The Vicar on Witches


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.

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  • the Egyptian

    (Giggle-snort, wiping the drink off my legs and computer key board) did you ever think about writing comedy, the droll caricatures you create are priceless. Life and death, oh brother, keep it up Father you are a gem beyond value

  • shadowlands

    Very very funny!I think the vicar should develop a drink problem,just think of the gaffs he could get away with and claim a complete blackout when questioned! I can't help but like the vicar though.He's just so 'terribly' nice. I'm glad that he notices the attitude of the Italians and Irish to their faith,very discerning in a freudian slippish type of way.Maybe he will convert one day? Who knows,his fate is very much in your hands Father L,or rather your script.Good writing.

  • kkollwitz

    Many a 'piskie has gone to Hell for misusing his salad fork, so it's no laughing matter, Rev.

  • Alice C. Linsley

    Spot on, Father. I've known a few English vicars and I could hear them in my head as I read this.Lord, have mercy.

  • Éstiel

    Your vicar embodies the famous "English common sense" answer to all questions of faith, morality, ethics. Not unlike the Americans' famous question "But what does it have to do with the price of beans?" It's pragmatic functionalistic reductionism, universally applicable to all questions one simply doesn't want to deal with. But English Common Sense is actually not English, nor common, nor sense. It's cowardice justified, ignorance proclaimed, and arrogance incarnated. The photo is downright inspired. I know these people well.

  • GOR

    Headline in to-day's Telegraph: "Church blesses fathers with beer"This is the latest 'incentive' by the CofE to attract more men into church. Along with free beer, bacon rolls and chocolate bars were also mentioned.Talk about life imitating art! I'm sure the Vicar would approve…

  • Elizabeth

    …a matter of life and death or something…LOL.Thanks for a good chuckle…those poor mis-understood "ladies" groups…

  • Mark G.

    I think I work with the vicar – except he's an engineer. Pragmatic to a fault is how I describe my English friends. You could tell them that a thousand nuns & orphans died in a volcanic explosion this morning, & they'd reply, "Well, I suppose that's how those sorts of things go.""Matter of life & death" – Brilliant.Sorry I'm going to miss the conference this weekend. God bless you in your ministry & keep up the great satire!

  • Agnes

    Oh, those silly papists. Don't they understand getting to Heaven is simply about being a good chap and all that? Let the ladies have their 4 o'clock tree party, I say! Silly papists!Positively snarky.