Rhidian Brook, writer and celebrity 
Monday, 17 December, 2007, 08:01 AM
Rating 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.

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Canon David Winter 
Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 10:10 AM
Rating 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.

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Sir Jonathan Sacks - Big Chief Rabbi 
Friday, 14 December, 2007, 08:08 AM
Rating 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!

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John Bell of the Iona Community 
Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 08:47 AM
Rating 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.

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Sensationally Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool 
Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 08:51 AM
Rating 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.

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Vishvapani (a much nicer name than Simon Blomfield) 
Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, 08:27 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The climate change meeting in Bali is doomed to failure. It simply isn't possible to halt global warming and continue economic growth at the same time. The solution to this, as with all things, is religion, specifically my religion. We've all got to stop wanting things and go back to a much simpler life. I didn't want this radio microphone for example, or the nice warm studio I'm seated in - they just magically appeared, or perhaps some more disreputable person wanted them. We don't all have to go to the forest and beg for a living as the Bhudda did - after all we have to have someone to beg from, but you will all have to change your lifestyle to become more like me.

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Professor Mona Siddiqui 
Monday, 10 December, 2007, 08:04 AM
Rating 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 old people are important. I want to emphasise this because many of you, especially non-muslims, think that old people are useless. I myself have seen crowds of old people preparing to go on the Hajj. How much more useful do you want them to be? The pilgrimage to Mecca is, of course, one of the five most important things that all muslims must do: go worship a rock in a tent in Mecca, thus bringing useful employment to the desert town. These old people, being muslims, will return to a family where they are respected and treated like human beings.

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Catherine Pepinster - Editor of the Tablet 
Saturday, 8 December, 2007, 10:32 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The perfectly sensible law of blasphemy has been watered down again. Whatever happened to the good old days, when blasphemers were sentenced to hard labour? That'd teach'em to persecute Christians. We should enforce blasphemy a bit more rigorously, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan or Sudan.

Blasphemy prevents anyone from mocking or insulting the established Church of England. With only the head of state, the government, 26 bishops in the Lords, 1/3 of our publicly funded schools and millions of pounds of tax breaks, the CoE is clearly vulnerable. Catholicism is of course the only true form of Christianity, but the CoE is only a little bit wrong, so it could easily respond to any criticism with reason and evidence, it's just that we've never had time to do that. It's much easier to silence people through fear and authority.

We poor, ridiculed, suffering Christians will just have to bear the cross that our invisible magic friend has burdened us with.

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Sir Jonathan Sacks - Top Rabbi 
Friday, 7 December, 2007, 08:04 AM
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

Happy Hanukkah everyone! This is the Jewish festival of lights where we all celebrate the Jewish defeat of the Greeks. This was a great military victory, until we got beat by the Romans, when it became a great spiritual victory instead.

If we hadn't won that war there'd be no Judaism, no Christianity and no Islam. Just think what a disaster that would've been for the world! There wouldn't be any poetry or architecture or music or art or anything without these great religions. The Jews have stayed Jewish by keeping their faith. We've endured persecution, wars, genocide, but we've kept our faith. Without our faith we'd just be a bunch of ordinary people - how awful! Christians, that's you, should do the same. You too can keep a label that identifies you as different from everybody else, because without blind faith in the invisible magic friend you're just nobody!

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John Bell of the Iona Community 
Thursday, 6 December, 2007, 08:06 AM
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

Good morrrrning. Two Czech couples have discovered that their babies were mixed up at birth. The anguish of deciding whether to return the babies to their biological parents would take the Wisdom of Solomon to resolve. Unfortunately they didn't have Solomon, so they had to rely on their own feelings and some trained psychologists. They put their own feelings aside and returned the babies to their true parents.

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