Friday, 10 July, 2009, 08:24 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Michael Jackson was a child once, which brings me neatly onto the subject of the sexualisation of children. Thank goodness the Catholic Church doesn't have any hang ups and isn't obsessed about sex. That's what enables us to explain to Catholic children just how dirty sex is. They, at least, will grow up fearful, ashamed and guilty about sex, unlike all those atheist and protestant slags. Saint Paul, an acknowledged expert on sex, says "When I was a boy, I behaved like a boy, but when I became a man I learned not to put my winkle anywhere that's suspiciously soft, warm and well lubricated. That's why I'm so holy."
Now the government's encouraging young people to stay at home and go to university. This is terrible. They should be leaving home as soon as they're old enough to have sex. They should get married and start producing babies immediately. It's disgusting, I know, but how else are we going to solve the world baby shortage? Besides you can always go to confession afterwards for giving in to lust, that should help with the guilt until the next time you're forced to make babies.
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, says only the child-like will get into woo-woo-land. Saint Paul says to stop being so childish. This is where the logical flexibility of religion becomes so useful. Only believers in the IMF can perform sufficient mental gymnastics to reconcile these two apparently contradictory positions.
Thursday, 9 July, 2009, 08:27 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Yesterday, John Humphrys dared to question the suitability of plasma video screens in St. Paul's Cathedral. Just who exactly does he think he is? We're the Church of England, established by statute, headed by Her Majesty the Queen. We don't take our advice from sniffy BBC presenters. The artiste, Bill Viola, specialises in work that slows life down, and Humphrys even had the effrontery to tell him to hurry up!
Well Mr. Snooty Humphrys, this slot in the programme is run by the BBC's Holy Department of Religion and More Religion, you don't get to say who is on it or what they talk about. More importantly, since it's a religious slot, you don't get to ask questions. I think this new attraction at St. Paul's deserves a bit more publicity. As a Reverend Doctor, let me just assure you that this splendid art work that Mr. Viola hasn't created yet, will do nothing but enhance the ambiance of Christopher Wren's master work. It's one more great attraction in a Cathedral just full of things to do and things to see. It will blow your mind and revolutionise the way you see the world and it's available exclusively at St. Pauls. So why not come along and bring the whole family with you. Take a break from all that vulgar commercialism of the surrounding merchant banks. Learn how to relax and slow down for a very reasonable £11 per adult, with guided tours available for the unbelievable knock down price of only £3.00. Buy the guide book, buy the T-shirt, make a day of it at London's only Cathedral with original plasma screen video art works.
Wednesday, 8 July, 2009, 08:50 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
It's been a while since anyone reminded you that we Christians invented being environmental. Yes, when it comes to population control and restricting fossil fuel consumption, Christianity has been at the very forefront.
Mike Gerson, an American Republican and a Christian, says climate change is a bad thing. He said this a mere couple of decades after everyone else figured it out. That's the kind of bold, decisive, intellectual leadership that only Christianity can provide.
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend said, "This is my planet, so don't go thinking you can mess it up just because it will hasten my second coming and the day of judgement. Blessed are those who recycle, for they shall have a lower carbon footprint, and don't forget to switch off your TVs rather than leaving them on standby".
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a really famous poet and a Christian priest (I say "Christian" rather than "Anglican" because unfortunately he was the wrong sort of priest, one who didn't believe that you had to be a descendant of Henry VIII, unless excluded by the Act of Settlement, to be the Invisible Magic Friend's appointed head of the Church of England - phew what a loony!) He said the local council had no business chopping down his trees and that they should preserve the Amazonian rain forest to provide a large carbon sink and maintain its genetic diversity.
So don't try to save the planet because it's the only one we've got. Don't try and conserve its resources for the benefit of future generations. Forget about the untold misery that climate change will cause to billions of people around the world. But do remember to do what Jesus, a Jesuit poet, a Bush speech writer and me, tell you to.
Tuesday, 7 July, 2009, 08:27 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Has anyone ever used sporting success as a metaphor for excellence in general? No? Oh good. Roger Federer has just won a record 15th Grand Slam victory. This is what comes of being really, really good at something.
