Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Into the ruck

Glad to see the ridiculous offence-taking by some was ignored by the SRU when they played The Hokey Cokey over the PA system at Murrayfield at half time during the Magners League match between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Sadly Glasgow got a doing and went down 39-6. Hey ho.

My brother-in-law (a thoughtful man with no particular axe to grind) and I had a chat about the ethnic mix of Scottish rugby. It was noteworthy that in both teams there were a couple of players with Italian surnames as would reflect Italian immigration to Scotland in the last century and the current demographic of Scotland. It's taken a couple of generations but no-one thinks twice about a de Luca or a de Rollo. My lads play cricket, hockey and rugby at very junior levels and whilst there are plenty of Lucas, Antonios and Marcos at each, it is only in the cricket that one gets more than the odd Uweis or Farhaz.

I suspect integration will only have taken place at any meaningful level when tweed- and Barbour-clad men with thinning hair are shouting "Get right into him, Hussein" at Murrayfield and Old Anniesland.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'The Atheist Supremacist's Song'

Reproduced with permission from Robin Edgar's blog (for which many thanks). The original is HERE (and has the relevant links)

aka 'I Am The Very Model Of An Atheist Supremacist'

I am the very model of an Atheist Supremacist
I'm an Intellectual, Evangelical, Godless Evolutionist
I know the crimes of Christians, and I quote their fights historical
From Jerusalem to Ireland, in order categorical

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters biological
I understand equivocation, both scientific and theological
About the "Holey Bible" I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many fearful facts about Christians and the Jews

With many fearful facts about Christians and the Jews
With many fearful facts about Christians and the Jews
With many fearful facts about Christians and those darn Jews

I'm very good at bigotry and anti-religious insults
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
In short, in matters biological, theological, and religious
I am the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

In short, in matters biological, theological, and religious
He is the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

I know God's mythic history, from Osiris to the (Day of Yule)
I answer to my critics, I've a petty taste for ridicule
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus
In comics I will fight those other gods who are so fabulous

I can't tell undoubting Muslims from Bahá'ís or Zoroastrians
But know the croaking chorus from those corpse-cold Unitarians
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's Rapical
And whistle at the "fairy tales" of infernal nonsense Biblical

And whistle at the "fairy tales" of infernal nonsense Biblical
And whistle at the "fairy tales" of infernal nonsense Biblical
And whistle at the "fairy tales" of infernal nonsense oh so Biblical

Then I can write a bashing book of Biblical enormity
And tell you ev'ry detail of Creationism's deformity
In short, in matters biological, Biblical, and religious
I am the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

In short, in matters biological, Biblical, and religious
He is the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

In fact, when I know what is meant by "Babylon" and "churlish"
When I can tell at sight a Mormon from a Whirling Dervish
When such affairs as prayers and "crackers" I'm more wary at
And when I know precisely what is meant by "Eat your hat"

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern funnery
When I know more of tactlessness than a novice in a nunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of fundamental strategy
You'll say a better atheist had never spat at G

You'll say a better atheist had never spat at G
You'll say a better atheist had never spat at G
You'll say a better atheist had never ever spat at G

For my religious knowledge, though it's narrowy and shallowy
Has only been brought down to the early Nineteenth century
But still, in matters theological, minimal, and religious
I am the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

But still, in matters theological, minimal, and religious
He is the very model of an Atheist Supremacist

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Monday, December 29, 2008

The First Minister should be worried.

We went to see Mother Bruce, this year's panto at The Tron Theatre in Glasgow. The pantomime villain was a long-winded nasty piece of work called Alexander Salamander.

"Where are those plans for independence?"

"They're BEHIND YOU!"

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Laughing in the face of death.

It's nice to know that one can be funny and make a serious point about why we should resist moves to legalise euthanasia. David Mitchell does just that:

Legalising the right to die would weaken, in some people, the stubborn will to survive which is the cornerstone of our nature. Many would be seduced into finishing life in good order, clearing their desks. Millions of pensioners already dutifully sell their houses, move into care homes and take out insurance policies to pay for funeral expenses: they don't want to be a bother or a financial drain. It's not going to take much to make some of them give everything up - give up - just to be selfless and tidy. Only the selfish and messy will make old bones.

