A piece of almost compete spite on a blog called "A Conservative Woman". You may not wish to follow the link. I had to check it out as I'm still not convinced it's not a parody.
Now I can't speak for the ministers in Kathy Gyngell's parish. So I don't know much about whether they do indeed have " pudding basin " haircuts. Maybe they have bobs? If she's saying that all female clergy are unattractive then I can only assume she's not been watching the news lately. There are some very attractive women priests. But then personal physical attractiveness isn't a required trait for a minister of God. If it were all the men would have been sacked years ago. Kathy Gyngell may be implying that all women priests are stereotypical lesbians. But then, at least to a degree, this would help mitigate her concern that these ministers would demand "family time" like those female doctors, with their work-life balance and other nastiness. Professional people should sacrifice their families and lives to their professions, in Kathy Gyngell's world. It's not a nice world though, I reckon.
Her reference to the clergy team being "feminised" is interesting. As that's not a word we generally use for cis women. "Feminised" implies that these ministers are either men who have suffered hormonal imbalances, or transsexuals. I personally owe no ill-will to either group. But it strikes me that this isn't what Kathy Gyngell means. I think she means these ministers are, simply, women. And she has used the wrong word, having heard it somewhere, assuming it's merely insulting.
There is then a fairly long passage complaining about one particular minister - especially in comparison to Kathy Gyngell's own sainted father. Well, I can't criticise Kathy Gyngell's father. He sounds like a model vicar of the George Herbert model, from the days when this was possible. Probably a good bloke.
But he seems only to have had one village. And we don't live in Dibley anymore. Even a place near me like Markyate - which would be a small town if it weren't in the Home counties - is bundled together with its neighbour. When Kathy Gyngell was living in an Enid Blyton book, you'd have the chance of knowing all your local farmers. But if your patch is half of Banburyshire, or massive stretches of North Yorkshire, it's not so easy. Especially when your time is taken up visiting an increasing number of frail parishioners, and filling in forms.
Amid the bile and anecdote, there are two statistics. So let's look at them. Kathy Gyngell tells us that since her father retired 40 years ago attendance at Church of England [Sunday] services has halved. This is true. I don't think we're expected to conclude that the loss of half a million worshippers is down to just one man's retirement, even if he visited every farmer in the UK. No, it's the women that's caused the decline, we are invited to believe.
Obviously, women have only been priests for half this time. So has all the decline occurred since the Ordination of Women Act came into force? Here is a stat from the Church Times:
"In another measure, the Usual Sunday Attendance, 784,600 people attended. Forty years ago, the Usual Sunday Attendance figure was approximately 1.25 million.... In recent years, Sunday attendance has continued to fall by a small amount each year. Five years ago, the C of E saw 823,000 people come through its doors on a Sunday."
So attendance fell by roughly 500,00 over the last four decades but 40,000 over the last five years. And when have we had most Anglican clergywomen around? That's right. Clearly the presence of women has slowed the decline an all-male clergy caused.
And Kathy Gyngell complains that, as the number of full-time female clergy rises, the men decline. Well of course. As the number of female full-time clergy increases, the number of full-time males (if you see what I mean) will go down, if general numbers are roughly level. That's what happens in any workplace in this situation. If the C of E were a proper business, the result of this would be a steady improvement in quality as competition increased. Being the C of E, who knows what really happens?
Then there's SSMs - those sainted individuals who sacrifice their spare time for God and their fellow humans. Obviously Kathy Gyngell's not gonna like them. They're often women, who still insist on having kids despite their haircuts and men's clothes (to quote one of the comments btl). They don't have time to visit all the farmers. But they're the people who keep the show on the road, for no money, in many parishes.
She ends with a beautiful non-sequitur - that unpaid women priests are keeping all the wannabe full-time male priests out of jobs. There is a simple eight-letter answer to this. And it's a word that defines the only real difference between male and female priests. If there were the money for full-time priests, and people for the jobs - they'd have jobs.
Kathy Gyngell's complaint seems, at root, to be that we don't live in Barsetshire any more. Well we don't. She doesn't like women priests, she doesn't like SSMs. But there's no suggestion from her that she and like-minded friends should pour money into the church to pay for this legion of hairy-chested, farmer-worrying, squire-bothering heroes of the BCP. But no. Just a load of spite and wishing her ideal of England still existed.
Well it doesn't exist, if it ever did. If it lost all the female priests tomorrow, the C of E wouldn't suddenly grow. It would crash at a rate it hasn't since Kathy Gyngell's dad was still active.
Happy Christmas to one and all.