Thursday, 20 August, 2009, 11:05 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Happy holy month of Ramadan everybody! Yes, it's that jolly time of year again when we Muslims get to to be even more devout and even more humble than we usually are. Thanks to a rather mischevious sense of humour, or possibly not realising that the earth's orbit is not an integral number of lunar orbits, the Invisible Magic Friend has mandated that Ramadan is moving steadily backwards towards the northern summer. For those in northerly latitudes this means that the length of the sunrise to sunset fast is getting longer and longer and possibly explains why there are so few mosques north of the Arctic circle. But if you think we have problems, just spare a thought for Muslim astronauts.
Throughout the month, we Muslims will be privately expressing our piety here on national radio. We'll be refusing lunchtime invitations at work by reminding you how holy we are and modestly pointing out how we can control our urges to do things like eat while you go on being glutinous slobs. Thanks to our disciplined self restraint we'll be spending a lot more time talking and getting closer to the Invisible Magic Friend. As Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow, let me just assure you that, all over the world, lack of food and drink means that Muslims will be even less irritable and even less demanding than normal. Muslim countries will enjoy a month of peace, love and spiritual reflection.
Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 07:34 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is being considered on compassionate grounds, just as Ronnie Biggs was released last week. We Hindus believe in compassion. We think compassion is ever so important. In fact, the whole Hindu system of justice is based on compassion. We believe in compassion for everyone, compassion for criminals, compassion for victims, compassion for police, compassion for small cuddly, fluffy creatures. We also believe in compassion by everyone - compassion by the criminal to meditate in a profound spiritual way about the abstract nature of good and evil and to commit to a future of sweetness, gentleness and self sacrifice.
It is important that you be made aware of the universal law of Karma. Karma is The Force that gives a Hindu his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. If I stub my toe and let out a curse in anger then this causes a disturbance in The Force. The whole universe immediately reacts by wagging a cosmic finger at me, because even the farthest particle in the most remote galaxy cares about my stubbed toe. I would explain more about the underlying symmetry group of the Karma force and the resulting mediation via vector bosons, but these are complex subjects best left to properly trained Hindu theologians such as myself.
As with all natural forces, the Invisible Magic Friend can suspend Karma when He's feeling compassionate. If He's in one of His mean moods though, you're just out of luck. We Hindus believe that humans should try to emulate the Invisible Magic Friend on one of His good days by trying to make everything nice.
Tuesday, 18 August, 2009, 07:37 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Some people see UFOs after watching the X-Files. Phew! What a bunch of loonies! It just goes to show that people can imagine any old rubbish if that's what they want to see. People can post-rationalise the most astonishing nonsense - a dog driving a car, a man who's convinced he's dead. It's quite remarkable how human beings can invent stories to justify their preconceived beliefs. They just will not open their eyes and see the truth, my truth. Because it's really only Christians that see the world in its reality. That's why we have to grab children when they're young, when they still believe in Invisible Magic Friends, while they still derive their beliefs based on the opinions of authority figures.
I really, really, really wish the Invisible Magic Friend existed, therefore everyone must, therefore He does. C.S.Lewis, who was almost as clever as I am and certainly much cleverer than you, agreed with me about this. Most non-Christians are past this stage. They question everything and simply will not take my word for it. This is called being stubborn and cynical. I've already explained to you all, several times, that Jesus definitely rose from the dead. I know this because Saint Paul, after an appropriate mental seizure, and several other non-eyewitnesses said so. They said that someone else said they saw Him walking about after he died, and if hearsay like that isn't enough to convince you then that just goes to show how close minded and set in your ways you've become. The non-eyewitnesses said they'd been told that other people didn't recognise Jesus for a while, what with all the wounds and everything. It's realistic details like that that just proves the story is true. There's simply no other possible explanation.
So in conclusion, all you Sikhs and Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and atheists are wrong and I'm right. Anyone who says otherwise is just being perversely intransigent.
Monday, 17 August, 2009, 07:39 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Time to talk about my favourite subject - war, particularly the war in Afghanistan, just like I did here, and here and here. This weekend marked the 200th British death in Afghanistan. We don't get a chance to celebrate round numbers of Afghan casualties because, just like British wounded, nobody counts them.
But today, it's not our brave British tommies I want to praise, but their mothers, wives and daughters. The Taliban (a bunch of religious crackpots driven by belief in an absurd, ancient holy book) don't have mothers, wives and daughters, or at least, not ones that are seen in public. Our brave British mothers, wives and daughters carry their grief with dignity and poise. They don't go wailing and getting all hysterical and throwing their hands in the air like Afghan mothers, wives and daughters, who probably would do just that if only we could see them.