Well I'm selfish and messy. I never know when to leave a party. I make lists but I ignore them. I pack at the last minute using a stuffing motion that leaves trousers so wrinkled that when I put them on they don't fall below my knees for several hours. I have no intention of taking out a policy to cover my funeral expenses: my dead body is someone else's problem and my death will be my final and grandest act of littering. Someone had better clear me up or I'll spread disease.

Maybe when I come to die, I'll be desperate for it and have to go to Switzerland - although I might choose the Hilarias clinic where they dress you as a spotted dick and drown you in custard. But I hope not.

Read the rest at HERE

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

God bless us every one!

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, p12

God bless us, every one!

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"I behold a new and wondrous mystery!

My ears resound to the shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!

The angels sing!
The archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The cherubim resound their joyful praise!
The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein... on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy!

Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!

Ask not how this is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed He had the powers He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.

Today He Who Is, is born ! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man-while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His...

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven; Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy; Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin...

Infants, that they may adore Him who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise; Children, to the Child who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod; Men, to Him who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd who was laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek;
Servants, to Him who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom (Philippians 2:7);
Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity;
Publicans, to Him who from among them named a chosen evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of the pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!
For this is all my hope!

This is my life!
This is my salvation!
This is my pipe, my harp!

And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds, sing:

"Glory to God in the Highest! and on earth peace to men of good will! "

- Sermon on The Nativity, St John Chrysostom

A very Happy Christmas to you, whoever you are, wherever you are. God bless you.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Here is the news....

[BONG!] Pope in shock declaration of Catholic teaching.

And finally, disturbing evidence of intra-forest ursoid toiletting activity.

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More punters for Fr Ray

I'm sure Fr Ray would be more than happy to take in the poor souls who can't attend their usual Midnight Service at St Peter's Church in Brighton.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welsh Grand Slams and Papal Health

I'm not in this year's Christmas BMJ (though I did have a piece published in last year's). This year's makes worrying reading for loyal Catholics. There is a study that looks at an urban myth:

In recent times, an intriguing urban legend has arisen in Wales: "every time Wales win the rugby grand slam, a Pope dies, except for 1978 when Wales were really good, and two Popes died"


Objective: To explore the perceived wisdom that papal mortality is related to the success of the Welsh rugby union team.

Design Retrospective observational study of historical Vatican and sporting data.

Main outcome measure: Papal deaths between 1883 and the present day.

Results: There is no evidence of a link between papal deaths and any home nation grand slams (when one nation succeeds in beating all other competing teams in every match). There was, however, weak statistical evidence to support an association between Welsh performance and the number of papal deaths.

Conclusion: Given the dominant Welsh performances of 2008, the Vatican medical team should take special care of the pontiff this Christmas.

Only a few more days to get through, Your Holiness. Wrap up warm.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

That's what it's all about - oi!

"You put your left arm in...."

So now the Hokey Cokey is a hate crime for crying out loud. Moreover, it’s a hate crime directed at me!

The Hokey Cokey is an old novelty song that has been sung in music halls, at children's parties and at sherry-fuelled family gatherings for many years
But according to the Catholic Church and some Scottish politicians, singing the popular tune that begins with the words "You put your right hand in, your right hand out," may constitute an act of religious hatred.
A spokesman for the leader of the church in Scotland said the song had disturbing origins.
Critics claim that Puritans composed the song in the 18th century in an attempt to mock the actions and language of priests leading the Latin mass.
Now politicians have urged police to arrest anyone using the song to "taunt" Catholics under legislation designed to prevent incitement to religious hatred.

The Tims who take umbrage at the Hokey Cokey might have more credibilty if they attended the chapel with a bit more consistency rather than taking offence in this manner. Would St John Ogilvie be outraged, I wonder? Unlikely.

For crying out loud, we’re not Muslims.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008


Confession heals; confession grants pardon of sins. Never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.
-St. Isidore of Seville (c 560—636)

Go. Today.

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Please pray for a friend who has had an awful year: a nervous breakdown - severely depressed and paralysed by it - now out of that. The company he works for has suffered because of the economic downturn and now he's out of a job. He's really positive and already applying for jobs. A better man than I would be in the same circumstances.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #8

Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.

Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 8

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Atheist Cliches #2: Killer religions

"Just think of all those death in the name of religion" says the man in the corduroy jacket as he knocks back another glass of Chilean Merlot to the thoughtful nods of the assembled bien pensent diners.....

China (PRC) 1949-87 .......... 76.702 million
U.S.S.R. 1917-87 ............. 61.911 million
China (Mao Soviets) 1923-48 ... 3.468 million
Cambodia 1975-79 .............. 2.035 million
Poland 1945-48 ................ 1.585 million
Yugoslavia (Tito) 1944-87 ..... 1.072 million

TOTAL.........................146.773 Million deaths

Impressive for such a benign credo, no? The fact is that whenever a regime declares itself officially atheist - see above - there follows a huge death toll. It may not be a causative relationship but by golly the association is a strong one. Ah, say the blogosphere atheists - they're not real atheists, you know, the good, nice, cuddly atheists, the kind you meet at middle class dinner parties. Oh no.

This is a No True Scotsman Argument (and Christians are just as guilty of it as yer atheist blogging rentagob). But the fact is that Christianity if it is to follow its Master, is not a religion of the sword. It is religion that will take up the sword in its defence and against barbarism. Atheism is a different kettle of fish. Given the chance Catholic priests and the faithful will be killed and persucuted, because they are faithful (Spain, Poland, Russia, China) as will Buddhist monks (Cambodia, China).

Atheism puts no brakes, no 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' on its adherents. Is it any wonder they then industrialise their killing?

In truth, the killings that took place in atheist regimes probably tell us nothing about atheism, any more than the 30 Years War tells us about the tenets of Christianity. Both tell us about how humanity is a fallen thing. Remember that thing called Original Sin? But then, yer average bien pensant atheist will fight shy of that one at a dinner party, despite the evidence of it all around one.


Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #7

Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God's judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 7

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Veni Redemptor Gentium

1. Veni, Redemptor gentium;
Ostende partum virginis;
Miretur omne saeculum.
Talis decet partus Deo.

2. Non ex virili semine,
Sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei tactum est caro,
Fructusque ventris floruit.

3. Alvus tumescit virginis.
Claustrum pudoris permanet;
Vexilla virtutum micant,
Versatur in templo Deus.

4. Procedit e thalamo suo,
Pudoris aulo regia,
Geminae gigans substantiae
Alacris ut currat viam.

5. Egressus eius a Patre,
Regressus eius ad Patrem ;
Excursus usque ad inferos
Recursus ad sedem Dei.

6. Aequalis aeterno Patri,
Carnis tropaeo accingere,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

7. Praesepe iam fulget tuum,
Lumenque nox spirat novum,
Quad nulla nox interpolet
Fideque iugi luceat.

8. Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de virgine,
Cum Patre et saneto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent reading: The Imitation of Christ #6

True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man.
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 6

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Present Ideas - Angry Mob

Perfect for young boys with a sense of indignation. The Angry Mob Play Set.

Add some dramatic tension to your playtime with the Angry Mob Play Set. Each set includes nine 2" to 3" tall, hard vinyl villagers wielding a variety of weapons for them to wave menacingly at the object of their disdain. Great for intimidating your action figures and teaching children the concept of mob rule.

Only $15.95.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Atheist Cliches #1: Sky Fairies

The Ricky Gervais stuff has made me think about the kind of thing one puts with day in, day out. Snide references by celebs and comedians. Asides from colleagues and bien pensent commentators. Comments by the likes of Nick Gascoine at Holy Smoke.

The people who use this term and others like (Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc) are lazy people, lazy thinkers.

What do you mean sky fairy? Who do you know who beleives in sky fairies? Give me a strict definiton of a sky fairy? Is there any reference to sky fairies in orthodox Christian theology? In The Catechism? In the Creeds?

Or are you just being insulting and lazy?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Sickest Christmas Present. Ever.

What do you get the modern, progressive woman who has everything? How about a voucher she can trade in for an abortion?

A chain of birth control clinics in the U.S. has outraged pro-life campaigners by offering Christmas gift vouchers to pay for abortions.
Planned Parenthood - which operates almost 800 health centres - says it started the scheme in response to the credit crunch.
The gift cards, which start at £15, can be used to pay for any of the 'services' or 'birth control methods' offered at the chain's 100 Indiana branches but Katie Walker of the anti-abortion American Life League said the scheme was 'perverting the meaning of Christmas'.

