Every 5 minutes a child runs away from home or from care. That's 100,000 a year. A quarter are forced out. On the streets they are vulnerable to predatory adults and the false escapes of drink and drugs. I was so outraged by these scandalous statistics, this wanton disregard for the welfare of children, that I decided that enough was enough, I just had to do something. So I immediately grabbed my coat, dashed out of the door and headed straight for a museum.
The Museum of Childhood was full of happy, smiling children in neatly pressed school uniforms. I breathed a huge sigh of relief - no street urchins dressed in rags, surrounded by empty tins of Tennents' Super here. I was reminded that children take a special delight in the world around them, especially when it's filled with toys.
I was also reminded that real Christianity, true Christianity, my Christianity, likes to enjoy itself. We're not like certain dour faced puritans, such as... well we all know who they are, no need to name names - so-called "Christians" that don't want to have priests and bishops with lots of shiny gold threaded vestments and great big flowing capes with pointy hats and big ornamental poles to carry around.
Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, said we needed to be more like children. Unfortunately, some children are being prematurely sexualised and made to think as adults by adults who want to be more like children... so Jesus was obviously wrong about... er, just forget that bit.
Anyway, we should be very, very angry indeed about the mistreatment of children. Won't somebody please, please think of the children!
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
Rupert Murdoch gets treated very unfairly by some people. This generous, cuddly, grandfatherly figure, who regularly dispenses Werther's Original toffees to destitute children, is surely to be spoken kindly of, admired, worshipped even.
He and the Pope get on very well together. For some reason, he sees in the Pope a kindred spirit: an old white guy in charge of a huge organisation, that does exactly what he tells it to and knows how to cover up its crimes when needed. I myself have been employed by Rupert Murdoch, and who knows, perhaps in some dim and distant future, might once again be employed by this fine, wonderful, decent individual.
Dear, dear Rupert, is not the only press baron to see such fine qualities in the Pope. Conrad Black, from the security of his jail cell, expressed similar sentiments.
As if Rupert Murdoch admiring the Catholic Church weren't recommendation enough, Lord Griffiths thinks the Pope's economic solutions are absolutely fab. Lord Griffiths is a very famous economist, advisor to Margaret Thatcher, vice-chairman of Goldman Sacks and a great believer in bankers' bonuses. It's people like Lord Griffiths that got the economy where it is today, and made himself very rich in the process, so he knows what he's talking about. If someone as successful as Lord Griffths, who just happens to be a director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, says the Pope's great, shouldn't you just believe him?
The Pope's formula for economic reform is utterly stunning, mind blowing and completely unexpected. He says that, as well as making profit and generating a return for their shareholders, corporations should consider being nice to people. If only corporations had decided to be nice to people, Lehman Brothers would never have collapsed and the News of the World would not have closed. These two closures are almost identical: Lehman because it went bust leaving hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions outstanding, and the other because it was closed by the nice people of News International who wanted to sack them anyway but got to pretend that it was actually a moral act to root out illegal activity.
I know for a fact, that if word were to come down from their owners, that tabloid journalists would be delighted to spread heart warming stories of friendship, fidelity and love. Deep down, all they want to do is spread a little happiness in this world.
News International, nearly as nice and holy and friendly as the Catholic Church.
What a sad day it is today. That great defender of public morality and decency, the News of the World, is no more. They enjoyed the great privilige that one so Reverend and Honourable as I, should write a regular column for their magnificent, upstanding organ. Together we fought the stridentness and shrillness of militant secularists. We battled the evil campaigners who seemed to think people should have some say in how and when they should die. We exposed the appalling moral depravity of Max Mosley, a story which this fine newspaper never otherwise deigned to titillate its readers with. We shared our disgust at Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time, although you have to admit he has a point about immigration and all these burkhas being worn in London. And of course, we fought the good fight to defend we poor, persecuted Christians.
It really is quite distasteful to see all these holier-than-thou MPs and other people of influence, turn upon those whose posteriors they were once so recently want to lick. One can only pray that this will not tarnish, or in any way sully the otherwise good name of News International - that they will continue to be seen as fit and proper people to take full control of BSkyB.
What an unfortunate coincidence that this should happen so soon after the admirable Rebekah Brooks had already announced her intention to sack most of the staff and merge operations with that other fine, noble, Christian newspaper, the Sun. Perhaps I will be able to give the Sun on Sunday readers the benefits of my wisdom?
Saturday, 9 July, 2011, 08:08 AM - JenkinsRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The News of the World is in the news at the moment.
The News of the World reported on Sudan once.
Sudan is also in the news at the moment.
Other countries in the region are suffering from severe drought.
This reminds me of the Invisible Magic Friend. In particular it reminds me of Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend.
It's impossible to comment on anything else today: the hacking paper, the News of the World is to close. Isn't it great. I mean, I'm sure none of us are gloating or anything - nothing so un-Christian, after all, we all do so love Rupert Murdoch and his son James, who luckily for him, turned out to be the best person in the world to take over from his father.
Of course, no one at News Corporation knew anything about what was going on. The editors, executives, board members are all shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that such underhand tactics were being employed by this paragon of journalistic integrity. Even the hacks who were doing the hacking were astonished to learn that they had done it.
It's very easy to point fingers and to say that this was just a few evil journalists, private investigators and bent cops. But in reality, aren't we all responsible? And by "we", I do of course mean "you". Today Programme listeners, with there well known habit of reading sleazy tabloids, and there voracious appetite for all the outrageous details of celebrities' sex lives, are really what drove these poor, innocent journalists to do it.
If you weren't all so obsessed with all the salacious gossip about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, these sort of rags wouldn't prosper. Honestly, I don't know how you can live with yourselves at night. Aren't you even in the least bit ashamed for poking your noses in like that? Still, that's what you get for living a life of sin. If only you were a bit more like the Invisible Magic Friend, who famously never pays any attention to peoples' private lives, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.
