The Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate 
Friday, 1 June, 2012, 08:14 AM
Rating 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.

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Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 
Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 08:48 AM - Health, Materialism, Banner
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous - I think)

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."

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Rev Canon Angela Tilby, Christchurch Cathedral Oxford 
Wednesday, 30 May, 2012, 08:23 AM - Gibberish, Tilby
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Olive oil prices are falling, bringing further gloom to Mediterranean countries.

Olive oil is important because it is packed full of the Holy Spirit (the particularly invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend). This explains the need for the designation "extra virgin", in case the first one didn't work.

Pound for pound, there's more Holy Spirit in olive oil than in any other fatty compound. That's why we don't anoint people with lard, for example. Olive oil is incredibly flexible. You can anoint babies with it, monarchs with it, sick people with it, dying people with it. On a feast like Pentecost - did I mention that last Sunday was Pentecost? The great Christian feast of Pentecost? Where the disciples got filled with the spirit and started jabbering incoherently? Well it was. Anyway, on the feast of Pentecost, you can anoint everyone, just for the fun of it!

So pop on down to your local supermarket and buy as much of that lovely olive oil as you can get your hands on. It's great for salad dressing, and just think of all the fun your can have anointing people with it.

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Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Tuesday, 29 May, 2012, 08:30 AM - War, Akhandadhi Das, Middle East
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

I was deeply moved by the man who died saving a child at the beach. That's why we should invade Syria, and by "we" I do of course mean "someone else".

One of the Hindu Big Books of Magic Stuff, of which we have many, says that being brave is a good thing. Being brave is one of the very best ways to worship the Invisible Magic Friend, which is why it is such a good thing.

As the situation in Syria gets worse, we must be brave and send some of our young people in to put a stop to it. At the very least, we could supply lots of heavy artillery and drop a few thousand bombs, it's the only way to prevent more people being killed.

We must be mindful of the law of unintended consequences and start a new war in the Middle East - it's the Hindu way. Are we to hold back from war simply because we're afraid of igniting a regional conflagration?

Don't be cowardly and weak. In memory of the brave young man who saved a child, we need to invade Syria now.

War with Syria - you know it makes sense.

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Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings, an Anglican priest in Sheffield 
Monday, 28 May, 2012, 08:36 AM - Economics, Health, Billings
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The illegal market in human organs is booming. The trouble with putting a price on human organs, or human beings, is that we begin to see them as a commodity, rather than as individuals.

Jesus always treated people as individuals, which is why you should too. If Jesus hadn't treated everyone as individuals, then it's quite possible that a modern philosopher might have accidentally rediscovered the fact that we should treat everyone as individuals. However, that would just be a philosopher, not the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, so there'd be no real reason to pay any attention.

Refugees and young unemployed people are individuals too.

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7 comments ( 42 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 150 )

The Twins Paradox 
Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 11:30 AM - Science, Not TFTD
Yes, yes, I know, this has been covered a gazillion times by every amateur, would-be physicist on the internet. I just haven't found a website that I thought explained it both clearly and properly. There's really much more going on than I think most people realise.

For those who need a reminder: the twins paradox is a scenario in special relativity. To understand the paradox you only need to know one thing: moving clocks run slower than stationary clocks.

You have two twins: A and B. A remains on Earth. B boards a spaceship and whizzes off to a distant star and then returns. A sees the clock on B's spaceship running slow, so B will be younger than A when B returns. However, everything is relative. From B's point of view it is A that has been moving and so it is A's clock that runs slower. So A should be younger on B's return - an apparent contradiction.



Some texts are content to point out that there is a clear asymmetry in the twins' behaviour. B gets accelerated and decelerated several times, whereas A does not and therefore the "paradox" is a non-starter. Others describe solutions to the paradox that ignore the accelerations and decelerations, which is a shame, because a lot of the interesting physics takes place during the accelerations and decelerations.

I'm going to explore an approximate approach, where the changes in velocity happen very quickly, but not instantaneously.

The diagram above is a space-time diagram. It shows the position in space and time for twin A and twin B. Twin B moves off to the right towards the star and also travels upwards through time. Twin A stays still, but also moves upwards through time. Twin B reaches the star and then returns home to meet A back on earth again.

