I've told you about Fred before. Many of you Radio 4 listeners have told me how you also secretly speak to Fred. Even atheists and agnostics speak to Fred, except they call him their conscience or their sense of duty. They very rarely call him Fred and they very rarely have conversations with him.
When I think of the ordination of women priests and the Holocaust I ask Fred what it's all about. Fred is very old, just like me, and he likes a bit of a snooze. "Wake up Fred! I want to talk to you about women priests and the Holocaust."
WHAT. OH YES, I REMEMBER VERY MANY HAPPY TIMES WITH PEOPLE, IN THE PAST. PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED IN THE PAST. YES, MANY HAPPY TIMES, GONE NOW, IN THE PAST.
I often get nervous before going on stage. That's when I talk to Fred. "I'm nervous Fred. What if I make a mistake?"
YOU'LL BE ALL RIGHT. JUST THINK OF THE TICKET RECEIPTS.
And now for my customary witty little tale at the end. You'll love this one. A Rabbi asks his Rabbi, "Fred appeared to me in a dream. I know it was him and not just a dream because he said I was going to be the bestest and most spiritual Rabbi anywhere. What should I do?" The Rabbi's Rabbi replied. "Go and appear in everyone else's dreams and tell them to become your followers."
Well it's time for bed. Good night Fred.
GOOD NIGHT LIONEL.
Saturday, 17 July, 2010, 08:01 AM - VishvapaniCongratulations to Vishvapani who's getting married on Friday. I hope everything goes well and you and your wife-to-be have a wonderful day. May your life together be happy, loving and full of joy.
Times are tough for us celebrity Christian writers. Things are getting so hard that I may have to cancel my monthly direct debit to charity. Didn't you know that I do a monthly direct debit to charity? No? Well, you do now. Do you do a monthly direct debit to charity? I'll bet a lot of you don't. Well, I do and I'm thinking of cancelling it, what with all this recession in the celebrity Christian writer market.
It's either that or cancel my critical accident insurance. That's in case I have a critical accident and can no longer support my family by being a celebrity Christian writer. My independent financial advisor advises me that paying money to financial services companies is always a wise and prudent thing to do and that I should screw the charity instead.
But I'm a Christian, and we Christians are not selfish. We think of other people and have monthly direct debits to charity. As it says in the book of Malachi, "Give me all your money and you'll be blessed. The LORD needs all your money, just give it to me."
I heard a preacher tell this to some poor people, "The best way to remedy your poverty is to give away what little you still have. Honestly, you'll get it back. No one ever ends up destitute by giving all their money away." And it was true - none of those who gave away their last remaining money were ever heard of again.
So I, a celebrity Christian writer, despite the tough times ahead and in defiance of my independent financial advisor, am going to bravely and selflessly retain my monthly direct debit to charity, because I'm a Christian.
Friday, 16 July, 2010, 06:55 AM - Not TFTDBy canon law, we are required to inform you of any changes to the terms and conditions of your membership of the Catholic Church. These changes do not affect your membership of the Church and you need take no action as a result.
In 2001, with its divinely inspired and infallible moral leadership, the Universal and Apostolic Catholic Church realised that raping children was wrong.
In 2005, aware that some hostile elements of the liberal media were being unduly critical of the Church's previous policy of secretly moving on child rapists, the Church took decisive action and banned homosexuals from becoming priests. Many homosexuals had joined the priesthood because they got to wear a dress in public and didn't have to get married. The priests who remain are now totally trustworthy and can safely be left alone with children, proving once again that celibacy, obsessive sexual repression, unquestioned respect for priestly authority and persecution of homosexuals really works.
Now in 2010, in the unlikely event that some dastardly homosexuals have escaped detection, we are introducing new guidelines to streamline laicizing child rapists. The Church's investigations will still remain secret and there is still no requirement to inform the civil authorities (although dioceses are "encouraged" to do so). In a reflection of just how seriously we treat this issue, we have increased the statute of limitations on child rape from 10 to 20 years and we've removed the need for a full Church trial. That's right, a priest can now be secretly removed from the priesthood up to 20 years after they stopped raping children. That's the kind of progress we've made in just a few short years!
Having dealt firmly and decisively with homosexual perverts and child rapists, we now include a brief note on that other perennial problem: women. Some women are getting a bit too uppity and are having delusions of becoming priests. Only men can become priests, for the very good reason that we say so and we're infallible, so there. So let's stop all these silly notions that a woman can have the power to transubstantiate. I mean, have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?
Once again, the Church is acting with its usual alacrity in response to a rapidly changing world. Anyone attempting a mock ordination of a woman commits a grave crime. (The ordination is of course impossible - women just can't have the same magic powers as men do - but the attempt is bad enough). As with child rapists and homosexuals, the priest responsible is laicized. In addition, both the priest performing the mock ordination and the harlot of a woman herself, are immediately and automatically excommunicated and condemned to hell.
Now, by treating both of these grave crimes in the same revision of canon law, we are not in any way suggesting that the two are comparable. The crime of ordaining women carries an automatic higher penalty with no statute of limitations.
Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Human Rights Commissioner, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
Raoul Moat did some very bad things. He shot his ex-girlfriend. That was a bad thing. Then he shot and killed her new boyfriend. That was a bad thing too. Then he shot and blinded PC Rathbone. That also was a bad thing.