It's all so reminiscent of the story of Jesus, the kind of story you get from a proper holy book. The Invisible Magic Friend bravely chose to impregnate Mary, whether she liked it or not, using a bit of Holy Spirit to make up the missing chromosomes. He then bravely became temporarily visible as Jesus, before bravely allowing His visible bit to temporarily die thus causing temporary grief to brave Mary, whom I'm sure conducted herself in a proper British bereaved fashion and not like one of those hysterical Middle Eastern women. But he got resurrected and Mary could stop grieving, just in time to become Queen of Heaven. He then allowed people to poke fingers in his holes before bravely going up into the sky in a cloud, thus becoming fully invisible again. It's this kind of touching everyday, human story that connects so closely with our own experience. The parallels with the suffering of loved ones from the current war are clear.
Saturday, 15 August, 2009, 07:55 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Today is the day you've all been waiting for, the start of the football season and the beginning of 9 months of unrelenting bliss. I know you won't mind me talking about football, for who doesn't share a passion for both religion and the beautiful game? You see, I'm an ordinary bloke and I like to talk to all you other ordinary blokes out there, and I include women in that, in terms you can understand. Which is why we never miss a chance on Saturday morning to tap the sporting metaphor.
Religion and football have so much in common. Both foster a mindless tribal affiliation passed down through the generations. Both split into groups that think theirs is good and inspirational when all others are populated by deluded thugs. Both have fanatical followers prone to random outbursts of violence. Both have entire TV channels devoted to them (and you can hardly have a higher accolade than that). Both involve ordinary blokes like me talking endless bollocks. Both are supported through large numbers of people on modest incomes giving a substantial part of that income to prima donna superstars with over inflated egos.
But football could learn a thing or two from religion. Although sales of team kit and players' ghost written autobiographies are healthy, it is purely for vulgar commercial gain, unlike religion. They lack the taste and sophistication of modern religious marketing. Football could also do with a few more unrealistic promises based on untestable claims. And Football really hasn't got the knack of exterminating all opposition yet. So to help the holy football industry along I'd just like to quote from Saint Paul, "Get out there and buy more football memorabilia, in the name of Christ Jesus."
Friday, 14 August, 2009, 11:38 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Are you sitting comfortably? Perhaps tucking into your cornflakes? Maybe a nice greasy beef sausage? Good, because I want to tell you all about my colonoscopy the other day. Of course I had to have a powerful laxative the day before to clear it all out inside, but then came the fun bit. Who'd have thought KY jelly could be used for that?
"Do you like that?" said the doctor.
"Mmmmm, deeper... deeper!!"
This was all thanks to our wonderful NHS, invented by the post war socialist government. (Socialists are bit like evil, godless commies, except not quite so evil and godless.) There's a debate going on in America just now about whether poor people should be allowed to have medicine. God fearing, Christian Republicans think if people are so poor they can't afford healthcare then they're probably pretty worthless anyway. Giving medicine to poor people is so socialist, which although not entirely evil and godless, comes pretty close.
I could quote John Donne and say "No man is an island," but I'm not going to quote John Donne and say "No man is an island." You'll be happy to know that there are millions of other people I could quote from but have decided not to as well. I will point to Jesus however. Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, was very keen on sick people. Usually when Jesus met sick people he would cure them. He's like that, although despite knowing everything and being everywhere you had to live within a few metres of him in early 1st century Palestine to benefit.
The NHS is the health service Jesus would have given you. That makes it spiritual and good, despite being invented by socialists.
Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 07:23 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Perseverance is a good thing. Courage and hope are good things.
Elijah showed us how to do courage and hope.
Saint Paul also showed us how to do courage and hope.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is back in confinement shows us how to do courage and hope.
Vaclav Havel, who liberated his people from evil, godless communists, showed us how to do courage and hope.
The Berlin wall, built by evil, godless communists, has now gone. This should give you courage and hope.
Northern Ireland, once smitten by sectarian hatred is now a place of peace, where Catholics and Protestants mix freely with respect and love for one another. This should also give you courage and hope.
So you see there's lots of courage and hope around, which I think is a jolly good thing. Just as well because there is no end of things that really want to make you scream, such as ghosts, school bullies, the London Underground, drunks and everything else.
