Thursday, 6 October, 2011, 09:39 AM - PriestleyRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The airwaves are abuzz with tales of the human rights of cats. This was later "put into context".
To find out what human rights are really about, we need to consult a theologian. In this case, the prize winning theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, whose theology was so amazingly theological that the only thing for it was to give him a great big prize. He pointed out that different people around the world have different human rights, depending on what human rights the people in charge thought were good for them.
In China you have an inalienable human right to a new laptop if you can afford one. In Saudia Arabia you have an inalienable human right to be a Muslim. If you're the leader of Russia you have an inalienable human right to be Vladimir Putin.
Human rights were invented after World War II to make sure that all the things done by the Nazis never happened again. Many people think that only rich people are allowed these human rights but I think poor people should have some too. The Old Tasty mint agrees with me. "The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up" depending on what sort of capricious mood he's in. Just make sure you don't worship the wrong Invisible Magic Friend or your human rights might be abruptly cut short.
The New Tasty mint also agrees that poor people should have human rights. "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel" and I think you'll agree there haven't been any unjust rulers, large scale hunger or problems for the Jews ever since.
Wednesday, 5 October, 2011, 08:15 AM - SacksRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
There's a big Jewish festival coming up. Happy nearly Yon Kipper everyone!
Happily, and by one of those amazing coincidences that always happens, there is a news story that illustrates Yon Kipper perfectly. The Nobel prize for medicine is to be awarded to the dead scientist Ralph Steinman, even though the rules forbid a posthumous award. It reminds us that we need to remember what we want to be remembered for. So I'm not going to mention what Ralph Steinman's work was, how it will help people or why it deserved the ultimate scientific accolade.
Lots of people don't become famous until after their death. Van Gogh lived in poverty but now thousands of people make a very nice living out of buying and selling his works, writing books, giving lectures series and generally milking his talent and reputation for every penny they can get. Van Gogh will be remembered because he gives employment to so many.
On Yon Kipper the Invisible Magic Friend asks, what do you want to be remembered for? I want to be remembered for being the Big Chief Rabbi, but few of you will be remembered, if you're remembered at all, for rising to such exalted ranks. Many of you won't even win a Nobel prize. No, you must be contented with more humble achievements, the little everyday acts of kindness and love, known only to you and the Invisible Magic Friend. Then when you die, you can slip into well deserved obscurity (although if you've done any masterful paintings, be sure to leave them to well deserving art dealer).
Party leadersh depend on lotsh of people to do the actual work. (Hic!) Ash it shays in Eccleshiashticush (not to be conf... (Hic!) confooshed with Eccleshiasteses, which is quite a nice book too but not the shame one) let ush now praise famous men. (Hic!) As well as being from a book that ishn't in the Proteshtant Big Book of Magic Shtuff, "Let us now praise famoush men" ish also the title of a (Hic!) book by James Agee. It's all about poor people.
Do you know there are lots of people who help poor people? Yesh, there are. (Hic!) They come from churchesh and moshques and sinalots and (Hic!) temples, and there'sh even shum people that don't come from shurches and mohawks and singalongs and templesh, but shum other faith inshtead.
DID YOU KNOW? No, lishen. Did you know that The charity Fair Share, that rerishtributes unwanted food, has sheen a 20% increase in (Hic!) demand? (Hic!)
Sho we need more people from shurshes and mosques and sinnylogs and templesh to get out there and be charit-ibal. Not famush people like me - ordinary people, anonymous people, (Hic!) boring people. You need to get out there and do a bit more sharity. (Hic!)
All these bloody little poor people. 'Shenuff to make ya want to turn to drink. (Hic!) Oh, yesh, well maybe jusht the one then. (Hic!)
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
Happy six months to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens everyone! Has anyone mentioned it yet? No? Good job I got in there first then.
Charles Dickens' books were all about the hypocrisy of Victorian England, which is exactly the same as the book Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, which is all about Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. I asked a small girl what she thought about it and she said it was a really good book.
Life and Fate was last week's Book of the Week. OK, it wasn't really, but it was on Radio 4 and it is a book, which is pretty close to the truth by religious standards.
Back to Dickens, whom you'll recall was writing in a different century about different things, but is otherwise absolutely identical to Grossman. Dickens wasn't renowned for his religious fervour, but I think it's fair to say that he was nevertheless a big fan of Christianity. Dickens undoubtedly took his inspiration from the Big Book of Magic Stuff.