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Rev Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest 
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

There are lots of amazing people. There are amazingly brave people, amazingly creative people, people with amazingly endurance, amazing talent, amazing amazingness.

There's Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist. He's amazingly brave.

Then there's Jessica Ennis, the sportswoman who's amazingly sporty.

Wes Anderson's amazing too. He's an amazing director.

There's just so many amazing people being amazing at stuff. It's just amazing.

Which brings me neatly onto this weekend. There's a big Christian festival coming up. Happy Pentecost everyone! Shortly after the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend went up into space on a cloud, the particularly invisible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend came down as tongues of fire and the apostles were filled with the spirit. The more filled with the spirit they became, the more they started to talk funny. In the end, they were so full of the spirit that some people mistakenly thought they were drunk. But they weren't drunk, they were just very full of the spirit.

And in conclusion, this is why people are inspired to do amazing things.

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The Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate 
Friday, 25 May, 2012, 08:34 AM - Torah, Sacks
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

There's a big Jewish festival coming up. Happy Shavuot everyone!

Shavuot celebrates the Invisible Magic Friend revealing himself on the top of Mount Sinai. He felt he could reveal himself to Moses because he knew him pretty well by now and no longer felt any sense of embarrassment at revealing himself.

The Invisible Magic Friend formed a contract with the Jewish people, where he told them what to do and they did it. "Go create a new society," he said. "A society of peace, justice, liberty, compassion, mercy, generosity and many, many other fine words. Cancel your debts every seven years, or possibly every fifty depending on what sort of mood I'm in. Create a society with thousands of obscure, often cruel and unnecessary regulations, with harsh punishments for non compliance, up to and including being stoned to death. Start creating this society of peace, justice, liberty, compassion, mercy and generosity by exterminating all the people who currently live there."

Thus did the Jews discover that they were on their own and they would have to build a society of of peace, justice, liberty, compassion, mercy and generosity, all by themselves without any help from the Invisible Magic Friend. Although he did pop in from time to time to see how the cruel and unnecessary regulations were being followed.

Now to some current news. Eugene Polly, the inventor of the TV remote control has died. You all seem to think that you can change the world using your TV remote control. Well I'm sorry to break the news to you, but you can't. In order to change the world you need to get off your lazy, fat behinds and actually do things. You have to do what the Jews did when they created a society of peace, justice, liberty, compassion, mercy, and generosity. The Big Book of Magic Stuff would undoubtedly have had some interesting punishment for users of TV remote controls, if only they had been invented back then.

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Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 
Thursday, 24 May, 2012, 08:27 AM - Old age, Banner
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

I'm sure many of you will have been shocked to read the latest report from the Church Urban Fund. This found that many people in Britain today are poor, or old, or lonely. Some are poor and old, others are poor and lonely. Yet, others are old and lonely. Some are poor and old and lonely, and sick too, some even die.

Being old and poor and lonely is not very nice. Humans like to eat together. This is so unlike our past, when we each went off to our separate caves to eat in private, or with all other modern primates who always go off to distant parts of the forest to eat away from the group.

This is why the Christian ritual of holy communion is such fun. When it comes to a jolly good knees up, nothing can beat holy communion. But many sick, old, poor, lonely people can't get to holy communion any more - their party days are behind them.

It would probably take government policy changes to eliminate poverty, sickness, old age, loneliness and death. However, we can do our bit by offering a shared meal to our lonely, elderly neighbours.

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5 comments ( 477 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 169 )

Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) - I'm ordained you know! 
Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 08:43 AM - Science, Vishvapani
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

I've just started gardening. Others are busy destroying modified plants. Some think GM could provide more efficient crops, others think it is meddling with nature.

The idea that our minds are distinct from our bodies is undermined by science. Even plants display an awareness of their environment and respond accordingly - a kind of primitive consciousness. We also consciously interact with and modify our environment, so it is difficult to see why GM crops should be any different.

One Buddhist meditation reflects that all that we are comes from nature and returns to nature. We are part of the world around us. The world is full of life and our life is part of that world. This view informs our ethical response to environmental crises in various unspecified ways.

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10 comments ( 1037 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 160 )


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