Tuesday, 30 December, 2008, 08:16 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I remember many, many happy Christmases back in Ireland...well, two of them anyway. They were so happy that these days I spend Christmas in Israel, with its roadblocks, travel restrictions and cheerful religious coexistence. I've been to Bethlehem, and I can tell you that it is definitely there. So far at least, we can say that the Jesus' story checks out. As the birthplace of the Messiah, identified by the prophet Micah (a particularly reliable prophet) Bethlehem would have been under the careful watch of Herod. As a biblical archaeologist, let me just assure you that King Herod could definitely have killed some babies if he wanted to. So we see, once again, definite confirmation that the birth of Jesus definitely could have happened exactly the way the bible says. I have walked part of the rugged walk to Egypt, which is also definitely there - further proof, if further proof were needed, that Jesus could definitely have been a possible refugee from a possible massacre by Herod. Doubtless, this is why in later years Jesus had such sympathy for the poor and oppressed, remembering that he too, once, as an infant, had possibly been poor and oppressed. If he hadn't been possibly poor and oppressed as an infant then I expect he would just have told the poor and oppressed to buzz off.
Monday, 29 December, 2008, 12:01 PMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
I received a text message from a poor friend of mine in Kenya. He wished me Merry Christmas and hoped that my family would be blessed with what is essential. I felt humbled at receiving this from a man who had no access to anything other than beans and a little fresh water, although fortunately he was on the mobile phone network. Many of us grumble at not being able to go on our regular winter skiing holiday, take a trip to Monte Carlo, or even just a relaxing vacation in a friend's yacht in the Bahamas. We've had to replace Don Perignon with Moet and Chandon, Château Rothschild with Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But as we enter a more austere, spiritual, time, we have to ask ourselves just what are the essentials? Christian celebrities, such as myself, being above such base concerns as food, water and shelter, can concentrate on what really matters. I think we all agree that life without an Invisible Magic Friend would be all but intolerable. So I wished my friend that he too would be blessed with continued faith in the Invisible Magic Friend and access to a mobile phone.
Saturday, 27 December, 2008, 08:08 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
What a brilliant idea! Going to Bethlehem on a donkey. It's so brilliant it could almost have been invented by me. The bible's full of donkeys. There's no mention of Mary riding a donkey in the bible, but Jesus did eventually ride a donkey, because it was written. God, how I love prophesies about donkeys.
And another thing, what's all this about removing all reference to hereditary absolute monarchs from Christmas carols? What's wrong with the unquestioning obedience of hierarchical, military organisations? Peace? Bah! How are we ever going to have peace if we don't have large scale, bloody wars? It's political correctness gone mad I tell you!! And while you're at it, why don't you all go and look up the verb "Bowdlerise".
Anyway, back to donkeys. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would ride a donkey and he did. How much more prophetic can you get? And he was born of a virgin. We know this because she said so, and Isaiah prophesied that too. And he was nearly descended from King David on his adopted father's side - not once, but through two different genealogies! Just as Isaiah nearly prophesied. And he was a king. A proper king who told everyone what to do. None of this discussion and democracy and all that rubbish. And his reign will last forever because Isaiah and me both say so!
Friday, 26 December, 2008, 08:42 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
We all love the carol, "O little town of Bethlehem", especially the moving lines, "The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight." As we enter a time of economic uncertainty, it is natural to be fearful for the future. What better place to look for hope than the little West Bank town, with it's roadblocks, severely restricted travel and deep seated mistrust between Muslims and Jews. Bethlehem, where Christmas is celebrated on three separate dates because the various groups of Christians violently disagree on the subject, reminds us just how much is possible when cultures are identified with religion. But Bethlehem not only reminds us just how much worse things could be, it is also where the Invisible Magic Friend became incarnate of a virgin, much to the surprise of her intended husband, who, being intensely holy, accepted her somewhat unusual explanation without comment. That little baby's birth is what saved you and all mankind. There, don't you feel better now that you've been saved? Hope doesn't come from political institutions and long hard, efforts to find common ground between opposing positions, it comes from the machinations of supernatural beings, who'll come and sort out the mess for us.
Happy Christmas everyone.
Thursday, 25 December, 2008, 07:02 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Without wishing to sound too self aggrandising, I speak to you today as God's representative on earth. This fact alone should be sufficient for you to trust me with nuclear weapons. Since you are all Christians, and therefore just one prophet away from the true faith, I know that you will understand when I say that, if Jesus were alive today, he would undoubtedly by a Muslim. Jesus, who always liked to take sides, would undoubtedly be on our side and not on yours. If I can paraphrase the prophet Jesus, what has the United States ever done for us?
When we look to today's world problems: financial crises, overpopulation, resource shortages, it is clear that they are all the result of people not being religious enough. And when I say not being religious enough, I mean not being Muslim. If the whole world were Muslim there would be no need for any more wars, would there? So at this happy time of year, when we all join to celebrate the birth of the second best prophet, let us look forward to his second coming, when he'll sweep away the United states and its lackeys with a wave of his magic hand.
On this joyous note, let me genuinely wish you and all mankind, a loving, prosperous and happy future, unless you're Israeli, disagree with my religious beliefs, or are homosexual. (Which we don't have in our country. I don't know who's been telling you such things.)
Now watch me do a Christmas dance for you.
