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.
Siegfried Sassoon thought bishops talk bollocks. His poems are all very pretty and everything but I'm sure he wasn't referring to me because I don't talk bollocks. I want to talk to you today about war. I'm not one of those gay, pinko, pacifist Christians, but a big, butch, grown up, manly Christian who thinks war is the best way to settle international disputes, as Jesus remarked on many occasions. That's why it's people like me, proper warrior Christians, who hold services to mark the start of another jolly war. All that pain and death, business is never as good as in a good war. If the wholesale slaughter of innocents upsets you then you should grow up a bit and realise that the Invisible Magic Friend is with them, so everything will be alright in the end.
When our brave boys come home, shell shocked, having witnessed the death, maiming and suffering of combatants and civilians alike, they sometimes find it difficult to settle back into normal society. It's very expensive to try to slowly and carefully correct the intense psychological damage inflicted on young soldiers, so we put them in prison. Fortunately, I'm Bishop of Prisons, so they get to meet me and don't have to listen to some half-wit talking bollocks at them, the kind of bollocks talking bishop that Siegfried Sassoon obviously encountered.
Wednesday, 2 September, 2009, 06:03 AM - Not TFTDSeveral stories lately have highlighted the need to be sensitive when dealing with people's beliefs. As a Reverend Doctor let me just assure you that I have the deepest respect for all religions and would never seek to disparage, mock, or belittle any of the world's great faiths. With this in mind, I have to echo the sentiments of my colleague, Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings, by pointing out that there are certain things that you simply ought not to do, like raping your own daughter - it's not nice. Here are a couple of other things you should not do.
You should not say bad things about the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the only real church. It was founded by Christ Himself when he passed His magic powers to Saint Peter and the Apostles. They have passed their magic powers down through the generations to today's bishops whose magic powers you can be entirely sure of because they say they have them. These magic powers include the ability to forgive your sins, to turn water into magic water, to make you properly married, to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, to turn oil into magic oil and to make sure you die properly. They bring you the good news that you have been saved, which I'm sure comes as a great relief now that you know you needed to be saved.
In a world of poverty, sexually transmitted disease, over population and severe resource depletion, it is absolutely vital that the Catholic Church's policy of no family planning whatsoever be adhered to at all cost. Similarly, the Church's quiet wisdom on the problem of gayness, which is responsible for so much evil in the world, must be heard and obeyed. The Catholic Church loves gay people and wishes only what is best for them. It is because of this great love that it has successfully opposed many wicked attempts to secure equal rights for people suffering from gayness. Some have doubted the wisdom and justice of these policies, but the Catholic Church derives its authority from God. In evidence, we see that it is entirely run by celibate men, so it's authority and wisdom are not compromised by women or people who have sex. Further evidence comes from the fact that none of these celibate men suffer from gayness.
Some people have said bad things about the Catholic Church. Such people are bad people and should not be listened to. Look how upset this man is because bad people have said bad things about the Catholic Church. If you're one of these people, then stop saying bad things about the Catholic Church! It makes him very upset, although you might cheer him up a little if you buy his book.
The Catholic Church is an easy target. Bad people might say bad things about the Catholic Church, but they wouldn't dare say them about Islam. Just in case you're tempted, you should not say bad things about Islam either. Islam is the only true religion. It was founded by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), who was the most perfect individual ever to have lived. Islam means "peace". It has spread throughout the Middle East, Far East, North Africa and Southern Europe entirely peacefully, thanks to its beauty, its internal consistency, it's concentration on logic and its insistence that there is no compulsion in religion. There is no difference between the rights of men and women in Islam - both are treated equally. Islam has been shown to be the most enlightened religion there has ever been in regard to women's rights. As with the Catholic Church, Islam loves gay people. However it is not quite as enlightened and tolerant as the Catholic Church and takes active steps to cure gay people by depriving them of their sexuality, and incidentally the ability to breathe. All of modern science can be found in Islam's holy book, the Holy Koran, except evolution which is only a theory.
