Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Inside out

It's odd to be consulted about what do we do about the swine flu thingy in church. I opined that it was rather a fuss over very little, but suggested "In one kind for the duration". Well, it's a parish with an Anglo-Catholic tradition, so less bother than two person dunkies at the altar rail.

I've been musing that I seem to know or hear of a lot of clergy who end up in the sort of situation I am currently in. Stress, dysfunction, emotional crisis and being overwhelmed. Not all male or single, some married some not - all sorts and conditions as the Prayer Book put it. Why? Books and books have been written about it but from where I stand much of it is to do with unrealistic expectations of self and from congregations, the stress of managing a declining institution and above all being at the same time the ultimate insider and the absolute outsider. Insider because you are the focus of so much activity in the pastoral sphere, the public persona of the charge (hence the old title Parson,)the one who gets it in the neck if Mrs McGlumphie disnae get a visit when she's got the passing bug. (Never mind that you only find oot she was sick when you meet her en route to the bingo after she's recovered). But also the outsider because you are not permanent. You move on in stipendiary ministry. Not matter how much you want to be part of the family, you know you will move out and it must be especially bad after 20+ years in the same place when you retire and rip up a whole network of friendships and familiarity. I think what I am looking for at this stage of my life is a sense of actually really belonging somewhere and with someone. For years I tried to tell me this wasn't the case and now I find it is. Hmm.

Looking around the Church and at its wounded clergy, I wonder if we need our own FoCA in Scotland - Fellowship of Crocked Anglicans? I'd think about joining that.


  1. Ah, I was gonna propose you as Chaplain!

  2. On your first bit, pretty much what your stand-in said last week. We had the usual perpetually ill dunkers, the odd person (or wife) with a cold, and most people carried on as normal.

    Has anybody considered how risky breathing next to your fellow communicants might be? I know it's a virus, so the alcohol in the (grotty, Father Dougal, you should be ashamed) sherry isn't going to 'kill' it but?

    Gas masks are probably out of the question?

    On the second, it probably is more of an issue for the non-parish sect such as we are - you are much less likely to get the news in your travels. But (the universal) we expect so much from the 'third sector' - whether it is volunteers or paid workers.

  3. The sherry isn't my doing and it is much cheaper than the over priced Holy mouthwash Hayes and Finch market. Gas masks are out but the NHS are fitting nurses with personal face wear in preparation for the big out break in September/October.

    And I agree with your point about the voluntary sector - whoever you are!