As there don't appear to be any big Jewish festivals coming up, I'll just talk about the news instead.
The violence of Wednesday's student protests may be a taste of things to come as the severity of government spending cuts begin to bite.
And it's all our generation's fault. We, and by "we" I mean "you", have been spending beyond your means for decades now. You've been racking up personal debts, buying things you didn't need, borrowing money that your children would have to repay. You've been going to swingers parties, having promiscuous sex with gay abandon, depriving your children of families.
We, and by "we" I mean good, holy, pious people like me, have been telling you all along that it would all end in tears, but you wouldn't listen. No, you knew best. Well let me just tell you that Moses, who definitely existed and definitely wrote the book of Deuteronomy, including the bit where he dies said all along that affluence was just wicked.
You've been having a very good time haven't you? A very, very good time. Well, not any more you don't. If you hadn't been going around having sex with whoever you fancied, we wouldn't be in this mess. I'll just wag my finger once more and say, won't someone please think of the children.
It is Remembrance Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, people throughout the land observe a two minute silence to remember the many members of the armed forces and civilians who died in war.
Many will be wearing poppies. Others choose not to, in protest at unthinking social conformity in another sacred day drained of meaning. That's why it's important that we do our best to remember what it is we are remembering and don't allow those with other agendas to hijack Remembrance Day.
It can be a day of mixed emotions, trying to avoid the jingoism that can spur young people to fight futile battles, while honouring those who have given their lives.
Aeschylus wrote that the first casualty of war is truth. All the more reason to ask, why did they die, where was God in all of this? We often turn for answers to the soldier poets of World War I. They remind us, with the authority of eye witnesses, not to fall into the trap of glorifying war, but simply to remember them, even when they were not brave, even when they did lose their faith.
It is the gift of the living to be able to remember them.
Unbelievably Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons, Platitude of the Year Winner 2009
Hurrah! The Queen is on Facebook. 500 million people can now get daily news about the everyday goings on of ordinary royal folk. They will be able to engage in good, pure, wholesome activities, like clicking on the thumbs up sign, but they won't be able to become her friend.
The Queen's Facebook page is one of the nice bits of the Internet, but there are other bits that are not so nice. There are people out there called "bloggers" and they can be very not nice indeed. I'm not mentioning any names or anything, but there have even been blogs that criticised, or even mocked, me!
Now it would be well beneath the dignity of someone as unbelievably reverend as myself to respond in kind to such low life. Petty name calling, of the type indulged by these infantile nobodies is not what one does as a bishop. Instead, here is what the respected and I must say, right, journalist Andrew Marr has to say about bloggers.
"Most of them seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seamy, bald, cauliflower nosed, young men, sitting in their mother's basements, and ranting, very angry people."
The Internet is just like humanity in general. It has its wonders and its inspirations, like the Queen's delightful Facebook page (I'm sure Your Majesty will consider my unworthy grovelling should either of the Church of England archbishoprics become available any time soon), and it has its sewers, its festering pustules, its putrid vomit, its discarded toenails, it's irritating naval fluff.
We can only hope that one day, good, godly, fine upstanding people such as oneself, are put in charge of the Internet.
What is Freedom?
Whatever it is, Chinese people don't really want it. They like having strong leadership that can build a road or a dam without all those inconvenient local objectors. They hold their political leaders in high regard because there is no corruption and they never do things that benefit themselves, or at the very least, you never get to hear about them. They certainly don't want any of that boring old democracy.
Just think how much better Britain would be if we had an authoritarian dictatorship who clamped down on crime and brought in proper support for "the family".
Did you know Edison Pena ran the New York Marathon? Well he did and that has a lot in common with what I'm talking about.
Jesus said the truth will set you free. Then he came back from the dead and now there's light instead of darkness.
"I just want to live," said Edison Pena.
Today, I want to tell you about the experiments being done by the Large Hadron Collider and why the Invisible Magic Friend is so very relevant to this.
But first, as a Reverend Doctor Doctor, let me just assure those Christians out there, who may be worried about those pesky scientists meddling in things that you do not understand, that this is not a case of scientists playing the Invisible Magic Friend. The energies are in fact far lower than those of the Big Bang and so there is very little danger of us accidentally creating new universes.
The LHC has got bored just banging hadrons together and has moved onto lead ions. They're hoping to create a new state of matter, called a quark-gluon plasma, last seen in the instants after the creation of the universe. This, it is hoped, will provide insights into the strong nuclear force, that was kindly provided by the Invisible Magic Friend in order to hold protons and neutrons together.
One Christian teenager, with the ravenous curiosity so typical of his kind, asked me "Why would anyone want to know all this rubbish anyway?" It was a good question. I explained that pure science research has always led to new applications long after the initial scientific discoveries. He replied "Yes, but we've already got iPhones and we know that everything else is held together by the Invisible Magic Friend, so what's the point?"
It was at this point that I found it necessary to draw upon my expertise in theology. You see, the Christian Invisible Magic Friend, as the young teenager had so eruditely explained, holds every quark and electron in place, making sure it continually obeys his laws. He thus invites us to guess how he does it.
"GO ON, SEE IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT THE LAWS OF NATURE. I'LL EVEN THROW IN THE ODD BIT OF REVEALED SCRIPTURE THAT'S COMPLETELY WRONG BUT THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE FIGURATIVELY ONCE YOU REALISE. A FEW MIRACLES NOW AND THEN SHOULD THROW YOU OFF TRACK A BIT AS WELL."
