Young children, before they become rational, have imaginary friends. This just goes to show how perfectly natural and normal it is for adults to have an Invisible Magic Friend also. Scientists (both of them) have now proven that we are hardwired to believe in the Invisible Magic Friend. Dubliners have evolved to become Catholics, while those born in Jerusalem used to be hard wired to become Jews, then evolved into Christians, then into Muslims and now back into Jews again. Atheists are therefore freak mutants going against their nature. Who would have thought that a social species, that relies on cooperation and communication to survive, would possess an instinct to believe what we are told? I, for one insisted on empirical verification that sticking my hands in the fire caused severe pain. None of that silly, irrational belief just because my parents said so.
It's so nice to see science upholding the truth of religion, when they are so often characterised as opposites. Just because one brings people together in the search for truth, gives testable answers to questions and increases our understanding of the world, and the other divides people into tribal affiliations that rely on authority and revelation to make you do what we tell you to.
Jews and Christians love the Invisible Magic Friend with all their heart, soul and mind. As usual we won't mention the other Abrahamic faith whose Invisible Magic Friend seems to have gone a bit loopy. Logic and reason therefore dictate that the Christian Invisible Magic Friend exists. I can assert that this is perfectly rational because I haven't just taken people's word for it but have thought about it and decided it's a very nice thing to believe.
I trust the Invisible Magic Friend, not to do anything in particular, but just to exist. This makes me a complete and fulfilled human being, in touch with my instincts, in a way that non-believers can never be.
Not just Reverend, this is Church of England Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons
I really can't be bothered having a whole new Thought today, so I'll just rehash one I did ages ago about Loaves and Fishes and that everyone will have forgotten about by now. It's such an effort to wade through the newspapers looking for some sort of story with a moral in it, a connection to Jesus and some sort of relevance to all your tedious, godless little lives. So I'll just cross my forehead and wring my hands about consumer food waste instead of biofuels. I don't think anyone will notice that it's essentially the same little sermonnette.
Women in The City are being paid less than men. This is shocking. Terrible. How immoral. I can scarcely believe in this day and age, in the 21st century, there can be large industries where women don't get treated equally with men. Of course the Church has, in the past, not always granted absolutely equal rights to women, but thankfully that's all past now. Christianity today is a shining beacon of equality. 50% of all our priests, bishops, moderators and monks are women, and 50% of all nuns are men. As a feminist myself, I am proud of the sterling record of the Church in championing modern women's rights.
It all started with Jesus. Jesus loved women - oh, no, not that way. Jesus was pure and without sin. You would never catch Jesus putting bits of himself inside anything as impure as a woman. Even the real founder of Christianity, Saint Paul, had lots to say about women. So all in all, I think Christianity can be fairly smug about its record on women's rights. We're certainly in a very strong position to lecture those wicked City types who aren't as enlightened as the Church and whom everbody hates because they're rich anyway.
Monday, 7 September, 2009, 02:46 PM - ClemmiesThe waiting is finally over. The Platitude of the Day Academy have been meeting in closed conclave. After several heated rounds of discussion, white smoke over a chimney in Southend attests to the emergence of a winner of the inaugural Clemmie Award. In order to maintain a suitable sense of antici....
...pation, I shall announce the results in reverse order. In joint third place, with a creditable platitudinous rating of 3.4, we actually have three presenters.
Screaming Dom Antony Sutch, for his Won't some one please think of the Bankers.
Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings, an Anglican Priest, for his The Joy of Torture.
Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife for her The Secret Diary of Anne Atkins Aged 63 and 3/4.
Just barely missing the top accolade this month, with a very strong platitudinous rating of 4.1, second place goes to:
Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings, an Anglican Priest for his British Mothers are just great for not being Afghan.
But in first place, with a result that is sure to please the crowds, and a stunning platitudinous rating of 4.2, this months Clemmie Award goes to:
Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife , for her Some people are daft and think they see UFOs.
