Rev Roy Jenkins, Baptist Minister in Cardiff 
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 07:22 AM - Lessons of history, Jenkins
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Anders Breivik shows no remorse for his killings, believing that history will judge his actions as fair and reasonable. This is what happens when a delusional mind, obsessed with a dangerous ideology, decides that the end justifies the means.

Other delusional megalomaniacs have made similar statements about the judgement of history: Stalin, Nixon, Gaddafi. Those who hold to such bizarre fantasies often do so in defiance of all the facts. They seem completely separated from reality.

None of this bothered Saint Paul. Unlike the various megalomaniacs whom I have previously discussed, Saint Paul wrote about Jesus, who told everyone he was really the Invisible Magic Friend in disguise. Saint Paul didn't care about the judgement of history. In his view there wasn't going to be any as Jesus was due to return any month now - a year or two tops. Saint Paul knew all about reality and what really mattered was Jesus' opinion of you.

If only psychotic fantasists like Anders Breivik would accept reality and realise that it wasn't the judgement of history that mattered, but what the Invisible Magic Friend thought about you.

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Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 07:21 AM - Democracy, Lessons of history, Bell
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I've got a Big Idea. Here's my Big Idea, which is mine, belonging to me and which I invented. This is what it is, my Big Idea.

The people of Libya should be allowed to set up their own government.

There, that is my Big Idea, that I invented and that is mine.

Other people in the past have set up their own governments. The East Germans set up their own government by having the same government as the West Germans. The Russians set up their own government after they'd let go of all the other bits of the Soviet Union. South Africans set up their own government without killing all the whites. They were able to do that because they were Christians (the South Africans that is - although come to think of it, quite a lot of Germans and Russians are Christians too). As Christians, they realised that a bloodbath of revenge might be a bad thing.

None of these involve my Big Idea, because none of these involve Libya. Libya has got a problem. It's not full of Christians for a start. It seems to be full of people from one of the other religions. The last documented good person from Libya was Simon of Cyrene, 2,000 years ago. Despite this, I hold to my Big Idea, that Libya should form its own government. That means that it should not be formed by China, or Russia, or Britain, or France, or Kenya, or Chile but by some good people from Libya, assuming they can find any.

And that is my Big Idea for today.

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Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 22 August, 2011, 07:30 AM - Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Good morning Justin, good morning Evan and good morning to you all.

Well, whatever the news is, I'm sure it's terrible. There'll be wars, financial collapse, riots in the streets. Although congratulations to the people of Libya, but apart from that, everything is just depressing and hopeless and thoroughly miserable.

Let's think of things like our bed and snuggling under the duvet, or maybe a nice hot cup of cocoa. Think of how much better off we are than victims of the Nazis. Alternatively, in these harsh, desperate, unfortunate times, why not give something to charity. Helping a starving child will make you feel so much better in this relentlessly grim world.

And now, so as not to leave you in a forlorn, pessimistic, wretched mood, here is a short humorous tale to alleviate the otherwise uncompromising awfulness of it all.

One woman asks another, "How is you son the professor?"
"Oh he got the sack, but now he's a brilliant suit salesman. He made an amazing sale to a widow for her husband's funeral."
"What's so brilliant about that? You have to look good for your husband's funeral."
"Sure, but with two pairs of trousers?"

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The Eagle Nebula 
Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 09:34 AM - Not TFTD
Just posting a copy of today's spectacular APOD (right).

It reminds me of the Carina nebula - the famous Almighty's finger.



On the subject of the Almighty having a bit of a laugh, here's a video of him blowing the skullcap from his vicar on earth. The storm continued, drenching about a million pope fans.

Anyone would think His Bigness was none too pleased with the Roman Catholic Church. I can't think why.
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Rev Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest  
Saturday, 20 August, 2011, 07:35 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Spirituality, Think of the children, Marshall
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Weren't last week's headlines about young people just terrible! Every single one of them, except the Christian ones, were out rioting. Few can now afford higher education and fewer still will ever own a home. What has gone wrong with all modern youth, except the Christian ones?

Former Big Brother host, Russell Brand, speaking from Beverly Hills, and quoting Gandhi, criticised the lack of spirituality in modern youth. I agree with that, so he must be correct. And when I say "spirituality", I don't mean that wonder and awe that taps into the natural curiosity and enthusiasm of young people. No, I mean the much narrower, silly definition about invisible magic stuff.

Pope Benedict has gathered almost a million young people from around the world to worship him in Madrid. That's what I call being properly spiritual. Well done Pope Benedict! That's how to teach them right from wrong. You don't see Christians going out rioting.

You see, without Christianity, young people don't understand how to be generous or think of other people. They're just their natural, selfish, greedy selves.

Young people from Walsingham recently spent a week together being Christian. This is the kind of useful, constructive, insightful experience that more young people need to give meaning to their otherwise purposeless lives. All the ones that weren't being Christian were out rioting.

When modern youth look at today's adults, they see only the shallow cynicism of today's teachers, doctors, aid workers, poets, scientists and philosophers. No wonder their souls are empty and they go out rioting. How much healthier it is to see young people worshipping the leader of the greatest paedophile cover up conspiracy in the history of humanity. What an inspiring tonic it must be for these young people! Isn't Pope Benedict just fantastic!

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Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge  
Friday, 19 August, 2011, 07:59 AM - Gibberish, Banner
Rating ? out of 5 (What on earth was that all about?)

That notorious communist, Warren Buffett, wants the rich to pay more tax.

