Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dawkins & Porn; Fry and Heaven

Saturday 31 January 2015
Richard Dawkins wants to fight Islamism with erotica. Celebrity atheism has lost it
A tweet from Richard Dawkins’ account suggests beaming porn all over the Middle East. And Stephen Fry is angry with God. Who cares anymore?

By Tim Stanley12:15PM GMT 31 Jan 2015
Richard Dawkins’ insanity has now become an English institution – like warm beer and rain. On Saturday morning, a tweet from his account asked why we don’t send lots of “erotic videos” to theocracies, adding that it should be “loving, gentle, woman-respecting” (I guess this involves the pizza delivery boy calling the next day). If we’re going down this road, I also hear that Islamists aren’t very keen on bacon, so perhaps we should bombard the Iranian countryside with pig carcasses? Also, miniature bottles of gin. And photos of hot guys making out – in a “men-respecting” and “gentle” sort of way.
After a few minutes of mockery, the tweet was deleted. Perhaps even he realised how utterly mad it was. Which suggests a degree of self-awareness that I didn’t think possible in Britain’s nuttiest professor. Time was when it looked like Dawkins was about to go the full “nut-job 180” and declare that, upon reflection, there actually is a God and it’s Richard Dawkins – and have himself blasted into space on the back of a dolphin singing Onward Christian Soldiers.

As you can tell, I’ve come to regard Dick with a great deal of affection. He’s just a mad uncle – a genius academic with monomania who probably isn’t a bad person just a rather naïve one. And his capacity for dreaming up new ways to irritate the religious is, at least, not boring.

The same, alas, cannot be said of Stephen Fry. When asked by the great Gay Byrne on Irish telly what he would say to God if he met him, super atheist Fry had this response: “I’ll say: bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you how dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

He went on to say that he much prefers the Greek gods.
Saying that you prefer the Greek gods to the Christian one is akin to screaming “I did classics at school!” and is really just showing off. It’s also morally corrupt, because the Greek gods rather liked raping and murdering – and were often immune to human pleas for compassion. Moreover, Fry’s central point, that a God who is all-powerful yet does nothing about suffering must be cruel, is – sigh – rather passé.

Not only has theology dedicated itself for thousands of years to unpicking that problem but the answer to it is there in the very Bible itself. Since Adam and Eve ate the apple, we’ve been living in a fallen world full of pain. God granted us free will not only to do bad things but also good things – like finding a cure for cancer or caring for those dying from it.

Terrible things happen because of a) random acts of nature, b) the intervention of the Devil or c) the corruption of man. I’m not saying anyone has to believe what I write, but please don’t act like it’s never been said before or that the answer to Fry’s facile question doesn’t exist. Dear Stephen imagines that he’s the first person in history to wonder why folks suffer. He’s not. He is, however, strangely upset about something that he doesn’t even believe in. Who gets angry about an imaginary conversation?
Ultimately, I don’t care that Fry doesn’t believe in God or that he spouts off about it at every given opportunity like a crazy man on a bus. What irritates me is that his remarks are reported as though they are important. He’s not Oscar Wilde (who died a Catholic). He’s not even Benny Hill (who was funny). Celebrity atheism was a big thing ten years ago but now is old hat and rather tiresome. Oh, there are atheist thinkers out there whose opinions are worth hearing and there are eloquent people of faith ready to respond. But why must it always be the same old bores boring on about the subject? This yawnfest has to stop.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015

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Synchronisity 3: My Grandparents

Sky Pilot

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1: verse 9 (NIV)

My maternal Grandmother hailed from Leith (her father managed one of the mills there).  My Grandfather was a Yorkshireman and a Merchant seaman.

When they married, they moved to Edinburgh – near the Murrayfield Stadium – and were blessed with two children: my mother and her younger brother, my uncle.

When Grandfather was returning from a particular voyage, he developed pneumonia.  The ship docked in Glasgow and he was taken to the Victoria Infirmary where sadly he died – he was only thirty years of age.

So in the mid 1920s, my Grandmother was widowed with two small children to bring up.

She remained in the same flat in Edinburgh until ill-health prevented her.   She was in her mid-seventies when Parkinson’s Disease made it…

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Holy Spirit

DANIEL Adams and wife Jenn, who wed at the end of December, met the Pope at the Vatican on their honeymoon in Rome last week.


POPE Francis showed the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit he’s interested in when he blessed a Scots couple’s marriage.

The pontiff took one look at kilted Daniel Adams’s sporran – and asked if he had some whisky in it.

Daniel and wife Jenn, 30, who wed at the end of December, met the Pope at the Vatican on their honeymoon in Rome last week.

Charity manager Daniel, 28, said they had writte

n in advance in the hope of getting a blessing.He said: “Jenn wore her wedding dress and I had my kilt so he’d know who we were.

“At the end of his general audience, he came over to meet us. He pointed at my sporran and asked, ‘Did you bring whisky?’ so it looks like Pope Francis likes a dram.”

There was also a kiss from the Pope for Jenn, 30, a manager with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and a hug for Daniel, who said delightedly: “He gave me a big cuddle, which was great.”

copyright Daily Record

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Mysterious Ways

This Sunday, I’m taking the worship service at a church (about half an hour’s drive from me).  The regular Minister was at the same Ministry Selection School with me in 1970, and our paths never crossed over all these years since then. On the next two Sunday’s, I’m in the pulpit of a newly ordained and inducted Minister, who was the trainee assistant to a Minister, who, in years gone by, was a student attachment at the Church where I was the Minister (St. Michael’s, Inveresk.). It gets stranger – the Church where I’m preaching in a couple of weeks time has, as its Session Clerk, the widow of the Minister, in whose Kirk in Edinburgh, I was the (very young) Assistant (1973-74)

Oh, and the Church where I’m preaching THIS Sunday – the predecessor of the Minister in whose Kirk grouping that I’m conducting worship? My old “boss” from all these years ago in Edinburgh!

coincidence? synchronicity? or….. something more profound?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

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the pernicious evil of fundamentalism

this is unbelievable – no, it’s not: how many right-wing conservative, and literalist “pastors” believe in chastisement and submission, because “the Bible tells me so”

These people will say that they are using Biblical injunctions, but this is NOT practising Christianity.

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What an emotional and evocative picture. In the loss, there is gain.  From the confine of the grave, there is resurrection. From the “imprisonment” of the wheelchair, there is FREEDOM!


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Jehovah’s Investigators


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Thomas Aquinas (Feast Day, 28 January)


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Irish Wedding Blessings

May God go with you and bless you,

May you see your children`s children,

May you be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings,

May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

May joy and peace surround you both,

Contentment latch your door,

And happiness be with you now

And God Bless you Evermore.

May you live you life with trust, And

nurture lifelong affection,

May your lifelong dreams come true for you,

Move ever that direction.




May the light of friendship guide your paths together,

May the laughter of children grace the halls of your home.

May the joy of living for each other trip a smile from your lips, a

twinkle from your eye.

And when eternity beckons,

at the end of the life heaped high with love,

May the good Lord embrace you with the arms that have nurtured you

the whole length of your joy-filled days.

May the gracious God hold you both in the palm of His hands.

And, today, may the Spirit of Love find a dwelling place in your hearts.

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This night as I lie down to sleep……


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