Tuesday, 16 November, 2010, 09:26 AMI slept in and missed today's TFTD. So I'm going to have to improvise. Here's what I think Prof. Mona Siddiqui might have said. Tell me how close I am...
Something has happened in the news. This illustrates the importance of faith/spirituality/culture/family.
Islam, which is a religion of liberal, tolerant, gender neutral values, something you could all learn a thing or two from, advocates precisely this. It says so in one of the nice bits of the Koran.
Isn't Aung San Suu Kyi just fantastic? She's stuck to her pacifist Buddhist principles throughout her long campaign for democracy in Burma. Her Buddhist principles are completely different from the Buddhist principles of the Burmese generals, whose Buddhist principles largely seem to consist of brutally holding on to power at all costs.
Her many critics, such as, well... er... ...they're just too numerous to mention by name, say that maybe if she hadn't been so pacifist, things would be better for Burma by now. Perhaps if she'd led an armed insurgency - regularly blowing up government buildings - that kind of thing, the military leaders would have handed over power to an elected civilian government by now.
Aung San Suu Kyi may not have military power, but like Mandela and Rosa Parks before her, she carries tremendous moral authority and this in itself can bring about change.
Sometimes change happens quickly. Sometimes it doesn't. It can happen overnight or it can take decades. It all depends really on the rate at which change is happening. We won't know how fast change is going to happen in Burma until after it has happened. We'll just have to wait and see whether it's going to be fast change or slow change. But we know from her Buddhist philosophy (this is the good Buddhist philosophy and not the bad Buddhist philosophy of the generals, which probably isn't proper Buddhist philosophy at all) that change definitely happens eventually.
Jesus, who was the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend and therefore an authority on the subject, thought that peaceful change was a good thing too. This reassures me that peaceful change is a good thing, otherwise I wouldn't be so sure.
Aung San Suu Kyi's way of doing things is as recommended by Jesus and good Buddhist philosophy, and this gives us hope that she will succeed.
This lady is determined to bring about change the right way and for that I am both thankful and inspired.
WARNING: Only Catholic priests who are both legally and morally ordained, as validly understood through the legitimate moral authority of the Church, should attempt an exorcism. Devils are powerful beings and can be extremely harmful to the unqualified.
Here in the USA we're facing a huge rise in demand for exorcisms due to the influx of Hispanic and African Catholics who are more attuned to the supernatural. A new generation of fully qualified exorcists is desperately needed.
The new rite of exorcism was issued in 1999 after 20 years of careful, painstaking research by some of the world's top theological experts on the devil and his minions. But not everyone is happy with the new rite. Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years has conducted 70,000 exorcisms, averaging over three a day over the past 60 years and he says the new rite is far inferior to the previous, 1614, rite.
"There's just not enough smoke or sprinkling of magic water as there used to be and we don't get to call the Invisible Magic Baddy as many names. In the old rite we got to call him: ancient serpent, transgressor, seducer, persecutor, abominable creature, monster, profligate dragon, asp, basilisk. The new exorcism's just rubbish in comparison."
The new rite emphasises that not everyone who behaves strangely is necessarily possessed, some may have more need of a psychiatrist than an exorcist. The modern science of exorcism uses specialist equipment to detect demonic possession. The demonometer contains a small vial of magic water that glows when brought near the possessed. A photomultiplier feeds this into a digital display giving an objective, accurate reading. Most healthy adults read well under 2 in a possession scale of 0 to 10, but the possessed will regularly score 7 or more when tested with the demonometer.
In the 21st century, when neuroscience makes almost daily discoveries to help people with personality disorders, it's good to know that the Catholic Church is still relevant and able to purge the soul of invisible magic stuff.
Aung San Suu Kyi may be about to be released. Suu Kyi holds tremendous moral authority in Burma because of her Buddhist belief that good ends cannot be achieved by unethical means. She tells her supporters that it is not power that corrupts but fear, although maybe power corrupts a little bit as well.
We saw these ideals in action in 2007 when Buddhist monks joined with Buddhist students to protest against the government. The government also happen to be Buddhist but they're not proper Buddhists and there aren't as many of them as there are good Buddhists.
The Buddhist Aung San Suu Kyi, just like that other great Buddhist, the Dalai Lama, try to bring Buddhist principles into politics. This is just as good, or even better, than bringing Christian, Muslim or Hindu principles into politics.
In the good old Buddhist days in Tibet, millions of Buddhist serfs happily ploughed the fields so that Buddhist monks could get on with the important business of Buddhist monking. They cheerfully engaged in forced back breaking labour, tied to vast wealthy Tibetan estates, because they knew that the Buddhist monks provided a link to a higher order of reality. But the dream of a return to the good old Buddhist days in Tibet remains just a dream.
Both the Buddhist Aung San Suu Kyi and the Buddhist, the Dalai Lama, seek to demonstrate the Buddhist principle that moral integrity will defeat brute force in the end. Although it does mostly seem to be the case that meditation and chanting have, as yet, not proven to be a viable defence against bullets.
But when Buddhist meditation and chanting do eventually prove themselves against bullets this will show how vitally relevant Buddhist principles are to the modern world.
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.