Wednesday, 15 August, 2007, 08:08 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Jonathan Bartley here, Director of Ekklesia, a think-tank that promotes transformative theological ideas in public life, and therefore very important.
It's the 60th anniversary of Indian independence today, so I'm going to talk about Heathrow Airport. Jesus is undoubtedly on the side of the protesters and against all the evil people who want to fly away on holiday. The church has always been against climate change. Pope JPII flew all over the world to tell people that.
It's too late now! We simply don't have time to win the argument or convince people not to fly!! Direct action is the only solution!!! We few, righteous protesters, valiantly standing up to the capitalist barons of corporate greed, are the new prophets!!!! You may scorn, but the Hebrew prophets turned out to be right in the end - we really were all doomed!!!!!
Bangladesh is currently flooded! Jesus says this never happened before the age of cheap flights, and Jesus is very angry as a result! Jesus says come to Heathrow and fight the satanic forces that want to build a second runway, to reduce congestion and airport stacking over London and so save fuel...er?
Tuesday, 14 August, 2007, 07:51 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I want to talk to you about risk. Life is risky. Whether it's global warming, children on adventure holidays or Ninja (No money, no job, no assets) loans. I want to talk to you about balancing risks.
No, I don't really. What I really want to talk about is Jesus. My invisible magic friend took a big risk when He created the universe. (Don't bother trying to figure out how the universe came about, or trying to figure out anything for that matter, just accept that goddidit.) Goddidit so that He could create human beings. That was risky too, but then He sent Himself to save us all.
I will now end with a profound and mysterious phrase. A phrase pregnant with penetrating philosophical insights. One that spews forth hidden meaning from every orifice. Please do not mistake this for a meaningless jumble of words that just happen to be grammatically correct.
"The risks we choose shows where our faith lies".
Monday, 13 August, 2007, 08:46 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I caught religion when I was already grown up, shortly after I caught measles. My flatmate immediately left. He could put up with anything except me going on about my invisible magic friend all the time. The arguments for my invisible magic friend's existence are multifarious, complex and subtle, and I don't have time to explain them to you, so here's a joke instead.
A young curate asked an experienced vicar how to get his congregation's attention. "Easy," he said. "I tell them I spent years cuddling a woman in bed who wasn't my wife. She was of course my mother." The young curate then repeated the story in his Sunday service. "I spent years cuddling a woman in bed who wasn't my wife. I don't know her name but the vicar knows her."
The old ones are always the best.
Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 06:04 PMI try not to rant too much on this blog, but some things just make me mad. I've just celebrated 24 years with my gay partner Terry. A few years ago a driver who was reversing, but not looking, ran over Terry's foot. He's been disabled and suffered chronic pain, all day, every day, ever since. If anything, our love for one another has grown even stronger. What we have together is beautiful.
Recently, Vishvapani, the Bhuddist contributor on TFTD, called me a corn flakes splutterer. I quite liked the imagery in that description. Where he was wrong though, was to suggest that I rise in fury every morning. It takes a lot more than the banal non-event of TFTD to get me angry.
No, what makes me furious are things like this:
Read in particular the comment from Kenny:
They should be killed by hanging. A country can have its own law. I am a christian and i support the sharia law in doing it.
Christians and muslims may not agree on much, but when it comes to slaughtering men who dare to profess love for another man, they seem to get on swimmingly with one another.
That's where religion leads. They're all nice and cuddly, and thoughtful when they can't order people about, but as soon as they're in charge of things it all gets very different. That's why privileged access to news programmes by those infected with the god virus should be challenged. That's why they should never be accorded the power, influence and respect that they crave.
Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 07:58 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been a favourite story for Thought For The Day presenters for months now. Today, we celebrate the 100th day since this fortuitous event which has given we presenters so much fruitful material. She may not actually be dead, but I'm going to talk about death anyway as I know this will bring comfort to Madeleine's parents. We like to have anniversaries and relics of people we loved, including the saints, who we never actually met, but love anyway. Many of these relics are magic relics: the upper left molar of Abraham, the sacred pubic hair St. Sebastian. And we have some wonderful anniversaries to come: St. Elvis of Presley, and Saint Diana, who was so famously married. As Philip Larkin said "What will survive of us is love". He was of course completely wrong since what survives is an eternal soul.
