Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 08:13 AM - BrookRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Thought For The Day involves a great deal of attention to topical events combined with deep thought about their spiritual significance. This is how TFTD is able to so consistently deliver the profound, life enhancing reflections that so brighten up everyone's day, and thus why it is so universally popular.
But I haven't got time for all that, have you seen what's been on the telly lately? I've just started watching the compelling Danish drama series, The Killing. It really is brilliant and with series 2 just started on BBC4 there really has never been a better time to indulge yourself with a box set of series 1, available at the superb bargain price of only £33 from the BBC shop.
You might think that watching DVD drama box sets was all there was to being a busy, celebrity, Christian writer - far from it! I've got no end of books to read, albums to listen to, magazines to flick through. It's all just work, work, work. Sometimes I think it's never going to stop!
With this hectic modern lifestyle that we all live, we sometimes forget to put aside time for what's really important. I am of course referring, not to family and friends, but to thinking about the Invisible Magic Friend.
Scripture says that thinking about the Invisible Magic Friend is just fantastic, even better than watching boxed sets of Danish crime drama. So if you're days are entirely taken up by works of fiction, in whatever medium, try to calm down dear. Lay aside an hour or two to ponder on just how invisible and magic the Invisible Magic Friend is. Be like the preacher who spent three hours every day, heroically doing nothing but thinking about the Invisible Magic Friend. Being invisible, thinking about him, involved a delightful image of nothing. Now there was a life well spent.
Jesus said to forget about time, "Hey man, just like calm down, take it slow, have a puff of this," he would say.
I don't have any more time to waste giving you the benefit of my thoughts. I've got so many DVDs to watch, so many books to read, then there's time thinking about the Invisible Magic Friend...
Saif Gaddafi has been captured.
I think he should have a fair trial.
Giving people a fair trial, even when they are nasty, horrible people, shows that the rule of law is working.
Jesus thought people should have a fair trial, which pretty much ends the need for any further argument on the subject.
Now to pad that out for 3 minutes.
Those who live by the sword die by the sword.
Jesus said that.
He said it in the garden of Gethsemane.
"People who live by the sword die by the sword," he said, in the garden of Gethsemane.
What he meant by this was, people who live by the sword die by the sword.
People who don't live by the sword might not die by the sword and might, in general, be exposed to less violence.
Not living by the sword and dying by the sword, and being exposed less to a cycle of violence as a result, is a necessary condition to ensure the rule of law and fair trials.
To all you Radio 4 listeners out there who don't believe in fair trials, I'd just like to mention Saint Augustine.
(He was a bishop in Roman North Africa you know. Not many people know that, so I thought I'd just throw that little factlet in there. It helps pad things out a bit, otherwise I'd never get this rather obvious and unoriginal idea to sound as if it were the product of some unique scholarly insight.)
He thought fair trials were a good idea too.
Him and Jesus.
Him and Jesus and me.
Just how many people do you need to tell you that fair trials are a good idea before you'll accept that fair trials are a good idea?
Even Saif Gaddafi should have a fair trial.
Goodness, is that 3 minutes up already? I had so much more I wanted to say.
So Dame Vivienne Westwood has been addressing the anti-capitalist protesters outside Saint Paul's on the emptiness of consumerism. And so I stood around watching the Durham Lumiere Festival. There were lots of bright, happy colours, lighting up the town and especially the cathedral.
And so it begins, the Cathedral was adorned by pictures of the Lindisfarne Gospels. These unique Gospels were produced at enormous expense. Going forward, they were definitely the designer Gospels of their day and highly desirable artefacts in their own right - no hint of abject consumerism or the ostentatious display of wealth there.
Do you know who all this reminds me of? Go on, have a guess. No, I knew you wouldn't get it. OK, I'll put you out of your misery, it was Jesus! Yes, that's right, Jesus, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend! Jesus is like light, a great big multi-coloured neon display of tubular light, who now reigns supreme in the great fluorescent bulb showroom in the sky.
So science and religion don't have all the answers. (I put them together because they don't have all the answers in roughly equal amounts.) And so there's no art any more, For Art stopped short in the cultivated court of the Empress Josephine, except in Durham, where we have 1,300 year old Gospels projected onto the Cathedral walls - that's art.
Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 05:41 AM - Not TFTDAlright, as protests go it's probably not right up there at the top of most people's priorities, but if you feel like letting off a little bit of steam today, there's a petition to close the UK's embassy to the Vatican (or the Holy See, or whatever it's an embassy to). Last time I checked, the petition only had 261 signatures, so don't hold your breath about it becoming a nationwide movement.
Earlier this month, Ireland closed it's Vatican embassy, much to the annoyance of the Catholic hierarchy. (The Cardinal Brady who is so 'profoundly disappointed' by the cost-cutting move is the same Cardinal Brady who made vulnerable children swear a solemn oath never to reveal they had been sexually abused by a Catholic priest. He said he would resign if he was ever discovered to have done anything that endangered children but in the end, decided not to. Unfortunately the Vatican can't sack Cardinal Brady, you need to do something really awful, like suggesting priests by allowed to get married to incur the wrath of Rome.)
Ireland said having two embassies in Rome was a luxury that it could no longer afford and that the Vatican one was basically a waste of money. Apparently the Vatican gets into quite a huff when countries try to present their Italian ambassadors as their Vatican ambassador, which would seem to be reason enough to do it.
While we're talking about the Catholic Church (and by "we" I do of course mean "you" ), Protect the Pope continues to provide a never ending source of vital information. Did you know, for example, that in addition to the various experiments being carried by the International Space Station, there is also an icon of the Virgin Mary in orbit above our heads at this very moment.
Now in answer to Russell and his disciple Dawkins[*] we can say thereís no invisible teapot in orbit around the Sun but there is a beautiful icon of the Mother of God,who once lived on our planet 2,000 years ago,and who reigns in heaven since her Assumption.
When the night skies are clear itís possible to see the ISS moving fast from one horizon to the other. Now when we look up and see it we can offer up a prayer of thanks to Mary,the Mother of God,God who created the stars and planet on which we stand.
There you go, Russell's teapot definitely doesn't exist, but the Virgin Mary in Heaven definitely does. The author of that blog likes to tell people that you really do need to do a basic course in philosophy if you want to engage in some of these debates.
Maybe someone could pray to Mary and ask her whether neutrinos really can travel faster than light? After all, Catholic revelation is so much more reliable than mere evidence.
p.s. Happy Interfaith Week everyone! I wonder if anyone will mention it on TFTD?
[* Actually, I wouldn't mind being accredited as a disciple of Bertrand Russell.]
Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 08:43 AM - JenkinsRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Sometimes journalists do bad things. Then again sometimes papers do good things: exposing corruption, reporting on politics, advertising local events. Unfortunately, many local and regional newspapers are struggling to survive. It's said that social media will take their place but there seems to be little evidence of this.
What I've said so far may seem perfectly sensible. It highlights an important problem. Just to make it really relevant to most listeners, I think it's time I mentioned the Invisible Magic Friend and his close links to regional journalism. Saint Paul, whose wisdom we all so admire, said we should rejoice when others rejoice and weeps when others weep. But how are we to know when to rejoice or weep without the same flourishing local press that we had in Saint Paul's time?
When the Invisible Magic Friends* said "Let there be light," what they actually meant was "Let there be local and regional newspapers to advertise the village fete, with the top prize this year being a bottle of Mrs Temperance's home made, alcohol free, elderflower cordial."
When Jesus said, "The truth will set you free," he was evidently referring to the Daily Mail.
(*For they were feeling distinctly plural at the time.)
Friday, 18 November, 2011, 08:36 AM - PepinsterRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
The new government of Italy contains no elected politicians. It is entirely dominated by boring bankers, awful accountants and other yawn inspiring grey suits. But they are nor all such dreary technocrats. One of them is a Catholic. Hurrah!
The Catholic Andrea Riccardi, the new, Catholic, Minister for International Cooperation, founded a Catholic organisation called the Community of Sant'Egidio. This is a Catholic community based around the Catholic church of Sant'Egidio. They look after the sick, the poor and the elderly and once they've got hold of them, explain to them that Catholicism is the only true religion.
The Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio has had notable successes acting as a mediator in various conflicts. I wasn't actually involved in any of these conflicts myself, but I think this shows just how brilliant being a Catholic is.
Catholics are always welcoming to strangers. We have to be, the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend told us to be welcoming to strangers, thus making it part of the Catholic rule book. If the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend hadn't told us to be welcoming to strangers then we probably wouldn't have bothered, but he did, so we do, and that makes Catholics the best there is.
