Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow  
Wednesday, 9 December, 2009, 08:32 AM - Environment, Siddiqui
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The Copenhagen Summit is a big deal. I mean it's really big. You just won't believe how mind bogglingly, humungously, stupefyingly big it is. In terms of bigness, it's right up there with the Apollo 8 pictures of Earthrise over the moon. It's at times like these, confronted by something really, really, really BIG, when humanity faces a common threat, when we are drawn together by a common goal, that some of us remain sceptical and others just can't be bothered.

When the Invisible Magic Friend was looking for someone to put in charge of creation, he first asked the mountains. Due to their lack of neurons and generally high degree of being inanimate, they were rather slow to respond, but mankind jumped up and down with its collective hand in the air shouting "Me, me, Me, ME, ME!" So the Invisible Magic Friend said, "Alright, you can be in charge of the universe then, but don't trash it." As Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow, let me just assure you that this is why we must pray to the Invisible Magic Friend to make our leaders agree in Copenhagen, because we were second choice after some lumps of rock to look after the planet.

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The Most Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Archbishop of York, Dr. John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu 
Tuesday, 8 December, 2009, 05:58 PM - Not TFTD
I wish to speak to you today in my capacity as a great moral leader of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am well known for my forthright and outspoken support for good causes. I have joined with the workers of Corus Steelworks to say that I really, really wish they weren't loosing their jobs. In another example of outstanding moral leadership, I have expressed my delight that Kit-Kats are going Fairtrade. Along with my esteemed colleague, the Archbishop of Canterbury, I have offered moral leadership on the issue of swine flu. And in my capacity as a member of the House of Lords, I have raised important moral concerns about the issue of sheep tagging.

I think all of these issues illustrate the importance of the Church today in providing moral leadership in our country and guaranteeing that all people have access to their universal, God given, human rights.

It is with this same brave, fearless regard for what it is right that I have been asked to speak out on the issue of homosexual oppression in Uganda, where already draconian laws are being strengthened to include the death penalty, where those who fail to inform on homosexuals, will themselves be sent to prison. When prejudice and injustice on this scale rears its ugly head, great moral leaders have a duty to make their views knows. So it is with great pride that I say to you mmmnnn... fff... pfff... nnnnn. Yes that's right, once again, the superior morality of the Church of England is heard like a clarion call, instructing the faithful that "...the train now standing at platform 13..." We urge all fair minded citizens to join us, shining a beacon of hope in the darkness of despair. Let us be united in our demand for what is right. I say to the leadership of Uganda, "wooooossssshhhhhhh . . . . . . .".

Thank goodness for the clear and unambiguous moral leadership of archbishops like me.
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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife  
Tuesday, 8 December, 2009, 08:27 AM - Atkins
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Oscar Wilde, whose works I know from my excellent classical education, quoted from the psalms and if it's good enough for Oscar Wilde (a well known gay author which goes to show how liberal and tolerant I am) then it's certainly good enough for you.

Depression is often related to our relationships and our material well being. Those of us in useful, productive employment, like me, find ourselves getting up in the middle of the night, so that those of you who don't can lie in bed all day feeling lonely. Far be it from me to minimise the seriousness of depression, or to glibly dismiss its consequences, but of lot of depression is really something else.

When a doctor told me I was depressed, he was of course wrong. I was heart broken at my daughter's illness and that's not the same thing at all. People often overlook the good side of depression. What could be better than a good bout of mourning after a bereavement, or a healthy bit of despair at the state of the world?

Has anyone mentioned that it's Advent yet? The true meaning of Advent is about being thoroughly miserable for a month. All you people putting up you Christmas decorations now have got it all wrong. You're not supposed to be cheerful yet. It's only at the end, when the baby Jesus arrives that you're supposed to be happy.


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Rev Dr Colin Morris, a Methodist Minister and (coincidentally) former head of religious broadcasting and BBC controller in Northern Ireland 
Monday, 7 December, 2009, 09:04 AM - War, Morris, Afghanistan
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

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.

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Dear Royal Bank of Scotland 
Saturday, 5 December, 2009, 03:13 PM - Not TFTD
I 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.

Yours sincerely

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.)
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The Reverend Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest 
Saturday, 5 December, 2009, 08:43 AM - Sport, Marshall
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

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.)


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The Chief Rabbit, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate  
Friday, 4 December, 2009, 08:21 AM - Environment, Sacks
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

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.

8 comments ( 1128 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 245 )

Clemmie time! 
Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 11:34 AM - Clemmies
After 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...

6 comments ( 1129 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 247 )

Impressively Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord...  
Thursday, 3 December, 2009, 07:56 AM - Courage, hope, perseverance etc., Harries, Afghanistan
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

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.

8 comments ( 1034 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 308 )

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 - Siddiqui
Rating 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.

8 comments ( 1016 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 239 )

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