Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter)
Two Poussin paintings have been vandalised at the National Gallery. Both are religious scenes: the Israelites idolatrously idolising the golden calf, and the shepherds idolatrously idolising the second best prophet in Islam. Perhaps this was some kind of religious nutter. There's a lot of them out there you know. I don't know where they get their wacko ideas from.
Great art certainly seems to command its share of idolatry, which is why in Islam we prefer not to have much of it. Some of it seems to command crazy prices. Perhaps we should have to do some kind of "ritual purification" before being allowed to see it. I don't mean the kind of really useful ritual purification like we do before entering a mosque, no, I mean the usual bag search, pat down and weapons scanner that we seem to get all the time nowadays. I can't think why we have to have all these security searches all over the place. Can you?
The Koran tells us that we shouldn't have security checks at art galleries, even in cultures where art galleries full of pictures with people in them are allowed. I hope the authorities at the National Gallery are paying attention to what I'm telling them.
"Incredibly smart Invisible Magic Friend, who's voyeurism knows no bounds."
That's a prayer. It tells you that the Invisible Magic Friend knows absolutely everything you've ever done or thought about doing. It's all on a need to know basis of course, but he needs to know everything so he can judge you on the day of judgement.
Has anyone mentioned the phone hacking scandal yet? Or Rupert Murdoch? Or news International? Good job I'm here then. You see it's all very theological, but I'll try and make it simple for you.
Newspapers, like the Invisible Magic Friend, pass judgement on others. You could say the Invisible Magic Friend is the ultimate hack journalist. He sits up there, with his infinitely big notebook, his cigarette with the eternal one inch of ash hanging off it, his white beard and his trilby hat, scribbling down all those covetous thoughts of yours.
Is this theology getting a bit too deep and complicated for you? Let me put it another way. Newspapers can be very, very powerful. They can pass judgement on you. Believe you me you really don't want to get on the wrong side of the newspapers. They can expose your hypocrisy or stupidity and then everyone will have a good laugh at you. The invisible magic friend is also very, very powerful. Believe you me, you don't want to get on the wrong side of the Invisible Magic Friend. There's one big difference though. If you're judged as having to burn in hell for all eternity (that's the penalty for a first offence), you won't get all us good Christians having a laugh at you. When have you ever heard of a Christian saying they'll get the last laugh?
So in summary, and after much theological thinking, the scandal in the news media explains why you can trust the Invisible Magic Friend. Which just goes to show, once gain, how incredibly useful theology is in everyday life.
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
I want to talk to you today about feeling guilty. Except, I won't call it "guilt", because Catholics having feelings of guilt are a bit of a cliché, and we don't go in for clichés here on Thought for the Day. Instead, let's call it shame.
There's lots of lovely shame about at the moment. Shame is a wonderful thing. Of course, in the good old days, we had many more things that we could be ashamed about. You used to be able to be ashamed about getting divorced, or having a child outside wedlock, or being a homosexual. Sex used to be so much dirtier and satisfyingly shameful in the past. Fortunately, if you're a Catholic, you can still feel shame at all these things.
Journalists are experts in shame. They know how to name and shame celebrities, politicians and occasionally even clerics! They feel no shame whatsoever in shaming some celebrity's two timing on page two, right opposite a picture on page three, designed to make every man go, "Corrrrrr! Would you have a look at those!" (Except the ashamed, confused, Catholic homosexual ones - who give a very half hearted "Yeah, cor." )
Revolutionaries often have no shame. Having removed their rightful rulers, they immediately start fornicating. France, Russia, America and North Africa, have all been famous for their post revolutionary dirtiness. So you see how lack of shame about sex leads immediately to complete anarchy. Shame keeps people in line. Shame stops people doing dirty things. Shame works.
Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 08:18 AM - Not TFTDIn an outrageous example of disobedience to me, the Catholic Church in China has gone against my express wishes and consecrated a bishop of their own choosing. This is totally unacceptable. Chinese Catholics must get their freedom back. Freedom means doing what I tell them to rather than what the Chinese authorities tell them to. I am the sole dictator of the Catholic Church. It's me, ME, and me alone, who gets to say who gets magic powers. That's what freedom means.
You can't just go around giving magic powers to anyone you like. Think of the chaos that would ensue if any old Tom, Dick or Harry was given magic powers! I only want people who agree with me, and do what I tell them to, to have magic powers. At least they're still only giving magic powers to men. Even the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church realises that you can't give magic powers to people without the correct set of dangly bits. And you just make sure they don't do anything other than dangle!
The Invisible Magic Friend put me in charge. As top boss man in the Catholic Church, I'm telling you, pretend-bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang, that you're excommunicated. Got that? I'm throwing you out of the club. You're not, I repeat not allowed to use your magic powers. If you go around using your magic powers, I'll excommunicate you again and I'll keep excommunicating you until it really, really hurts.
The Ministry of Defence has finally exonerated the two pilots of the 1994 Chinook helicopter crash. It's a fight that has taken the pilots' families and those of the other victims, 17 years to achieve. The father of one of the pilots, on his deathbed, urged his other son to keep on fighting as "justice has no expiry date."
It is a vision maintained by many who have been unjustly blamed, or who have seen their relatives lose their liberty, their careers and their marriages through injustice. Take the case of Wilberforce, a Christian, who, as a Christian, fought for the end of slavery
What all these people have in common, even the ones who don't have an Invisible Magic Friend but mostly the ones who do, is a belief in the values of the Big Book of Magic Stuff. The temporary sacrifice of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend to himself, initiated an era of peace and justice, where everybody is happy and contented, except for the ones burning in hell. It just hasn't quite got there yet.
