Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 08:16 AM - Democracy, Bell
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little Platitudinous)

Naomi Klein wrote a very good book called No Logo - available from all good bookshops and online retailers.

The book analyses the various stages of product advertising.

1. It's intrinsic usefulness.
2. The virtue of the manufacturer.
3. The endorsement of a famous person.
4. How the product will improve your quality of life.

It seems politics is following the same route, especially with regard to stage three and especially in the United States. Politics is championed by media personalities, notably Jon Stewart and Glenn Beck. This doesn't seem to be happening so much over here, but I'll warn you Radio 4 listeners of the dangers of it anyway.


I cannot emphasise this enough. That is not a good way to decide who to vote for.

There's no direct support for this view in the Big Book of Magic Stuff. For some reason, it doesn't seem to have much to say in the areas of democracy and political accountability, but it's notable that Jesus did not employ celebrity endorsement of his product. He didn't even hand out promotional materials based around the biggest media celebrity of the time, John the Baptist. There were no billboard advertisements saying, "Try the new, improved Judaism. Washes your brain even cleaner. As recommended by the late John the Baptist."

I think it's fair to say therefore that Jesus would have approved of me telling to vote on the basis of policies and ideals.

5 comments ( 556 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 296 )

Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife  
Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 07:35 AM - Atkins
Rating ? out of 5 (Don't know - I have no idea what she was on about)

There's too much information about nowadays.

Have I mentioned sex yet? I do know how my listeners like to hear me talk about sex. Should young people be taught about sex? Yes of course they should be taught about sex, but only if it's done properly. Sex should be taught using the tried and trusted Anne Atkins method of teaching sex.

Nothing gets taught properly nowadays, and I include sex in that. People keep going on about facts these days. Facts are all very well but there's really no point in giving all these facts to people who aren't equipped to understand them. What's the point of giving children facts about sex without teaching them properly about sex?

Jesus didn't go on about facts, or about sex. He certainly didn't want anyone to know about him. He told everyone to keep his many miracles and thoughtful insights secret. He told them not to tell anyone he was the second lump of the Invisible Magic Friend. It's thanks to his disciples' fear of disobeying the Invisible Magic Friend that they didn't tell anyone and Christianity remained a small secretive sect within Judaism.

You'll learn far more from one good classic Jane Austin novel than any number of copies of the New York Times with all it's pages full of facts.

What you people don't seem to understand is that for everything there is a season.

I'd just like to add the word "believe".

11 comments ( 924 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 293 )

Oh dear... 
Monday, 25 October, 2010, 08:08 AM - Not TFTD
Richard Dawkins is suing Josh Timonen.

From reading the papers filed at court, it looks as if Timonen has been paying himself and his partner a salary out of the website company's sales, in addition to the money paid by the Richard Dawkins Foundation directly. In fact, it looks like about 90% of the turnover has been going to Timonen.

There's an awful lot of mention of "oral contracts" in the filing, which I really wouldn't have expected between a charity and a company contracted to do work for it. It will be interesting to hear Timonen's side of the story when this comes to court.

Watch out for all the comments about how you'd never get a Christian or a Muslim or a whatever committing fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement...

After all the hoo-ha over the changes to the RDFRS website and the loss of the discussion forums, Timonen probably ranks somewhere close to the Pope in terms of atheist bogey men. This could get nasty. ... imonen.php ... 15632.html
9 comments ( 1339 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 315 )

Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 25 October, 2010, 08:01 AM - Rabbi Lionel Blue
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

Good morning Evan, good morning Jim and good morning to you all.

Let me begin with my usual talk of hard times and nostalgia for happier times gone past.

And now on to my annual reminder that many old people find themselves lonely and abandoned at Christmas. Whatever you do, don't treat yourself to a pampered holiday at a swanky hotel. Someone I know exceedingly well tried that once. They soon discovered that sitting at a table for one in the midst of a crowd only makes things worse.

My advice is to go on retreat or find an empty place of worship where you can speak your hurts into the silence. Watch out for that "inner voice" though.


Yes Fred, you.

And now it's time for my closing joke. A woman at a party admires another woman's ring. "Can I touch it?" she asks. "It's the famous Cohen diamond," comes the reply, "but it comes with a curse attached. I can feel the curse now, it's approaching. Meet my husband, Mr. Cohen."

