Canon Angela Tilby, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford  
Tuesday, 20 December, 2011, 08:25 AM - Art, Gibberish, Tilby
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

I'm delighted that Tracey Emin has been appointed professor of drawing at the RA. Tracey was "thrilled". I'm not thrilled, but I am delighted.

In order to draw things you have to look at them. David Hockney agrees with me. "In order to draw things you have to look at them," he said.

While you are looking at something you use a pencil to sketch lines on paper that creates a representation of the thing you are looking at. That is how to do drawing. Drawing isn't just an arty thing. Architects, engineers and anatomists draw things too. So drawing is important. Although it has to be said that architects and engineers tend not to draw things they are looking at, so Hockney and me were probably lying when we said you had to look at things in order to draw them.

We now come to the important question: are you allowed to draw the Invisible Magic Friend? Fortunately, skilled theologians have investigated this difficult subject, and the answer is, yes, you are. Other religions say you're not, but they're wrong. The reason you are is that there was a visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend. Nobody drew him at the time, so we don't know what he looked like, but we know he was tall, white, with nicely shampooed hair and had blue eyes, because that's the way everyone imagines he must have looked. You can also draw the other bits of the Invisible Magic Friend even though he's hardly ever been visible except as the occasional burning bush. This was recognisable as the invisible Magic Friend because it was a talking burning bush.

This means that pictures of the baby Jesus on Christmas Cards are theologically orthodox and are therefore permitted.

We look at the world with our eyes. We also use our hands. Other bits of the body come in useful too.

A famous hermit says we must be like angels, who even though they don't have any bits of the body, still look at things.

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Canon Angela Tilby, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford 
Tuesday, 13 December, 2011, 08:31 AM - Tilby
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Antonio Horta-Osorio could soon be back at work. Hurrah! I hear you all shout. He, along with other alpha males and females, such as myself, always run out of steam in the end.

I used to be just like him, never delegating any of my preaching to anyone else, always wanting to be top priest, forever afraid that if I stopped priesting for a second, some ambitious youngster would snatch the title from me. The human body simply isn't designed for such constant stress.

I thought I could handle it. I thought nothing could defeat me. Then came A Nightmare in Waitrose, where a power cut plunged the store into emergency lighting. I immediately wanted to run to the bedding section and hide beneath the sheets but was forced to mingle instead with Marks & Spencer's customers who were in the midst of a similar terror. The trauma of that day, the flashbacks, haunt me still. I finally realised that I was not super vicar after all.

This is why Judaism is so much better than Christianity. They have definite rules about observing the Sabbath, and appropriate punishments, such as death, for those who don't obey. The Sabbath is a memorial to the infinitely powerful Invisible Magic Friend, who, shagged out after a hard six days creating, decided to have a bit of a rest. So having the odd power nap is OK, it says so in a bit of scripture somewhere. I know this because it says everything in a bit of scripture somewhere.

The Invisible Magic Friend is not some ultra alpha male that you all have to agree with and worship at ever opportunity. He doesn't micro-manage the whole of creation. Oh no, wait, he does.

When I find myself priesting away again at all hours, thinking once again that I'm the best priest ever, I think it's time to look at myself more humbly. There's nothing wrong with just being one of the best priests ever.

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Canon Angela Tilby, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford 
Tuesday, 29 November, 2011, 08:27 AM - Economics, Materialism, Secularism, Tilby
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

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.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge 
Tuesday, 13 September, 2011, 08:16 AM - Materialism, Tilby
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

The vicars' report has recommended splitting retail from investment banks and raising the level of capital they maintain.

This brings me neatly onto why the Chinese government is so keen on Protestantism. China, the up and coming place to be in the modern world, wants to encourage thrift, hard work and the making of as many material goods as possible that people shouldn't want. That's why China, a fine upstanding, hard working, moral country favours Protestantism.

The West, a lazy, decadent, materialistic society, has turned its back on Protestantism. You only have to look at the very worst debt laden countries: Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece - not a Protestant country among them. We, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", have abandoned the sensible path of prudence and frugality, we have lusted after immediate material gratification, purchasing all those clever gadgets manufactured by those noble, industrious, Protestant Chinese.

We won't see a return to the glory days of the West until we return to the one true faith: Protestantism, whether it be in the form of Anglicanism, Lutherism, Calvinism, Baptist, Anabaptist, Methodist - all of which are the one true faith.

Protestantism, the only belief in an Invisible Magic Friend endorsed by the Chinese government.

And that's why the vicars' report is so important.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge 
Tuesday, 6 September, 2011, 08:21 AM - Tilby
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

British security services aided in the rendition and torture of one of the Libyan rebels, despite always denying any such involvement. That MI5 should be so duplicitous comes as a great shock.

This damages us politically, but also because it challenges our values. Baroness Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, stated that torture was against the law, but was also immoral and wrong. She maintained this even when it was suggested that torture might save lives.

Many of us claim to support free speech, human rights and the rule of law, but when our own self interests, or our lives are under threat, we, and by "we" I do of course mean "you", are quick to make exceptions.

It isn't easy being a Christian you know, which I expect is why so many less dedicated people give it up. For example, Christians like me must follow Jesus' words, that anyone who saves their life will lose it, but anyone who loses it will gain it, but only if they lose it while gaining it for him, i.e. Jesus. If they lose it for any other reason, i.e. other than Jesus, then they've lost it and they don't get to gain it after all. Saving it for him, i.e. Jesus, doesn't count as saving it and you still lose it, even though you saved it for him, i.e. Jesus, and not for yourself.

