I don't need to be protected from little old ladies 
Monday, 26 October, 2009, 05:44 AM - Not TFTD
This is both insane and frightening. In July this year, Norwich City Council allowed a Gay Pride parade in the city centre. 67 year old "committed Christian", Pauline Howe was there. Whether she was one of the regular placard wielding "Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve" brigade, or whether she just happened to be out shopping that day, I don't know. Either way, she received some verbal abuse from some of the marchers. That in itself is pretty unusual. In my experience Gay Pride parades tend to be quite good natured affairs, but you never know, someone could have been guilty of hurling insults at random strangers along the route.

Mrs. Howe sent a strongly worded letter to the city council. You might have thought that the council officials would write a letter back, defending equal opportunities and equal rights. They did. They also accused her of a hate crime and sent the police round.

Even if you assume the very worst about Mrs. Howe, that she was part of a demonstration that heaped insults on the marchers, even if she wrote a letter filled with invective against sodomites and how they caused the downfall of the British Empire, even if she's an uncompromising bigot through and through, sending in the police is completely over the top. I've learned to be wary of these "persecuted Christian" stories, we seldom get the whole truth at the start, but no matter what Mrs. Howe said, she has a right to say it.

We pretty much have equal rights for gays now in this country. We have an equal age of consent, we have all the benefits and protection of civil partnerships, we are increasingly accepted by the wider community. I don't need the state to protect me from little old ladies, I'm no longer a victim. I certainly don't need the police to be ordered to stamp out all dissent and contrary points of view.

Have we abolished the law of blasphemy only to introduce a 21st century blasphemy law to replace it? Is anyone who doesn't like gays, or blacks, or muslims or Methodists now to be carted off to prison or undergo multicultural awareness training by someone with a lower second in Minority Studies?

This is really scary. How long will it be before my rants against the Catholic Church get classified as a hate crime? The Catholic Church is big enough and powerful enough to argue back. The gay community is also more than capable of defending its corner. Let the free flow of ideas continue. And if the exchange becomes heated and some of us get offended, well that's just tough. It's a small price to pay for freedom of speech.

Mrs. Howe is entitled to her opinion and I'm entitled to laugh at that opinion. The only contribution of the state should be to protect both our rights to speak our minds.

6 comments ( 819 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 292 )

Come and join us! 
Sunday, 25 October, 2009, 03:14 AM - Not TFTD
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Is your church thinking about treating women as equals? Fed up with the lack of implacable hatred towards gayness? Sick to death of all this tolerance and discussion and democracy? Worried about remaining in a defective, and not really proper church? Then why not join the Roman Catholic Church - the Church for misogynist, homophobic bigots. We're nearly as vitriolic and regressive as Islam, despite being founded a whole six centuries ahead of that other, wrong, religion. It's time to throw away centuries of theology that up 'till now you claimed to believe in and come join the undemocratic, hierarchical, patriarchal, intolerant, intransigent organisation that you previously claimed held no unique divine mandate. Don't worry if you look like a petulant hypocrite, you'll feel right at home with us.

There's a whole host of reasons to join the modern Roman Catholic Church. Under the benevolent leadership of His Holiness Fuhrer Rottweiler the umpteenth, you'll be told exactly what to think, do and say by real priests - proper, male, celibate* priests with genuine magic powers. Just think of it, no more struggle with conflicting principles or moral conundrums. When you join the proper church, your old conscience will be instantly removed and replaced with a nice, new, standard, cardboard cutout Catholic conscience. It'll be crystal clear to you that condoms are the work of Satan and that the last people who should decide when women have babies are women themselves. You'll no longer be embarrassed about hating gays and all the evil that they do.

We know how awful it must be to be in a (not proper) church that keeps trying to keep up with the times. With the Roman Catholic Church, we guarantee that nothing ever, ever, changes. In the whole history of the (proper) church, no pope has ever contradicted a predecessor or revoked or changed any act of dogma. (Well technically usury is still on the statute books, but it makes the Vatican bank kind of difficult to run without it, so we prefer not to mention that one. Then there was Pope Formosus whose remains were exhumed and put on trial. And hardly anybody knows about the filioque and how it was definitely out, then definitely in, and now we're kind of at the shake it all about stage. Limbo used to be real but good Pope Rottweiler abolished it, letting all those innocent little babies into heaven. Thankfully most people have forgotten Pope Honorius who was anathematized as a heretic. But apart from little things like that, no pope, who is after all infallible, has ever, ever, contradicted any of his predecessors.)