Who can forget the fantastic Abraham, who shortly after attempting to sacrifice his son to the Invisible Magic Friend, became famous for his generosity. He was so famous for his generosity that his tent had no sides. Or possibly he was just a bit short on cloth. The Big Book of Magic Stuff is just full of tales of people being generous, except to those who worshipped the wrong Invisible Magic Friend, for whom extermination or enslavement was the appropriate response.
Now I have to admit, Christianity hasn't always been the warm, cuddly, compassionate religion that it is so well known for today. There was a time, before secular authorities took all our power away, when we sometimes abused that power. But that's all in the past, and I think you can rely on religion nowadays to speak about every human being as being equal - except those that the Catholic Church doesn't think should be equal.
Sunday, 2 October, 2011, 07:50 AM - ClemmiesIn the month that included the tenth anniversary of 911 we (and by "we" I really do mean "we" ) could expect some predictable outings for the "no true Scotsman" argument.
We were not disappointed.
Mona Siddiqui got the ball rolling by pointing out that Islam is the religion of peace, tolerance, understanding, liberty etc. etc. What a pity that the 911 bombers hadn't consulted her in advance about the true meaning of Islam. After all, she's a professor of Islamic Studies and ought to know!
Clifford Longley delivered a similar refrain. He managed to add an extra twist by reminding us that no true 911 remembrance was complete without religion. How could we possibly grieve for the dead or honour the brave without invoking the Invisible Magic Friend?
Rev Angela Tilby took the news about the banks being split up and then went off at a complete tangent to explain how Protestantism was the best religion because it was the only religion endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party. I'd be very interested to hear the opinions of other TFTD presenters on this one.
Lord Jonathan Sacks went on about a Big Jewish Festival and how terribly relevant it is to the situation we find ourselves in today.
Dr Canon Rev Giles Fraser briefly mentioned the execution of Troy Davis before quickly moving on to the much more important issue of the theological significance of Christ's death on the cross. The common misconception that Christ died for our sins is down to a misunderstanding of Christianity. Christ actually died on the cross because... err... well he didn't get around to mentioning that. Taken with his earlier revelation that there is no life after death, I think a lot of Christians will be seriously wondering what their religion is all about.
Rev Dr Dr Prof David Wilkinson took the interesting discovery that neutrinos might be able to travel faster than light and explained that this is exactly the way theology operates: performing experiments, gathering data, testing hypotheses and adjusting theories to match the evidence. Except for not doing any of those things. And he's a Rev Dr Dr Professor, so he ought to know!
Who should take the crown this month? I must say, I'm tempted by Rev Angela Tilby. The way she so proudly hailed Protestantism as the one true religion because it was favoured by the largest, officially Marxist government on the planet, quite took my breath away. For originality alone this is surely a strong contender. Combining this with the splitting of the banks, as if the two subjects had something in common, was quite audacious.
Contrast this with the simplicity of Rev Dr Dr Prof David Wilkinson's message: that theology operates in exactly the same way as science. I wonder what other mutually contradictory thoughts he might hold: that sausages are exactly the same as ice cream, or Tony Blair might be appointed Middle Eastern Peace Envoy?
Much as I'm attracted by Rev Tilby, the clarity, and just plain 100% wrongness of Rev Dr Dr Prof Wilkinson's thought cannot go unrewarded. Sorry Angela, there is no disgrace in coming second to the Prof's masterful, topsy turvy, down the rabbit hole, Disney world of contradiction.
This month's undoubted Clemmie goes to Prof Wilkinson.
Saturday, 1 October, 2011, 08:15 AM - DraperRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world, seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciplemaking communities. Hi.
There's a big Christian festival coming up. Happy Harvest Weekend everybody!
In a weekend of glorious, unseasonal sunshine (except in Scotland), it's important to count your blessings.
Harvest may mean less than it once did - we can buy fruit and veg any time - but still you should count your blessings.
Andrew Bienkowski's book One Life to Give advises that the road to giving begins by counting your blessings.
Spend just a little time every day counting your blessings.
It's so easy to think about our wants rather than counting our blessings.
We all have breath, life. Most have shelter and a full stomach, so count your blessings.
The Big Book of Magic Stuff says to count your blessings.
