Rev Dr Colin Morris, a Methodist Minister and (coincidentally) former head of religious broadcasting and BBC controller in Northern Ireland
They're calling it the Final Push in Afghanistan. This is a very different war from the war in Iraq, but I'll treat them as being part of the same thing regardless. A very famous historian remarked that we see in the bible that there can be no final push to end history and banish evil from the world. So President Obama's final push to end history and banish evil from the world is doomed to failure. If he exorcises a demon from Afghanistan then seven more will simply take its place and so the history of invisible magic baddies will go on.
Has anyone mentioned that it's Advent? The true meaning of advent is that invisible magic baddies will continue to do evil in the world until the Invisible Magic Friend tells them to stop.
Saturday, 5 December, 2009, 03:13 PM - Not TFTDI understand that some vacancies may soon arise on your board of directors and would like to put myself forward for any of the positions that might become available.
I have no previous experience of banking, either retail or investment, so I think the post of either Chairman or Chief executive would be most appropriate. I will confess that I have done a little share trading and spread betting in the past. However, since I successfully managed to loose a significant portion of my money I believe this can be regarded as a qualification rather than an impediment. RBS has plenty of money anyway so this shouldn't be a problem.
Although I have run two successful businesses in the past, I would ask you not to hold this against me. I have worked for several companies that went bust and have seen at close quarters how to spend other peoples money in lavish and extravagant style. These are transferable skills that I believe will make me right at Home on the RBS board.
I have good spoken and written communication skills. Throughout my career I have convinced a great many people that I knew what I was talking about (including people who actually did know what they were talking about). I already know to use the word "capital" instead of "money", and "credit default swaps" instead of "recklessly gambling with other peoples savings". I am confident that I will be able to leverage these talents to the benefit of the RBS group and can, where necessary, obscure any information as needed.
As to remuneration, it is clear that bankers' salaries are not what they were. Any six figure sum would be appropriate. This can always be topped up with shares, bonuses, pension contributions, expenses, chauffeur driven cars, payments in kind and so forth - the usual items that appear as "miscellaneous" on the balance sheet. Talent like mine, unfortunately, does not come cheap.
I will be willing to consider one of your non-executive director positions. I appreciate that these only pay about £130K per annum, but they have the benefit of being part time and since bankers all sit on each others' boards would give me the opportunity to fill in doing similar jobs one or two days a month with other financial institutions.
It is rare that positions become available for which someone like myself is such a perfect match. I look forward to hearing from you and working with the RBS board in due course.
p.s. If all positions are taken, perhaps you could have a word with some of your colleagues at the (not Royal) Bank of Scotland who I believe are also struggling as part of Lloyds TSB Halifax Bank of Scotland. I don't quite have the distinguished record of Lord Simpson of Dunkeld, who has sat on such prestigious boards as Rover, Marconi and Bank of Scotland, but I will certainly try very hard to emulate his record. (To have presided over the collapse of so much of Britain's industrial and banking base really is the most rotten luck.)
The media frenzy over the 250th anniversary of Handel's death is now reaching fever pitch. It so dominates the front pages that there is scarcely another item of news for me to cover from a faith perspective.
Isn't singing just brilliant? Lots of people enjoy singing. Nothing raises peoples spirits more than a good sing-song, because singing is, first and foremost a spiritual activity. It's like football. Have I mentioned football lately? You will know of course that watching Wayne Rooney is also a tremendously spiritual activity. The camaraderie experienced by we down to earth, ordinary blokes on the terraces can only be compared to, say, Handel's Messiah.
It's because singing is so good at forming bonds between people that we use it in church. Singing builds a sense of community and a general emotional uplift that we can then exploit so that they'll believe anything we tell them about the Invisible Magic Friend.
So let's all join in, in that most famous of all Handel choruses: All we like sheep. (Please note, this invitation is not open to sheep haters.)
The Copenhagen summit starts soon. Of course, we Jews invented being environmental. Our Big Book of Magic Stuff is full of rules, clearly designed to reduce your carbon footprint. Who can forget the famous "Honour thy green and blue recycling bins." Most environmental of all though is the Sabbath. Our Big Book of Magic Stuff tells us not to work on that day and not to use our cars. I remember when Britain used to force people to do nothing one day a week. But unfortunately freedom of choice won in the end. Now look what you've got for not listening to the Big Book of Magic Stuff: global warming. You should return to doing what we religious leaders tell you in our wisdom. If only we could extend this so that no one does anything on any days of the week, the reduction in carbon emissions would be significant indeed.
Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 11:34 AM - ClemmiesAfter last month's rather poor showing, TFTD presenters seem to have been really pulling out all the stops this month. We had two 3.9s, with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner telling us how brilliant Jews were for having a charity day. Then there was Rev Canon Dr Giles Fraser on how East Berliners have squandered their new found freedom by not going to church enough (I really must get myself canonised, being just a Rev Dr now feels so lame).
