Tomorrow there's going to be a big public sector strike.
This is what happens when people constantly struggle to work, work, work all the time. Why can't everyone just relax and be a vicar like me? We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", are always trying to earn more money to buy more things, hoping that more things will make us more happy. Life just becomes one never ending labour of trying to get more money to get more things. It's the (spit) secular way and as we all know, "secular" means "bad".
Without wanting to speak in clichés, we all want to work hard and play hard. We've been living beyond our means for too long now. We cannot pay ourselves more than we earn. It's time to tighten our belts, to face the harsh economic reality. There is no such thing as a free lunch. It's all swings and roundabouts. What goes around comes around. If we take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves.
As you all rush to the secular shops to buy more secular things for Christmas that nobody needs, let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is that we should all be properly gloomy and morose until we go to a nice midnight service at our little local church, or in my case, a very large cathedral, of which I am now a canon.
Aren't the unemployment figures just terrible! One million young people out of work. Tut, tut, tut. Now, just because you're unemployed, there's no need to go out rioting, although I'm sure we'll all understand if you do. In these difficult economic times, jobs come and go, they come and go.
Somebody ought to do something about this. As a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian, let me just assure you that young people need to feel wanted and appreciated. They need to feel loved, to feel like lovers, not like rivals. They need to feel productive and useful, do something important like being a theologian.
How do we sell the contradiction, of fat cats on huge bonuses that can't employ a young person, even on minimum wage. For the young unemployed, every day is like survival. They string along, they string along.
Gandhi, a nice, wise Hindu that everybody's heard of and likes, thought it would be wise to have some native industry and not just import everything. No wonder he is regarded as so wise. That way people will have jobs, and through having jobs will be able to worship the Invisible Magic Friend. Otherwise they'll be like a man without conviction. We can even make things in different colours: red, gold and green, red gold and green.
Hindus call this: karma karma karma karma, karma chameleon.
Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain Cambridge University (the Shaikh formerly known as Tim Winter)
Well, I don't really understand what's happening, but something is clearly happening. As someone who has no expertise whatsoever in economics, banking or financial trading, I think I'm the ideal person to come on to the BBC's flagship news programme and give you an uninterrupted three minutes, no questions asked lecture on the morality of these things I don't understand.
I don't understand government debt for example, but I do know that Greece has got far more of it than is good for it. This makes Greek government debt a bad thing. Italy also appears to have too much government debt. This makes Italian government debt a bad thing too.
We people of faith don't like to say we told you so, but if you'd all spent your time being hungry all the time, like a certain well known Prophet, and lived a more ascetic lifestyle, then we wouldn't be in this mess. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", have all gotten rather used to borrowing money to finance our increasingly lavish and decadent lifestyles, merrily frittering away money you don't have, until the bailiff comes knocking at your door. I take no pleasure at all in watching you suffer the consequences of your irresponsible and immoral lifestyle.
When the certain well known Prophet prayed to our version of the Invisible Magic Friend (a version with no visible bits whatsoever), he prayed to save us from debt. So it's not just Greek or Italian government debt that is a bad thing, all government debt is a bad thing, as is all personal debt. Everyone should pay back all their debts immediately, thus making the world a more stable, happier place.
Next time I'll be telling you all about something else that I don't understand.
OK, so a major European economy is about to go down the pan. What's the big deal? I mean, it's not as if it's going to push the world into recession, make millions of people unemployed, crash the financial system, and destroy investments and pensions, is it? Does it really matter if your bank goes insolvent tomorrow and you lose all your savings?
It's about time we let those who are too big to fail, fail. I mean look what happened when Lehman Brothers failed. It's not like the stock market crashed to half its value, and those forced to buy annuities ended up getting half the pension they expected. Even if it did, those pensioners are all rich and powerful and they deserve it.
Time and time again, big things fail and it doesn't really cause that much harm. Look at the Roman Empire, can you honestly, honestly sit there and tell me that any one was worse off because of the fall of the Roman Empire? See what I mean? Look at me, I'm a celebrity Christian writer and I'm doing OK.
This fetish for big economies, big banks and big ships like the Titanic, is something that we, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", seem to hold as an irrational belief. I can only conclude that you are all utterly delusional.
