Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation 
Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 07:47 AM - Women, Edwards
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

I just got back from Sydney and very nice it was too. For we International Directors of Christian organisations the globe trotting just never stops, especially when it starts to get a bit chillier here in the UK.

I spoke to an Anglican vicar in Sydney. We both agreed that the Church has always been the best place to be for women. When it comes to advocating feminism, I think everyone would agree that Christianity has always been at the forefront.

Imagine my shock therefore, when I returned to the UK, only to find the trampling of women's rights was all over the papers. At home, in the supermarket, cleaning the church, and various other places where one might find a woman, we find that women are struggling in this era of cutbacks.

It really is quite appalling that secular society finds it so hard to keep up with the church and its enlightened views on women. As early as 700 BC, the prophet Micah mentioned a woman, which just goes to show how seriously the Big Book of Magic Stuff takes women's rights. (One advantage of being called the Micah Challenge is that, with only seven chapters, it is a relatively easy book to memorise. The Isaiah Challenge, with 66 chapters, would have been rather too much of a challenge). The New Tasty mint is just choc full of hand maidens, maid servants, virgins, prostitutes, adulteresses and all the traditional roles of women.

Speaking as an ardent feminist myself I am the first to admit that the Church has not always been as perfect as it is today. Still, with it's long record of empowerment of women, I think we are in a strong moral position to lecture the rest of society on how it should treat its women.

17 comments ( 841 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.9 / 441 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Monday, 17 October, 2011, 07:55 AM - Health, Bell
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

And in the big news today, I was speaking at an important medical conference at the weekend. Famous authors, poets, lawyers and philosophers gathered to discuss medicine in front of an audience of health professionals. Modesty forbids me from mentioning that I was speaking too, but I was, which is how I know so much about it.

I must say it was very refreshing to see doctors willing to listen to me, and other lawyers, poets, authors and philosophers, telling them how to do their jobs. If only more professions were so open to being told how to do their jobs by me, and other philosophers, poets, authors and lawyers.

You see, patient care isn't just about administering medicines, it's about whole patient care. This is where Christianity is so very relevant to modern medical practise. In the New Tasty mint of the Big Book of Magic Stuff, Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, was always going around healing people. His techniques, of touching them, spitting on them, casting out demons and demanding ritual sacrifice, were somewhat unorthodox by today's standards. It's also not entirely clear how his techniques work, although being the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend suggests that magic may have been involved.

Jesus clearly believed in this holistic approach to medicine. In at least several cases he told the patient to go home and rest, although in many others he had done such a great job curing them that he let them keep on following him instead.

9 comments ( 1148 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 221 )

Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 15 October, 2011, 07:51 AM - Be nice, Old age, Draper
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not 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.

The Care Quality Commission's recent report unearthed shocking levels of care among the elderly in English hospitals. It's the kind of thing that makes most of us very angry. There's a tendency to point fingers and scapegoat nurses for the deplorable way elderly patients are being treated.

Then I asked myself how many elderly people I knew. The answer was not many. Despite the increasing age of our society, I only really knew one elderly person and that was the old lady next door. I never help with her shopping or gardening. I rarely think about her, except when her TV is too loud.

There is no manual to learn kindness from. I realise now that I learned a lot these things from my grandparents, but that was at a time when generations tended to live closer together and had more interaction on a day to day basis. It never does harm to show more compassion. As a famous religious person put it, "The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better."

If we all show a little more care for the elderly then perhaps, when our time comes, there will be people who look out for us.

3 comments ( 956 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 250 )

Abundantly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Friday, 14 October, 2011, 07:51 AM - Harries
Rating 3 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Isn't it great to have Friends. No, I don't mean the TV series, I was thinking of people we know who are, well... friends.

The Defence Secretary has a friend. David and Angela Dawes have suddenly discovered they have far more friends than they knew.

We can meet friends in lots of different ways: at university, at work, at the drama society, down the pub, as neighbours, doing charitable activities, on the bus, on the train, on the internet, at church, in the House of Lords. There are many, many ways to make new friends.

Friends bring fun and laughter into our lives. Friends can also bring consolation in time of need. Jonathan Swift had a friend, but she died. He was very upset because he liked his friend. Jesus had a friend called Judas, but he turned out not to be a very nice friend. We are all friends with the Invisible Magic Friend, which is nice because it means everyone has got at least one friend on Facebook.