Friday, 10 August, 2007, 07:58 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Lots of things are imaginary: Great white sharks off the coast of cornwall, Harry Potter, Britney Spears. Physics is imaginary too, with curved space, wormholes and time travel. As I'm an expert on General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, you can take my word for that. The drama of medieval mystery plays (all of which I have read) as well as other fiction lives on forever. But that's not why the Jesus story lives on. It was not fiction. The reason this story lives on is because it is true - take my word for it, I know everything (I've read Plato - bet you haven't). He really did turn water into Chateau Canaan 22 AD, and there really is eternal life. As for Harry Potter, well you'd have to be utterly stupid to believe nonsense like that.
Thursday, 9 August, 2007, 08:05 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Malcom Pointon's slow death from Alzheimer's is a painful reminder that science and medicine are ultimately useless. As a Reverend Canon Doctor, and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at Lancaster University, let me just assure you that despite your test tube babies and your post-menopausal conceptions, despite all your efforts to prolong life and health, you're all going to end up gaga. All you doctors and medical experts are just making things worse for everyone. Why don't you do something useful. Get on your knees and start praising the LORD for illness and dementia. You're wasting your time trying to make things better. Give up and despair, for the book of Job tells us that God can do what he likes, even if it means ruining and torturing people for a bet with the devil. So thank God for all the things that don't work properly, for all the suffering of mankind.
Wednesday, 8 August, 2007, 08:16 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
All things are not well in South (hic!) Africa. People are poor and those who aren't have to live behind huge (hic!) security walls. Wealth and opportunity are not fairly distributed. As if these burdens were not enough, the population must also endure mediocre music (hic!) . "We may have suffered under an oppressive apartheid regime before," said one commentator, "but at least we had high quality jazz music".
Hugh Masekela (hic!) and Desmond Tutu are both critical of the South African government. Both are men who have done great things in the (hic!) past, but that is not why you should listen to them. You should listen to them because they are (hic!) Christians and therefore better than normal (hic!) people. No non-Christians were involved in the downfall of apartheid.
Oh how I despise mediocre (hic!) jazz music. It's enough to make you reach for the (hic!) sherry bottle.
Tuesday, 7 August, 2007, 09:05 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
We have another foot and mouth crisis. I'd just like to make it perfectly clear that this is not God's fault. Bad things are not God's fault. In the Old Testament, God used to go in for retribution in a big way, but He doesn't do that sort of thing anymore. During the last foot and mouth epidemic tens of thousands of animals were culled. Millions of people prayed for it not to happen. They still lost their herds, their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives. That wasn't God's fault either.
Now many people will be terrified of the same thing happening again. If it doesn't happen, then you can thank God that it hasn't happened, even though it wasn't His fault. In the meantime, be assured that God will be listening to all of your prayers, giving you comfort in you suffering (which isn't His fault). He'll also be busy doing some bridge building in His capacity as Christ the civil engineer.
Monday, 6 August, 2007, 08:13 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Churches seem so solid, with their huge spires, their billions of pounds of land and their impressive titles. It's hard to believe that it was all just made up by a few blokes thousands of years ago. In fact it's hard to believe that anyone still believes this stuff, but they do. So don't worry about whether God exists or not, just pray to Him anyway. Go into any of the thousands of churches up and down the country. They're mostly empty, so no one will see you. There you can sit in silence and discover your own invisible magic friend. Believe me, if you sit there long enough talking to yourself, he will come. There's not enough praying being done. If people had prayed more then Nazi Germany would never have started. Even today, if the people of the Middle East spent more time praying then there wouldn't be so much killing. The Middle East needs more religion.