Friday 23 June 2023

The Nights They Are a Drawing-In

 After our annual Day after the Solstice liturgy this morning, we had the traditional annual pointing out on the Facebook page that in fact it is not the nights drawing in - dusk holds pretty steady just after the Solstice - but the dawn is getting later

I would like to respond in two ways.

Firstly, we don't define which end of the night is drawing in. 

Secondly, we have referred the suggestion for amendment to our Beaker Liturgical Committee. They should report back with whether it's a valid point in no fewer than 5 years. And then if they think it has any merit, will propose a draft amended version about 10 years after that.

If the world is still here, we may have an amended service round about 2057. I can't wait.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Wednesday 21 June 2023

If Vicars had an Agony Page in the Manner of the 1970s Jackie Column, Cathy and Claire

   Dear Cathy & Cleric 

My curate has been with me for two years now and I don't think the relationship is the same as it was.

In the early days, he was always very glad to let me make decisions, and tell him how things should be done. We got on very well.

But now, he's started to experiment with his ecclesiastical identity. He doesn't think I've noticed, but he's started to give a very slight genuflexion whenever he goes past the aumbry. And last week at the absolution, he crossed himself.

What really confirms my suspicions is that, though he swears he doesn't use it, a few times I've noticed the smell of incense hanging around him when he's had the day off. I'm suspecting he may have been secretly attending High Mass. And once or twice, I've caught him looking at chasuble websites.

Should I stick with him? Or is it time to find another curate?



   Dear OrdainedInAPreachingScarf

I can understand your concern. When you have a new curate fresh out of the vicar farm, everything is very simple. They do what they're told, and have no minds of their own. But then as you settle into a routine, they can need more variety. They may start to rebel. You don't say how old your curate is, but I'm guessing quite young. And people still need time to develop their ecclesiology. This kind of experimentation may be worrying to you. But it's an essential part of his formation.

You should bear in mind that in twelve months, with a following wind, he'll be off to his own benefice and no longer your problem. So give him the space that he needs. Maybe in the long run it's better this way, as he will naturally be drawing away from you, which will soften the break-up in the end.

And remember - there's plenty more curates where he came from, who may be far more malleable. We mean, compatible.

Cathy and Cleric 

   Dear Cathy and Cleric

I don't know what's happening to me. All these changes.

I've been the vicar of my six parishes for eighteen months. And everything seemed to be going fine for the first year. People said I was a breath of fresh air.

But then it started to change. People were suggesting I was domineering. Some of the parishes said I was neglecting them in favour of the larger villages. Some started mentioning the previous vicar favourably. Whereas before I had loads of energy, now I feel drained.

I'm at my wit's end. What can I do?


     Dear PaisleyClericalShirt

You have to understand this is a normal phase in life you are going through. Every cleric in their first year is seen by their flock as the Archangel Gabriel. And because you've not developed all the potential relationships you could, your time isn't under so much pressure. Of course you flourished back then.

After a year, you're onto 45 meetings a month. And one of your parishes is demanding a PCC every week. Naturally you're feeling tired and stressed.

The good news is, give it another year and disillusion will set in. When you realise you can't make anything any better, you will feel a sense of immense helplessness. Grasp this, as it is your route to freedom. This state of resignation and hopelessness should ensure you don't try too hard for the next 10 years. Just hang on until then.

Cathy and Cleric

   Dear Cathy and Cleric

I've spent the last few years trying to run the church like it is a modern business. Assuming that the latest buzz words and corporate wheezes will enable us to bring the denomination in this area into the 21st Century.

And yet it continues to decline, and it seems like, although I've been looking to harvest the low-hanging fruit and incrementalize the upside, the target demographic has been unresponsive to the marketing campaigns. I wanted to liquidate some unprofitable plant, but it turns out that just increases the red lines on the account. What can you advise?


     Dear Bishop

What you probably need to realise is that most businesses fail in the end. So you're chasing a failing model.  You won't know that, as you have no idea how business works. As it happens, the best way to succeed in business is to ensure the Government will pump in money if it all goes wrong. Have you considered diversifying into PPE?

Cathy and Cleric

Liturgy of the Summer Solstice Sunrise

The sun rises majestically over the Amazon warehouse at Marston Gate

Archdruid: Behold the glory of the rising Solstice Sun!

Burton Dasset: Shame there's so few to see it.

Archdruid: Yeah, so little commitment.

Burton: Yeah, they can't get up at 4 am just the once... Hang on...

