Friday, 17 July, 2009, 07:25 AMRating 2 out of 5 (a little platitudinous)
The courageous human rights campaigner Natalia Estemirova has been murdered. Equally courageous, Aung San Suu Kyi remains on trial in Burma. Their willingness to risk themselves in a just cause is both inspiring and humbling. The bravery of these extraordinary people reminds me of Buddhism. I met a Buddhist monk who used his Buddhist teaching to resist torture: remain calm, don't get angry, although while being tortured he did actually get angry, but later on he stopped being angry. But not everyone who is courageous is a Buddhist, Natalia Estemirova for example. A tad disappointingly, the Burmese junta are all Buddhists, although they're not proper Buddhists. Really courageous people don't derive their strength from a strong sense of selflessness and empathy for others. Rather, they have an internal moral compass that they get by looking inwards, a bit like Buddhist meditation, although I don't like to mention that as it's such a cliché.
Thursday, 16 July, 2009, 07:45 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I've got more exciting comment on current affairs for you. After the shocking revelations in Coronation Street and the brilliant hospital drama I saw a few months ago, I've now got some deep spiritual insight into Freefall, a fictional look at the effects of one of my other favourite subjects, the recession.
It was Tuesday night and I was shagged out after another hard day's vicarring. I woke up to find this delightful sermon on the evil of worshipping money. The author clearly took his inspiration from Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe - "While the sun shines make your hay", a message taken to heart by Sir Fred Goodwin and all the other bankers with multi-million pound bonuses. The financial collapse came as such a shock. It seemed obvious that everyone could keep on borrowing money indefinitely with no ill effects. The result? All you wicked worshippers of money have gone and slashed my pension. Everyone's jobs are under threat, except clergy of course (we have to do something to deal with the terrible bishop shortage ).
In the end, the poor unemployed security guard in the telly programme had to leave his posh house and car and go back to his council flat. At least he had his family. The author really did know his Iolanthe - "Blood is think, but water's thin".
Wednesday, 15 July, 2009, 02:55 PMThere's a TFTD poll over at the LibDem website.
http://www.libdemvoice.org/new-poll-sho ... 15641.html
Wednesday, 15 July, 2009, 07:22 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Now for some real news. I've just found out that slavery is a bad thing. It causes untold injustice and suffering. So all you Radio 4 slave owners, I just think you should know you are very bad people indeed. President Obama, a nice Christian, thinks slavery is bad too. It's important to remember that Christianity spearheaded the movement to free the slaves held by other Christians, although they probably weren't real Christians at all, since real Christians are nice and don't own slaves.
As Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons, I went to Nigeria to find out all about slaves. We all know that white people can be very wicked, but imagine my surprise when I discovered that some non-white people have had slaves too! Good job I went to Nigeria to find that out so I could come back to tell you all about it.
I'm off to Kenya tonight, to save the planet as we high flying bishops do. It's a meeting for aid agencies from Africa, India, Asia and the Bishop of Liverpool. This is kind of related to slavery because there'll be lots of black people there. I'll be reminding them all that there are some bad black people too and that the current state of Africa isn't entirely our fault.
With religious nutters running wild in the Sudan, we're all just standing idly by. This is also related to slavery because it's bad and happening in Africa. What about a nice bit of western military intervention? That usually makes things much better.
I'm reminded of that beautiful passage from Genesis where the LORD grieves for the suffering of mankind, and then decides to kill everyone.
Tuesday, 14 July, 2009, 07:34 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Dr Denis Walsh thinks giving birth should be more painful. The mums on mumsnet don't all agree. Pain often serves a purpose. Physical pain highlights the presence of illness and possible danger. Emotional pain is the price we pay for close attachment.
Religion offers many different responses to pain. Some think it's fun to suffer. Others think regular doses of faith works far better than a couple of paracetamol. The gospel view is complex, subtle and nuanced, i.e. they don't really say anything. This diversity of religious views is much better than boring old consistency and just goes to show that religion must be correct.