What's more, we'll even pass on some of our magic powers to you. You'll be able to perform real, fully guaranteed, genuine transubstantiation. No more play acting at being a priest. No more dressing up in late 4th century Roman fashions for pretend masses. Just think about the first time Jesus really smiles at you from a communion wafer. I'll bet you just can't wait to hold his body in your hands and drink his bodily fluids.

It's so easy to join. Just raise your right arm and repeat after me, there is only one proper church, one male hierarchy and one infallible, holy pope.

Ein Volk! Ein Reich!

Ein Fuhrer!

(At this point, the Vatican would just like to formally complain that, despite being the most famous former member of the Hitler youth in the world, Fuhrer Ratzinger has not yet been asked to appear on Question Time).

*Priests may occasionally not be entirely celibate, but teenage boys don't really count and besides loads of other churches do that as well.


7 comments ( 1201 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 298 )

Brian Draper, associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Saturday, 24 October, 2009, 06:54 AM - Gibberish, Draper
Rating ? out of 5 (Don't know - absolutely no idea what his point was)

Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in todayís world. Hi.

Getting dark, isn't it? Don't forget to turn your clocks back.

Invisible Magic Friend, Jesus, Dylan Thomas, a famous theologian and another poet.

5 comments ( 634 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 336 )

Dauntingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Friday, 23 October, 2009, 08:40 AM - Money, Harries
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

We Christians invented equality. Everybody should be equal, even slaves. So, Today Programme slave owners, you just remember that. We should all be equal regardless of race, gender or... you know, thingy... people of a certain, er... disposition.

Of course we don't mean equality in an evil, communist sense. That's bad equality. We mean equality in the sense that some people are free to be a little bit richer than other people, just not as much as they are now. Free to be slightly better off, in a sort of retired Bishop of Oxford, Gresham Professor of Divinity sort of way. We don't want people to be free to become like American billionaires. That's just being tasteless and vulgar.

This is not the view of Lord Griffiths. Speaking in a totally non partisan fashion, Lord Griffiths informed an audience at Saint Paul's,

"Heaping vast amounts of your money on a few selected individuals, such as oneself, is good for the economy. I can then spend that money as you wait on me in a fine City restaurant, or wash dishes, or are employed as a doorstop. Why change a system that has made Britain the industrial and financial power that she is today? Besides, if you don't let us take all your money then we'll just go abroad and take somebody else's money. Then how stupid are you going to look? Who you going to be a doorstop for then?"

This is a utilitarian argument and therefore bad. All utilitarian arguments are bad because they don't rely on the Invisible Magic Friend. It's the same sort of Invisible Magic Friendless argument that lead to that dreadful cry of "Liberty, equality, fraternity". They thought that simply abolishing the French hierarchy would solve all their problems. As a Dauntingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, I think I should point out that we want to keep a certain amount of hierarchy. We don't want that much equality.

1 comment ( 1043 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 202 )

Friday, 23 October, 2009, 04:27 AM - Not TFTD
Apparently, even though it took place years ago, my radio debate on Intelligent Design with Dr. Tom Woodward is still one of the top ten downloads on the Unbelievable website (at number 10, I just scrape in). I'm still a long way behind the P.Z.Myers and Richard Dawkins shows, but I'm just chuffed to appear on the same list.

I enjoyed that chat. Dr Woodward is a thoughtful man who would often pause to listen and think.
3 comments ( 1106 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 231 )

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, from Alyth Gardens Synagogue 
Thursday, 22 October, 2009, 07:44 AM - Democracy, Lessons of history, Torah, Klausner
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Well now's your chance to do something. Nick Griffin is on Question Time tonight. Don't just sit there and take this. Remember to look after your own. "Love your neighbour" means "get in there with knuckle dusters and crowbars, beat him to within an inch of his life". Don't worry if he insults you, that'll stop as you keep beating him up. As it says in the Book of Proverbs, "representative democracy is the ideal form of government." Or as Moses famously said, "Say 'No' to fascist, authoritarian, hierarchical, institutional violence, and stone to death anyone who says otherwise." Jewish sacred texts are a big fan of open discussion, everything's open for debate, except the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings and the Talmud. Don't forget that Moses stood up to nasty Pharaoh (and those silly Egyptians, notorious for not keeping records, forgot to mention it). Don't stand up to thugs and bullies because it's the right thing to do, do it because the Invisible Magic Friend, who never bullies anyone, commands it.

10 comments ( 744 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 296 )

Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian  
Wednesday, 21 October, 2009, 07:46 AM - Democracy, Akhandadhi Das, Afghanistan
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

There's a big Hindu festival just finished. Happy week-after-Diwali everyone! Diwali isn't about homecoming, like I told you last year. That was wrong, wrong, wrong. Vaishnav Hindu theology has advanced in leaps and bounds since that old fashioned, and wrong, theory. No, Diwali is actually about credible leadership. And it just so happens there's a story about credible leadership in the news right now. If there hadn't been a story about credible leadership then I suppose I would have to talk about something other than Diwali.