His Eminence, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, Prince of the Church, Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Mariae supra Minervam, The Real Primate of England and Wales
Wednesday, 24 December, 2008, 08:18 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
As a man of the cloth I have a keen interest in boys' clubs, youth organisations, children's sports, and of course, young offenders institutions. I recently visited one where I mingled with 70 young men between the ages of 15 and 21. I chatted playfully with them, acutely aware that many needed a strong father figure, like me. As an elderly single male, who performs professionally in a frock, I felt that I could give these testosterone filled boys exactly what they needed. I could show them how to do things right, bring a bit of discipline to their often violent lives. They were grateful for my attention, deprived as they were of contact with the outside world, without access to their girlfriends, with nothing to do all day but pump iron, building up a sweat on their lean, muscular bodies. Many gave me cards, poems and small gifts - touching measures of their devotion.
As I sing carols and lead services today, I will be thinking about those boys. Have a very Merry Christmas everyone. I know I will.
Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 09:10 AMRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
Have you ever wondered why gangs of clergyman roam the streets of Liverpool? It's because we're the established church, that's why. It's what we do. In hospitals, churches, crematoria - wherever there is illness and bereavement, you'll find us there muttering meaningless platitudes into the ears of the vulnerable. Misery, you see, is our business. Whenever some poor little boy is murdered, or some heinous crime is perpetrated, you'll always find a mob of, otherwise unemployable, vicars overrunning the scene, talking to journalists, appearing on radio and TV.
We occasionally share some of the desolation trade with other, less established churches, but we're much better at it than they are. It's not that we need to be established because without it we'd just be a sad little, minority faith - an anachronistic leftover from a bygone age with no real purpose any more. Without state sanction, there wouldn't be anyone to comfort the sorrowful. You only have to look to woeful, god forsaken places like the United States, to see how religion withers without the legal protection of the state.
A disestablished Church of England would retreat into the leafy suburbs, just like we have with our schools. It would become an irrelevant middle class club. That's why, in our quiet, unobtrusive way, we control schools, churches, hospitals, billions of pounds of investments, 26 seats in the Lords, the Head of State, and occasionally give you the benefit of our unchallenged wisdom here on Radio 4. Do you really want to see all that disappear?
His Holiness Pope Benedict the umpteenth, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Sovereign of the Vatican State...
Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 06:41 AMRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
A Christmas message from His Holiness
At this special time of year, as we celebrate the joy of Our Lord's birth, we pray for peace and goodwill to all men - well nearly all men. As this tumultuous year draws to a close, it is fitting that we should pause and reflect upon recent events. We pray for God's holy rainforest, that some of it may be left. We surely have a duty to protect trees, but if this is so, then how much more of a duty do we have to protect people? And what greater threat is there to humanity's continued existence than gayness?
All over the world a plague of gayness has devastated human populations. Our schools and maternity wards are derelict. Shanty towns lie sadly empty, devoid of poor, uneducated children in which the seed of the Catholic church may be planted. Brothels have been forced to close their doors. Hard working purveyors of heterosexual pornography find themselves destitute. In Africa and South America, vast surpluses of food, oil and fresh water go unused.
What are we to do about this tragic state of affairs? First, we must emphasise that you should not hate gay people. Do not bash them over the head or otherwise beat them up. However you must stop gayness from spreading. Stop them from bending their gender. Make it impossible for them to meet each other. Forbid them the simple pleasure of a lifelong partner to bring comfort and companionship. Deny them pension and inheritance rights. Deny them the right to raise children. Spread the word that they are sinful and an inherent moral evil. Make sure they remain the second class citizens they so surely deserve to be. We, the frock wearing, celibate, male leaders of God's Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, demand that you get out there and start fornicating at once.
And may the peace and love Our Lord Jesus Christ go with you.
Monday, 22 December, 2008, 08:16 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Do you believe all that stuff about the baby Jesus? Mary bobbing up and down, riding a donkey? The innkeeper with his wife? The lonely shepherds with their sheep? And as for snow in Bethlehem - don't make me laugh. No, all that "traditional" nativity scene is a load of old rubbish. It's just made up. Tacky Victorian fairy tales the lot of it. You'd have to be pretty simple to believe that load of old toss. Serious, scholarly, Christians, like me, aren't fooled for one minute by all that fictional trivia. We turn to the bible to seek out the truth about Christmas, and the truth is that the omnipotent, omni-present, omniscient, Invisible Magic Friend became incarnate of a virgin, as foretold by the prophet 700 years before, was attended at birth by wise men following a moving star, in order to die on a cross and thus save us all from His wrath. I think you'll all agree it makes a lot more sense than a virgin riding a donkey. Talk about gullible!
Saturday, 20 December, 2008, 10:36 AMRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not an economist, but he is an archbishop and therefore the natural choice to turn to when seeking advice on fiscal policy. Unfortunately, the bearded, old, lefty marxist just doesn't appreciate the benefits of Keynesian economics. Was the bishop right to run in where economists fear to tread? Yes of course he was. Religion is about everything, including economics and materialism. I know we're always telling you that materialism is a bad thing, but not when you get it in a religion. And Christianity is the most materialistic of all religions and therefore the best. When the Invisible Magic Friend became briefly visible and was asked about tax policy he replied, "How should I know? I'm not an economist." As a Reverend Doctor let me nevertheless assure you that markets are a good and holy thing. When Luke and Matthew tell the touching story of Our Lord being born in a lowly stable, they were telling us all to go out there and shaft the consumer: mega-profits at all costs. It is right and proper that we should solve the debt crisis by borrowing more. So don't forget the true meaning of Christmas. Do your sacred duty and get out there and spend, spend, spend!