The problem with destiny
I was reading a post by a friend today, and decided that my response might actually be longer than the original post if I wasn’t careful. She’s currently studying medicine, has both a Methodist Mum and a Catholic Dad, and, perhaps despite, perhaps because of this, is a raving ecumenist. This would of course be a problem if she had to pin herself down to one church, which would mostly only happen if she chose to get ordained. The only problem with this is that (a) she wants to be a doctor, (b) her Mum’s becoming a methodist minister, (c) lots of people think should go that way too.
I can’t help, with tongue in cheek, suggesting that if the problem is that she’s too catholic and therefore, being female, can’t be ordained, try the Anglicans and if she’s too Methodist but wants to keep at least some catholic connections, erm, join the Anglicans. And of course, if you want to be a female leading high-church worship, that pretty much damns one to Anglicanism. Its probably the single major reason I don’t look elsewhere, because its just easier to be a part of a church with everything under one roof, even if the roof is developing some rather worrying holes and the rain keeps getting in.
Better still, one could train now, i.e. early twenties, and upon reaching 30, become priest in charge of an LEP that doesn’t have a methodist minister, only an Anglican priest. LEP’s are local ecumenical partnerships, thus they used to always have a Minister from each “side”, only now they don’t because that would get stupidly expensive. Unlike Heslington LEP, where they have Anglican worship one week and Methodist worship the next (mostly meaning they never get Methodist communion or Anglican morning prayer), the now-ordained friend could even go for split personality: act out being a Methodist minister one week, and then a Catholic priest (albeit Anglo-Catholic and Female) the other week. As weird as that sounds, it more or less plausible that it could happen.
On the other hand, why am I even suggesting this? I know I hate it when people go “so you’ll be a priest too then?”. Being told you should follow in your parent’s footsteps is one of the most disempowering things that can happen to you as a young person. It might give you a sense of direction, but it won’t help you break out of the normativities of the past, or become a distinct person from your parents. If I were to go into ordained ministry now, I’d be doomed to being like my Mum even more than I already am! Its not that I don’t think people should support their families, whether as parents or children, I just think that doing what your parents did could make you a complete clone rather easily.
I recently discovered that one of the people most determined to make a priest out of me was for a time assistant to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, yikes! That’s like one fifth of the hurdles cleared without anyone bothering to offer me a “get-out” option. Whilst I recognise that I’m losing a fighting battle with this, and that the inevitable will likely one day come, I’d like to at least try and differentiate myself for a bit first!
All of this had a rather interesting impact upon me when I was reading an email sent by the National Union of Miners, one of those unions who don’t just stand up for their current worker’s rights within their job, but actually believe they should ensure that every future son of a miner gets dragged down the pits aged 18 (or maybe even 16). I always feel that really the NUM and others should do more to help people escape the cycle of generation-to-generation immobility. Not necessarily to make yuppies of miner’s kids, but to at least give them a better chance of moving to a job of their own choice. Instead, it all seems to be about finding a future for people to keep doing the same thing.
Whilst its kind of cool that people think they’d trust me with a church (or 15, by the time the C of E is even nearer going broke)