So if you suffer phantom limb pain, or inoperable nerve damage that makes every waking moment a living hell, console yourself with the fact that Jesus suffered too, for a whole three hours. I don't actually suffer from chronic pain myself, but if you do then you'll feel much better knowing that my Invisible Magic Friend is with you all the way, although for some reason chooses to do bugger all about it.
Monday, 13 July, 2009, 07:26 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
War is a messy business. No, honestly it is! People get killed. When we see the grieving families of dead service personnel, we immediately think of Mary, the mother of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Even at a time when we should pause to salute the bravery of those who have given their lives, or deplore the waste of those who have died so young, or question the wisdom of a protracted campaign in a region that is notoriously difficult to control, the important thing is to be distracted by religion, the right religion, my religion. And there's been some fantastic paintings of Mary.
As a Reverend Canon Doctor and an Anglican Priest, let me just assure you that it's all in a good cause. That Taliban lot are a bunch of religious nutters. They think their Invisible Magic Friend has told them how to live their lives and because their Invisible Magic Friend is all good, all knowing and all powerful, everyone has to live their lives the way they tell them to. I mean, you can't get much more loopy than that, can you? That's what happens when people with dangerous delusions are given exclusive privileges and legitimised by the state. It's not even the right religion. My Invisible Magic Friend assures me that their Invisible Magic Friend is just a figment of their imagination and they should stop paying any attention to him.
Sunday, 12 July, 2009, 08:26 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The July 2009 General Synod assemblies has concerned itself with the vital spiritual welfare of the nation. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have debated a wide variety of topics relating to the Christian faith. Examples include the following.
1. How to spend large amounts of money.
2. More spending money
3. Spending money on lawyers.
4. Who can spend money and how much.
5. How much money we can get for church services.
In view of the ever declining Church attendance in this increasingly godless society, the question arises as to how we're going to get all this money. It has been suggested that with fewer and fewer actual worshippers, perhaps the number of bishops might be reduced in proportion. This is of course impossible. The crucial and indispensable work of bishopping has never been more needed, nor the workload so great. If we reduce the number of senior clergy, who, it must be asked, is going to decide how to spend all that money?
With this in mind, it behoves all Anglican clergy to remind their flocks of the joy of giving. The great spiritual fulfilment that one receives in return for unbounded generosity brings a small taste of heaven in this mean and selfish secular world. This is not the first time we have appealed to the charitable nature of our Christian brethren. We did so in 1978 (A Resourceful Church), in 1980 (A Giving Church?), in 1982 (A Responding Church), in 1985 (A Sharing Church), in 1988 (Giving in Faith), in 1994 (Of your own…), in 1995 (Working as One Body), and in 2000 (First to the Lord). By God's grace and the blessing of a rising stock market, together with an appreciating property portfolio, we have not appealed for more money once since 2000. Now, finally, the Good Lord has given our congregations the opportunity to share with their hard-working clergy. Remember, it is at times such as these, when hardship and economic recession are at their worst, that bountiful giving enjoys the most abundant reward in the hereafter. So give, give, give! Give 'till it hurts!
Saturday, 11 July, 2009, 09:27 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Brian here, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in today’s world. Hi.
The Public Administration Select Committee is looking into words. Coincidentally, I'm going to use "words" to tell you all about the Invisible Magic Friend. Words are so important. Words like "incentivise" and "paradigm" and "stakeholder". That's why, when speaking about the Invisible Magic Friend we never use clichés or platitudes and we absolutely never speak in nebulous riddles. You won't find Christian organisations like the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity rattling off glib, corporate sounding mission statements.
Some Christian bloke said using clichés was blasphemous and I agree. That's why I always use well defined terms with precise, unambiguous meanings. I like to visit prisoners, they're what you might call a captive audience. I was explaining to one of them the other day all about the Invisible Magic Friend and why I believed Jesus was the visible bit of him. Unfortunately, the prisoner was too stupid to appreciate my rigorous arguments backed by mountains of empirical evidence.
It was precisely in this tradition of Christian clarity and lucidity, that Saint John penned the famous words, "And the word became flesh and lived among us," but I think that's a rubbish expression and would like to rephrase it in a more cool, hip and groovy phrase of my own: "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood."
Friday, 10 July, 2009, 07:24 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, 07:27 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.