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THOUGHTS FOR ALL BBC's Thought for the Day is making news again. The atheists are keen to get their hands on it and Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, says that he hasn't closed his mind to people with other belief systems presenting it.

I was pleased to hear Rabbi Lionel Blue pointing out that TFTD is spiritual and not specifically religious. So there would be no problem if the humanists were allowed in. But relations between believers and nonbelievers are not very good at the moment. It would not be helpful for pointless bickering between those who believe and those who do not.

I can't see the idea of people of goodwill presenting TFTD doing much harm and often I hear criticism of Thought from all sides of the Church. The late presenter of Today, Brian Redhead, once referred to the parsonical nature of the piece. He said: "If the Today programme was presented in Chinese, you'd still know when Thought for the Day began." It used to be called Lift up your Hearts but it often got so downbeat that in 1965 they changed it, but it still continued as part of the BBC God-slot. When 75% of people in UK claim to believe in God, why shouldn't the BBC have a little something for them? It's not even three minutes of course. Five years ago the BBC nibbled 30 seconds from it.

Anyway, you don't really need all that time to make a simple point. I once saw the late Spike Milligan give his own thought in a revue at Newcastle Theatre Royal. He said, "I thought I saw Jesus in a tram. I said, 'Are you Jesus?' He said, 'Yes, I am.'" That's real food for thought in 10 seconds.

If atheists were given the slot, there would soon be no mention of God at all. Even now He hardly gets a look-in, but people like me listen every day because we like to have nice people talking to us. There may be some nice people among the atheists, of course. Would they like to present Songs of Praise as well? Or would that be like asking a vegetarian to review a new steakhouse? TAKE A BREAK It was proposed at the General Synod that the Church could benefit by cutting the number of Bishops. This could save the Church money. However, we already have locally ordained ministers working in our parishes claiming nothing more than expenses. So would it not be possible to have locally ordained bishops similarly appointed? Or could the Synod not copy British Airways and get the bishops to take an unpaid sabbatical? Worth a thought for the day.

LITTLE GEM Many people today are finding that they can learn much from the Celtic way of the Church. The goals of our society are now focussed on money, fame and power. A dose of Celtic wisdom could enrich our lives so that we appreciate the world around us the more. I found a new small hardback book, Celtic Treasure by Liz Babbs (Lion pounds 6.99) to be indeed a gem. This is a book to be taken to some thoughtful place to read. There the poems and the pictures work so well with the simple prose. Illustrations on every page.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 25, 2009
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