I bet you can't tell which of the thousands of Jesus' stories I'm going to mention? It's the parable of the talents! Isn't that a surprise? I don't think anyone's ever mentioned that one on Thought For The Day before. The Invisible Magic Friend wants you to use the talents He gave you to the full. On the other hand, he also wants you to do everything else in life to the full as well. You should both spend as much time as possible using your talents, and spend as much time as possible doing things you're rubbish at.
But what if you haven't got any talents at all? The Bible's just full of people with no real talent having a go at things they're absolutely rubbish at. That's what all you talentless layabouts should be doing. Do what I do. Stop wasting time doing something you're good at and get out there and have a go at something you're rubbish at.
Even Roger Federer has said he's going to spend some time looking after his pregnant wife. Isn't that just amazing? Who'd have thought the world's best tennis player would have time for something he's rubbish at?
Monday, 6 July, 2009, 08:21 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Good morning Evan, good morning to the other one, and good morning to you all.
With MPs, bankers, immigrants and celebrities all being bashed recently, it's tempting to forget that we have some very good things in this country, so let's ask the Invisible Magic Friend about death. I'm nearly 80 you know?
Is there an afterlife Invisible Magic Friend, even though, theologically speaking, the word "after" cannot be applied to the spiritual realm, it being beyond space and time.
YES, EVERYTHING IS REMARKABLY SIMILAR TO THE WAY YOU WOULD WISH IT.
I thought so. And when we are generous to someone and we feel pleasure at bringing happiness to another human being, is that not a small taste of what heaven feels like?
YES IT IS. THAT'S ME MAKING YOU FEEL ALL WARM AND FUZZY INSIDE. IT'S A SMALL REWARD FOR BELIEVING IN ME.
Yes, that's what I thought and I think you do that for some other religions too. Now, what about the inevitable judgement?
HAVE YOU BEEN A GOOD JEWISH BOY ALL YOUR LIFE?
Yes I have Invisible Magic Friend.
OBEYED ALL MY LAWS?
All the nice ones.
Most of the time.
THEN YOU'LL BE JUST FINE AND YOU CAN HAVE A FANTASTIC TIME DOING ALL THE THINGS YOU COULDN'T DO BEFORE, EXCEPT YOU'LL BE DOING THEM OUTSIDE SPACE AND TIME, WHICH MAKES SOME OF THEM A BIT LESS FUN.
Thank you Invisible Magic Friend. Well, its time for bed. I'm nearly 80 you know?
YES, I KNOW.
Saturday, 4 July, 2009, 10:44 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Antony Gormley was commissioned to provide an exhibit for the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, but he couldn't be bothered and instead just took the money and asked 2,400 people if they wouldn't mind filling in the space for an hour each.
Putting yourself on a pedestal is a bad thing. You're liable to get knocked off. But the worst thing about this project is that it's for ordinary people. In fact, there's no such thing as ordinary people. As a priest, I'm constantly bumping into other people and the remarkable thing about them is that even the most ordinary ones aren't ordinary at all. Christopher Reeve, who was even less ordinary than most not ordinary people, said that heroes aren't ordinary either.
As somebody famous said, the invisible Magic Friend doesn't do miracles, which just proves he exists. What more evidence do atheists want? I just thought I'd throw that in while talking about ordinariness because otherwise I might not be able to have a pot shot at stupid atheists. Anyway, back to ordinary people, who turn out not to be ordinary at all. In fact, far from being ordinary (all together now):
WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, was very unordinary indeed. He said, "Don't be shy. Get out there and blow your own trumpet. If you've got it, flaunt it." So it turns out that putting ordinary people, who aren't really ordinary, on pedestals is Jesus approved after all.
Friday, 3 July, 2009, 08:44 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The Turin Shroud is in the news again. i.e. Someone made a telly programme about it, but I think that counts as news so it gives me an excuse to babble on about it. Christians, and by "Christians" I do of course mean proper Christians such as Catholics, love to venerate bits of dead bodies. We're getting a real treat soon with the European tour of the Holy Putrefaction of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun. (Not to be confused with Saint Teresa of Ávila, a Carmelite nun, Saint Teresa of Los Andes, a Carmelite nun, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Carmelite nun, Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, a Carmelite nun, "nun" of whose blessed pickled body parts are currently on tour.) The tour's bound to bring in the crowds and should raise loads of cash for the holy venues where she performs her immensely entertaining cadaverous show.