Which brings me to the Tower of Babel, which definitely existed. This is the story of how people worked together in harmony to do something constructive. Not being irrational or delusional myself, I am able to inform you that the Invisible Magic Friend intervened. "I'm not having this," he said. "That tower's nearly twenty stories tall. You'll be up here with me in the clouds soon. You've got no business with all this evil bigness, that's my job. I'm going to confuse and scatter you so that you'll mistrust each other and have frequent wars."
Now some people think this was a negative, petty, spiteful thing for the Invisible Magic Friend to do, but it's really all just part of the Invisible Magic Friend's 10,000 year plan which I'm not going to tell you about.
What we need are not things that are too big to fail but things that are too populist sounding and trite to fail.
It isn't easy being a priest. You can't just pick the nice bits from the Big Book of Magic Stuff. You'll doubtless recall all the stories of genocide, barbaric punishments, enslavement, religious absolutism and misogyny that were regularly read out in church when you were young.
Imagine my horror, yes Horror, when I was asked to read Luke chapter 6, blessed are the poor and woe to the rich. My heart sank as I realised that I would be forced, forced I tell you, to preach about precisely the issue I had resigned over.
I'd like to use the metaphor of tectonic plates to describe the predicament of Saint Paul's and the street protests. It lets me use phrases like "fault line", which conjures up images of unimaginable forces and sounds all sort of grand and sciency. It puts theology on a par with geology and makes it sound as if theology actually has something to contribute to the debate about human inequality. These are much more compelling images than one gets from words like "confused", "irrelevant" and "hypocritical" when one thinks of the wider Church of England's response to the protests.
I'm not against capitalism, at least not any more. Anti-capitalists are just that, they are "anti" without having an alternative. The Church isn't like that. Unlike anti-capitalists we are against vast inequality, against rampant materialism, against poverty and suffering. But we are not just against them, we are for whatever the opposite might be, without getting into any specific solutions to complex economic questions.
In a very real and definite sense, the Church believes that it would be nice if everything were better.
Great Uncle Dr Lord Indarjit Singh JP, CBE, Baron Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
Isn't the financial crisis just terrible? This is far and away the worst financial crisis for at least three years. But what can we, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", do about it?
Well you can all start being a lot less selfish for a start. It's selfishness and greed that has caused all of this, and not the fact that the Greek government consistently massaged its economic statistics to hide a huge, growing, government debt.
Capitalism relies on man exploiting man, whereas communism does it the other way around. Wise words indeed. Words that should be heeded and acted upon. If only you had listened to such words in the first place then you wouldn't have got us all into this mess.
Mr. Jesus, surname Christ, who was not the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend, told a story about a rich man and a needle. Jesus Christ was nearly as wise as a guru. Incidentally, there's a big Sikh festival coming up. Happy Guru Nanak's nearly birthday everyone! Guru Nanak gave a rich man a needle. In fact, all the great religions have rich men and needle stories. It's a mark of how truth permeates all great religions, and even not so great ones. Atheists don't seem to have any stories about needles, or even about sowing in general, which just goes to show how rubbish they are.
Anyway, back to you being selfish. What you need to do is be a bit more generous, particularly to people less fortunate than yourself. I cannot emphasise this enough. Do not, I repeat do not, start being more generous to people who are more fortunate than you. The wisdom of religion teaches us that it would be better to help those who are less fortunate than you. Helping people who are equally fortunate is optional.
You can start helping the less fortunate immediately. If you have several hundred billion Euros that you don't need, why not give them to Greece?
Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
Has anyone mentioned Christmas yet? There's only about eight weeks to go. On Christmas day a baby was born. Coincidentally, a baby was born yesterday too. A baby in the Philippines was precisely the 7 billionth person on the planet. That's just 12 years after the 6 billionth and 24 years after the 5 billionth.
At this point I'd just like to use some words like "geopolitical", "socio-economic" and "globalisation". Add in a pinch of "environmentally sustainable". These add a certain gravitas to what I'm saying and make it sound as if I have a vast in depth knowledge, on a wide range of subjects, commensurate with my Rev Dr Dr status, that I simply don't have time to explain to you on something as fleeting as a 3 minute radio slot.