Like me, I'm sure this reminds you of the good old days of medieval feudalism, where jolly peasants and serfs laboured away on their strip of land for the benefit of their betters. And their betters worked for their betters all the way up to really important people like lords and bishops, who worked for the king. The king worked for the Invisible Magic Friend, who, luckily for the king, seemed to prefer a more hands-off management style.

No one really owns anything, or really earns anything. We all rely on our betters and our lessers and sometimes even our peers to get us to our position in life and then to keep us there. There is no such thing as a self made man, or woman for that matter. It is simply not true that what is mine is mine. What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours. What is somebody else's is not theirs but ours, or yours, or mine, in a way that what is mine, or yours, or there's, is not.

In these troubled times, let us look to medieval feudalism, Ian Duncan Smith, the psalms and to higher taxes to "inform and inspire our search for social reconstruction and well being."

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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife  
Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 08:26 AM - Gibberish, Atkins
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Anne Atkins here, trying, as ever, to cram as many words as possible, preferably including several literary references, one or two good quotes about Christianity, at least one quote from Jesus or Saint Paul, something from science and a quick mention about the Nazis into three minutes. So here goes.

The Stanford Prison Experiment showed that anyone could be a cruel, sadistic, manipulative monster.

The Milgram experiment showed just how far people could go when given orders by people in authority.

I can just squeeze in a quick quote from 1984 (that was written by George Orwell you know). "Underneath the spreading chestnut tree, where I sold you and you sold me."

People hate Christianity because of all the grovelling involved. Even today there are people who were seriously damaged by all the grovelling. In today's modern Church you are only expected to grovel in moderation. After all, you are made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, except you're visible and not magic.

As a child I found confession very difficult because I never did anything wrong. But I'm sure there were many naughty little girls who had no end of vile deeds to confess. No doubt they ended up as one of the Nazis or one of the perpetrators of the Rwandan massacre.

As Saint Paul says, we all occasionally lapse into genocide or fail to share our bananas.

We are all sinners, and by "we" I do of course mean "you". Even I, and by "I" I do of course mean "you", could have been out there burning, murdering and looting.

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Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow 
Wednesday, 17 August, 2011, 07:41 AM - Education, Siddiqui
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Students are about to get their A-level results. My son got his Highers and has decided to study maths. If he goes to an English university he'll graduate with a debt of about 50,000. Alternatively, he can study in Scotland and not graduate with a debt of 50,000 - this may well be his first test of his aptitude for maths.

My own school results weren't that good, so I studied Islam. School results aren't everything you know. I mean, I wasn't that great at school and I'm a Professor of Islamic studies! Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of learning. One of the nice bits of the Koran says we should be big fans of learning and who am I to argue with the Koran. Other things are important too though.

Life is so much more than exam results. Life has other things in it too. We should leave some room in life for those other things. A famous poet once said, there are other things in life, so I must be right. Hard work and learning things are always good, but there are other things too that make life worthwhile.

Try and make room in your life for other things.

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Dr Indarjit Singh CBE, director of the Network of Sikh organisations  
Tuesday, 16 August, 2011, 07:40 AM - Interfaith, Singh
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The Prime Minister (that's David Cameron for those Today Programme listeners who don't know who the Prime Minister is at the moment) has spoken of the moral collapse of Britain. Everything's going to be re-examined so that it will be better from now on. The leader of the opposition (that's Ed Milliband for those Today Programme listeners who don't know who the Leader of the Opposition is at the moment) joined in and said everything had to be a lot better from now on.

Oddly enough, no one mentioned the Invisible Magic Friend. It used to be that when people talked about morals, they talked about the Invisible Magic Friend. It's very strange because the Invisible Magic Friend knows all about how to be moral and how to raise a family. Anyone would think the Invisible Magic Friend was irrelevant to human problems.

Jesus, who was the Christian Invisible Magic Friend, died. So did one of the Sikh Gurus, whose anniversary of becoming a guru falls this week. He wasn't the Invisible Magic Friend, but he did know what the Invisible Magic Friend wanted.

With the return of sanity, it's important that people who believe in the Invisible Magic Friend play their part. Lots of believers in the Invisible Magic Friend do good things. Think how much good they could do if, instead of doing good separately, they all did good together. It would look like we were doing a great deal more good than when we did it separately.

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Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings, an Anglican priest  
Monday, 15 August, 2011, 07:34 AM - Justice and mercy, Billings
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Politicians and commentators are very much into "gangs" at the moment. They think they may have had something to do with the riots. The Hon Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, who got the taxpayer to pay for his 9,000 Bang and Olufsen TV (not one of those grubby Samsungs grabbed by a teenager from Comet in the high street) asked how they could be "reclaimed by society". The PM's even getting advice from America because no one in the police, the probation service or social services here in the UK know anything about gangs.

I used to spend a lot of time in young offenders institutions, scout troops, boys football clubs, YMCA and so on. One youngster told me that the gang gave him what he needed: respect, a sense of worth and something to do - robbing, threatening, thieving, shooting - that sort of thing. In an era when there are few low skilled jobs available, crime was still one profession that required relatively few academic credentials. Here was something where he could be truly successful - he told me from his prison cell.

I just want to make it absolutely clear that I'm not one of those namby pamby liberals who wants to be soft on thugs. Get 'em inside I say, where they can spend long periods of time, confined with other testosterone fuelled teenagers - and that's just the girls. That'll teach 'em. Perhaps they can be visited by the occasional Rev Canon Dr.

What the riots show is that the fate of these young people is intimately connected to the rest of society. We ignore or abandon them at our peril.

Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, shook his bling covered fist and famously said, "Don't be disraspectin da Chrischin gang, innit!"

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