Guest blogger, the Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington, Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring and All Saints, Great Snoring weighs in on all things Anglican and English.
I was chatting with Lavinia, (the lady curate over at St Etheldreda’s) at the clergy fraternal the other day, (whoops, mustn’t call it the ‘fraternal’ anymore–ladyfolk don’t like it much–say ‘fraternal’ means ‘brotherhood’ and it’s ‘sexist’ and all that, don’t you know) Anyway, Lavinia was rabbiting on about some sort of brou ha ha up in Manchester. Seems one of the Roman priests has told a group of women clergy they can’t have a slap up fund raising dinner in his church hall.


Seems the lady clergy belong to an odd sort of group, but are otherwise kosher. Rev Lav (as the young folk call her) says she’s ‘on the same page’ with these ladies in Manchester. Says they’re all for empowerment of women, wanting us all to get in touch with nature and so forth. Very keen on ‘spirituality’ and Lavinia was going on in the meeting about ‘giving birth to the inner goddess’ and how that’s what Our Lord really meant by ‘being born again.’


I must say, I had never thought of it quite like that before. Fascinating. I doubt whether Mrs. Vicar will have much time for it. She’s not as broad minded as she might be I’m afraid. Doesn’t much like Lavinia and Georgie. Says it’s all disgusting, and no wonder the Mother’s Union can’t get any new members…


But I think Lavinia’s on to something there. I certainly think it’s a jolly good thing to think up new ways to connect with the young, and if ‘going green’ and allowing the ladies to do their thing helps bring a few young folk into church it can’t be all bad. I’m not too sure about her idea of having a ‘re-birthing ceremony to welcome the earth mother’ on the summer solstice. Apart from anything else it clashes with the annual summer fete in the vicarage gardens. However, if it helps bring in some of the Girl Guides, I say ‘Go for it!’


In fact, as I was saying to the lads down at the Goose and Garter last evening, the only thing that really troubles me about all this is that the Roman fellow up in Manchester felt he had to exclude the women from his church hall. He was worried that they called themselves ‘witches’. What a lot of tosh! Nobody believes in such things these days! What was he worried about, that they might bump into the church steeple on their broomsticks? Haar Haar. I expect he’ll be calling for a witch hunt next and suggesting that we ban the Bible and burn heretics again.


But that’s what we’ve come to expect from these Roman Catholics. They’re all about being the ‘universal Church’ but the first thing they do is exclude people who, as far as I can see, are only a group of harmless ladies who want to enjoy a bit of entertainment with a few drinks and a pop band. In my book it’s no worse than Mrs Vicar organizing the summer fete with Emily Huffington-Post playing her Cliff Richard records in the background.


The Roman Catholics need to lighten up a bit as far as I’m concerned, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from the Irish and Italians–always dead serious when it comes to religion. Honestly, they treat it like it’s a matter of life and death.


In my book religion’s a bit like learning your table manners. It takes a bit of work at first, but before long you know how to tuck your napkin, spoon the soup away from you, which fork to use, and you can get on with life without offending anybody.