Well, I suppose it could be argued Planned Parenthood are just part of the rich tapestry of the Christmas Story. They play the part of King Herod.

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Ah, yes, the Religion of Peace™

Season of goodwill and all that:

Dozens of Asian inmates destroyed workshops at a young offender institution after running riot during Eid celebrations.

Up to 80 detainees at Aylesbury YOI, including a large group of Asians, armed themselves with hammers, knives, saws and other tools as they kept prison officers at bay for six hours during the major disturbance.

Makes sense, of course. It must be all that rage about Kashmir. Or Palestine. Or Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Or somewhere.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #5

Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as learned and profound ones. We ought not to be swayed by the authority of the writer, whether he be a great literary light or an insignificant person, but by the love of simple truth. We ought not to ask who is speaking, but mark what is said. Men pass away, but the truth of the Lord remains forever. God speaks to us in many ways without regard for persons.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 5

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Vacuity of the Celebrity Atheist

I'm fed up of atheists. They are exceedingly smug (close your eyes; bring to mind Marcus Brigstocke and Dicky Dawkins; try not to vomit). If Ricky Gervais is anything to go by in this article in The Telegraph is anything to go by, they are exceptionally lazy thinkers. But then again, why should one expect a comedian to offer any insights into the meaning of life? They are paid to make us laugh. It is a relatively recent phenomenon to ask comedians or popular musicians for their views on the great issues of our times. Does anyone recall Arthur Askey being asked his views on the Trinity or the Hypostatic Union? I may be ill informed but did Glenn Miller ever volunteer his views on Third World poverty (or whatever it was called in the 1940s)? Still, then again, Richard Dawkins' area of expertise is the pecking order of chickens yet he feels this gives him all the authority he needs to hold forth on Almighty God.

When Ricky Gervais was a child, he thought Jesus was fantastic. "I loved him because he was kind and strong," he tells me, shortly before taking the stage at a secret warm-up gig ahead of his first major London appearances this year. "He fought for the underdog. He had integrity and charisma."[He fought for the underdog? Well an interesting take, I suppose. He did die for us all and sought out the Samaritan woman and the prostitute but the picture is a little more nuanced and cosmic but we'll let that pass]

I brace myself for a punch-line, but he's in earnest. "From the age of three to eight I thought Jesus was amazing," he says. [Good for you, Ricky]

Then came the moment of apostasy. He was drawing a Bible picture one day when his older brother, Bob, casually asked him why he believed in God. "My mother went, 'Bob!' And I knew. I knew that she was hiding something that he wanted to tell me. I thought about it for an hour and that was it. I didn't believe any more." [Is
that it? You did no more thinking or reflection. You didn't seek out the scriptures or the writings of the great thinkers of the spiritual life? Augustine? Aquinas? Teresa of Avila? No you took your brother's word and that was it. How shallow is this stuff?]

Gervais, now one of our biggest comedy stars, holds fast to the revelation of that hour. [Big comedy star. Must therefore have an authoritative line on philosophy and theology - no?] He has often brought a smirking incredulity [smirking incrdeulity, eh? Who'd have thought? How endearing] to the subject of religion, not least in his debut stand-up show Animals (2003), in which he raided the Bible for implausibilities ("He created the heaven and the earth - in the dark! Amazing!") [Yeah, Ricky, in the dark. Durrrrr. Is that as edgy as it gets or is there more?]. Next year, he will embark on a new solo tour entitled Science - "an exploration of the rational and non-rational". Four years in the writing, it will be, he hopes, his "stand-up masterpiece".[I won't hold my breath on what I've heard so far, but do go on. No, really. I'm fascinated]

You could call him the world's most prominent atheist comic, although there's a fair bit of competition. Billy Connolly has long since found laughs in religion ("I used to be a Catholic before I paid the fine and got out")[Ho.Ho.Ho.], and Eddie Izzard, who has honed the art of Bible-bashing down the years, pushes the boat out in his latest West End excursion, Stripped. [A shame because he's so surreally funny otherwise. Plus he's started dressing as a man again. Most of the time]

"I've come to the conclusion that there isn't a God," [Really? Do expand. Please show us your reasoning] he says at the start of the show. "It's randomness and it's up to us. We've got to go out and think of stuff."[Randomness. Hmmmm. Well it's certainly part of what makes up the Universe - brownian motion, for instance, but there is some order to Creation, isn't there? Or can you just not see it. Or you don't want to see it because it might unsettle your worldview]

They're hardly the earliest pioneers in the field. Monty Python caused the believer-baiting stir of the Seventies with The Life of Brian, and as Gervais points out, "Dave Allen used to do things that could be classed as outrageously heretical." [So nothing new to see here then.]

