Monthly Archives: January 2015

British Muslim writes for Catholics on roots of heretical Muslimist fanaticism

murad The 23 July 2005 edition of The Tablet had a feature article by Shaikh Abdal-Hakim Murad, (teacher of Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Divinity at University of Cambridge, imam of the Cambridge Mosque, and chair of the Muslim Academic Trust) that is well worth reading in the light of recently revived concern about Muslim fanaticism.

Murad says that Wahhabism, the hardline ideology at the core of current terrorism, has cut deep wounds in Islam, and helped alienate young UK Muslims. He considers whether Islam in the UK can be freed of this influence.

Fortunately, serious moves are under way to challenge the extremists on religious grounds. The most recent was an ecumenical conference in Jordan, at which the assembled leaders of Sunni and Shia Islam issued a joint statement banning the key Wahhabi practice of considering other Muslims to be unbelievers. The immediate context for the conference was Wahhabi violence against Shia and other non-Wahhabi communities in Iraq; but the problem was acknowledged to be global.

Murad has written numerous articles on Islam, including, on this topic, The poverty of fanaticism, and Recapturing Islam from the terrorists.

Aged by an extra second

I discover that at 23:59:60 UTC 30 June 30, 2015, I will age by more than expected.

The time it takes the Earth to rotate (a day) is getting longer by about 0.002 seconds a day, as it is ever so gradually slowed down by the drag of the tides and the atmosphere. It’s not precise enough to define a second as simply as an 86,400th of a day. It’s now 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a 133Cs atom at rest and at 0°K, as measured by ultra-accurate atomic clocks.

Since 1972, 26 or so leap seconds have been inserted in our timekeeping to keep Universal Time in step with the atomic clocks, on the advice of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, thus increasing my age by a total of about 1.2235*10-6%. Scandalous!


With the violence and grief relating to anti-religious cartoons, it’s good to see that some Christians allow themselves the occasional tasteless religious joke. That said, perhaps I don’t have the GSOH so desired in dating advertisements. For example, most of the winners of a 2005 competition left me cold. (I had seen a couple of them previously.)

These made me chuckle, however:

Mother Superior calls all the nuns together and says to them: “I must tell you all something. We have a case of gonorrhea in the convent.”
“Thank God,” says an elderly nun at the back of the room, “I’m so tired of Chardonnay.”

The Trinity were planning a holiday. The Spirit, manifesting the creative part of the divine nature, was coming up with the ideas. “Let’s go to New York,” he suggested.
“No, no, no,” said the Father, “They’re all so liberated, they’ll spend the whole time calling me ‘Mother’ and it will just do my head in.”
So the Spirit sat back and thought. “I know, what about Jerusalem?” he said. “It’s beautiful and then there’s the history and everything.”
“No way!” the Son declared. “After what happened the last time, I’m never going there again!”
At this point, the Spirit got annoyed and went off in a huff. Sometime later he returned and found that the Father and Son had had a idea they both thought was excellent:
“Why don’t we go to Rome?” said the Son.
“Perfect!” cried the Holy Spirit. “I’ve never been there before!”

Jesus came upon a small crowd who had surrounded a young woman they believed to be an adulteress. They were preparing to stone her to death.
To calm the situation, Jesus said: “Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone.”
Suddenly, an old lady at the back of the crowd picked up a huge rock and lobbed it at the young woman, scoring a direct hit on her head. The unfortunate young lady collapsed dead on the spot.
Jesus looked over towards the old lady and said: “Do you know, Mother, sometimes you really piss me off.”

Is God offended?

The ranking entries in the ‘most offensive’ category of the Ship of Fools competition were just that—offensive. And too many of them were about priests doing bad things to young boys and girls. When Ship of Fools tried them on a live audience, few laughed. This one made me smile, though.

An Indian man dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates.
“Yes, how can I help?” asks St Peter.
“I’m here to meet Jesus,” says the Indian man.
St. Peter looks over his shoulder and shouts, “Jesus, your cab is here!”

Are you offended?

And speaking of transportation:


Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce

An utterly indulgent recipe filched from a friend



2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup seeded dates
¾ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g butter, chopped
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup self-raising flour
1 x 300ml carton thickened cream


2/3 cup thickened cream
100g butter, chopped
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar



Line 25cm x 30cm slice tin or Swiss roll pan with Gladbake, bringing paper 5cm above edges of pan.
Combine dates, water and soda in a medium bowl. Cover and stand for 5 minutes. Blend or process date mixture butter and brown sugar until almost smooth.
Add eggs and flour and process until just combined.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Cook in a moderate oven, 180 degrees for about 30 minutes
You can then try to roll up the cake using the Gladbake, or cut the cake in three and put cream between each layer (much easier).


Combine all ingredients in a small pan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Serve either drizzled over roll or in a small jug for people to use themselves. Can be served either hot or cold.