However, these were really just warm up acts for the big hitters this month. With a very respectable 4.1, Dr Indarjit Singh was the first to tell us about the importance of Interfaith Week, where different religions would learn how to stop hating one another. With a rather under-appreciated 4.2, Tom Butler explained that the only possible solution to religious wars was to pray for God to sort it all out. Rhidian Brook earned himself a well deserved 4.3 for his astonishingly mean spirited tirade against lottery winners.
There can be no doubt who this month's winner is though. With a superb platitudinometer rating of 4.5, we have Professor Mona Siddiqui's assertion that some women do alright in Islam - so that's alright then. Hearty congratulations to Professor Siddiqui and all the Muslim women who don't live in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia...
Impressively Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...
Life's a bitch. Jesus said so, and even more significantly, so has President Obama. Jesus said it again. Soldiers in Afghanistan and their relatives certainly say so. Jesus said so again.
I'd just like to include a totally spurious reference to euthanasia at this point.
A novelist said that life's a bitch too. There's a hymn that says it. There's even a poem that says it.
So in conclusion, life's a bitch and that's why you need an Invisible Magic Friend to pray to.
Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow
Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 08:43 AM - SiddiquiRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Many Muslims will be returning from their pilgrimage to Mecca (which you're not allowed to visit) spiritually renewed. They will have heard the inspiring sounds of the call to prayer from the Kaba Mosque (which you're not allowed to hear). "The Invisible Magic Friend is Great and really needs you to come and worship Him!" It is a beautiful, unthreatening sound. That's why it comes as such a shock to find that the Swiss have voted to ban them. If only the Swiss were a bit more open minded, like the government of Saudi Arabia.
Islam and Christianity, of which I'm sure most of you are one or the other, have had their little friendly rivalries in the past, but on the whole they've mostly got on rather well. This minaret ban is a bit of a setback - the result of fear and stereotyping of those who are a different religion from you. As a member of a religion that is currently in the minority, I'd like to plead for a bit more religious toleration.
Tuesday, 1 December, 2009, 08:21 AM - BillingsRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
Should we lock up young offenders and throw away the key, or should we never lock them up at all? Obviously we need to consult my Big Book of Magic Stuff to find out which. Jesus, the visible bit of my Invisible Magic Friend, was a big fan of children at a time when no one else had really spotted they were around. This suggests that being nice to children is a good thing, something that I will bear in mind as I expound my thesis on the subject. I heard about a letter once from a youth's grandmother who extolled the benefits of him being locked up. "Best things that ever happened to him. He was a lazy, wild, no good little blighter when he went in there. They soon taught him a thing or two. Taught 'im a lesson that did."
As I think this anecdote clearly demonstrates, some young people find structure, discipline and purpose in their lives when they are locked up. Something that many of them previously lacked. So as the festive season approaches, let us all consider the true meaning of Christmas. As we celebrate the birth of the infant visible bit of my Invisible Magic Friend, I'd like to invite all Radio 4 listeners who would normally be mean, selfish and cruel to children, to please, please think of the children. Remember, locking one up this Christmas, could be the best thing you ever do.
Monday, 30 November, 2009, 08:40 AM - BellRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)
I had a really nice Holiday in Vietnam. I don't know anyone from Vietnam, don't know anyone who'd ever been to Vietnam so I decided to go there alone to see what it was like. I was soon approached by some charming young boys who really were very friendly indeed, despite them not having an Invisible Magic Friend. They all looked much younger than they claimed to be and seemed very keen to strike up a conversation with me. We talked in English which, it turns out, is of benefit in advancing them in their chosen careers. One asked me to sing to him, which I gladly did and he responded in kind by singing a beautiful song back to me.
I was so glad I had trusted these young boys. Without that trust across cultures and generations, I would have lost out on one of the most delightful experiences of my visit.
It reminds me of Advent, which for those of you who do not believe in the Christian Invisible Magic Friend, begins today. Let's not get carried away with all the little trinkets and games associated with the season. We mustn't forget the true meaning of Advent. The Invisible Magic Friend trusted us with his visible bit who, as soon as he was grown up enough and opened his mouth, we had tortured to death.
What with the Iraq war enquiry, and hospital enquiries and this, that and the other enquiries, everyone wants to hold someone to account. It's all very vulgar and democratic - self righteous victims or bereaved relatives demanding to know who is responsible. I certainly prefer the far more civilised approach of me telling you things and you just listening, with none of this irritating criticism.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged - by me that is, 'cos I'm God," said Jesus. You'd better be careful going around condemning someone as holy as Saint Tony of Bliar. You too could end up being condemned for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people that you killed in good faith.
We're starting Advent, where we Christians pulse with hope, palpitate with anticipation, throb with eagerness. We roll out stock phrases like feed the hungry, clothe the poor and sort the sheep from the goats. We look forward to the return of Jesus, who hasn't returned in any of the previous 2,000 Christmases, so there's a fair chance this year will be it. Isn't that something to look forward to? A whole four weeks of us telling you all about the true meaning of Christmas and its deep spiritual connection with the Iraq war enquiry.