Wednesday, 5 December, 2007, 08:22 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Liverpool, of which I am the Lord Bishop, has hosted two great artistic events this week: the Royal Variety Performance and the Turner Prize. Mark Wallinger won for his reconstruction of Brian Haw's one man peace protest outside the Houses of Parliament. Haw's protest was finally removed thanks to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which was specifically designed to remove such dangerous and offensive criminals. Wallinger, coincidentally, also did a statue of Jesus, called Ecce Homo which stood on the fourth plinth in nearby Trafalgar Square.
The protest reconstruction couldn't be moved to Liverpool, so the artist showed a video of himself, dressed as a bear, walking around an empty Berlin art gallery. The question arises, is he a nutter? In order to tell, we must compare him to another great artist: the prophet Isaiah. He ran around naked once. Was he a nutter?
Isaiah also made prophecies. Yes, just when you thought I was going to leave you with some insight into the role of art as a form of political protest, I'm going to remind you instead that Christmas, that great Christian feast which we invented and didn't borrow at all from pagan times, is coming. Jesus was the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy that the prince of peace would arrive. This must be true because we all keep telling you it is. After the prince of peace there was to be no more wars, no more weapons, no more petty human tribalism. I think we need only look at the history of the last 2,000 years to see just how right Isaiah was.
Tuesday, 4 December, 2007, 08:07 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
As Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow, let me just assure you that the invisible magic friend has nothing against teddy bears. The people you saw demanding death for that schoolteacher are not proper muslims. I am a proper muslim and I can tell you that Allah is a god of love and mercy who teaches equal rights for teddy bears everywhere, even ones called Mohammed. Islam, that peaceful, tolerant, open-minded religion, is not represented by teddy-phobics, cartoon protesters, novel burners, suicide bombers or people demanding low level sinks in workplaces for the necessary ritual ablutions. None of the huge crowds of protesters that you see in any of these demonstrations all over the world are proper muslims. Allah, like Islam, has always preached peace and tolerance and has never sought conversion through conquest
Monday, 3 December, 2007, 08:01 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Christmas, that great Christian feast which we invented and gave to the world, is coming. There's nothing you can do to stop it.
It's so full of commercialism these days. Those of you who are not successful authors will probably end up even more debt-ridden. Oh woe! We've forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Why do you think we have lights and trees and log fires? It's not because of mid-winter and the need to cheer ourselves up with thoughts of spring. Obviously it's because of the baby Jesus. Jesus was definitely god. We know this because Isaiah successfully prophesied that someone called Emmanuel would be born and then die at some unspecified point in the future. Jesus must be Emmanuel because Emmanuel means "god with us", and Jesus was god. QED.
Just think how many days we have left to remind you of Christmas, which we invented, and the baby Jesus, who was god and made the world a better place. I'm so looking forward to telling you all about Christmas.
Saturday, 1 December, 2007, 09:29 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
It's the first day of Advent, got that? Advent is the time when Christians prepare for Christmas. Christmas is our feast, we invented it, and just to make sure you don't forget it, we'll be reminding you, frequently. Christmas is when some lowly shepherds abandoned their flocks to go see a lowly baby in a lowly stable. "Thank you for becoming the word of god incarnate," they said. "As all shepherds trained in theology know, you can now become the ultimate sacrifice to save us all from the sin of Adam and rescue us from the eternal pain and torment that you condemned us to."
This is a time of hope, when the light of the world returns to make everything better, just like he did last year, and the year before that, and so on. The pope thinks so too. In his message of advent hope, pope hope, he says "I hope ze are remaining diverted viz dat teddy bear, und not viz me saying Mohammed ist evil."
Friday, 30 November, 2007, 08:06 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Happy Saint Andrew's day everyone! I'm not going to bore you with all the great inventions of Scotsmen. There's nothing worse than a Scotsman who drones on, and on, and on, and on about how great Scotland is. Sean Connery does that. He keeps going on about how wonderful Scotland is - so wonderful that he lives several thousand miles away from it. I won't tell you about my numerous, exciting experiences on the No. 38 bus in Shaftesbury Avenue (400 miles from Scotland). I'm certainly not going to trot out names like Flemming, Bell (no relation) and Baird, nor will I be one of those tedious people who lists every Scottish author since Rabbie Burns. I won't mention the contributions of Napier or James Clerk-Maxwell, since I have no idea what they did, although I will point out how many cabinet ministers are Scottish - no on second thoughts I won't.