Well done Anne, you are now officially the most platitudinous TFTD presenter for August 2009. Can Anne hold on to her title next month, or will one of the many Revs, Right Revs, Most Revs or Rev Drs steal it from her? Don't miss next month's exciting Clemmie Awards ceremony!
Yes... many happy memories.... of things.... things that have happened... in the past... old things... long, long ago... in a galaxy far, far away...
Many of you... now that you've spent your bank bonuses are now seeking out the Invisible Magic Friend... You're finding it hard to find him... due to him being invisible and magic. Your financial ruin and new found destitution are signs... They're signs that the Invisible Magic Friend wants you to be that way... As an old time conversationalist with the Invisible Magic Friend here are my hints and tips for making first contact.
First, click your heels three times and say, "Where are you Invisible Magic Friend?"
I'M RIGHT HERE, IN YOUR HEAD, WHERE I'VE ALWAYS BEEN.
Not now, Invisible Magic Friend. I'm trying to explain to the wireless listeners how to find you.
IF THEY SPEND LONG ENOUGH TALKING TO THEMSELVES THEY'LL SOON FIND ME IN THEIR HEADS TOO.
You need to study the holy prophets.
OH, I WAS IN THEIR HEADS ALL RIGHT. THEY WERE COMPLETELY WACKO.
Try staring aimlessly at an altar for hours on end.
YEP, THAT USUALLY DOES THE TRICK.
If you don't have a lover then the Invisible Magic Friend can really help out.
I REALLY DO WISH YOU'D STOP TALKING TO ME WHILE YOU'RE DOING THAT.
The Invisible Magic Friend is there to be used.
TYPICAL! IS THAT ALL I AM TO YOU? AN OBJECT TO BE USED? YOU TOLD ME YOU LOVED ME FOR MY MIND.
His greater power can cure you of alcoholism.
A SIMPLE TWELVE STEP PROGRAMME IS ALL IT TAKES TO FREE YOU FROM A POINTLESS, DESTRUCTIVE OBSESSION AND RETURN YOU TO NORMALITY. YOU'LL FEEL BETTER, HAVE MORE SPARE TIME AND WON'T BE SUCH AN ENDLESS BORE.
There's a big Jewish festival come up you know.
OH, WHAT A SURPRISE.
Reverend Dr Giles Fraser - Not just vicar of Putney but Canon Chancellor elect of St Paul's Cathedral
The Director of the CBI is not happy. He thinks bankers should be free, free to place whatever bets they feel like with our money, free to cream off as much as they can get away with from our investments, free to award themselves huge bonuses as a reward for all the money they've already made. The head of the FSA, on the other hand, has turned traitor and suggested that most modern banking is basically useless.
This is all to do with morals and therefore religion. As with all areas of complex financial regulation, we naturally turn to theology for some pointers. Radical Orthodoxy argues that we should be utterly radical in our outlook by going back to the old way of doing things, postmodernist, in the sense of not being modern. We should consider the common good above the individual, without in any way being communist or Marxist or any of that anti-God stuff.
My advanced theological training and finely tuned moral antennae, tell me that it's not enough for banks to exist merely to make money, they actually ought to do something. This highlights once again the vital social relevance of cutting edge modern theology and its application in the statutory separation of domestic banking from speculation in derivatives. Banks need more morality, more supervision, perhaps guided by a highly trained panel of theologians, such as myself.
Friday, 4 September, 2009, 10:26 AMForget the Oscars. Say goodbye to the Nobel prizes. They're only awarded annually and for trivial things like contributions to world peace. The most prestigious award of all is available only to a select band of the faithful elite who present Thought For The Day.
