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Friday, 14 June 2013

Half Vicar, Half Dolphin

Not really "dolphin", but it makes for a nice title.

I'm indebted to the always-hopeful Charlie Peer for linking me to this Daily Mail article about the part-time vicar who works 19 hours a week for J Sainsbury. It is, in many ways, a non-story. St Paul made tents around the Mediterranean- Revd Martyn drives Sainsbury's groceries around Cornwall.

But it's Revd Martyn I find myself worrying about, quite apart from him posing in clerical dress and hi-viz like a wannabe Beaker Person. "People ring me up when I'm driving", he says. Well, maybe they do. I hope he'd deal with that by switching his mobile off when he's working. "It's hard to juggle two jobs", he says. Well, it is. But many people do it - either between two paid jobs, or between being paid and being a parent or a carer. And, like being a priest, you don't stop being a parent when you're at work.

But if he's working 2 days a week, he needs to block that out. Ideally he needs to take those evenings off, because he won't be doing simple 9 hour days the rest of the week. And he needs to block his day off. And he wants to explain to the people of his benefice about the concept of "Sabbath". He'll be a better priest and a safer driver if he can avoid being a shattered, guilty wreck. After all, our Hnaef is a Self-Supporting Druid, and he runs an archery school for people with no thumbs. If he lost interest while wondering about a particularly tricky part of the Creed while doing his other job, he could end up doing a King Harold at Hastings impression. And nobody wants that.

And then he can rejoice that he takes his "other" job to the altar, and he shares the experiences of so many people who balance time, play a number of roles, and have their Christian faith running through it all like the letters through a stick of rock.

But if the diocese really wants a full-time clergy in that benefice - if it wants somebody who is set free to serve and pray all the time - I suggest it works out how to pay for it.

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