But they are at the vanguard of a movement that has gained definition and momentum over this past decade. If you want proof, look no further than Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People: A Rational Celebration of Christmas, a trio of comedy galas planned for the run-up to Christmas.[Can't quite give up Christmas, though,eh? Still need that security blanket against the chill winds of godless rationality?]

Organised by Gervais's touring sidekick Robin Ince, the line-up includes both men, along with Chris Addison, Phill Jupitus, Stewart Lee, Dara O'Briain and Mark Thomas. The bill is bolstered by leading lights from the world of science - including arch atheist Richard Dawkins - and music from, among others, Jarvis Cocker. [Jeepers! The commanding heights of the intellectual world, then]

"I want these evenings to be like fractured versions of the Royal Institution Christmas lectures," says Ince, "fun, entertaining and informative." [Well informative only in the sense of giving an insight into the bigotry of the proselytising atheist mind]

His motivation is as benign as it is pro-rationalist.[Really? And there was me thinking the Catholic Church has been on about fides et ratio for centuries. I didn't think you guys had the copyright on it. Silly old me] "I wanted to do events around Christmas for people who don't have any belief, to show that they're not bitter, Scrooge-like characters. Everyone is going to be approaching the evening from a passionate scientific perspective rather than from a bashing-the-Bible slant." [Yeah. Right. Whatever.]

There will even be carol-singing, he promises. "Who doesn't like singing a carol? I mean, if you sing Robbie Williams's Angels you don't have to believe in angels, do you? Most singers sing lots of songs that have no truth in them whatsoever." It's that kind of casually derogatory remark that may do much to stir the antipathy of those with religious beliefs. [Casually derogatory? Do atheists go in for that? I really hadn't noticed.]

For Ince and his missionary friends, the word that needs to be spread is that the universe is wondrous even without faith in a divine plan. [Now we get to the nub. Missionary atheists. The flesh creeps. What's the term for that? Non-god-botherers? God Delusion Bashers?] Dawkins will read from his book Unweaving the Rainbow, "which is about how science makes things more beautiful and more exciting - not less". [Dawkins will read from his own book? Come, come, Professor! don't hide your light under a bushel. It would be so unlike you.]

His cameo should help counter the popular prejudice, says Ince, that he is "this crotchety man waving his stick at the sky. Rather than create a marauding mob going out to burn down the churches, it's about people saying 'Take me to the library!'" [and how many of those libraries do you think will have been founded by Christians? What will you read when you get there? The City of God?The Summa, The Pilgrim's Progress? The works of Shakespeare? The Divine Comedy? OK, then - some science, perhaps?The works of Newton, Faraday, Kelvin, Boyle, Kepler, Pasteur, Maxwell, Planck, Mendel?]

But by holding this rationalist jamboree so close to Christmas, are they not guilty of provocation?

"If it riles people," says Ince, "it does so because they're fools. Anyone who feels we are 'stealing Christmas away' would just be half-witted. Some people are desperate to be offended."[Desparate to be offended? When they are called fools and half-witted? What thin-skinned little things they must be! Who could possibly take such terms the wrong way?]

Irishman O'Briain, once a Catholic but no longer, says: "Atheism has become more angry. It has gone from 'I know you don't accept me', to 'You know what? I don't accept you.'" Dawkins has played a part in that, he says. "He lumped it all in with psychics and reiki and said we should be as irritated by religion as we are by any kind of wishy-washy mysticism." What do comedians who believe in God make of it all, though? [Atheism angry and intolerant? Surely not! Who would have thought all those Catholic priests and Buddhist monks imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed in Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Republican Spain and Pol Pot's Cambodia. They must have done something to justify all that anger and intolerance, msutn't they?]