With a Catholic in amongst all that boring bunch of non-entitites in the Italian government, the new government is just bound to succeed in saving Italy's economy.
As far as I know, there are no Catholics in the new Greek government, so they're doomed.
Thursday, 17 November, 2011, 08:55 AM - Not TFTDI just want to make it absolutely clear that I will never be showing this image on this blog.
It shows a complete lack of respect for the Holy Father. Pope Benedict does not go around kissing Imams. He may kiss the odd crucifix, or snuggle up to the Bible now and again, but the one thing he most definitely does not do is express his love for leaders of other world religions.
I hope this image remains banned forever and is never seen by anybody. The Catholic Church is well known for it's sense of humour but it simply will not tolerate its leader being shown expressing love for another human being, certainly not a man (even if he is wearing a condom) and certainly not an Imam.
Aren't the unemployment figures just terrible! One million young people out of work. Tut, tut, tut. Now, just because you're unemployed, there's no need to go out rioting, although I'm sure we'll all understand if you do. In these difficult economic times, jobs come and go, they come and go.
Somebody ought to do something about this. As a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian, let me just assure you that young people need to feel wanted and appreciated. They need to feel loved, to feel like lovers, not like rivals. They need to feel productive and useful, do something important like being a theologian.
How do we sell the contradiction, of fat cats on huge bonuses that can't employ a young person, even on minimum wage. For the young unemployed, every day is like survival. They string along, they string along.
Gandhi, a nice, wise Hindu that everybody's heard of and likes, thought it would be wise to have some native industry and not just import everything. No wonder he is regarded as so wise. That way people will have jobs, and through having jobs will be able to worship the Invisible Magic Friend. Otherwise they'll be like a man without conviction. We can even make things in different colours: red, gold and green, red gold and green.
Hindus call this: karma karma karma karma, karma chameleon.
Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter)
Well, I don't really understand what's happening, but something is clearly happening. As someone who has no expertise whatsoever in economics, banking or financial trading, I think I'm the ideal person to come on to the BBC's flagship news programme and give you an uninterrupted three minutes, no questions asked lecture on the morality of these things I don't understand.
I don't understand government debt for example, but I do know that Greece has got far more of it than is good for it. This makes Greek government debt a bad thing. Italy also appears to have too much government debt. This makes Italian government debt a bad thing too.
We people of faith don't like to say we told you so, but if you'd all spent your time being hungry all the time, like a certain well known Prophet, and lived a more ascetic lifestyle, then we wouldn't be in this mess. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", have all gotten rather used to borrowing money to finance our increasingly lavish and decadent lifestyles, merrily frittering away money you don't have, until the bailiff comes knocking at your door. I take no pleasure at all in watching you suffer the consequences of your irresponsible and immoral lifestyle.
When the certain well known Prophet prayed to our version of the Invisible Magic Friend (a version with no visible bits whatsoever), he prayed to save us from debt. So it's not just Greek or Italian government debt that is a bad thing, all government debt is a bad thing, as is all personal debt. Everyone should pay back all their debts immediately, thus making the world a more stable, happier place.
Next time I'll be telling you all about something else that I don't understand.
Isn't what's happening in Syria just terrible? All this brutal dictatorship and gunning down of people. Tut tut.
In this brutal dictatorship there will be some people who are brutal and dictators. We call these people "wicked" people. But it is important to realise that not all the people of Syria are wicked. Some are not wicked at all. They are mostly being shot. Most people are only slightly wicked, going along with the regime for fear of being shot.
Doubtless the people of Syria will recall the words of the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, as given to us by the real Big Book of Magic Stuff, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." To everyone in Syria who is listening to the Today Programme, do not be confused by the latter part of this saying from Jesus. As a Rev Canon Dr and an Anglican priest, let me just assure you that what it means is this. The people who thought they knew what they were doing when they crucified Jesus, didn't really know what they were doing. If they had known that they were crucifying Jesus then they would have known what they were doing and there would have been no need for Jesus to tell the other bits of the Invisible Magic Friend that they didn't know what they were doing.
Let us not be too hard on the people of Syria who are a little bit wicked, but not a lot. Haven't we all gone along with a brutal dictatorship from time to time? It's just human nature to shrug our shoulders and say, "Well it's only a little bit brutal and not all the time. There's no need to get all revolutionary and shot at, is there?"