Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.
I don’t know what you lads think of this, but I was just buttering my toast yesterday morning and reaching for the marmalade when She Who Must be Obeyed harrumphed behind the Daily Telegraph–as she is wont to do. She pointed out an article that says there are now more girls joining the boys scouts than boys. That’s a bit rum, I must say.
Daphne said this is what always happens: the girls push to join the boys’ clubs and eventually they get in and take over, and before long the boys leave. I think she has a point. When I was a lad the altar servers were all boys. Then they let the girls in, and in no time at all serving at the altar became a girly thing and the boys dropped it. Same thing with the choir. Used to be boys and men. When they let the girls in the boys took off.
Daphne said, “Seems a bit odd that the girls always have to barge in on the boys’ clubs, but none of the boys ever want to join the girls’ clubs.” I see what she’s on about. I mean, you never do hear about boys wanting to join the girl guides and men lining up to join the Mother’s Union or getting together a petition to be able to join the Women’s Institute. I mean it just doesn’t happen.
It’s all rather worrying. Daphne went on to point out that the same thing is happening in the Church of England. It used to be one of the top notch professions being a vicar. Now we’ve opened the door to the ladies our ranks are filling up with well meaning women going around doing good. An awful lot of them are lay readers who go off to do part time theological training and end up slipping on a dog collar and being non stipendiary ministers and rather muddling things up. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to be opposed to women’s ordination, but the whole thing is making me think. I was talking with Fr. Giles over at St Barnabas about it and he said that he and his Anglo Catholic friends had predicted it all along.
“Look here,” he said, “The clergy fraternal used to be jolly wheeze where we fellows would hang out and discuss business and share a few jokes, and now it’s gone all serious and pious with these sincere women and their attempts to change the world. What male undergraduate in his right mind wants to join a profession which is now not much more than a ladies prayer circle?” Well, I think that’s a bit extreme, but to tell you the truth lads, poor old Giles is utterly fed up and I think he’s about to tootle off to the Romans along with some of his folks.
What I mean to say is, I’m not for a moment suggesting that I’m opposed to women’s ordination, however I did bounce some of my thoughts off Lavinia at Archdeacon Huffington-Post’s garden party and she nearly went apoplectic. Steam coming out her ears. That sort of thing. Said women had made such strides to equality and were at last taking their rightful place alongside men. I didn’t realize it, but Daphne had sidled up by that time and after a sip of sherry said, “It’s a Pyrrhic victory my dear. What’s the point of women taking their place alongside men if all the men do is opt out and leave it to the ladies? There’s nothing new in all this–just a case of women wanting to wear the pants in the family.”
The Archdeacon didn’t intend to have fireworks at the garden party, but my dear fellows, you should have seen the sparks and fur flying! Lavinia taking Daphne to task for converting to the Church of Rome and Daphne, bless her heart, holding her own with considerable fortitude and dignity. She seemed to have the upper hand too, I might add. Finally she rose above it all and simply said, “Women priests are an absurd and odious innovation. The Holy Father stated it quite clearly: the Catholic Church doesn’t have the authority to ordain women as priests. Rome has spoken. That settles it.”
At that point Lav stomped off and said, “Well, then thank God I’m not a Catholic and never want to be.” Now this made me think lads. It really did. I mean to say, I’m not one to become a Roman by a long stretch. It’s too foreign. Too much kissing the bones of saints and climbing mountains on your hands and knees and all that sort of thing. But I do think that a clergyman in the Church of England–or a clergywoman for that matter–ought to have respect for the Catholic Church, and even old Canon Farnsworth used to say that the Church of England is the Catholic Church in England but reformed, and we ought to at least want to be a bit Catholic in some sort of way shouldn’t we? Rev Lav was awfully forceful, and I have to be truthful–not a little unpleasant, and it’s made me think.
On the drive home Daphne made a few more points until I changed the subject. She’s been reading all these books on Catholic apologetics–most of them American it seems. Keeps asking me where the Church of England gets its authority. Rather tiresome her taking it all so seriously. She was much better when she stuck to the odd Agatha Christie or Dick Francis for her bedtime reading. Now she keeps asking me these questions and I’ve got to go digging through my old theology books to find some answers. It’s not always easy I must say. I do wish she’d leave it alone for a bit.
Enough about me lads. Sorry to unload, but there it is. Another half of lager shandy? You know, if you don’t mind I’m just about to tootle off home, but before I go I wonder if you’d mind awfully getting me a little nightcap? A double would be smashing. Single malt please. That Glenmorangie is just the ticket. No. No ice.