Some bad people have said bad things about Islam. They published cartoons suggesting that Muslims get very upset very easily and really ought to lighten up a bit. Muslim reaction was typically resigned, restrained and contemplative, with thankfully only a few people getting killed. That is why a firm of Saudi lawyers have peacefully demanded that all images of these bad cartoons be removed from the internet in perpetuity. I must therefore ask all of you not to show this image anywhere on any of your internet sites.
Or this one.
And on absolutely no account whatsoever should you ever show this one!
Thank you for your cooperation. I know that, if we people of good faith can only band together, we can stop bad people from ever saying bad things about religion ever again, making this world of ours a happier, safer, more respectful place for all of us.
Evil is a word that we don't hear much today. Somehow the word "evil" has gone out of fashion, perhaps because it is so closely associated with the Church, although I can't think why. The horrific tale of Jaycee Lee Dugard is all too familiar to we priests. Even as a young and innocent priest, not yet corrupted by the ways of this wicked world, I was immediately thrown into the world of child abuse within the family. A young woman came to have her baby christened.
"Have you chosen a name for the child?"
"Tell me, when you were young, were you molested? Was your father a violent man? Did he rape you repeatedly? You can trust me, I'm a priest. I wear a long black frock. I promise I won't tell a soul, except possibly on national radio. Tell me all the lurid, shocking details."
Now you may characterise such behaviour as the product of a warped personality, of someone who has acted outside the bounds of morality, as someone who can no longer tell right from wrong, who cannot empathise even with their own daughter's suffering. Indeed, some might say this is the very definition of evil, but I say this is much worse. As a Reverend Canon Doctor, an Anglican Priest and an expert on ethics, I have to tell you that the only word for this behaviour is evil. I cannot emphasise enough to Today listeners that this is not best parenting practise. Do not, I repeat not, rape your own daughters. This is very bad behaviour indeed. And if you are the wife of a violent, sadistic husband, who regularly satisfies his own lustful pleasure at your children's expense, do not, I repeat not collude by turning a blind eye. Seek out someone responsible and trustworthy immediately, such as your nearest Reverend Canon doctor.
Monday, 31 August, 2009, 07:30 AM - Rabbi Lionel BlueRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
A very happy Bank Holiday to you Justin and to you Jim. Last week... oh and a happy Bank Holiday to you all. Last week I explained to you what was wrong with everybody else's religion. There's rather a lot of shouting and fighting over holy places and all that sort of thing. Real religion, true religion, my religion, is having a chat with the Invisible Magic Friend.
How are you today Invisible Magic Friend?
I'M ETERNALLY AND INEFFABLY GETTING ALONG SPLENDIDLY THANK YOU.
Yes, I thought so Fred. You don't mind if I call you Fred do you?
I HAVE MANY NAMES: ALLAH, JEHOVA, ELOHIM, ADONAI, JESUS, VISHNU. I AM THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE ROCK OF AGES, THE ALMIGHTY, THE CREATOR, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS, THE MOST MERCIFUL...
Yes Fred. Marcus Aurelius didn't believe in you, you know?
THE PLEASING AROMA OF HIS BURNING FLESH IS AS SWEET PERFUME TO ME, THE LORD OF ALL, THE BENEFICENT, THE ALL KNOWING, THE ALL SEEING, THE MOST JUST, THE MOST WISE...
Now Fred, I need you to stand by me and prop me up during my after dinner speech and make sure I don't fluff my lines. Can you do that for me?
I AM ALL POWERFUL. THE HEAVENS BOW DOWN AT MY COMMAND. MY EVERY WILL IS LAW. THE STARS TRAVERSE THE SKY AT MY BIDDING. I SMITE THE UNJUST AND IMPIOUS...
Oh and Fred, can you look out for Aunt Ethel, she's having her hysterectomy today.
