Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge 
Wednesday, 23 September, 2009, 07:49 AM - Murad
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The tinsle's down, the decorations are back in their box, the kids have got bored with their presents. Yes, the hussle and bustle of Eid is finally behind us all and it's time to get back to normal life again. Sadly, for asylum seekers in Calais, yesterday was not so happy. Of course we can't have open borders, but neither can we ignore the plight of those who have paid thousands of pounds to unscrupulous people traffickers to try to make a better life for themselves by being employed at below market wages. Even that serial offender Baroness Scotland, who keeps breaking her own laws, has now been fined for employing an illegal immigrant (she was much cheaper than a white housekeeper). Religion, all religion (but not nasty atheists), teaches us to welcome strangers. Just as the people of Medina welcomed the prophet Mohammed, so should all good people with an Invisible Magic Friend welcome asylum seekers.

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Ardently Reverend Tom Butler, Lord Bishop of Southwark  
Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 07:31 AM - Environment, Health, Butler
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

D'you know what shum little girl shaid to me? (Burp!) S'cuse me. She shaid (hic!) "Go away you nashty man!" Me! (hic!) Sh'terrible d'way little girl'sh can't trusht a perfectly normal grandfather (hic!) like me. And I wash wearing my very nishesht big pointy hat and long sequened dress too! I'm the Bishop a'Shrufock, (hic!) shwat I do. I mean, it washn't ash if I'd thrown away all her cuddly toysh or anyfin. And another fing. They're closin all the city frams down. It'sh terrible! No more little girlsh cuddlin little lambsh. Awwwwww.... Awwww.... Jusht awful! An little boysh, all frogsh 'n shnails 'n pluppy dog tailsh. Awwwww.... City frams ish good. Makesh 'em know whata burga (hic!) burka looks like when shtill alive. Jeshush shays to keep the city framsh open. Ash the poet shays... (hic!) sklylark's wounded wolf roars... cherub... sherub, sherbert die'sh... Jeshush and little cuddly wabbitsh 'nd little girls... Awwwww...

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Just when you think the Catholic Church couldn't get any worse... 
Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 06:30 AM
...you read a story like this.

Read it and weep.

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Rev Dr Dr David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College Durham 
Monday, 21 September, 2009, 08:29 AM - Life after death, Prayer, Sport, Wilkinson
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

A service of thanksgiving will be held today in Durham Cathedral for Sir Bobby Robson. It's not an obvious place to hold a remembrance service.

OK, it is. He was born nearby and managed Newcastle United which is just up the road. More importantly, football is a terribly spiritual activity. Besides, the Church of England owns death in this country. Wherever there are dead people, you'll find the CofE. Combine football and death and the natural place to go is your local cathedral. How could anyone possibly remember someone's life without constant references to the Invisible Magic Friend?

As a Rev Dr Dr, who gave up astrophysics for the much more exciting pursuit of contemporary theology, and as a Newcastle United season ticket holder, let me just assure you that everbody, even the most hardened atheists, pray to the Invisible Magic Friend in times of adversity. But those of us who are holier also give thanks to the Invisible Magic Friend for people like Bobby Robson. Most people are horrible, so it's a real delight to come across someone who is genuinely human, who is decent and courageous, who is good, true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, just like Jesus. It's a reminder that competitive team sports like football isn't about the winning or the enormous amount of money involved, it's about being nice.

Oh and life itself is a gift from the Invisible Magic Friend, so don't be ungrateful. Remember to thank him or you'll be sorry.

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Reverend Bob Marshall, Anglican priest 
Saturday, 19 September, 2009, 09:00 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Marshall
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The waiting is finally over. They're here at last, the body parts everyone's been waiting for. Gosh, I'm so excited. I've venerated them three times before, but now they're here in England and I can venerate all over them as much as I like. I don't just venerate over any old corpse you know, I'm much more discerning than that, a connoisseur of cadavers. These are the holy dead bits of the one and only Sant Terrez of Lizyew, on the British leg of her sell out worldwide tour. She's the diva of holy carcasses, the Madonna of ghouls. In a very real sense she's the Michael Jackson of superstar dead bits. Nobody, but nobody, does being deceased as good as her.

There was a time when every decent church had at least some dead bits of holy people lying around in cupboards. It's what made a town thrive. The blacksmith, the butcher, the teacher, the surgeon, these were all dispensable, but without some holy dead bits, a town was doomed. The Catholic Church really knew how to pull in the passing pilgrim trade. Nowadays, you're bloody lucky if you get some saintly putrefaction in a casket, but not with Sant Terrez of Lizyew. People up and down the country will get to see her sacred remains. Even the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs, renowned for their lack of female companionship, will get to venerate over her as as a group.

What the atheists and the sceptics and the cynics don't seem to understand is that these are magic bones. Her invisible magic bit, who lives on in heaven, has been doing magic for everyone who comes to see her. Give her a really good, long, hard veneration and she'll do some magic for you too.