Each month, a hand picked panel of judges from the Platitude Of The Day Academy, consisting of me, will award The Clemmie to the single most platitudinous contribution that month. The winner will be established through a thoroughly democratic process - you choose the winner by clicking on the platitudinous rating bar of the most awful contributor. The platitude with the highest rating on the Day of Judgement wins. I promise not to cut your fingers off, Taliban style, for voting. In fact, in a variant of democratic fairness that would make an Ayatollah blush, you can even vote as many times as you like.
I would also like to invite citations to be given as part of our gala awards ceremony. "For services to incoherence..." or "For advancement in the knowledge of invisible magic things..." etc.
The Clemmie is named after our very own contributor, Clemmie, whose guinea pig of the same name has dazzled us all with her erudite and sagacious insights into the location of dandelion leaves. I can think of no more appropriate accolade with which to honour TFTD presenters.
So get clicking on your least favourite platitudes for the month of August. I'll give you the whole weekend. The Day of Judgement will be on Monday.
Forget what that Muslim woman says about climate change. As the editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, let me just assure you that climate change is real. People are even taking vows to cut their carbon footprint by 10%. At least, The Guardian calls them vows, so they must be vows, and since only religious people can make vows, this must be a religious thing. People make vows to the Invisible Magic Friend because otherwise they'd just ignore all their promises. People are like that, you just can't trust them. Unless they think the Invisible Magic Friend is going to torment them for eternity they'll say anything they like then do something completely different.
Thank goodness we have the Invisible Magic Friend to make people behave honestly. When was the last time you ever heard a Christian politicians telling you lies? That's why Christian marriage vows are never broken, because they've made a solemn promise to the Invisible Magic Friend. It's why people aren't becoming monks and nuns any more, not because they don't believe it and it's no fun, but because they'd have to make a life long commitment to the Invisible Magic Friend which modern "secular" (spit) society finds too arduous.
Environmentalism is nearly the same thing as religion. After all, a belief in climate change is based solely on blind faith and a love of pretty blue skies and green grass. So if you're too lazy and hedonistic to become a Catholic, you can always just go green instead. And there's a poet who thinks so too, so I must be right.
Ban Ki Moon flew to the Artic to see for himself the alarming rate at which the artic glaciers are melting.
"I'm alarmed at the rate the Artic glaciers are melting," he said.
Me? I'm not really all that bothered about climate change. It's only a theory after all and a controversial one at that. I mean there are so many more important things to be getting on with, like reading the Koran. This might sound ignorant, but the whole thing all sounds very scientific, with nothing really interesting spiritually. Planet Earth is just a very small part of what the Invisible Magic Friend has given us and isn't really as fascinating to me as trying to understand what the Invisible Magic Friend wants. Should we do something about it, or should we not bother? I don't know. I don't really care either way. 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 Global Warming was predicted by the Koran anyway, which means it's inevitable, so why worry? Reusing carriers bags is such a hassle. It's so much easier to just chuck them away and get some new ones.
Having said all that, the Invisible Magic Friend would probably get upset at us trashing His planet. So, however grudgingly, no matter how tediously practical it all is, I suppose we better not leave the taps running 24 x 7, or burn spotlights in our back garden all night.
When, I ask myself, are we going to stop marginalising religion on BBC radio? The number of opportunities that holy people have to give their unchallenged opinions seems to be in calamitous decline. I have to confess that I too have been remiss in my duty by failing to provide concise summaries of those few religious opinion pieces that we have left. Father Robert J. Walker for example, rector of St. James the Less, Scottish Episcopal Church (a kind of Scottish Anglican), berates me for failing to summarise his own thoughts. With remarkably accurate insight, he calls me an "imp" and a "wonk", doubtless in frustration at my neglect of him. I can only plead that we imps and wonks are very busy people. Imping and wonking requires a lot of effort, particularly the latter and particularly at my age.
But never fear Father Walker, your prayers have finally been answered. Now that I know that you provide handy transcripts of your thoughts, I am perfectly placed to be your humble servant and to summarise your thoughts here, for the benefit of all. That is, when I'm not busy doing something much more important, like wonking.