Archdruid: What, little one?

Burton: Where are you?

Archdruid: I am always with you, Burton.

Burton: But you're just a cardboard cutout of Kirsty MacColl, and ChatGPT connected to a speech synthesiser.

Archdruid: Well, it's bloody early, Burton. None of us are getting any younger.

Burton: So I'm here all alone, in the early dawn, looking at the sun on my own?

Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Well, cheers for the affirmation, Burton.

Burton: No offence, Pan. But you're a mythological being, and I'm a semi-retired accountancy systems developer.

Hern the Hunter: And what about me?

Burton: Aren't you just another manifestation of Pan, but in an Anglo-Saxon milieu?

Hern the Hunter: Really? And there I was thinking I was a decayed folk memory of Woden.

Woden: I don't think so, horny-head....

Burton: Anyway. Happy solstice. I'm off to bed.

Chat-Archdruid: Snowflake.

Laurence Fox: Won't anyone give me some attention?

All: We preferred Lewis. 

Mythological beings stroll off to McDonald's at Kingston for Breakfast

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Revised Church of England Ministerial Training Curriculum

In its  most radical step forward since Cuddesden tried to produce some working-class clergy (an innovation that has mostly been abandoned), the Church of England's Department of Evolution not Revolution has proposed sweeping changes to the way it trains its clergy.

"We've not really moved forward from the old Victorian model," said Head of Innovation, Harriet Spaceley. "Then, a young man would be given a vague grounding in the Bible, a bit of Greek, and then 3-6 years with not much to do except preach on Trinity Sunday and have lunch with the Vicar once a month. This would prepare him for a future in dabbling in butterfly-collecting, plant classification or inventing collective nouns, with a bit of visiting the poor.
"But the world has changed. With the decreasing number of young-retired middle-class people available to populate PCCs, clergy are having to develop a much wider toolkit.
"Add to that, after decades of talking about clergy "formation", we suddenly realised we had no idea what we'd been forming. But we are aware that we've produced generations of people whose main interest is in what interesting changes they can make to the reredos."

With that in mind, the proposed new curriculum includes those skills that clergy didn't realise they needed while training, but suddenly have to acquire in the new world. After a six-week crash course in a thing called "Theology", modules will now include:

Drystone walling
Electrical engineering (for lightning conductors and fuse boxes)
The Wildlife Protection Act
Oil Boiler Maintenance
Geology (for working out where the church is going to subside next)
Charity fundraising
Email marketing
The Local Government Act
The chemistry of Calcium Carbonate
How to tell cow parsley from giant hogweed (a practical, but not hands-on, module)
Time management
Web design
Animal husbandry (for pet services and bats)
Dispute resolution
The Health and Safety at Work Act
Grade 3 Kazoo or Comb and Paper (for when the organist forgets where they are supposed to be)
Project Management
"People made in God's Image" and how to avoid them
How to get wax out of carpets
Structural engineering (already surprisingly common in fact)
Tactfully dealing with unwanted second-hand donations (Masters-level course available)
Linen ironing
Cat hearding.

Friday 2 June 2023

Nativity of Thomas Hardy (1840)

1st Yokel: I see it's that there Thomas Hardy's birthday again.

2nd Yokel: Aye. That it be.

1st Yokel: I wonder how 'e'll be spending it?

2nd Yokel: I believe he divides 'is time between London and Dorset*.

1st Yokel: But 'e'm dead though?

2nd Yokel: Oy, aye. As we all shall be.

1st Yokel: Shall us go to Peter's Finger for a drap of somethin' afore nammet-time? My kex is as dry as an old shoe.

2nd Yokel: Peter's Finger has closed for good. It's a luxury block of them new-fangled appartments.

1st Yokel: So the Dree Mariners? 

2nd Yokel: Mariners is a prestigious housing development.

1st Yokel: Kings Arms?

2nd Yokel: Nay, they won't have such as we. Ye'd have to be the Mayor to be allowed to drink in there.

1st Yokel: Then shall us along to the brewery?

2nd Yokel: Brewery's now retirement homes, Premier Inn, mid-market food chains and a cinema.

1st Yokel: And a cocktail bar?

2nd Yokel: Oh ay. A cocktail bar.

1st Yokel: Or we could just go to Wetherspoons?

2nd Yokel: We are in Wetherspoons.

1st Yokel: In that case I'll have a Ruddles Best.

* Quite literally. His ashes are in Westminster Abbey but his heart is in Stinsford graveyard.