So as you sit on your deck chair at the beach this weekend (except in Scotland), remember to count your blessings.
I went to a really nice do at the Guildhall the other day. I got to wear some fancy dress, not quite as good as my normal fancy dress, but pretty fancy all the same.
Now there are a few po faced killjoys out there, who ask awkward questions like, what would a poor carpenter from Nazareth have thought about all this pomp and ceremony? Well obviously he would have approved. You see, despite all the fancy dress, I'm not at all part of the establishment. All this fancy dress is all just part of the church's subversive, radical agenda.
When the rich and the powerful attend a big fancy do like that, they are forced to confront humble ministers of the cloth like myself. They are forced to look me in the eye and say, Giles (they call me Giles on account of the fact that I'm not really a member of the establishment), Giles, you are our conscience. Thanks to you we are accountable to each other and to the Invisible Magic Friend. Accountability does not come through balance of powers and democratic control, but through public displays of faith.
I find myself attending more and more lavish functions, ever more restricted to the country's elite. I don't know what greater proof there could be of my revolutionary credentials.
Yes, I'm quite convinced that if Jesus were alive today, he would have been standing right beside me in the Guildhall a few days ago. Absolutely no doubt about it.
Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 04:02 PM - Not TFTDSorry, there are times when I'm just completely outclassed by another
The Congregation for the Clergy used to handle cases of sex abuse by priests but they turned out to be (even more) incompetent than the Holy Inquisition who deal with them now.
Archangel Michael protects us from the dragon apparently. Archangel Raphael heals the blind - God's holy optometrist. The Archangel Gabriel specialises on knocking on doors and announcing that virgins are about to be knocked up by his boss.
I think all three archangels are to be congratulated. Presumably they started out as ordinary jobbing cherubs and worked their way up to their current exalted position.
"Protect the Pope believes that if Jesus and the Evangelists talked freely and openly about angels,then we should also be as open and free to talk about their importance to our lives."
And Platitude of the Day agrees! We need more articles about angels.
Please - get this guy on TFTD. On second thoughts, maybe not, this site would be out of business - parody would be unnecessary.
Everyone, and I really do mean everyone, is talking about it. It's the greatest event in politics since something really important happened. I'm talking of course about Ted Milliamp's big speech to the Labour Party conference. It was full of such memorable sound bites as... er... well... there was something about business wasn't there?
We all enjoy a good sound bite. How we love to repeat them in daily conversation with our friends. Only the other day I said to a friend of mine "education, education, education." But sometimes sound bites, however clever they may be, can be turned around. There's that hilarious YouTube spoof of David Cameron, whose URL I'm not going to give you.
The New Tasty mint has got some fantastic sound bites of its own - you would expect no less from Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Who can forget his most unforgettable sound bite, that you must be "born again." Just in case you've forgotten, Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, explaining that spirit gives birth to spirit, the wind blows and he was the truth and the light, thus making everything much clearer.
Some people use the term "born again" as a club membership. They show disdain for those who are not born again. That's not what Jesus meant. They're not proper Christians, real Christians, like me.
I am now about to reveal a startling truth that has never before been revealed by any revelation before. Sound bites, however witty, intelligent or insightful they might be, by themselves, they don't actually change anything.
Except Jesus' sound bites.
It's big Jewish festival time - happy Jewish New Year everyone!
Last week I explained how Jewish New Year was about Rupert Murdoch saying "sorry" and always has been. This week I'm going to explain how the Jewish New Year is about solving the Euro economic crisis, and always has been. The Crisis in the Euro, or "Euro crisis" as we economic experts call it, is the biggest crisis in world financial stability since the previous crisis.
The solution to the economic crisis is obvious - don't have one in the first place. You can achieve this by blowing a ram's horn for ten days every year. This tells the Invisible Magic Friend that you've read Nietzsche and are therefore worthy of forgiveness. We know, as an absolute proven fact, as certain as the existence of the Invisible Magic Friend himself, that he will forgive you. Of course sometimes he doesn't forgive you and condemns you for eternity, or throws an enormous divine wobbly and extinguishes all life on earth, but on the whole he's quite a forgiving Invisible Magic Friend.
So, all you spendthrift, sinning, irresponsible liars, it's time to get on your knees and start blowing that horn.
And that is how to solve the Greek debt crisis and reduce Italian government borrowing interest rates.
Happy Jewish New Year everybody!