We thus see that science and Christianity are in perfect accord and that scientists pursue their goal in an effort to better understand the ways of the Invisible Magic Friend.
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 10:24 AM - Not TFTDThe head of the Catholic Church in Belgium has been hit on the head with a pie.
I haven't been able to find a video, or even an amusing still from it so far. Sources haven't revealed what sort of pie it was or whether it came with custard.
[Edit - found it. It's not nearly as big a pie as I thought. It looks more like a small fruit tart.]
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 10:09 AM - ClemmiesShaikh Abdal Hakim Murad got the month of October off to a rip roaring start with his scientific scepticism about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. He noted that we didn't have ADHD in the days when we could just beat children into submission.
Joel Edwards was the first to get in on the rescue of the Chilean miners. The really important thing here is not that all the miners were rescued with all their limbs intact, but that they didn't suddenly become atheists because of the experience.
Not to be outdone Richard Harries followed by explaining that, although engineers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists all worked extremely hard and did some very fine work, it was really the Invisible Magic Friend, working through the engineers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists who saved the miners.
I think Anne Atkins deserves some sort of special mention this month. It's not unusual for me to get to the end of TFTD and just sit there in utter bafflement. Normally though, I can pick my way through and figure out some thread, some point, some attempt at a coherent argument. Anne Atkins completely surpassed herself on this occasion. She presented a thought that was so subtle, involving such finely interweaved threads, such delicate touches of fact and logic, that her message entirely escaped me. Sadly, I don't think I can award a Clemmie on the basis that I don't know what someone is talking about. They might have been trying to say something completely sensible.
Finally, we have Richard Harries once again, who bemoaned the terrible state of endemic corruption and bribery that plagues Britain today. Why can't we go back to the good old days, when everyone went to his church and had morals? I know this is such an oft repeated claim that it's bordering on a cliché, but that's what being platitudinous is all about. So for this, combined with his previous claim that God saved the Chilean miners, October's Clemmie goes to Richard Harries.
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 09:57 AM - ClemmiesI forgot to do the September Clemmies, so apologies to all TFTD presenters for this shocking lapse in punctuality.
Just in case you've forgotten, September was the month that Reichsführer Ratzinger came and paid us a little state visit. He met the Queen and every politician we have, spoke to the leaders of some "not-really-religions", said some really brilliant masses and filled in some spare time with a bit of beatifying.
What with the way the media virtually ignored the visit, you'd think TFTD would've scarcely bothered to mention it. This turned out not to be the case. Day after day, before, during and after the visit, almost every TFTD turned on what the Pope had to say about morality, politics, sex, bus timetables... you name it.
I'm almost tempted to award the September Clemmie to Austen Ivereigh of Catholic Voices for his claim that the Catholic Church was, in fact, the world's greatest defender of gay rights, but I feel I ought to stick to TFTD. So sorry Austin, outstandingly egregious as your assertion was, the rules make you ineligible for a Clemmie.
Clifford Longley wanted us to know that we agree with the Church on almost everything: not beating up beggars, not robbing old ladies, not strangling puppies - the list is almost endless. So why are all these poor Catholics so persecuted?
The Chief Rabbi rather rudely didn't mention the Pope. He chose instead to point out how much more relevant religion was than science. That's why we don't have a day to celebrate the eradication of smallpox for example.
Despite everyone agreeing with the Catholic Church on just about everything Clifford Longley reminded us that not everyone in Britain sees eye to eye with the Pope on absolutely everything. This is their fault and the Church should be judged on the evidence. So why are all these poor Catholics so persecuted?
Catherine Pepinster's contribution was notable not so much for what she said as what she didn't say. In referring to the Pope's praise of Britain's resistance to the Nazis, it somehow slipped her mind that he had also referred to the Nazis as an atheist regime. She then went on to explain the importance of conscience and how every Catholic has one and it agrees perfectly with the Pope's.
There can be no doubt who has earned the September Clemmie. With two of the most platitudinous contributions of the month, it has to go to Clifford Longley.
Saturday, 6 November, 2010, 08:47 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly Platitudinous)
Happy Diwali everyone!
By an incredible coincidence, Diwali, which always falls between mid-October and mid-November, took place on November 5th this year.
Guy Fawkes night used to be a happy celebration of burning Catholics. By an even more incredible coincidence, Diwali is also about Rama burning his wife to make sure she was still chaste after her abduction and confinement (you know what these women are like). That way Rama's honour could be satisfied.
Diwali is a great festival of lights and exchanging pleasantries. As one kind card said yesterday, "May the milk of a thousand sacred cows rain down upon you, may your letterbox be free of Halal kebab leaflets and may you live a life devoid of the scourge of haemorrhoids."
Two years ago, I told you that Diwali was all about homecoming like the return of 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment to their barracks at Colchester. Last year I explained that Hindu theology had advanced in leaps and bounds since two years ago and that Diwali was really about leadership and that Afghanistan would be much better off if the Muslims would adopt Hindu principles.
We now know that these theories are false and wrong and laughably childish. The true meaning of Diwali is about discovering the spiritual light of the soul.
And partying, letting off fireworks and generally having a good time.