Reverend Dr Giles Fraser - Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Monday, 2 November, 2009, 08:12 AM - Life after death, War, Fraser
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Happy All Souls Days everyone!

YOU'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! It's awful, it's terrible! Of course, as Christians it isn't really that bad, I mean it's not like death is the end or anything is it? But it's all so ghastly. The pain. The sorrow. The loss of one's loved ones. Not that it's really a loss. Saying they've just moved on, which of course they have, is small comfort. I mean it just sounds so trite and meaningless, doesn't it?

And will you all stop asking me for that dreadful so-called "poem". I want to do my own moving sermon, not the empty platitudes of a long gone predecessor. How can he say "death is nothing at all". It's the passing into emptiness, the void, the loss of all that was or ever could be. Oh my Gawwwd, it's all so depressing, it's so final. What's the point of it all? Why do we even bother? Everything seems so meaningless.

And all those young men who died in World War I, the hundreds that continue to die today. For what? OK, they pass into eternal life, but they're still DEAD!!!

But what's really important lives on. Yeah - bollocks!

[That was today's inspirational and uplifting thought. Just what you needed to start the week.]

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The Home Secretary, the Right Honourable Alan Johnson MP 
Sunday, 1 November, 2009, 06:54 AM - Not TFTD
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Dear Professor Nutt

In previous correspondence with you the Government has highlighted the value that we place on receiving high quality scientific advice from the ACMD.

It is precisely for this reason that we asked you to find evidence in support of a pre-determined Government policy that was acceptable to readers of the tabloid press. Your total failure in this regard raises doubts about your independence as a scientific advisor.

Not only have you singularly failed to produce the requested evidence, you have not even attempted to distort existing evidence. There has been no massaging of the statistics, no exaggeration of the significance of minor studies and anecdotal testimony, no attempt to suppress embarrassing data. All contrary to established Government practise. Indeed, I am left wondering what qualifications you have to fulfil this high profile role or whether you have any proper understanding of the role of science in informing policy decisions.

You may wish to take a leaf out of Sir John Scarlett's book. Sir John was given the far more demanding task of finding evidence of WMDs in Iraq, a task that he performed masterfully, working closely with such distinguished professionals as the Prime Minister's press secretary. The resultant dossier was widely regarded as the definitive statement of the threat posed by the then Iraqi regime, and doubted only by some dodgy journalists and one rather eccentric weapons expert, both of whom were soon disposed of. You will note that Sir John's career has blossomed thanks to this fine tradition of public service.

Your recent remarks have highlighted comparable risks among legal drugs and sporting activities. This is totally unacceptable. It is not your role to go around informing people about things and giving them facts. It completely undermines government policy. All of the evidence must be presented to the public through trusted, Right Honourable statesmen, such as myself.

It is for these reasons that I have lost all confidence in your ability to provide me with the evidence that the Government would like to see. Nor do I trust you to keep your trap shut about the true state of affairs.

I would therefore ask you to step down from the council with immediate effect.

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Canon David Winter  
Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 08:11 AM - Life after death, Winter
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy Halloween everybody!

Halloween, with its witches and ghosts and other incarnations of evil, is of course an extremely silly thing. I mean, what sort of sensible, rational person believes in things like that? You'd have to be completely barmy to believe something like that.

I'd like to talk about much more sensible beliefs. In particular, I'd like to point out that the spirits of our ancestors live on after their death, something that completely contradicts Halloween. There are a large number of irrefutable arguments that demonstrate this.

1. Every bereaved person who comes to my church thinks the invisible magic bit of their relatives is still alive. Such overwhelming agreement among such a diverse sample clearly shows that it must be true.
2. How could something as complex as a human being just cease to exist? It's completely impossible.
3. Instead of having the nice, simple, uniform beliefs that we used to have in this country, i.e. my beliefs, we now have a tangled mess of all sorts of different beliefs. This is all very untidy and clearly wrong. The only possible solution is for everyone to adopt my beliefs again.
4. Since the Invisible Magic Friend definitely exists, we can conclude he wouldn't allow our own invisible magic bits to stop existing.

Halloween, pffff! What a load of nonsense!

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Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) 
Friday, 30 October, 2009, 08:12 AM - Prison, Vishvapani, Northern Ireland
Rating 0 out of 5 (Not platitudinous - must try harder)

I was robbed once by some excited youths. They took my wallet and no more harm was done, but this gave me a small insight into what it is to be a victim of crime. That's why I have such interest in the Restorative justice movement. The Prison Reform Trust now wants the successful pilot scheme in Northern Ireland to be extended. Offenders often say it is harder to face their victims and confess their crimes than to go to prison. In Buddhism, "confession" has nothing to do with an Invisible Magic Friend, rather it's a recognition that selfish and violent actions cut us off from people. Acknowledging those actions is a step towards healing and the chance to move on.