There's a Facebook page for admirers of Raoul Moat. That is a bad thing. Moat's brother blames the police. If that turns into bitterness and resentment then that will be a bad thing. Bitterness and resentment are bad things.
However, PC Rathbone shows no malice towards Moat and that is a good thing. Showing no malice and not being filled with bitterness and resentment is a good thing. I have no idea whether PC Rathbone is a Christian or not. He's showing no malice and isn't filled with bitterness and resentment, so he's certainly behaving like a Christian. He hasn't actually said anywhere that he's a Christian but that might just be him being modest. Being modest is another thing that Christians do a lot. PC Rathbone is also a family man, which Christians tend to be as well. So I'd say there's a good chance he's probably a Christian, what with all this Christian behaviour.
We can't keep putting more and more people in prison, says Ken Clarke.
What's prison for? Punishment? Justice? At this point I'd just like to quote Portia (she's a character from the Merchant of Venice, that's a play by William Shakespeare - a very famous Elizabethan playwright, whom we classically educated people know off by heart). She says,
"For, as thou urgest justice, be assured
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest."
Many of the people in prison were brought up in care, or have mental health problems or learning difficulties. Obviously human beings can't take this into account, which is why we just stick them all in prison. Only the Invisible Magic Friend can look after them properly. On the Day Of Judgement he'll have a good look at their probation reports and take any disadvantages that he gave them in childhood into account before committing them to eternity in hell fire. So that's the justice argument out of the way.
Then there's prevention. If all the criminals are locked up then they can't be committing crimes, can they? Trouble is, this is exactly the same argument that people use to lock up anyone who might commit a crime. I would give you some references for the people who are always saying this, but shortage of space prevents me.
Finally there is rehabilitation. People can change and very often prison is a good place to keep them until they do. If they're really lucky they'll discover Jesus and be born again. I expect this is why there are so many Christians in prison.
Shum times you jusht have to compromise (hic!). I mean, take women bishopsh. Shum people, on a matter of prinshipal, they think (hic!) they think, on princpipal, that women are jusht the shame ash men and of course they can be bishops. OK, they can't quite handle their sherry the way we men can (hic!), but 'part frum that, they're jusht ash good ash blokes.
Then there are shum other people. They think (hic!), they think women are jusht as good ash men, jusht as intelligensh, jusht ash capibible. They jusht can't be bishopsh, that'sh all. It'sh not b'cause they're bigoted or any'fin like that. No, no, they say so on prinpineapple ash well (hic!). It'sh a theologicable thing you she. God shaid only men can be bishops. Well, he doesn't actually shay it, obvioushly, but all the bishopsh for the lasht two thoushand years 'ave all been men. They've made the Shursh of England what she ish today (hic!).
Sho now we're gonna get shum women bishops. An' cosh on princh'bl they don't want'em (hic), they 'fretn'd to fro out all the cuddly toy'sh, 'cos they're so prince (hic!) princessabled. Sho we've compr'ised. Tho'sh that want women bishopsh 'll get'em, but tho'sh that don't on prinz'bl 'll get shum other bishop.
That'sh called being principled you she?
Saying sorry is so important. I really can't stress how much it matters to say "sorry". Michael Gove has said "sorry", and a jolly good thing too. Maybe politicians should say "sorry" a bit more often.
Then again maybe they shouldn't. We might not feel like forgiving them. But forgiving other people is also a jolly good thing. In the Invisible Magic Friend's prayer, it says that we should forgive others. Before that prayer was invented, no one had ever thought to forgive anyone. Naturally we just want to throttle other people. That's what nature's like - nothing nice or kind or good ever comes naturally. We can only forgive people by being spiritual, which we are, so we can.
Pre-recording apologies for things you're going to do to people is not a good thing. That smacks of insincerity. When the train company announces that they're "Sorry for the inconvenience caused" by stranding you in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, they're not really sorry. They will go to hell for not really being sorry and not caring whether you forgive them or not.
Some people don't forgive people who are sorry. I have no wish to judge them as I have no idea what they haven't forgiven, but that is a very bad thing indeed. It is not very spiritual at all.
So if you want to be a bit less natural and a bit more spiritual, go ahead, have a go at forgiving someone over something.
Monday, 12 July, 2010, 04:14 AM - Not TFTDA new blog has started, sending up The Times' Credo column. Can't think where an idea like that might have come from.
Looks like it might be fun.
Brian here, in Southampton, 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 todayís world. Hi.
It's a beautiful sunny summer morning. The sky is cloudless and blue, the roses are in full bloom and the birds are singing their little hearts out. So I'd like to ask you, have you considered your own death lately?
Several people have. Seve Ballesteros has. The writer Mike Riddell has thought about it too. He says we should practise dying, so that when the big day comes we'll be ready for it.
We have to prepare ourselves because dying is just so awful. Leaving our bodies so that our invisible magic bit can live for ever in eternal happiness in heaven, where we are reunited with all our friends and relatives who have gone on before, is just too utterly dreadful to contemplate. In the Big Book of Magic Stuff Jesus says we should hate life. I think this just reinforces my message that we should be so very, very sad to leave it.
It's this entirely consistent view of death and the afterlife that assures us Christians that we have such a firm grip on reality.