And now a short poem.

I had a friend, he was gentle and kind,
He even was nice to my mother.
He sat on a stool with his ample behind,
Falling over one way or the other.

The Invisible Magic Friend really is the bestest friend you can ever have.

5 comments ( 1155 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.8 / 243 )

Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) - I'm ordained you know!  
Thursday, 13 October, 2011, 07:26 AM - Economics, Materialism, Vishvapani
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Aren't things just terrible at the moment? All this unemployment and the rising cost of living. Everything's just terrible.

But just cast your mind back to the good times. They were terrible too. It was just work, work, work all the time. Busy ordained Buddhists like me were just rushed off our feet. Everyone was so terribly materialistic. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", were constantly comparing ourselves with everyone else on the greasy pole, forever trying to outdo others. What you need (and I'll bet you never expected to hear this from a Buddhist) is a bit of meditation.

Me and the NHS have been busy trying to get people to slow down for years. I spend all my time rushing from one hospital to the next, desperately trying to get people to meditate or be mindful. It just never stops. When I'm not at a hospital I'll be at some doctor's surgery, or at a health centre. In between all that, there's Thought for the Day to squeeze in as well. I can't tell you what a relief it is that my Blackberry's gone down and I'm finally getting a bit of free time.

My advice to you is to meditate a bit, then quickly dash off for a walk in the park, look at the sky, watch the pretty birds, then quickly get back for some more meditation. Don't forget to get in at least half and hour of mindfulness before your next meditation session.

I'd love to help you out a bit more but you wouldn't believe the number of therapy sessions I've got lined up for today. The "slow down" business is really booming, even in these gloomy economic times.

And if you're unemployed? Well, just sort of enjoy the free time I suppose. Think of it as an opportunity to not be materialistic.

6 comments ( 1144 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 223 )

Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James Piccadilly, just down from Fortnum and Mason 
Wednesday, 12 October, 2011, 07:41 AM - Economics, Winkett
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The youth unemployment figures today are going to be just terrible. They're going to be even worse than last month's youth unemployment figures. They were terrible too.

This is a terrible thing. To be young and unemployed is just terrible. Being constructive and useful is something that people like me take for granted, but just imagine how awful it must be to wake up every morning and actually realise that you had no useful purpose in life?

You may not believe this, but young people need to feel appreciated. They need to have ambition and a sense of direction in life. You should be at least 35 before you realise you're not going to satisfy any of those ambitions. It's a terrible waste to allow young people to be struck by this so early on. Somebody, somewhere, ought to think up a clever solution to this terrible problem.

Faced with this terrible problem, this is where Christianity is so terribly, terribly relevant. In the early days of Christianity there was a great deal of slavery. Slaves may have had very few rights but at least they didn't suffer the misery of youth unemployment. Christianity also invented the idea of human dignity. Before that, no one had ever had any human dignity and since then, everyone has had human dignity, even the unemployed youth.

Isn't it all just so terrible?

6 comments ( 1125 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.2 / 230 )

Soberingly Reverend Tom Butler, ex-Lord Bishop of Southwark  
Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 07:13 AM - Christian persecution, Butler
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The Archbepop of Cadbury met with Robert Mugwewe yeshterday. (hic!) Robert Mugababy started off with the besht of intenshums. "Let'sh all be lovely (hic!) 'nd happy and let bygones go bye bye," he shed. "No more black aginst white or wheat againsht (hic!) block. Jusht one big happy family." Before he immediately started shending out gangsh of (hic!) armed thugsh to beat up anyone who dishagreed.

D'ye know what? I'll tell you what. Shum of those gansh've been beeting up Anglicansh! (hic!) Yesh, (hic!) no, really! Ye see there'sh thish renegit... rene martin... webel bishop Nolbert Kunonga. He's bad. Oh yesh he's very bad. He's a very bad bishop indeed. (hic!)

So our nice Arshbishup hash gone out there to (hic!) to have a word with Mishter Muvuzela. E'sh told him all about all the bad thingsh that've been happening to Anlicans. Mishter Mugbabies didn't know anything about it! No, nuffin (hic!) at all. Sho now it'sh all gonna be fixed and every'fin in Zimbabwe's gonna be alright from now on.