Restorative justice goes beyond asking whether criminals are good or bad people and gives them the opportunity to learn a real moral lesson.

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Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 08:45 AM - Brook
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The system of sectarian schools is crazy. Today, the Supreme Court must rule on who is a Jew because someone became a Jew and did not do it in a way that Sir Jonathan Sacks approves of (this being necessary for the protection of Jewish blood and honour).

But how can anyone tell who is Jewish enough? The answer is simple, just ask Jesus. Jesus said a whole bunch of things, like selling all your goods and giving the money to the poor and putting your faith above your family. This is the kind of stuff that proper religious people do all the time.

What's really going on here is that a lot of people are just pretending to be holy. They selfishly want to get the best possible education for their children. They're not really holy, like proper religious people are. They do it because sectarian schools are the only ones that are allowed to discriminate, thus allowing them to remain holy schools. As a writer, celebrity and Christian, let me just assure you that this is nearly as dreadful as academic selection (which is elitist and bad, and no you're not allowed to debate this, this is Thought For The Day) and has to be stopped immediately.

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Damian Thompson 
Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 07:15 AM - Not TFTD
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Smelly poos with knobs on to Richard Dawkins. He's a complete loony. I, on the other hand am a Catholic, with the following perfectly sensible beliefs.

1. Everything requires an explanation, including the observable universe.
2. The observable universe was created by an unobservable Invisible Magic Friend. This explains the observable universe.
3. The Invisible Magic Friend has existed for all eternity and therefore requires no explanation. This is entirely consistent with point 1.
4. The Invisible Magic Friend comes in three lumps: Father, Son and mum Holy Ghost.
5. There is an Invisible Magic Baddy called the Devil, who's constantly tempting people to do bad things and stop being Catholics.
5b. Every baby is born a sinner, stained with the sin of Eve, who ate a piece of fruit on the command of the Devil, then disguised as a talking snake.
6. The Invisible Magic Friend revealed himself to a bunch of Middle Eastern Semitic tribes starting about 700 B.C.E. All the other gods of the Persians, Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, Norse and Indian were just made up. Only the god of Abraham is the real Invisible Magic Friend.
7. We were all condemned to eternal damnation by the all loving Invisible Magic Friend because of the talking snake incident and it's too good for us if you ask me.
8. The Invisible Magic Friend sent an Invisible Magic Messenger, with invisible magic white wings, called Gabriel to tell a young woman in Palestine that she was pregnant thanks to the third lump of the Invisible Magic Friend who had impregnated her with the extra chromosomes needed to conceive, and the child would be called Emmanuel, so she called him Jesus.
9. Mary's fiancÚ, Joseph was a bit miffed at Mary being pregnant and having to remain a virgin for the rest of her life, but she explained about the third lump of the Invisible Magic Friend so he married her anyway.
10. Jesus did all sorts of amazing things: turning water into wine, walking on water, redoing the Elisha feeding thousands trick, spitting on people to cure them, transforming into something, raising from the dead.
11. Jesus got a bit too uppity so the Romans crucified him.
12. Two days later, he rose from the dead in accordance with the prophecy that he'd rise three days later.
13. Jesus' death was actually a sacrifice of the second lump of the Invisible Magic Friend to all three lumps of the Invisible Magic Friend. This sacrifice was adequate compensation for the talking snake affair and you now only had to spend eternity in agony if, on average, you aren't terribly nice while you inhabit the observable universe or until recently, you weren't a Catholic.
14. Before going up into the sky on a cloud, Jesus said, "Peter, I'm leaving you in charge of the observable universe. Here are some magic powers."
15. Peter went to Rome and gave his magic powers to lots of other people.
16. Only people with external genitalia can have magic powers (obviously).
17. The magic powers consist of: turning ordinary water into magic water, turning ordinary oil into magic oil, forgiving people's sins by saying three Hail Mary's as an alternative to eternal damnation, turning bread and wine into the flesh and blood of the second lump of the Invisible Magic Friend, consuming him, thus recreating the original sacrifice 2,000 years ago, and in the case of being top priest, being infallible. All this, is best done in the language of the Roman Empire.
18. Deliberately not having as many children as possible is a sin, unless you're one of the men with magic powers who mustn't ever touch anything hairy, wobbly or dangly, or even think about touching anything hairy, wobbly or dangly.
19. Having sex for fun is a sin.
20. When men with magic powers are discovered buggering altar boys, the appropriate action is to move them where there are some new boys and make the victims promise never to tell anyone because it was all their fault anyway, the little teasers. This turns you from just being Most Reverend into being Eminent.
21. Poofs are an inherent moral evil and a greater danger to the planet than global warming.

