Our new guest columnist, The Rev.Humphrey Blytherington, Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring and All Souls, Great Snoring, comments on all things Anglican and English.
Now lads, it’s awfully good of you to buy me another round, but I promised Mrs. Vicar I would keep to just this half pint, and you know how much she’s a stickler for the rules! Well, I wanted to say a few words to you all about a bit of a sticky topic. I know it’s not a manly thing to discuss here at the Goose and Garter, but to be perfectly frank, it’s a subject in our church that just won’t go away.
You might be able to guess what I’m going to talk about. It’s the old schoolboy problem: falling in love with another fella. Yes, I know it’s not awfully nice, but it’s something we have to look straight in the eye.
You probably never thought of it like this, but what’s a chap to do when he finds himself falling in love with one of his mates? Let’s say you’re down in the mines and you’ve forgotten your chip butty and pint of tea and one of your mates shares his with you. It makes you feel fond of him doesn’t it? Before long you’ve got an especially close friendship with him. You meet at the pub. You play dominoes together. You dig your allotment and share your tools. On a Sunday afternoon you have a pint together and light your pipes. Now there’s nothing in the world wrong with that.
Well, nowadays in our church a good number of our vicars have got friendships like that. In fact, they have lots of friends who have good friendships like that too. They enjoy each other’s company and share harmless past times together. They collect china and antiques and enjoy visiting Italy. Some of them even share the vicarage and are married to one another. There are some close minded folk who think that sort of thing is wrong.
Is it wrong? Not in my book. Let me tell you lads, there is nothing wrong with good, hearty manly friendship. Why I remember when I was up at Oxford a rather weedy lad with pimples named Nigel Proudie fell for me. He wanted to go punting and read poetry, but I had the cure for him. We went out on the lawn and worked up a good sweat playing croquet. He soon got over his infatuation and married the archdeacon’s daughter. Sadly it didn’t last, but today Mrs. Proudie is the Bishop of Jeeves and Wooster and Nigel is precentor of the cathedral and lives in a nice little house in the close with his good friend Kevin.
You might be tempted to condemn Nigel, but I’ve learned not to. You remember what Our Lord said? “Let him who never made a mistake cast the first stone?” and don’t forget how he said to the woman who made a mistake, “Go and make no more mistakes.”
That’s my final word lads! Let’s live and let live. Life’s too short to judge others. My view on the whole subject is simple: ours is a broad church. It’s for everyone. We’ve got to accept those who seem a little bit different from us. I say, “To each his own, and love your neighbor as yourself.” –as it were. After all, we mustn’t be unkind to another chap just because he has a few problems in the trouser department.
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