Well I just hope you've all learned your lesson, that's all I can say.
I'm getting on a bit and have to visit hospitals and clinics rather a lot. I'm learning things that I never appreciated when I used to visit as a hospital chaplain. It's little things that make the experience more human. The volunteers who sell goods from a trolley provide an opportunity to socialise. The nurse who gave me some knitting needles gave me not only a new hobby, but a distraction. The staff at the Parkinson's clinic remain patient when we bump into things or each other. It's kindness that distinguishes a hellish ward from a heavenly one.
Be nice to old people. Hindus do.
When you're a child you are dependent on older people. When you're old, you are dependent on younger people. When you're neither too young nor too old, you aren't dependent on anyone, but you might want to consider looking after people who are too old or too young.
Hindus have multi-generational homes. This seems to work quite well. You might want to consider doing things the way Hindus do it because it seems to work so well. Don't be in such a rush to put mum and dad in a home. Hindus don't do that.
In one of the Hindu Big Books of Magic Stuff, there's a story of an old man who asks if one of his five sons will swap his infirmity for their youth. Four sons selfishly refused, but the fifth said yes, because without his father he wouldn't have a life to lead, and I believe his mother was also involved somewhere along the line.
Your parents gave you your invisible magic bit, so don't put them in a home. If you're really lucky, your own children, whom you gave their invisible magic bits, won't put you in a home either. Doing it this way is the Hindu way.
New guidelines for school trips have just been released. Teachers are recommended that they use their common sense in relation to pupil safety. The previous 150 page guidelines dwarfed the ten commandments, although the Big Book of Magic Stuff as a whole was rather larger.
Children have to be allowed to take risks. Sticking their hands in boiling water teaches them that steam contains a lot of energy. Sinking below the water in a bath reveals Archimedes principle. Injecting themselves with pus from cow diseases will eventually allow them to discover the benefits of vaccination.
I took a risk once. My children persuaded me to try out a water chute at a water park. As I careered down the chute, the words of the great Kierkegaard came to mind "Weeeeee!!!" I took this risk because I had faith, faith in the engineers that constructed the water chute.
In a similar vein, the protesters in Syria are taking risks. Like me, they too have faith, faith that together they can dismantle dictatorship and build a new tomorrow. You see what a good thing "faith" is. Saint Paul agreed with me about this, so I must be right. As we're all agreed that "faith" in general is such a good thing, faith in an Invisible Magic Friend must be a good thing too.
I've mentioned engineers, scientists, naturalists, theologians and saints. I've just got time to throw in a quick philosopher: Plato.
It's people who take risks that make the future. If bankers hadn't taken risks with other people's money, where would we be today?
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
Monday, 4 July, 2011, 07:21 AM - Think of the childrenRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
What shall we leave to our children's children's children's children. No, I'm not trying to use an exaggerated cliché, it's our legacy to those who are born long after we die that concerns me. With all the terrible problems we're creating, climate change, the national debt, nuclear waste, the pensions crisis, overpopulation, shouldn't somebody be thinking about generations unborn?
Things were much better in Victorian times. Borrowing was quite sensible and natural in those days, and if you couldn't pay your debts, you would be looked after in a debtors' prison until your could. With our current unsustainable use of natural resources it's possible that future generations might even be worse off than us. NO, really, that's possible. Makes you think, eh?
This is where the sermon on the mount is so important. Thanks to that, we know that it is the meek who will inherit the earth, so they're the ones we should be planning for. I'd just like to say how important various churches are in solving these problems, but before I do, let me mention the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations. There, I've mentioned a secular organisation, now I can get back to talking about churches as much as I like without being accused of bias.
Churches are really important in solving all the problems of the world. Look at all the ones they've solved so far! The Vatican uses the phrase "intergenerational justice" in some of its documents. This means it is seriously wondering how the world will cope with the never ending exponential growth in human population that it wants. It's a puzzle, there's no doubt about that.
So why do we care about the future prosperity of the species anyway? I mean, it's not as if it's instinctive or anything, is it? The only reason I can think of is that the Invisible Magic Friend would like us to be kind to future generations. If only everyone else was as advanced in their thinking as the churches.
Won't somebody please think of the children, and the children's children, and the children's children's children, and the children's children's children's children!
Sunday, 3 July, 2011, 11:37 AM - ClemmiesIt's a pretty poor crop this month.
Akhandadhi Das pointed out that there was no scientific explanation for why humans wanted to be free, therefore Hinduism had to be correct.
Roy Jenkins reminded us that beauty is only skin deep and that it's true beauty, real beauty, spiritual beauty that matters.
Richard Harries told us that we're all like the emperor Julian for turning away from Christianity, and like him we're all heading for a bad end because of it.
Anne Atkins thought that care home abuse and the last flight of the space shuttle endeavour both reminded her of Jesus, who was far to busy saving us all to go around healing sick people.
Akhandadhi Das seems to think that just by telling us straight about the sheer fruitloopy wackiness of his religion, that he's going to get the Clemmie automatically. Well I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. You don't get the Catholics going on about transubstantiation, or the Muslims mentioning Mohammed's magic flight to Jerusalem. I'm not going to devalue the Clemmies by giving it to people who tell us how crazy their religion is. They're all crazy. That sort of thing is too easy. It's laziness and I'm not having it.
Roy Jenkins is only barely a 5, which brings it down to either Anne Atkins or Richard Harries. Of the two, I think Anne's contribution was the more original. Having the sheer gall to say that the space shuttle reminded her of Jesus just goes to show what a really committed religious loony can do. So, I'm sure not for the last time, this month's award goes Old Faithful herself, Anne Atkins.