Monday, 31 August, 2009, 05:09 AM - Not TFTDI'm sure you're all aware of the imminence of The Rapture. While people as holy as myself (including all my clones) have nothing to fear from Christ's second coming, many of you damned heathens out there are, unfortunately, beyond redemption. However, as an expression of just how kind and loving we Saved people are, we're going to allow all you cross dressers, gays, unbelievers, smokers or people who just happen to be born into the wrong religion, the opportunity to actually do something useful in your remaining, tortuous time left on earth. You can now look after out pets during the time of Tribulation. This final act of love won't do your eternal soul any good, but at least you'll have something warm and soft to cuddle up to while God's horrific but righteous wrath is poured fourth upon you.
So sign up and do your bit today.
[Ed. With thanks to NSS News for this delightful little story.]
Saturday, 29 August, 2009, 07:28 AM - JenkinsRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Are you lonely? Have you lost the love of your life who gave you so much happiness? Are you isolated from all other human companionship? Have all your former friends and colleagues abandoned you? Then never fear - the Invisible Magic Friend is here.
As with all other difficult social and personal problems, we naturally seek the advice of a theologian. Theology's proven ability to provide effective solutions to all of humanity's problems has been demonstrated repeatedly through the centuries. Paul Tillich was a great 20th century theologian. He added so much to our knowledge of invisible magic things, to the great benefit of all mankind. He said that "loneliness" means being alone, whereas "solitude" means not being with anyone, words which I'm sure are a great comfort to all you sad, lonely, friendless, unwanted rejects out there who have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than listen to me telling you all this.
At this time of your life, when you are most vulnerable and would gratefully accept the attention of any slimy snake oil salesman, I'd like to encourage you to turn to Jesus. Jesus knows the pain of being alone. It isn't easy to turn to Jesus, but then if a 17 year old has the courage to sail single handedly round the world, then surely you can muster the courage to turn to Jesus. Do you have less courage than a 17 year old? So rejoice in your solitude. Celebrate the fact that the death of all your friends and loved ones has given you more time to pray to Jesus. Take comfort that he can do for you what the Invisible Magic Friend did for him - absolutely bugger all.
As there's no actual news in the world today, let's use TFTD's favourite fall-back and talk about the telly. Big Brother is coming to an end. I've been watching this dreadful programme for years. It's awful. I can't count the number of hours I've wasted watching this pathetic, voyeuristic, melting pot of dysfunctional wannabes. In all the years I've been glued to the set I don't think I've advanced an inch spiritually. It's soul destroying, demeaning drivel, packet with spiritually shallow misfits. It's like a modern day freak show. We really could do with something a bit more exciting to watch at the Iona Community. I can't tell you how glad I am that I'm not going to be forced to watch Big Brother any more. As Channel 4 tries to find the next mass market audience, I'm sure it will replace this binge television with something tasteful, educational and morally uplifting. The sort of high quality, intelligent show that mass market television is renowned for. The TV programme Jesus would make.
Richard Poncher is to lose his place in the crypt that he shares with Marilyn Monroe, although there are reports that the buyer is getting cold feet (just a little Professor of Islamic Studies joke - tee hee). Richard Poncher's wish to be buried there is being cast aside by his widow who would rather go on living in her $1.6 million Beverly Hills mansion. Thanks to Mrs. Poncher you too could get to spend "eternity with Marilyn Monroe", or at least, until someone richer takes your place.
This story tells us that Richard Poncher believed in life after death, as in fact does everyone. We Muslims believe, or at least, hope, well it might be true, I mean anything might be true, well it's not impossible that our souls live on in heaven with the Invisible Magic Friend. Unless you're an unbeliever of course, in which case you still get to live forever, except it's in everlasting torment with demons poking red hot pokers up your backside while pouring molten lead down your throat.
With all the evidence we have of people returning to tell us it's all true, I think we can safely say this is a lot more than just wishful thinking. Which is just as well. Have you any idea what a rotten life it is being Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow? God, it's so dull! Dull and boring and dreary and just mind numbingly awful! Even doing TFTD is more exciting. Things are bound to be better than this in the next life. I mean, what if there were nothing? It'd mean I'd wasted my entire life, devoting it to a study of complete nonsense. My goodness, it would almost be funny, wouldn't it?