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Chief Rabbit Sir Jonathan Sacks 
Friday, 18 September, 2009, 07:24 AM - Sacks
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

There's a big Jewish festival tonight - happy Jewish New Year everyone! We'll be having a brilliant time blowing rams' horns (but not any other kind of animal horn because that would be just silly). It's a time for reflection. We all need to stop and slow down, to think about where we've been, where we are, where we're going and whether we should use a horse and cart or an MPV to get there. For all our advances in technology it's still just work, work, work, Chief Rabbitting all day long. Now we're pursued by emails and mobiles, "We urgently need some Chief Rabbitting," they'll say.

The chauffeur shofar is the satellite navigation system of the soul, telling us how far we have to go. It is the telephone answering machine that reminds us what we have missed, the fan assisted oven that evens out the temperature of life, the battery driven pepper grinder that reduces the corn of our problems to granules, the multi-purpose remote control that allows us to switch devices off.

So let's all take time to thank the Invisible Magic Friend for satnavs, answering machines, fan assisted ovens, battery driven pepper grinders and multi-purpose remote controls. Let us ask the Invisible Magic Friend to provide many more convenient and ingenious labour saving devices in the year ahead.

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Reverend Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Thursday, 17 September, 2009, 02:57 PM - Money, Winkett
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Here I am, in the middle of the City of London, surrounded by flash blokes in Saville Row suits, driving Porches and swigging champagne by the magnum. How come they get paid so much? And multi million pound bonuses? The Archbishop of Canterbury is appalled and so am I. I'm just as good as any banker but you don't here my employers saying they have to up my salary to keep the best person for the job. Some of these City types should have a go at Canon Precenting. They'd soon know what it's like to have a proper job. Jesus had the right idea, pay everyone the same no matter how much work they do. Christian teaching opposes anyone being that rich. All human beings are children of the Invisible Magic Friend. They are of equal worth and should be treated equally.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge 
Wednesday, 16 September, 2009, 08:51 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Murad
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Dan Brown's new novel is available from all good book stores from today. This one's about the Freemasons - a secret society that everybody knows about who conspire to run the world for their own benefit. Doubtless this'll be a best seller and a box office hit in due course. The masses inevitably read rubbish like this instead of listening to intellectual, sensible, rational people like me. His latest piece of fiction is nearly as loopy as the "Da Vinci code" where Jesus is reputed to have had a wife and descendants. I mean, how likely is that? Conspiracy theories abound amongst the gullible out there. Whether it's faked moon landings or US government involvement in 911, there are always nut cases who just can't deal with reality. It seems people will believe any old rubbish, no matter how absurd it sounds or how clearly deranged the person telling the story is. Some people even believe in hidden forces, like magic and the occult. Phew, what a bunch of loonies!

We're coming up to the end of Ramadan, when the Invisible Magic Friend decides what's going to happen in the year ahead. We know this for a fact because Mohammed told us that an angel told him all about it. So don't forget to tell the Invisible Magic Friend that you've been good little boys and girls this year and ask for lots of nice things as a reward.

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11 comments ( 962 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.5 / 284 )

Wallopingly Reverend Tom Butler, Lord Bishop of Southwark 
Tuesday, 15 September, 2009, 07:20 AM - Democracy, Butler
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Today I want to talk to you about cats. (Hic!) Catch 'n cheese 'n onion. (Hic!) No, no that'sh not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the partly politic-ill conferensh she (hic!) sheashon.

Did I ever tell you how to choose an Aposhle? Well I'll tell you anyway. Firsht you get (hic!) get all the poshible Aposhals. Then you shay to 'em. (Hic!) Which o you lot hash the sherry bottle? Eh? No, no, which o you lot knows Jeshus best? (Hic!) Then you do a bit a prayin. Then you jumble up all the cuddly toysh, pick one at random and he getsh to be an Aposhle. That'sh how the Apishlotic slusheshin got all the way to me. (Hic!) I'm the Biship a Suffurk. S'wat I do.

'S bit like votin, innit? (Hic!)

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And now for something not entirely different 
Monday, 14 September, 2009, 07:33 AM - Science, Not TFTD
I've always wished there were some learning materials for people like me, who have a smattering of maths, but are nowhere near being professional physicists. I find all the popular accounts of gauge theories, symmetry breaking and space time curvature, really quite frustrating. In their desperation to avoid an equation at any cost, they're often forced to argue by analogy that leaves me feeling that I haven't really learned anything.

A few days ago I discovered that Leonard Susskind has done just that. If you're comfortable with some basic calculus (and he'll remind you as he goes along about most of it) then these lectures are an absolute joy.

He starts off with Classical Mechanics. Classical Mechanics is boring, right? Not the way he teaches it. By lecture 4 he's gone from what's allowed as a physical law to Noether's theorem. (If you haven't come across this before then this will blow your mind. It basically says that physical conservation laws arise from symmetries in nature - symmetry in your choice of spatial coordinate systems leads to conservation of momentum, symmetry in your choice of time zone leads to conservation of energy - and he demonstrates all this on the whiteboard.) This is far more advanced than anything I did in undergraduate physics and he makes it all look effortless - pen in one hand, cup of coffee in the other.

These are the best things I've discovered since the Feynman Lectures on Physics. It's really all I can do to tear myself away from them and get on with something else. I can hardly wait to get onto the Relativity and Quantum Mechanics lectures.
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