Thank the Invisible Magic Friend I'm not one of those dribbling loonies like Richard Dawkins.

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Oliver McTernan, director of the NGO Forward Thinking  
Wednesday, 28 October, 2009, 08:41 AM - Environment, McTernan
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Oliver McTernan here, from the NGO Forward Thinking, a proactive, demand-driven, facilitative organisation that works to promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment, to promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East, and to facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular worlds. Hi.

Climate change is really, really, really bad. I mean really bad. Some think this is all the fault of Genesis, where humans are given dominion over creation. But I prefer to ignore this bit and concentrate on its instruction to act as stewards of the planet, which it definitely implies, in a roundabout sort of way, somewhere. I just find it difficult to believe that changes in my own lifestyle can make any difference. What about all those Chinese, selfishly making things for us? Or all those big fat Americans? I think they need to cut back first.

The Copenhagen summit gives world leaders the chance to sit down and work together, laying all national and ideological agendas aside, cooperating for the sake of the planet. Finally, we'll all agree meaningful incentives to cut consumption, waste and energy use, no matter how painful it may be personally or to our economies, taking the short term pain necessary to secure our long term future. Yep, I'm sure that's what'll happen.

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Dr Indarjit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations 
Tuesday, 27 October, 2009, 08:37 AM - Lessons of history, Singh
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The trial of Radovan Karadzic refocuses the world on the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. But while we refocus on this, let us not forget that it isn't just Muslims who get massacred. In 1984 we Sikhs were massacred too, in retaliation for two Sikhs murdering Indira Gandhi, in retaliation for the storming of the Golden Temple, then occupied by alleged Sikh extremists, who just happened to be in possession of a large cache of automatic weapons, anti-tank missiles and rocket launchers at the time. Not only that, but they were forced to unleash all this weaponry that they found lying around inside the temple on a day that is much holier than most other days. I should point out, that despite the subsequent massacre of Sikhs, there were still some nice Hindus.

We Sikhs, as with all great religions, aren't ones to dwell on the past, endlessly going over old scores, using events of the past to keep alive old rivalries and bitter inter-religious feuds. We've been not dwelling on the past since Guru Nanak witnessed the first massacre of Sikhs, this time by Muslims rather than Hindus, in the 16th century. The ninth guru even went so far as to die protecting Hindu rights. That's right, when Muslims were trying to impose Islam on both Hindus and Sikhs, and they faced a common enemy, Guru Tegh Bahadur even went so far as to stand up for people of the wrong religion. This is another historical event that we don't dwell upon and certainly don't hold against modern Muslims, or resent the betrayal of their ungrateful Hindu descendants. We don't do any of that. I just thought I'd mention it, that's all.

The sad thing about all these inter-faith massacres, is that they'll happen again and again until people of all faiths learn to live in happy co-existence with one another, which I'm sure is bound to happen one day.

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Reverend Dr Giles Fraser - Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Monday, 26 October, 2009, 08:25 AM - Women, Fraser
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The Church of England is the great compromiser. It is both Catholic and Protestant, even though both Catholics and Protestants say otherwise. It is the Liberal Democrats of religion, taking neither one position nor the other, but always seeking a happy middle ground. It allowed people of all varieties of Christian faith to worship together, except for real Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Puritans and dozens of other non-conformist faiths, many of whom emigrated to America where they could impose their own religious dogma on everybody.

Apart from the odd persecution of heretics and the occasional civil war, it was a compromise that worked well. England became a happy, contented nation, where religion was largely ignored. Now however, religion is back, doing what it does best, dividing people from one another.

As the world heads for its peak population and faces the crises of peak oil, peak global warming, peak everything, as the national debt spirals into the trillions, as the recession continues and unemployment heads inexorably ever higher, the Church of England is tearing itself apart over the most pressing issue of our times: is it possible for women to inhabit middle management roles? This is very important. Not letting women into middle management is a matter of principle. Just how do we accommodate people who think women are second class humans?

Hundreds of my fellow priests are being driven to drastic action as they realise the full horror that they may have to take instructions from a woman. They may be forced to give up being a compromise and actually become real Catholics - a church where women know their place. This is such a tragedy. We'll be losing all our misogynists to another Catholic Church. It almost makes you want to cry. This is, of course, all the fault of secularism.

Women eh? You can't live with 'em, you can't without 'em.

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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.

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