Well time for bed. Good night all, good night Fred.


2 comments ( 1015 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 307 )

Michael Behe in London 
Sunday, 24 October, 2010, 07:00 AM - Science, Not TFTD
I've been asked to publicise a presentation by Michael Behe in London on 22nd November. Behe, as I'm sure you all know, is one of the original founders of the Intelligent Design movement.

The format appears to be a presentation followed by a question and answer session and, no doubt, an opportunity to buy some of Behe's books. (Do I just sound too cynical at times?) The organisers, Premier Christian Radio, are hoping to get a balance of opinions from the audience. It's being chaired by Premier's affable presenter Justin Brierley, who usually does a good job at letting people have their say.

A few years back I used to take part in debates about ID. At the time it looked like a serious threat to science that might enable creationism to get it's foot in the door. Since the Dover trial, where all of its arguments were thoroughly debunked, ID has been on the decline. It's more of a joke than a threat now. In Peter Woit's book Not Even Wrong he gives an idea of how ID is regarded in serious scientific departments when he compares the predictive power of String Theory to ID - I don't think he intended it as a complement. (BTW, if you've never read Judge Jones' ruling from the Dover trial, I thoroughly recommend it. It's both highly informative and highly entertaining.)

So if you can't think of anything better to do with £10 on Mon 22nd November, pop along to Westminster Chapel for an entertaining night out. It's cheaper than a West End show.

Behe in London
7 comments ( 1149 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 292 )

Rev Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest  
Saturday, 23 October, 2010, 08:14 AM - Gibberish, Materialism, Money, Marshall
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

As I sat in a Paris Cafe last weekend, I saw the demonstrations that are currently bringing France to a standstill. It occurred to me that this was a perfect example of that famous philosopher, Albert Camus's dictum, "a rebel is a man who says no."

As the famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, action springs from a readiness for responsibility. Bonhoeffer, one of the Christians who didn't join the Nazis, said that action was necessary for a Christian confronted with a problem, not just sitting around moaning about it. This is what the Invisible Magic Friend wants you to do. So well done to the French for being so very Christian.

I was talking to some 6th formers this week about Saint Luke's Gospel. It was Saint Luke's feast day on the 18th, which is why I was talking about Saint Luke's Gospel. Coincidentally, Saint Luke's Gospel, whose feast day we have just now celebrated, is just full of bits about Jesus having to walk the tightrope between the ideal, which is the Invisible Magic Kingdom and reality, which isn't. There are just too many bits of Saint Luke's Gospel, whose feast day it was this week, to mention any bit in particular. There are just lots of them. Luke, whose feast day has just passed, says we must all take action and not just be selfish and materialistic. So protest, raise the banner of rebellion, vive la revolution!

As an Anglican priest, I say it's time to take action, it's time to cut the budget deficit and sit decisively in our armchairs moaning about it. Those who protest against the godly policies of the coalition government are being selfish and defying the will of the Invisible Magic Friend. They are bigots and cynics, just like the evil French. Jesus says we must return to a policy of fiscal neutrality.

2 comments ( 1094 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 305 )

Incandescently Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Friday, 22 October, 2010, 07:47 AM - Gibberish, Theology, Harries
Rating 4 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Two days after the spending cuts, and after previous presenters have ignored them in order to talk about holidays for portaloos and the cost of shoplifting, I've decided it's time to look at the cuts from the unique perspective of being a Christian.

There are different opinions about the spending cuts. Rich people think they've been hit the hardest, whereas poor people tend to think they've been hit the hardest. It all depends on whether you're rich or poor really. Rich and poor people differ in their perspectives in other ways too. Those at the top in society tend to think that the way society is ordered is pretty good and that it's important to keep it that way. Those at the bottom tend to disagree. It all depends really.

We Christians resolve such issues by appealing to what we call the "incarnational principle". Without wishing to confuse you too much with these complex theological theories, the "incarnational principle" is the principle that the second bit of the Invisible Magic Friend became "incarnate". And that's why many 19th century vicars became socialists.