Poor President Karzai has to have another election. While we're on the subject of Afghanistan, I just want to point out that I'm not going to express any opinion about the western troops there. Instead, I will simply "wonder" if it is a good thing. I won't even go so far as to "wonder" whether military force alone can ever defeat a bunch of Muslim fanatics ('cos we all know what they can be like).

What President Karzai needs to do in his Muslim country, is to institute a system of government derived from ancient Hindu fables. He needs to become a benevolent dictator like Lord Rama. Everyone knows that a benevolent dictator, ruling over people who know their place in the caste system, is the best possible form of government. Provided he listens to criticism, there'll be no danger of corruption, nepotism or the temptation to wield untrammelled power.

And it's not just in politics. Anywhere where you're in charge and your underlings have to do what you tell them to because you could sack them or send them to bed early, it's important that they all know who's boss.

5 comments ( 643 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 269 )

Imperially Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons 
Tuesday, 20 October, 2009, 07:33 AM - James Jones
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

It'll be such a shame to see the demise of the postman and the milkman. Their jolly grin, as they greet their sad, lonely customers in the morning, bringing a little cheer into their lives, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak and isolated landscape, replaced by email and bulk buying at ASDA (even though this is the holiest of the major supermarket chains).

There's no community any more. Streets are empty, people don't talk or have friends. There are no clubs where people share a mutual interest or voluntary groups where those with spare time help those in need. Everything is just so awful.

We know that people need community because even the Invisible Magic Friend needs one. As an Imperially Reverend Lord Bishop and Bishop of Prisons, I am able to assure you that there are in fact three little gods in the Invisible Magic Friend, making one big god. A little community of gods. Well, not gods exactly, more three Invisible Magic Friends. No that's not quite right, it's really three Hypostases in one Ousia. It's all very theologically complex and it's a mystery and that's really all you need to know. One of them's the postman, one of them's the milkman and one's the customer that stands at the door and says "Good morning, and how are you today?"

5 comments ( 1163 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 241 )

Clifford Longley, a distinguished person who talks a lot about religion 
Monday, 19 October, 2009, 07:24 AM - Dont do bad things, Bible, Longley
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Slavery and torture - what's actually wrong with them? Since I didn't listen to Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings asking exactly the same question, I'll have to turn to my Big Book of right and wrong things to find out. Let me see now, ah yes, slavery's OK. That's that one out of the way. What about torture? Well it doesn't actually mention torture, so I'll just have to infer the answer from some other bit where it talks about something else.

We could of course consider the Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment was rubbish. It produced things like the United States. The United States allowed both slavery and torture, just like the bible says, or in the latter case, doesn't say.

As a member of the Catholic Church, I can speak with the authority of an institution that has a long tradition of torturing its opponents. Thanks to this I can tell you categorically that torture is wrong, it is a bad thing. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Got that Today Programme listeners? I want you all to put your thumbscrews down and stop torturing people at once.

I will now explain to you why torturing people is a bad thing. Is it because we instinctively empathise with the pain, suffering and helplessness of other human beings? Don't be silly. It is because the Invisible Magic Friend's Big Book of right and wrong says you must love your enemies. We may therefore implicitly deduce from this that the most you can do is enslave them. Torture is right out I'm afraid.

8 comments ( 1174 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 240 )

Brian Draper, associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity 
Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 07:05 AM - Draper
Rating 2 out of 5 (A littler platitudinous)

Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians, and the leaders, churches and organisations that serve them, with the biblical framework, practical resources and models to engage biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face in todayís world. Hi.

Should we delay the start of formal education for an extra year? Maybe we should. When my five year old complains that school is boring, I have some sympathy with this idea. Not that there's anything wrong with his school mind you. I'd just like to make it clear that I'm perfectly happy with his school. Fine teachers, fine reputation, so can we please keep our place there? He's just so bored. Not that the teachers are boring I hasten to add. Just another 13 years of dreary, dull bookish exercises, doing homework, sitting exams, not being picked for the football team. Not that the school is dreary or dull or anything like that.

People will have different opinions about this. I'm lucky in that I get to tell everyone on national radio what my opinion is. Of course I have to do it from a faith perspective. So what does a faith perspective have to say about the Cambridge Primary Review? Well, Jesus said we should be like little children. So I think that means we should delay formal education forever.

2 comments ( 938 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 328 )

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