Good morning Justin, good morning John and good morning to you all.
Well, back in the good old days of World War II, I was evacuated from my cosy East End flat to the countryside. The countryside was horrible. It had all these big wide open, spaces covered in green stuff and it was full of animals. I can't tell you what a relief it was to get back home to The Blitz.
I learned all I need to know in the University of Life, on Whitechapel High Street. Have I ever mentioned that it feels better to give than to receive? I don't think I have, so I'll mention it now: it feels better to give than to receive. You don't believe me? Honestly it does. If you've never given anything before, give it a go, you'll be amazed how good it feels.
In the good old days, when hot buttered scones could be bought at a dozen for a farthing, my granny used to tell me that you're never closer to the Invisible Magic Friend than when you meet a beggar. Who would have thought that the Invisible Magic Friend would be accompanied by such a distinctive aroma? In the good old days there were rather a lot of beggars on Whitechapel High Street. I believe they still have them in the more godly parts of eastern Europe.
You should never pass a beggar without giving them a penny. In the good old days this consumed all my pocket money, but I felt better for giving it away. Have I ever mentioned that it feels better to give than to receive?
Anyway, let's end with a little joke. A woman meets a beggar and the beggar tells her he hasn't eaten in three days. "Force yourself," she tells him. "Force yourself."
Most of the time we like to play safe, but sometimes we like to take risks.
Sometimes we prefer the familiar, sometimes we're more daring.
Sometimes we prefer caution, sometimes we try to be brave.
Sometimes we prefer certainty, sometimes we prefer uncertainty.
Sometimes we prefer to be guarded, sometimes we prefer to be adventurous.
Sometimes we prefer what is sound, sometimes we prefer what is dangerous.
Sometimes we prefer what is dependable, sometimes we prefer what is hazardous.
Most people think the Church is sound, dependable, reliable, traditional, familiar and all and all a jolly good thing. In actual fact, if you look at the Big Book of Magic Stuff, the Invisible Magic Friend is a great innovator, constantly coming up with new ways to tell you how to run your life based on authority and revelation. Jesus said to change the world, which is why the Church has always been so socially progressive and doesn't spend all its time hob-nobbing with the rich and powerful.
The Christian Church is just so radical.
We asked 100 people about something associated with university. You said "fun". Let's see, how many people in our survey, when asked to mention something about university, said "fun".
X - The top answer was in fact "expense", followed by "fees" and "cost" and trailing way behind was "love of the subject being studied".
In actual fact love of the subject should be the single most important reason for going to university, or at least Cambridge University. We don't want people doing a degree in hospitality management for fun. We want people who woke up as youngsters and said, "YES - when I grow up I want to run a hotel!" These must be people who delight in stock control, whose one ambition in life is to ensure that every pillow has a complimentary mint, people who really know how to grovel to a dissatisfied guest.
When a young person studies accountancy, we want people who love accountancy. They will have started off with a simple hobby, perhaps purchasing a book like "100 Ways to Have Fun with Double Entry Bookkeeping". At university they can develop their interest and progress to such fascinating subjects as corporate tax law, or fixed interest securities pricing.
We don't teach any of these wonderful subjects for the rather vulgar aim of making money. We do it to open up a wide new world to young people, to satisfy their sense of wonder.
And for reasons that are not entirely clear, I would just like to mention the Invisible Magic Friend.
It's madness! Madness, I tell you! It's Health and Safety gone mad! Absolute madness! Everywhere you go there are petty officials enforcing even pettier rules about Health and Safety! It's absolute madness I tell you! Madness!
Do you know what everyone needs? I'll tell you what everyone needs: Common Sense, like Jesus had. Jesus didn't worry about rules about the Sabbath. Rules about the Sabbath are precisely the kind of arbitrary rules that people make up about Health and Safety. You can be pretty sure that Jesus wouldn't bother about Health and Safety, which is absolute madness gone mad! No, Jesus, with the kind of Common Sense that you would expect from the Invisible Magic Friend in disguise, went straight ahead and healed people on the Sabbath - completely ignoring the rules about the Sabbath or Health and Safety.
What must you do to get into heaven? I'll tell you what you must do to get into heaven. You must love the Invisible Magic Friend, and praise him and worship him, and tell him how really, really super he is. Common Sense. Oh, yeah, and be nice to people as well.
King David never hesitated to eat consecrated bread on the Sabbath. He had Common Sense - none of that Health and Safety gone mad nonsense for him! He just threw caution to the wind and tucked right into that consecrated bread. The Big Book of Magic Stuff is just full of Common Sense.
Everything else is just Health and Safety gone mad!
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.
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.
Monday, 22 August, 2011, 08:30 AM - Rabbi Lionel BlueRating 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?"
Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 10:34 AM - Not TFTDJust 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.
Saturday, 20 August, 2011, 08:35 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Spirituality, Think of the children, MarshallRating 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!
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."