Saturday, 11 May 2013

Pastors' Spouses and Women Ministers

Judy's response to my pastoral stats post, together with this short and incisive post by Dana Delap, makes me reflect on my own situation.

Already the Beaker people have started suggesting to me that it would be better for us to have a married Archdruid - maybe as soon as Young Keith and Charlii have jumped over the birch-twig. After all, they say, the benefit of having a married Archdruid is that their spouse is available to do all those things that Archdruidical other halves are useful for. Already the suggestion is that, when Charlii puts on the official gold-trimmed silken pointy hat, Young Keith will be available for mowing lawns, tending the Moot House garden, and playing football with the more boisterous of the Little Pebbles.

Let's jump to my other theme. There's a little sting in Dana's comment that she is being blamed for the financial and numerical decline of the Church in the north-east. After all, the Church was financially fine and growing strongly, up to the point where the first women were ordained - and the Catholic Church in Britain and Ireland is, I believe, going from strength to strength. Whereas the reality, it seems to me, is that without the vast influx of women priests - often unpaid - over the last few years, the Church of England's creaking and archaic method of doing business could have collapsed already. There may be many - including many life-long Anglicans - who would think that was a good thing. But if the C of E finally rethinks the nature of its mission, to get to grips with the 21st Century, it will do so from at least a position of gentle decline, rather than radical disintegration.

In terms of the stats, they're pretty clear. There are now far more women priests than the number of male priests who left the Church of England over them. And in terms of theology, well the Church managed to cope with Gentile priests (when Jesus was a Jew); it coped with red-headed priests (when Jesus was almost certainly a brunet) - I'm sure if Gentiles and red-heads can represent Jesus despite their genetic dissimilarities, then so can women, if that's what you think the priest is doing.

Final thought. Margaret Thatcher died last month, and the people that hated her got "Ding-dong, the Witch is Dead" way up the download charts. When right-on, left-wing thinking people can stigmatise the only woman who ever became Prime Minister as a witch, that's not down to theology. But it feels a whole lot like the way some people regard women ministers. Not the ones that take a theological view and leave - the ones that stay behind and snipe.


  1. Following on from this, I think that Charli with young Keith as her consort would make an admirable Arch Druid! And given that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated gracefully (as did her mother before her) to allow a younger person take the strain, perhaps you might reflect on her example.

    And of Course Pope (Emiritus) Benedict set the prime example - he acknowledged that he was past it and stood aside for a younger (well not much younger) successor.

    Arch Druid's must have a 'shelf life' and it's quite obvious that your 'sell by date' was reached at least 10 years ago. Hanging on by your fingertips isn't any sort of leadership, just survival and clinging to past glories.

    Time for change and Charli has the appeal and energy to lead, not to bully in a democratic Fresh Expression of Beaker Folk for the next 20 years or so.

  2. The pressure to be married and to have children reflects two strands in contemporary Protestant Christianity - one, the nature of the version of theology being pushed, two, the inability to be able to genuinely relate to many other demographic segments.

    1. Thanks, Tim. Believe the 19th Century vicarage ideal was, to a degree, an anti-Catholic one - the Vicar emphasising that there was none of that odd chastity business going on. Oh, nothing wrong with the Vicar.


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