I went on pilgrimage to the sacred Turin Shroud myself. Armed with the knowledge that scientists in three separate labs had dated it to the middle ages, that the blood on the cloth was discovered to be red paint, and that the contemporary Bishop of Troyes, Pierre d'Arcis, claimed to have apprehended the artist responsible, I was sceptical, as we Catholics tend to be, about the shroud's authenticity. I was nevertheless deeply moved by the image on the cloth. What people fail to realise is that it doesn't matter that it's a fake. The point is, it's a holy fake. It's a wonderful, holy, depiction of all that fantastic suffering and there's nothing we Catholics like best than a good dose of holy suffering.
Thursday, 2 July, 2009, 08:38 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The USA has suddenly realised that Iran (a delightful theocracy run by intelligent, well read religious scholars, not unlike myself) is full of human beings, making war against them less likely. This is called being moral.
The famous moral philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas, whose views, like those of all famous philosophers, fundamentally changed the world and therefore needs no introduction from me, famously made the famous remark that it's very hard to kill someone while you're looking at them. This empathy with the other is because foreigners are so alien and different. The famous Levinas famously thought it was important to emphasise how different foreigners are. The bible says to be really nice to foreigners.
The Invisible Magic Friend is the most foreign and other of all because he's so invisible and magic. Don't try to understand the mysteriously mysterious Invisible Magic Friend, after all he appeared as a burning bush once and you can't get much more mysterious and deep than that.
And in conclusion, that's why you should be nice to foreigners.
Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 08:27 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Darryn Walker has been cleared of writing the internet fantasy story, Girls (Scream) Aloud, where members of the girl band are kidnapped, murdered and dismembered, with their body parts subsequently sold on eBay. He may have gotten away with it, but he did lose his job, so let that be a warning to all you bloggers out there who think you can parody we celebrities with impunity.
But what of the morality of such writing? I'm not allowed to criticise other religions on Thought For The Day, so I'll refrain from mentioning that other religions' proscriptions on morality are based on scriptures of doubtful veracity and the alleged foibles of their Invisible Magic Friend. Far be it from me to suggest that such reasoning is completely silly. Buddhism is entirely different, and therefore correct. We Buddhists believe that the ethical thing to do, is to do ethical things. Buddhist psychology teaches that human beings have "minds". Buddhist psychology also teaches that these "minds" absorb information and react to "stimuli". Buddhist psychology also teaches that our "minds" tell us how to behave. If our "minds" are full of celebrities being kidnapped, murdered and dismembered, with their body parts subsequently sold on eBay, then everyone will just run around kidnapping, murdering and dismembering celebrities, and selling their body parts on eBay. I offer no evidence to support this, but I think the recent flurry of celebrities being kidnapped, murdered and dismembered, with their body parts subsequently sold on eBay speaks for itself.
Tuesday, 30 June, 2009, 08:28 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Two groups of Northern Ireland Christians have decided to decommision the weapons they stockpiled to blow up a different sort of Northern Ireland Christian. Isn't that just moderately encouraging! On the other hand, lots of people have already suffered. Isn't that just terrible? It's awful. Awful, awful, awful. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is what's needed. It might even be as successful as the Bloody Sunday Enquiry.
Sitting here, in a studio in London, on a dedicated religious slot where opposing points of view are, naturally, banned, I think it is entirely appropriate that I campaign for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Northern Ireland. It's not as if Northern Ireland is a delicate or sensitive subject where communities are still riven by sectarian hatred. What better way to reconcile everyone than to open old wounds, relive the horror and remind everyone, over and over again, about all the atrocities, injustices and tragedies of the past 40 years? So much better than just moving on and looking towards a prosperous and peaceful future. The people of Northern Ireland should read scripture a bit more. In scripture we see how to build peaceful communities the way the Invisible Magic Friend wants us to. The Jews wrote down and cherished their history in scripture and look what a happy 2,500 years they've had ever since.