Many of the figures in the Big Book of Magic Stuff were born, not just the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. When they were born, they became part of the population, and a jolly good thing too. You see if they hadn't been born then they wouldn't have been able to do all the things they did.
Yes there are all sorts of niggly little problems with having billions more people on the planet, but look on the bright side, there are also billions more people to figure out how to solve those problems too. Simple really when you think about it.
When Giles Fraser was installed as Canon Chancellor of Saint Paul's by a fully trained team of professional Canon Chancellor installers, we had a really good church service to celebrate.
Attending this heretical Protestant sect's cathedrals can be tremendous fun. In fact, attendance at Anglican Cathedrals keeps on going up. This is because more and more people are waking up on a Sunday morning and saying to themselves, what I really need this morning is a good Anglican service, and it's not at all because all the smaller parish churches are being forced to close due to dwindling congregations.
Now that Giles Fraser has resigned we're not having such a big party. Then again, there'll soon have to unplug Giles and install a new Canon Chancellor, so we can have a big party again over that.
Cathedrals are places where the Holy Spirit does his stuff. The Holy Spirit is the particularly invisible third of the Invisible Magic Friend. Although he does occasionally pop up as a dove or as a flame floating in mid air. These are the kind of details that lend such credibility to his existence.
There was also a visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Has anyone mentioned recently that he threw the money changers out of the temple? Well he did. The Vatican - you know the place stuffed with priceless treasures - has pointed out that capitalism doesn't seem to be working very well at the moment. I really don't think anyone would have spotted that, so thank goodness the Vatican is on the ball as always.
And now to leave you with one of those mysterious and seemingly meaningful statements that make it sound as if I've just told you something profound and wonderful.
"That is the tension that Christianity holds at its heart."
Aren't things just terrible at the moment? All this unemployment and the rising cost of living. Everything's just terrible.
But just cast your mind back to the good times. They were terrible too. It was just work, work, work all the time. Busy ordained Buddhists like me were just rushed off our feet. Everyone was so terribly materialistic. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", were constantly comparing ourselves with everyone else on the greasy pole, forever trying to outdo others. What you need (and I'll bet you never expected to hear this from a Buddhist) is a bit of meditation.
Me and the NHS have been busy trying to get people to slow down for years. I spend all my time rushing from one hospital to the next, desperately trying to get people to meditate or be mindful. It just never stops. When I'm not at a hospital I'll be at some doctor's surgery, or at a health centre. In between all that, there's Thought for the Day to squeeze in as well. I can't tell you what a relief it is that my Blackberry's gone down and I'm finally getting a bit of free time.
My advice to you is to meditate a bit, then quickly dash off for a walk in the park, look at the sky, watch the pretty birds, then quickly get back for some more meditation. Don't forget to get in at least half and hour of mindfulness before your next meditation session.
I'd love to help you out a bit more but you wouldn't believe the number of therapy sessions I've got lined up for today. The "slow down" business is really booming, even in these gloomy economic times.
And if you're unemployed? Well, just sort of enjoy the free time I suppose. Think of it as an opportunity to not be materialistic.
The youth unemployment figures today are going to be just terrible. They're going to be even worse than last month's youth unemployment figures. They were terrible too.
This is a terrible thing. To be young and unemployed is just terrible. Being constructive and useful is something that people like me take for granted, but just imagine how awful it must be to wake up every morning and actually realise that you had no useful purpose in life?
You may not believe this, but young people need to feel appreciated. They need to have ambition and a sense of direction in life. You should be at least 35 before you realise you're not going to satisfy any of those ambitions. It's a terrible waste to allow young people to be struck by this so early on. Somebody, somewhere, ought to think up a clever solution to this terrible problem.
Faced with this terrible problem, this is where Christianity is so terribly, terribly relevant. In the early days of Christianity there was a great deal of slavery. Slaves may have had very few rights but at least they didn't suffer the misery of youth unemployment. Christianity also invented the idea of human dignity. Before that, no one had ever had any human dignity and since then, everyone has had human dignity, even the unemployed youth.
Isn't it all just so terrible?