Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
Has anyone mentioned Christmas yet? There's only about eight weeks to go. On Christmas day a baby was born. Coincidentally, a baby was born yesterday too. A baby in the Philippines was precisely the 7 billionth person on the planet. That's just 12 years after the 6 billionth and 24 years after the 5 billionth.
At this point I'd just like to use some words like "geopolitical", "socio-economic" and "globalisation". Add in a pinch of "environmentally sustainable". These add a certain gravitas to what I'm saying and make it sound as if I have a vast in depth knowledge, on a wide range of subjects, commensurate with my Rev Dr Dr status, that I simply don't have time to explain to you on something as fleeting as a 3 minute radio slot.
Many of the figures in the Big Book of Magic Stuff were born, not just the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. When they were born, they became part of the population, and a jolly good thing too. You see if they hadn't been born then they wouldn't have been able to do all the things they did.
Yes there are all sorts of niggly little problems with having billions more people on the planet, but look on the bright side, there are also billions more people to figure out how to solve those problems too. Simple really when you think about it.
Clifford Longley, a distinguished Catholic gentleman who talks a lot about religion, Platitude of the Year Winner 2010
Monday, 31 October, 2011, 08:30 AM - LongleyRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Now then, now then, Sir Jimmy Saville is dead. He did a great deal of work for charity. It just so happens that he was a Catholic. He received an OBE, then a knighthood, then a papal knighthood for his charity work. Did I mention that he was a Catholic?
He was a kind of holy fool. As it 'appens, Francis of Assisi was a holy fool too. So was John the Baptist. Dostoevsky wasn't a holy fool, but he did mention holy fools. The Russian Orthodox even have a word for holy fools. They call holy fools Euro-divies, which means "holy fools".
Saint Paul wasn't a holy fool, but goodness gracious he also mentioned holy fools. He said that wisdom was foolish and foolishness was wise. Which I think is very wise and therefore foolish, and therefore wise.
The media cynically mocked Jimmy Saville for his eccentricity, his trademark shell-suits and gold medallions. But he gave away most of what he earned to charity in his spiritual, Catholic way. Guys and gals, as a Catholic he helped people in Broadmoor, in Stoke Mandeville, anyone in a wheelchair.
But enough about Jimmy Saville, who incidentally was a Catholic. I'd just like to say that the next thing I say is not about Saint Paul, but Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Jesus said we must be like little children and that will make us really big in the invisible magic afterlife. Saint Paul did not say that. In fact, come to think of it, there were a very large number of things that Saint Paul didn't say.
Jimmy Saville retained many of those childlike qualities of holy foolishness and holiness. He was also a Catholic. How's about that then?
Sunday, 30 October, 2011, 10:06 AM - Not TFTDMe. My browser can't access Google any more. I'm using Vista SP2. Have tried several browsers, all with negative results. Other computers on the same network don't seem to be affected.
User 1. I'm not having that problem.
User 2. Something may have compromised your windows/system32/drivers/etc/hosts files. Edit it with notepad and see if google is being redirected from there.
Me. Thanks - that's a sensible suggestion, but that doesn't seem to be the problem.
User 3. I don't use Vista and I've never had that problem, but have you checked your firewall settings?
Me. Thanks, what firewall settings should I check?
User 3. Like I say, I don't use Vista. I did have a completely different problem once. I found that upgrading to the latest version of Firefox fixed it.
Me. OK - I tried upgrading Firefox - that didn't help.
User 4. What does nslookup say?
Me. I don't know, what's nslookup?
User 4. If you don't know how to run nslookup then you really need to get your system administrator to look into the problem for you.
Me. It's a home pc. I am the system administrator.
User 4. In that case you need to learn far more about network protocols and how they're implemented on Windows Vista. I can't be expected to provide assistance to a complete ignoramus like you. Goodbye.
User 5. Download the following 16 programs from different websites, all of which you've never heard of before. Switch off all your anti-virus, security and firewall protection. Run them with administrator privilege. That should sort out any virus problems you're having.
User 6. Make sure all your anti-virus and anti-malware software is up to date. Do a full system scan, shouldn't take more than about 6 hours. Reboot your system at least three times. That usually fixes most things.
User 7. What anti-virus are you using?
Me. I was on Avast but switched to Microsoft Security Essentials.
User 7. Ah, you're using the free stuff. No wonder you've got problems. As in all things, you get what you pay for. They're rubbish, switch to McAfee.
User 8. McAfee is rubbish, use Norton.
User 9. Norton is rubbish, use Kaspersky.
Me. Thanks to everybody who has taken the trouble to offer suggestions. Can I just ask, have any of you ever encountered this precise problem before? It's just that I'm spending a lot of time following all your suggestions but appear to be no closer to finding a solution.