Saint Andrew was a guy that we know nothing about and who has no known connection whatsoever with Scotland, which is why we made him our patron saint.
And if that weren't enough, God's favourite colour is tartan.
Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 08:36 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
All great stories have a dark side with stereotypical baddies. You will no doubt have studied Aristotle as dilligently as myself. He pointed out that all tragic heroes must be believable, destroyed by their own flaw. Being a well-read person, I expect you've had a good laugh at the pompous Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Only the most illiterate country bumpkin could be ignorant of King Lear, so I know I don't have to remind you that some goodness does come of all the tragedy. And finally there is King Oedipus - need I say more?
What a delight it is to be able to share my literary allusions with an audience who are almost my equal in terms of depth of knowledge and breadth of understanding. You should learn from these stories, as I have done, that we must work through tragedy in order to see the light of hope. As we approach Christmas, when the invisible magic friend became incarnate, and grew up in order to sacrifice himself to himself in order to save us from himself, let us remember that the devil is not a made-up stereotypical villain. He is real and is pure evil. That's what makes the Christian faith so different from all these works of fiction. It's not just a bunch of children's formulaic fairy stories.
Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, 08:32 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim, in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, take care not to use words, cartoons or teddy bears that offend against, the most holy, most mighty, most incredibly insecure Allah. Worship thee not thy foul, blasphemous teddy bears, nor raise them up as teddy bear idols, nor name them after the good and loving Prophet (PBUH) lest he be mistaken for a teddy bear. Scourge, imprison and demean all who would dare bow down before an inanimate cuddly toy. Know ye now that there cannot be, nor shall there ever be any freedom to criticise the least aspect of any religion, no matter how insane, absurd, ancient or self-contradictory it may be. Obey the words of Allah...
Your invisible magic friend
Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, 08:05 AMRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Some things cause other things. Things not happening also cause other things not to happen. This is called cause (something happening) and effect (something else happening). The Buddha was very keen on things causing other things and spoke about it at length.
Sometimes things happen that we didn't intend to happen - this was pointed out by a great philospher. Before Isaiah Berlin no one had realised this, except possibly Shakespeare who often had unintended consequences in his stories.
Whether things turn out for the best all depends on how they turn out. What's really important is that we do things morally. Even politicians should try this.
Monday, 26 November, 2007, 08:48 AMRating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)
Holiday time is fast approaching when we must all be compulsorily happy. Some of us with no family find that difficult, so I'll be joining others for a holiday retreat. It's not an entirely spiritual affair and many are there purely to dispel lonliness within a pleasant community. Watch out for the invisible magic friend though, once introduced he can be difficult to shake off. There are always hotels, but beware of dining alone which can only make the sense of lonliness and rejection worse.
Sunday, 25 November, 2007, 04:16 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
It's me, y'know, the straight kinda guy that used to be your beloved leader. (Until I was forced to abdicate in favour of that guttersnipe Brown. Look what a "hash" he's made of things. Not that I'm gloating over his poll ratings. Ha, ha!)
Now that I no longer need your votes, it's time to reveal the true me. Y'see, the honest truth is, I was actually the Lord's anointed as Prime Minister. Every Sunday, no matter what arduous duties I had to perform as PM, I always stopped doing them so that I could go to Church and speak to the invisible magic friend. Of course, I couldn't tell you this at the time, people might've thought I was some kind of a nutter!
As PM, you have to take tough decisions, and invading Iraq was probably the toughest I had to take. The spooks kept saying they weren't sure about WMDs in Iraq, but my invisible friend told my buddy George to invade, so we had to find some feeble pretext to kill all those people. That's why I was able, with a clean conscience and a pure heart, to tell the House of Commons that the intelligence was "extensive, detailed and authoritative".
Each night, as I lay in bed, wrestling with the thought of all the properties and businesses I had destroyed, the lives I had wrecked, the innocent people I had killed, maimed or bereaved, I read my bible. This hardened my resolve, gave me the courage and strength to ignore all the defeatists who called me an idiotic, manipulative, lying, cowardly, nepotistic, simplistic, hypocritical, vain, hollow, two-faced charlatan. Thus, contented by my belief in my invisible magic friend, I slept peacefully at night, knowing that I'd brought integrity and honesty back into politics.
This you see, is the benefit of faith.