In the meantime we're on our own, using flawed human reasoning and ever evolving human institutions and forensic science to do our best to bring about justice, almost as if the Invisible Magic Friend played no obvious part in it at all.
Statistics, statistics, statistics. Yesterday we learned that over 40% of people get cancer. With that tenuous link to the news out of the way, here's another jolly statistic for you: you're all going to die. Every last one of you.
I don't mean to start the day with a bit of a downer, but many of you will die through your own gluttony, laziness, alcoholism, or other symptom of your degenerate lifestyles. It's about time you all started to pull your socks up a bit and started taking a bit more responsibility for your own health. You can't expect the NHS, social services, or even the Invisible Magic Friend to look after you if you don't look after yourself.
Speaking of the Invisible Magic Friend, his second bit, Jesus, who you'll recall was briefly visible for a few decades, became visible to show you he could just be an ordinary bloke, with all the problems of an ordinary bloke. As the New Tasty mint testifies, he had all the usual childhoods ailments... err... actually no it doesn't, but I'm sure he had them all the same. What's more, he didn't die of some disease of self indulgence. No, he died a proper death, being nailed to a tree. As deaths go, that has to be one of the best.
It has been brought to our attention that there is a small group of people in this country whose rights are commonly overlooked. Powerless, disenfranchised and with virtually no access to the media, this increasingly impoverished community have been exploited and enslaved with no support from the British establishment. Here at the EHRC we feel that enough is enough. It is time to make a stand for the rights of...
Her Majesty the Queen, the British head of state, speaking on behalf of all Christians, said "One is living in constant fear. The faith that one is the defender of seems to be under constant attack by gangs of militant secularists. They come to one's palace in broad daylight, armed with words, articles, books and all sorts of reasonable arguments. One is even thinking of moving to one of the other states that one is head of."
Speaking from his seat in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared, "We simply have no one to speak for us in this country."
The EHRC is duty bound to protect persecuted minorities like Christians. For example, did you know that there are still some schools in this country not being run by one of the major Christian denominations? Religions other than Christianity even make regular appearances on Radio 4! That's how bad things have got for Christians!
To this end, EHRC have decided that we have no alternative but to seek redress against two of the major culprits responsible for bullying these poor, defenceless Christians: employers and gays. Several employers have ruthlessly informed Christians that they can't use the employers' uniforms to advertise their religion. We at the EHRC feel it is sensible and proportionate to use state funds to defend Christians in the European Court of Human Rights for their right to wear small crosses around their necks. If Christians can't have exceptions to employers' uniform policy then they run the risk of burning in hell for all eternity, and if that isn't discrimination, I don't know what is.
But this kind of anti-Christian bigotry isn't limited to the country's employers. The crushing power of the state backed gay hegemony has also been pressing it's jack booted heel against the faces of helpless Christians. For years, these fascists have been demanding that gays be treated like normal people. Good Christian registrars and councillors, who wish nothing more than the simple right to discriminate against gays, find themselves unreasonably dismissed. We think a compromise is in order: namely that they be allowed to discriminate by restricting goods and services to people they approve of. Even if they were only allowed to discriminate a little bit, perhaps on alternate days, this would be a huge improvement.
The EHRC: prosecuting those who discriminate against minorities while defending the right to discriminate against minorities. You know it makes sense.
Thursday, 14 July, 2011, 08:26 AM - BrookRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
The continuing story of the fall of Rupert Murdoch is really exciting, isn't it? This is a story about power. Lots and lots and lots of power. It's not an easy thing to measure. You can't get the box out from under your bed and count how much power you've got this morning, but you sure know when you've got lots of it. And let's face it, haven't we all wanted to be supreme dictator of the world from time to time? Haven't we all occasionally wanted the entire human race to fall on its knees and worship us? Yes of course you have.
The question then arises, where does power ultimately comes from? I wonder what the answer will be? Hmmm... that's a tricky one. Oh, I know! It comes from the Invisible Magic Friend! That must be why so many dictators are such kind, selfless, holy men. Rupert Murdoch must be one of the holiest people on the planet with all the power the Invisible Magic Friend has given to him. Although he's a bit less powerful now, so maybe he's not quite so holy as he used to be, even though he remains a good buddy of the Pope.
Powerful people don't usually accumulate or take power through their own actions. They typically sit quietly, praying, waiting for the Invisible Magic Friend to give them the power they pray for. Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, famously said, "I'm the most powerful being in the universe you know. Here, have some of my magic power," shortly before being executed by the Roman Empire, who he had foolishly already given rather too much power.
Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 08:36 AM - Environment, Gibberish, Invisible magic stuff, Money, Akhandadhi DasRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
People are responding generously to the drought in the Horn of Africa. This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about The Force.
The Phantom Menace teaches us that "Greed can be a very powerful ally." We must learn to control our greed, to take only that share of the world that The Force has given us. If we go on like this we will destroy our world. Mmm. Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing. Master Yoda says we should be mindful of the future. Monsters out there, leaking in here. Weesa all sinking and no power. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble? We must learn to cooperate. As anakin said, "Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other."
Remember: your focus determines your reality. Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love. Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Only a Jedi could have erased those files. But who, and why, harder to answer. Meditate on this I will.
The relevance to the drought in Africa is obvious.
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!