So, bearing in mind the incarnational principle, are the cuts fair? It's a question that only humans can appreciate and it's what distinguishes us from animals. Using the incarnational principle, we can see that we are made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, whereas animals aren't.

So are the cuts fair? It all depends really.

10 comments ( 1165 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 329 )

Screaming Dom Antony Sutch, a Benedictine monk  
Thursday, 21 October, 2010, 07:51 AM - Dont do bad things, Sutch
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The big news today is all about the spending cuts. That's why I want to talk to you about shoplifting. When I heard about shoplifting, I huffed and puffed indignantly at those who stole from shops and so forced them to raise prices for the rest of us.

Then I recalled the words of Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, if you are without sin then cast the first stone. I thought back, shamefully, to my own career as a master criminal, where I would furtively raid the office stationery cupboard and appropriate company pens for my own selfish pleasure.

Mater once caught me stealing from her purse. Oh, the shame! "How can I ever trust you again," she said. A friend's son stole some sweets and his mater took him to the shop to apologise, pay for the sweets and take the consequences. To mater's horror, the shop manager told her to forget it, everybody does it. Towels from hotel rooms, beer mugs from pubs, everywhere I look I see this casual acceptance of rampant criminality. It almost makes me want to scream.

Stealing and lying are the same thing, so I can quote from Jesus again, who said, The truth will set you free, so you shouldn't even tell white lies that bring people comfort. If you think you're husband's home made wine tastes like paint stripper, then say so. If you think your wife's new hairdo looks like it was done by a lawnmower, then don't shirk from telling her. Trust me, this will make your life much better.

7 comments ( 797 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 336 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community 
Wednesday, 20 October, 2010, 07:08 AM - Gibberish, Bell
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The big thing in the news today is that there isn't going to be a Glastonbury Festival in 2012. This means that thousands of portaloos will be given a holiday and can be used at the Olympics instead.

But where did this important idea of a holiday for Glastonbury portaloos, or "sabbatical", or "Sabbath" come from? It comes from the Old Tasty mint of the Big Book of Magic Stuff. They invented the idea of having a day off once a week. As I never listen to Thought For The Day myself, I'm free to repeat everything that was said just the other day about the Sabbath. The Big Book of Magic Stuff has so many important things to tell us, that it really is the most amazing coincidence that two of us should pick the same one only a few days apart.

The Sabbath isn't just about stoning people to death who collect firewood. It's about having a day off to do some proper worshipping of the Invisible Magic Friend. And it's not just your portaloos that should be given the day off, even your slaves and your Filipino maids should get a break too.

It doesn't even stop with portaloos, slaves and Filipino maids. Religion invented the idea of leaving a field fallow for a year, so that it could quietly worship the Invisible Magic Friend too. Jesus would have approved of this, if only someone had asked him.

Let this be a warning to all you Radio 4 listeners who spend the whole day on Facebook, stuffing your face with burgers and chips, you need to let your fields, your portaloos and your Filipino maids lie fallow for a year.

9 comments ( 1333 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 267 )

Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Dean of Women's Ministry in central London 
Tuesday, 19 October, 2010, 07:45 AM - Health, Sex, Priestley
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

A 38 year old man has become the first UK drug addict to accept money to have a vasectomy.

Now I don't have any strong opinion on this one way or another, but some people might see this as a bribe. They, whoever "they" may be, might think this is an overly drastic solution and that it might be better to work on the roots of drug and alcohol dependency. "They" might think that those suffering from addiction can still make reasoned choices without an unethical cash incentive.

The Big Book of Magic Stuff, which remains so very relevant to our lives today, doesn't seem to have anything to say on whether it's ethical or not to bribe crack addicts to undergo sterilisation. This means I can't give a definite ethical judgement one way or the other. Jesus did say that children shouldn't be turned away from him though, which I think is pretty close, don't you? He certainly never persuaded crack addicts to get sterilised for £200. This suggests to me that he might not have been very keen on this approach to drug addiction. It's so very difficult to say.

The addict says he was going to have the vasectomy anyway and that the money will be used to pay the rent. Yeah, right, sure, pay the rent. I believe him. I mean I'm not one to be cynical or anything, but pay the rent? That's a good one.

6 comments ( 308 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 289 )

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