So, as you can see, Jesus was all in favour of standing by our values.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge 
Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 08:19 AM - Environment, Tilby
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Pay no attention to that man yesterday who said you were never closer to the Invisible Magic Friend than when you are with a beggar. In fact you are never closer to the Invisible Magic Friend than when you are in the countryside, with or without beggars. The countryside is where people are the most spiritual, which makes you wonder why we bother having churches.

There's a big fuss just now about building more electricity pylons in the countryside. The countryside isn't really the countryside, it's more a sort of agricultural industrial landscape. Hedged fields and thatched cottages are not what nature originally intended. They were created by humans and must be tended by humans in our efforts to tame nature and feed ourselves.

I may not be a fully paid up member of the Pylon Appreciation Society, but I like pylons: great big brooding metal giants bringing heat and light into our homes. Many of you may even by listening to Thought For The Day thanks to the power provided by a nearby pylon, and if that isn't an argument in their favour then I don't know what is.

I'd just like to finish an otherwise mostly sensible piece by talking about "communion", the City of the Invisible Magic Friend and the Garden of Eden.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge  
Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 08:11 AM - Money, Tilby
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

"This call may be recorded for training purposes." Somewhere out there, there could be hundreds of recordings of me screaming down the phone at the call centre operator. Even now, trainees might be sniggering at the mad vicar from Cambridge.

Many of us are beginning to suspect that the banks aren't really on our side. OK, the banks need to make a profit, they're businesses after all, but there used to be a certain level of trust in our banks. Looking after people's money was a serious business. The bank manager was a respectable member of the local community, almost as respectable as the vicar.

Trust in the banks can't be restored by changing the rules. Bankers are cunning and are experts at getting round the rules. What we need is more morality in banking. The Big Book of Magic Stuff has the perfect prescription for morality in banking. By banning banking completely, the Big Book of Magic Stuff ensures that no bankers will ever by tempted to wander into the vault and award themselves a few million pounds in bonuses.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge  
Thursday, 5 May, 2011, 08:48 AM - Tilby
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Hamas and Fatah have decided to be friends again. This seems to be inspired by the Arab Spring, where democracy and open government are breaking out all over the Arab world, except in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and everywhere else except Tunisia and Egypt, and even there we aren't sure.

This could be the start of a comprehensive Middle East peace solution, even though the Israeli Prime Minister has condemned the move as a victory for terrorism. It illustrates that to attain peace you need people who want peace and people who don't. The people who want peace keep failing to have peace, but it's the people who don't want peace who eventually deliver peace by changing their minds and wanting some peace.

This is what happened in Northern Ireland and shows why we should ignore people who say, "why can't we all just get along?" When people who really hate each other make peace like that, it gives us something that we theologians refer to as "hope."

As well as the people who don't want peace making peace, we also get people who want peace asking for peace. Daniel Barenboim makes peace by playing Mozart. Mozart's music is divine and I leave it to you to decide whether the word "divine" is meant in a literal or metaphorical sense, or whether I'm just being deliberately ambiguous so that I can squeeze the Invisible Magic Friend in at the end.

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge  
Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 08:29 AM - Gibberish, Tilby
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Yesterday was the funeral of the Indian holy man Sathya Sai Baba. We know he was a holy man because he wore orange, the colour of holiness and he could conjure up Rolex watches, which I think you'll agree, could only be done if he was particularly holy. As if this evidence weren't enough, there were allegations of sexual abuse and if that doesn't make him holy then I don't know what does.

Some think he was a god, which is obviously wrong because there's only one Invisible Magic Friend. He was surrounded by imagery from Hinduism, Islam and Christianity - a "let's not be making any enemies here" sort of religion.

One woman said he had changed her life. He had given her life meaning. Without him and his Rolex watches, life just seemed so pointless. She needed someone to idolise, to revere, to look up to, many people did, and Sathya Sai Baba was happy to oblige.

Some people need that. It's called being "spiritual". They long for a living god who can make Rolex watches appear. Why it is that some seek out the mysterious is a mystery.

And now to end on one of those phrases that at first leaves one scratching one's head, but invites speculation as to its layers of hidden meaning, evoking wisdom that inspires on so many levels, whose profundity is so cleverly disguised that only the truly intelligent and enlightened will grasp its depth.

"The death of the guru is potentially the growth of the disciple."

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Rev Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Bene't's Church, Cambridge  
Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 08:34 AM - Life after death, Tilby
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Isn't the way old people are treated by the NHS just appalling? The Health Service Ombudsman thinks so. So does the Royal College of Nursing. Student nurses are reminded during their training that people are people and need to be treated like people, especially old people.

We all feel a basic revulsion at old people. I know I do, so you must too. Even at 61, I can hardly bear to look at them. That's why most societies have special rules to remind us that old people are people and should be treated as people. We just hand them over to overworked underpaid nurses who can't be bothered to treat old people as people.

Part of the reason we've become less civilised and don't treat people as people any more, is that we don't prepare for death properly, or "praeparatio mortius" as it's more properly known. Everything is more properly known in Latin, for as soon as you know the Latin term for anything, people recognise that you're clearly an expert. Student nurses don't spend enough time thinking about death. People have to learn to face up to death, to confront it realistically, like we Christians do, by getting ready to spend eternity in happiness in the invisible magic afterlife.

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