User 10. I haven't read anyone else's responses, but have you checked your hosts file?
User 11. It could be a problem with your wireless router. Have you tried resetting it?
Me. But only one computer is affected, why would resetting the router help?
User 11. Doesn't hurt to try does it?
Me. OK, it's reset - no difference, but thanks for the suggestion anyway.
User 12. Have you tried just rebooting your PC?
User 13. It sounds like you've got a problem with your PC.
User 14. You have a virus that is redirecting all DNS requests for google domains to a third party. This is quite common and should be relatively easy to fix.
Me. Yes, I know I have a virus that is redirecting all DNS requests for google domains to a third party. How do I get rid of it?
User 14. Run a full scan of your anti-virus software.
Me. I've done that, with several anti-virus packages. None of them detect anything.
User 14. In that case you have no option but to reinstall Windows.
User 135. Yes I have seen this precise problem recently. You have the TDSS virus. Download tdsskiller.exe from Kaspersky anti-virus.
Me. Thank you. That worked.
User 136. Well, I'm no expert, but I reinstalled Photoshop recently and the completely different problem I was having went away. Couldn't hurt to try, could it?
When Giles Fraser was installed as Canon Chancellor of Saint Paul's by a fully trained team of professional Canon Chancellor installers, we had a really good church service to celebrate.
Attending this heretical Protestant sect's cathedrals can be tremendous fun. In fact, attendance at Anglican Cathedrals keeps on going up. This is because more and more people are waking up on a Sunday morning and saying to themselves, what I really need this morning is a good Anglican service, and it's not at all because all the smaller parish churches are being forced to close due to dwindling congregations.
Now that Giles Fraser has resigned we're not having such a big party. Then again, there'll soon have to unplug Giles and install a new Canon Chancellor, so we can have a big party again over that.
Cathedrals are places where the Holy Spirit does his stuff. The Holy Spirit is the particularly invisible third of the Invisible Magic Friend. Although he does occasionally pop up as a dove or as a flame floating in mid air. These are the kind of details that lend such credibility to his existence.
There was also a visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Has anyone mentioned recently that he threw the money changers out of the temple? Well he did. The Vatican - you know the place stuffed with priceless treasures - has pointed out that capitalism doesn't seem to be working very well at the moment. I really don't think anyone would have spotted that, so thank goodness the Vatican is on the ball as always.
And now to leave you with one of those mysterious and seemingly meaningful statements that make it sound as if I've just told you something profound and wonderful.
"That is the tension that Christianity holds at its heart."
Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
There's a big Sikh festival this week. Happy Bandi Chhorh everyone! Bandi Chhorh celebrates the 6th Guru's release from prison by the evil Mogul Emperor (who belonged to another well known religion).
This is exactly what is happening today in the Eurozone crisis. I think Sikh history has got much to teach us on how to restore confidence in Greek and Italian government bonds without imposing a politically unpopular cost on the people of Germany. All Angela Merkel needs is a cloak with 52 trillion tassels attached.
You know, as I was elevated to the Lords, some of my fellow lords, suggested to me that, when I spoke in the House of Lords, I might want to address their lordships on matters pertaining to Sikh interests. Nothing could be farther from the teachings of being a Sikh. I intend to poke my nose into absolutely everything, bringing the wisdom of the Gurus to everything from economics to constitutional reform.
As a Lord, it is my intention to speak for all you non-Lords out there, the ordinary, lordless people, except the ones of you who go rioting and are probably very bad people who don't have a respectable faith like Sikhism.
Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 08:38 AM - WinkettRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Gaddafi has been buried in an unmarked grave because he was bad. Other brutal dictators have suffered similar fates. It prevents fans of brutal dictators turning it into a shrine.
Other people get buried in unmarked graves because they are the victims of brutal dictators. Many of these people had a faith of one sort or another, although many didn't. The connection between having a faith, or not having a faith, and being the victim of a brutal dictator, is not one that I'm going to go into in any detail. It's just something that I thought I would mention: that many of the victims of brutal dictators had a faith, although many didn't.
Jesus was buried in an unmarked grave. Well, no, actually he wasn't. All his fans knew where it was. So when the Empress Helena said, "I'll give a bag of gold to whoever shows me Jesus' tomb," there was no shortage of offers, and they built a great big church on the site. But apart from having a huge basilica on the site, it's pretty much the same as an unmarked grave, and thus relevant to the unmarked graves of many people who had a faith, and some who didn't.
There's a big Hindu festival today. Happy Doolally everyone!
I'm not going to talk much about Doolally this year. Four years ago it was all about burning your wife. Three years ago it was all about homecoming. Two years ago it was all about credible leadership, and last year it was all about discovering the spiritual light of the soul. I'm not sure what it's about this year.