Wednesday, 12 August, 2009, 07:43 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The killers of baby P have been revealed. All their secrets are now out in the open. They carry the mark of Cain (which is such a good story it's worth mentioning today as well as yesterday). They'll probably get new identities when they're released. Well, I say they should be branded so everyone will always know who they are. That'd teach sinners a lesson.
We all long to be known, but would you like all your hidden secrets to be broadcast to the world? You may be surprised to find that if you knew all my little indiscretions you might not like me quite as much as you do now. I haven't always been the delightful, modest, intelligent, witty woman that everyone knows and loves. In the dark, hairy, moist recesses of my furtive past there have been embarrassing faux pas. Like the time I was caught using tinned salmon in the mousse. There's been the financial
irregularities, although thankfully no one at HM Revenue and Customs listens to Thought For The Day. You might find this difficult to believe, but I've been known to be dismissive, condescending and patronising to people. There have even been occasions when I've gone on national radio and lectured people on subjects about which I'm entirely ignorant. I can be quite the salacious, even lewd seductress and do a blow job to die for.
That's why Jesus, whom you'll recall I proved existed beyond all possible doubt on my last appearance, is so handy to have around. Jesus knows all about you sinners. He knows about all your hidden desires for my shapely, irresistible flesh. Jesus is always having a peek into everyone's minds and records all of their most perverse fantasies for future playback.
And now for a throw away quote from the Bard, no more than one would expect from a classically educated and well read girl of good breeding such as myself.
"I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever
knapped ginger or made her neighbours believe she
wept for the death of a third husband."
Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 07:37 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
The British government assures us that they have never taken part in torture. Since we have no reason to disbelieve the current British government, it must be true and there is no need to hold an inquiry. Even the man who assured us that Iraq was choc full of WMDs says we never use torture and if we can't believe him then who can we believe?
But what's actually wrong with torture? Who hasn't, from time to time, been tempted to chain someone to the wall of one's dungeon and whip them with one of those nice Roman style whips like they had in The Passion of the Christ? Or, in an idle fantasy, which one of us hasn't dreamed of tying someone to a chair and slowly pulling out their fingernails with pliers or connecting electrodes to their genitals? I know I have. In a particularly pleasant reverie one day, I even recall flaying someone alive with razor blades while listening to a Lehar Operetta.
What actually is the ethical difference between personally inflicting protracted pain and injury on someone and dropping bombs on their villages? They both result in untold human suffering and death. There is in fact a world of difference. When we drop bombs from 30,000 feet we are doing so in a properly authorised, hi tech, civilised fashion. It's supervised by politicians of the very highest integrity whose moral compass we can trust absolutely. Inflicting torture on someone is just giving in to our base, natural urges, where we take such immense pleasure from making another individual suffer. This is something that we Christians simply don't do. If we Christians were to use torture then we'd be just as bad as all those non-Christian terrorists who don't seem to realise that things like waterboarding are just plain wrong. Do we want to be like the Taliban, who blindly follow the deranged rantings of some ancient prophet and think ethics is about scrupulously following an increasingly irrelevant book of rules?
And to the soldiers on the ground whose lives might be saved if we did employ torture? To them I say, fear not, you have our full moral support.
Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, the international director of Micah Challenge
Monday, 10 August, 2009, 07:39 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Justice demands that Ronnie Biggs serves punishment for his crimes, but mercy allows him to go free so that he can die surrounded by his loved ones.
The Invisible Magic Friend is really big on mercy, but He's no softy when it comes to sinners. Adulterers, polycotton shirt wearers, pork eaters and abominations all get what they deserve when the IMF's around: a quick visit to the executioner, followed by eternal damnation in the burning fires of hell. But the great thing about insisting on ruthless death penalties for trivial personal choices is that it offers such vast opportunities for Him to be merciful. Jesus was merciful to the adulteress. "I'm God you know," he said. "I can arbitrarily suspend my own brutal, inflexible, unjust and unreasonable regime of punishment any time I like, so let the adulteress go. You, harlot, go and stop being such a hussy, 'cos I might not be around to be so divinely merciful next time."
As a council member of His Hollowness St. Tony of Bliars' Faith Foundation, with its modest aims of eliminating poverty, ending war, and bringing all religions together in peace and harmony under St. Tony's benevolent leadership, let me just assure you that the Invisible Magic Friend is tough on personal freedom, tough on the causes of personal freedom, but he's a lovely bloke really.