord Sacks, Baron Aldgate.
[Polite applause. Please be upstanding for another rousing chorus of our national anthem. Gawd save our graaaacious queen,...]
Portraits are really good things.
President Bush has one.
Queen Elizabeth has lots. Has anyone mentioned that it's her diamond jubilee? No? Good job I was here then. It's her diamond jubilee.
There are photographs and digital photographs too.
There's the Charles Levene portrait or possibly the Chris Levine one. It's really good.
The famous Scottish poet, Alexander Smith, who I'm sure needs no introduction, said something about portraits.
Portraits are, of course, like everything else, religious and spiritual objects, especially the ones that are about religious and spiritual things.
Leonardo Da Vinci painted a religious and spiritual portrait that was very religious and spiritual. It's really good. A famous art historian agrees with me, so I must be right.
Saint Paul mentioned faces once. Portraits are about faces.
Friday, 1 June, 2012, 07:14 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Hmmmm, The Queen!
I don't know if you've noticed, but the Hmmm The Queen is about to celebrate her diamond jubilee. Yes Hmmm The Queen has spent 60 glorious years sitting on the throne. That's despite having her annus horribilis after only 40 years on the throne.
We Jews love Hmmm The Queen, especially those of us who get made Lords. It's thanks to Hmmm The Queen that Britain is a tolerant, fair, just, peaceful, British nation. You only have to look at nations that don't have a hereditary monarch descended from the Hanoverian dynasty to realise just how lucky we are.
Lords from many other faiths think so too, so I must be right.
She makes all of us better people by wearing lots of really impressive twinkly baubles. Were it not for Hmmm the Queen, thousands of places around the country would never have had that new coat of paint. Without Hmmm The Queen, it is no exaggeration to suggest that we would, literally, eat each other alive.
Where there is true greatness, there you will find true humility. That is certainly true of Hmmm The Queen. She's almost as humble as I am.
Gawd bless yer Majesty as this 'umble subject baron wipes tears of ardent, heartfelt loyalty and affection from his eyes.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image has found disturbing evidence that many people are not happy with their bodies. Some eat too much, others want to develop the muscle often seen in magazines.
The solution to all this unhappiness is to say grace before meals. A good one is "Bless us, Invisible Magic Friend, and your gifts."
This grace asks the Invisible Magic Friend to bless us and to bless his gifts. It is a double blessing, in that both we and his gifts are being asked to be blessed. It is, if you like, requesting the Invisible Magic Friend to bless the food that he has given us and to bless us as well. In other words he, the Invisible Magic Friend, who has decided that we may have some food, should bless the food, and us, so that we may not starve as others do.
Yes, you may have worked hard to earn the food. Yes, others may have worked hard to produce it and bring it to your table. Yes, you may live in a society at peace, that respects the rule of law and allows a stable infrastructure that can produce and transport food safely. All of this is thanks to the Invisible Magic Friend, who for some reason has decided that other parts of the world will not be so fortunate.
When some people constantly diet and others eat too much, something is wrong. There is something not right. Whatever it is that is wrong, something should be done about it, and that something, whatever it is to fix whatever is wrong, should be done by somebody.
Christ, who was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend until his lift off into space, said we should ask for our daily bread. Otherwise the Invisible Magic Friend might decide that we're one of the ones who won't get our daily bread. The Invisible Magic Friend is just like that.
He also said that we do not live by bread alone. This means the following.
"Though the needs of our physical natures must be satisfied, even daily bread will be a blessing to us and to others, only as we govern and order our appetites and desires, by an idea of ourselves as something more than merely well nourished and beautiful bodies."