Let's talk about overpopulation. The world's 7 billionth person will be born in the next few days. Obviously all 7 billion people can't live in the same luxurious lifestyle as we do here in Cardiff. As one of our Big Books of Magic Stuff says: 7 billion people is an awful lot of people. We probably could feed them all if we really tried. As Gandhi famously remarked, "Do you like this sheet I've got wrapped around me? It's really white."
I think we should be nice to the 7 billionth human being. Don't treat them in any way different from the other 6,999,999,999. As it says in yet another Hindu Big Book of Magic Stuff, "Treat others the way you would like to be treated." I'll bet you've never heard that expression before.
As you prepare for your next reincarnation, just remember that you'll be the unpteenth billionth person one day.
Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
There's been another earthquake, this time in Turkey. There have been some other earthquakes before. Some of them have been really big.
Earthquakes are really scary. No, honestly, they are. I mean really scary. If you've never experienced an earthquake then you really don't know just how scary they are. The ground, like, moves, and you can't get away. If you try to go left a bit, you find that it's moving over there as well. It's horrific, unnerving. You feel so vulnerable. It's just really, really, really scary.
It's at times like this that we want to recite a Psalm. Psalm 46 is a really good Psalm. Not, that the other Psalms aren't really good Psalms. All the Psalms are really good Psalms, which means Psalm 46 is a really good Psalm. Quite near the start of Psalm 46 it talks about the earth moving, which makes it a really good Psalm for earthquake victims.
200 prisoners escaped from their prison as a result of the earthquake. What's really amazing is that 50 went back to prison. Isn't that really, really amazing! OK 3/4 of the prisoners haven't returned and some of those that did probably realised they'd be caught anyway, but still, doesn't it just fill you with hope and joy and wonder at the core morality of the human spirit that some of the prisoners went back? I think they're probably the ones who have been reading Psalm 46.
From Norwich, it's the bishop of the week, Stupefyingly Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich
Saint Paul's Cathedral remains closed. This is a direct consequence of the land disputes in the Middle East. Libya, on the other hand has got lots of land, but will they have peaceful elections? Which brings me to the money changers in the Temple, where Jesus got angry and quoted Isaiah.
The clergy in Saint Paul's are united in their support for the protesters that have caused it to close. They just rather wish they'd go and protest somewhere else. There are arguments between neighbours about fences. Which brings me straight back to Libya. United by their hatred of Gaddafi, will they remain united now? Or will they not be united but still remain loyal to Libya?
From this we see that bankers and traders are not gentiles, which means that health and safety is not the issue. We need to make more space.
I trust I make myself clear.
Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 06:02 AM - Not TFTDI hereby publicly challenge William Lane Craig, the world famous philosopher who never seems to get beyond Christian apologetics, to a debate in my living room last night. I kept an armchair sitting empty for him all night but of the cowardly Craig there was not a sign.
Now some may object that issuing such a challenge the day after the debate is being just a little bit unfair. I would remind you that William Craig has an Invisible Magic Friend who is all knowing and all powerful and could therefore have been expected to pass my challenge onto Billy Craig well in advance of me thinking of it. Billy's failure to show can therefore only be explained by one of two reasons: either Bill was terrified of the devastating arguments he would face, or Bill's Invisible Magic Friend does not exist.
The debate commenced at 7.30 pm, in front of a packed audience consisting of myself, my other half, our pet labrador Molly, and the goldfish. As the visitor, Dr Craig went first. We listened attentively as he didn't explain how the universe needs a creator and that, after many years of study and thought, he had concluded that the creator was none other than his very own Invisible Magic Friend. Five minutes into his address, he didn't point out how the universe is fine tuned to create Christian apologists and therefore had to have a designer. In his final argument, he didn't bring up the subject of how understanding morality as an evolutionary necessity makes morality complete rubbish and therefore his Invisible Magic Friend must have created it instead.
Prof Craig's silence was met with polite applause. He didn't sit down and was immediately followed by his opponent in the debate: our goldfish. Goldy swan around in her tank for half an our, eloquently opening and shutting her mouth and, I have to say, utterly crushing Craig's theories. As she nibbled a fish flake, we were reminded that the arguments that Billy Boy didn't expound were all based on logical fallacies that anyone who thought about it for more than ten seconds would see the holes in. In common with all debates in which Craig actually did appear, he presented not a single piece of observable evidence to back up his claims.
Goldy received an enthusiastic ovation. With his tail firmly between his legs, the humiliated Craig was not sent packing back to Oxford, where he faces his next big challenge of facing a chair which will not be occupied by Richard Dawkins. We can only hope that, having been so thoroughly vanquished by our goldfish, Dr Craig will find a more fitting opponent debating an empty chair. The tension, wondering whether he will survive this encounter, should make for a highly entertaining evening.