Brilliant bloke our Archbish. You now, I think thish calls for jusht a teenshy weenshy celebratory sherry. Why not indeed. (hic!)

1 comment ( 485 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 214 )

Rev John Bell of the Iona Community  
Monday, 10 October, 2011, 07:37 AM - Sex, Bell
Rating 1 out of 5 (Not platitudinous)

There's a bit of a <some-Scottish-word-that-even-though-I'm-from-Glasgow-I-have-never-heard-of-but-which-I-infer-from-the-context-may-mean-a-bit-of-an-uproar> in Scotland at the moment. The Bishop of Paisley has come out strongly against gay marriage. This will shock many of you, I know, as the Catholic Church is renowned for its support for gay rights.

The Bishop has threatened to get all 800,000 Catholics in Scotland to vote against the SNP, although as the Scottish Lib Dems and the national Conservative Party have both come out in favour of gay marriage, it would seem that the number of Catholic approved political parties is diminishing rather rapidly.

The few biblical texts prohibiting same sex relationships have been argued over ad nauseam. Psychiatrists long ago stopped classifying homosexuality as a disease. There is increasing scientific evidence to suggest that sexual preference is genetic. It is no more than nature doing what it always does, producing variation.

Civil partnership takes care of the legal side of things. Marriage is a public declaration of fidelity and love.

13 comments ( 1335 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 219 )

Brian Draper, Associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
Saturday, 8 October, 2011, 07:43 AM - War, Draper
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly 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.

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Whether you have a faith or not, whether you have black hair or not, whether you have blue eyes or not, whether you have any other irrelevant characteristic that I care to mention or not, the question all are asking is, how long will this continue?

In the Old Tasty mint of the Big Book of Magic Stuff, worshippers of the Invisible Magic Friend frequently asked how long the suffering must continue before the Invisible Magic Friend will be a bit more friendly. This means that it is perfectly valid and natural to ask the question, how long? So please don't be worried about asking it.

In the New Tasty mint, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, to love your enemy. We'll definitely get around to loving our enemy any day now, just not at the moment. It would be rather inconvenient to love our enemies right now. Loving our enemy is a fine, noble, worthy aspiration that we plan to achieve when the situation is right.

Back to the Old Tasty mint. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that we will all turn our swords into ploughshares. This will definitely happen, since Isaiah prophesied it, and Isaiah has a pretty good track record prophecy wise. We certainly do intend to beat our swords into ploughshares. It's all planned for, and when the conditions are right you can be sure that we'll go straight ahead and do it. Just not right now. The conditions aren't quite right at the moment.

It's important that we keep these aspirations of love and peace, otherwise we might start to believe that these wars might go on forever.

5 comments ( 931 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 251 )

Wallopingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Friday, 7 October, 2011, 07:27 AM - Justice and mercy, Harries
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I'd like to start by discussing clowns, the relevance of which will shortly become apparent. Georges Rouault liked to paint clowns - clowns and judges.

It isn't easy being a judge, having to judge things. It isn't easy being a juror either, having to judge things. That's the difficult task that the judges in the Amanda Knox appeal had to do. It couldn't be easy, faced with a mass of contradictory evidence, to decide on guilt or innocence. They decided to go for innocence, so the only person left in prison for the crime is the black guy.

Jesus said not to judge others. Some think this means that we shouldn't judge others, but as with anything in the Big Book of Magic Stuff that doesn't make sense, this is not meant to be taken literally. What Jesus meant, and I can speak for Jesus on this as I'm a Wallopingly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron, is that you can still judge guilt or innocence, but you can't judge the moral worth of a person.

Just because a person was caught red handed stealing all the handbags from a grannies' day out, does not necessarily make them a bad person. You don't know what pressure that person was under. Can you honestly say that, given the opportunity to steal grannies' handbags you wouldn't do the same? Well can you?

We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", are weak, frail, fallible creatures, made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, except that we are weak, frail and fallible. We are certainly fit enough to judge guilt or innocence, certainly fit enough to deprive someone of their liberty for the rest of their lives, or even send them to their deaths. What we are not fit enough to do is to think harshly of them. Only the Invisible Magic Friend is allowed to do that.

5 comments ( 1080 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 303 )

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