Tim Vine, brother of Radio 2 presenter Jeremy, centres his act on fast, silly and secular puns but is also a Christian. Yet there's no wailing or gnashing of teeth from him.

"I think it's great," he says. "It gives Christianity a bad press when Christians start standing in judgment. I'm not turning the other cheek because I wouldn't consider what they're doing a slap. My main thing is that Jesus is all about loving people. I think the more amazing things we discover in science, the more that suggests to me there is a God. But I don't want to shout about it in comedy. Normally I just say 'Velcro - what a rip-off' and we move on."

It would be nice if matters of science versus religion could be resolved so amicably. [Wouldn't it just, but I see no evidence of anything other than gratuitous insult and barely concealed violence here, all the more sinister for being dressed up with tinsel and carols] Perhaps Ince's godless galas point the way towards a more tolerant future. One suspects, though, that they may generate as much heat as light before the year is out. [No shit, Sherlock]

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate RIP

Sad news this morning. Oliver Postgate creator of Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and Noggin The Nog, non e piu. He brought hours of innocent fun to children of my generation. May he rest in peace.

Noggin The Nog

Ivor The Engine


The Clangers.

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Helping the police with their enquiries

No, not Buttons in the King's Theatre Christmas Panto, but an officer of the Crown, Serjeant at Arms in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen - an official of the House of Commons. It seems Mrs Pay, an appointment of Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons may well have taken the rap for a lack of Parliamentary cojones in allowing Plod to search the offices and computers of Damian Green, MP. Alas, a career civil servant is always likely to crumble before the constabulary as they gad about getting more and more politicised.

Perhaps Speaker Martin's hubristic mistake was being so chippy that he sacked the previous incumbent, Major General Peter Grant Peterkin for not being gritty and working-class enough. Unluckily for Mr Martin, I suspect a retired general (Ampleforth, Sandhurst, Queen's Own Highlanders) would have had more nous than to sign a piece of paper thrust under his nose by the rozzers. Further, I suspect Maj Gen Peterkin would still have enough independence, bred of the institutions that formed him, to tell Knacker of the Yard exactly where he could go. In the nicest possible way, of course

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Monday, December 08, 2008


St Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary by Jean Bellegambe.
On this day we celebrate, of course, the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin by her own mother, St Anne.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Coming home

Hat tip to Fr Finigan for a great video.

Pray for the lapsed.
Pray for the lukewarm (like me).
Pray for those who do not know the Faith.


Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #4

DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 4

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #3

O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me.
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 3

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The Decline of the University Education

Sad to say this photograph was taken in the John McIntyre Building at Glasgow University last week. I wonder if this was what Pope Nicholas V had in mind when he granted the University its charter? I guess not.

SHAG Week is run by the Student Representative Council. It quite rightly condemns the Carnage UK pub crawls for
encouraging binge-drinking and sexually-demeaning acts.

yet hosts SHAG week featuring:
Thursday: Condom Fairies @ Lollipop. Distributing condoms and advice at the GUU’sThursday club night from glamorous assistants dressed in condom tutus

Hmmmm. No cognitive dissonance there, guys?

Any wonder the UK is top of the world league for casual sex? "Made it Ma, Top of the World!" as James Cagney used to say.

Still I was relieved to see the SRC's website feature ALIVE the Glasgow Student Pro-Life society.

May be some hope yet.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Religion: it's in the genes. Give it up, Dawkins.

Children are "born believers" in God and do not simply acquire religious beliefs through indoctrination, according to a report in The Telegraph this week

"The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children's minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose,"

...said Dr Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford's Centre for Anthropology and Mind. I'm not sure he makes a particularly convincing case for Intelligent Design. The telling thing is the reaction in the comments. They're a touchy lot, the anti-religion types, aren't they?

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #2

If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1 Chapter 2

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Advent Reading: The Imitation of Christ #1

HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord.[1] By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ Book 1, Chapter 1

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Free at last

I have some misgivings about Mr Obama and his connections with some unsavoury types but wish him well. He will have a difficult job. What gets me is the way some people, especially bleeding hearts react to him. He must be a bit embarrassed sometimes.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Awww, bless 'em

To reciprocate, this year the kids made me an Advent Calendar. Bless 'em.

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The problems of health promotion in Glasgow

The punters cannae be arsed.

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