Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 11:35 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Economics is a mystery. Which brings me neatly to Jesus. Jesus being born on Christmas day is also a mystery. You can be sure that Jesus' birth was very mysterious because I'm telling you that it was. Don't bother trying to understand how virgin births, wandering stars and choirs of angels could've appeared. They're all far too mysterious and beyond human understanding. Just take my word for it that it definitely happened. If he was just an ordinary baby being born in a stable then it wouldn't be mysterious at all. It's because he's the invisible magic friend that his birth is so mysterious and profound and meaningful and things. The whole things is so deeply...well.. mysterious, isn't it?
Friday, 21 December, 2007, 08:22 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Barbed wires and walls have stopped all trade
The merchants wander by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
No light of any kind
Borders and tears enhance thy fears
No light bulbs will you find
While Christians flee
And Muslims grieve, all Israel lives in dread
The Holy Land is drenched in blood
Good men lament the dead
For God we fight and kill and hate
Our faith with strength empowers
And praises sing to God the King
Until this land is ours
Thursday, 20 December, 2007, 08:00 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
My surgery treats me like an anonymous patient, moved from one waiting room to the next - a number on a form with some boxes ticked. That's what our society is like now, impersonal and cold. It's why hardly anyone believes in the invisible magic friend any more. The very definition of a person comes from Theology (a discipline which has given so much to mankind). How on earth could you possibly define a person who doesn't have an invisible magic friend? They can't dream about the infinite or the eternal. They just treat everyone else like robots.
Wednesday, 19 December, 2007, 09:03 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Christmas is coming! Some theologians liken the birth of Christ to the invisible magic friend giving up all his power, a bit like Castro giving up the presidency in Cuba, or Prospero in "The Tempest". In each case there is a dictator who controls everything and knows everything but decides to permanently and irrevocably give up his power. Jesus being born in a lowly stable is exactly the same thing, except for the bit about permanently and irrevocably give up his power.
As a reverend doctor, let me just assure you that God doesn't have an insecurity complex. He doesn't need everyone to constantly worship him and praise him just to reassure himself that he's still the best god there is. Nor does he need the protection of the nation state. We should disestablish the Church of England, revoke the blasphemy laws, get rid of the bishops in the Lords and give all the schools back to people who actually want to widen the horizons of young minds rather than close them.
And in the New Year I'm going to become a humanist and invest in some flying pigs.
Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 08:08 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Charles Wesley wrote loads of good tunes, including "Hark, the Herald" and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling". Many people think Christianity is all about dogma, but most Christians get embarrassed when you ask them to say what they believe, even when they recite the Nicene Creed every week. Mostly they just like singing all those nice tunes.
Christians like getting getting emotional. They're all "under the influence" of the Jesus story, where the invisible magic friend became a man. This proves that humans are worthwhile. As a Reverend Canon Doctor and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion, Lancaster University, let me just assure you that once you become a Christian you too will learn that humans are worthwhile. You'll start to become a person of good character. You'll develop morally and spiritually, and most important of all, you'll start to sing nice Methodist hymns.
Monday, 17 December, 2007, 08:01 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I don't send Christmas cards. Being a writer and celebrity, I have far too little time to spend on such superficial rituals. Besides, I'm so popular that people still send me cards regardless. They tell me how much their children have grown, which I don't really care about since my friends are generally far less important than me. The long string of cards that I continue to receive prove just how loved I am.
Sending messages and cards are no substitute for being there. That's why the invisible magic friend doesn't send Christmas cards either. God, not unlike myself, is above such trivial social customs. Christmas, which is a Christian tradition that we invented, is all about Jesus being born on earth. It's sheer coincidence that his birthday happens to fall near the shortest day of the year when the sun begins to rise in the northern hemisphere.
Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 10:10 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
The parents of the missing girl, Madeleine McCann, are all over the more disreputable tabloids. It seems there are some people who just can't leave that story alone. I'm not going to mention the McCann story. Instead, I'll remind you about the parable of the prodigal son. I'm sure you all know the story, how a young man took his inheritance and squandered it on loose living. I don't need to tell you that when it was all gone, he decided to return home. You need no reminder that his father welcomed him home and killed the fatted calf. Although this is a parable about people settling down to a more moderate lifestyle, I'm going to use it as a link to the BBC's lifeline appeal to help families who's loved ones, especially their children, have gone missing.
Friday, 14 December, 2007, 08:08 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Lots of faiths have celebrations this time of year: Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas. Of course, those of you who don't have a faith, can't have a celebration. I think it would be a good idea to suppress the perfectly natural urge to hate, kill and wage war on people of other faiths. Hating other faiths goes straight against what the invisible magic friend wants. He's always made it very clear that he's a big fan of other gods and other faiths. Tragically, faith has caused so much war and hatred over the centuries, that some Europeans have concluded it's a load of divisive rubbish, best consigned to the dustbin of history as quickly as possible. What a bizarre conclusion!
Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 08:47 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
We in the West often waste energy because we can afford it. At the same time, in Bali, we are busy asking India and China to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. India and China have taken over much of the manufacturing that was once done in the West. They are producing goods for our consumption. This makes us as much responsible for their carbon emissions as they are.
Jesus, despite being the all-knowing invisible magic friend incarnate, was strangely silent on the subject of global warming. However St. James made it clear that people who get rich at others' expense are doomed. You may have been in two minds about reducing your carbon footprint, but now that St. James has told you you will go to hell if you don't, I think you will have to do something about it.
Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 08:51 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Jamie Thomson, who takes his lunch at McDonalds, wants to be treated like a human being. Instead he has been fined for taking an hour to eat his burger and chips, followed by doughnut and coffee. I cannot think of a greater injustice to illustrate the dehumanisation of our society, where the mindless bureaucracy persecutes the poor, defenceless McDonalds customer - the "computer says 'no'" syndrome.
Let's compare this with the way the invisible magic friend works. I managed to find a bit in the bible where god seems willing to be reasonable. Of course you still have to stone blasphemers to death like Leviticus says, but I'm sure we'd all agree that this is pretty reasonable anyway. Provided you follow all his squillion or so rules to the letter, and show proper repentance when you don't, Yahweh is willing to sit down and discuss things with you. That's what I call being human.