Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tell tale signs your parent/s may be clergy

The Archdruid reveals those Tell tale signs that you may be clergy. I was particularly amused by numbers 13 and 14. I think it would be interesting to see "Tell tale signs your parent/s may be clergy". These could include:

-Your mother thinks that one of the perks of the job is getting first pick of the jumble sale clothes. This one is perhaps not so relevant today as the church jumble sale seems to be in decline, but it was certainly true in the 1970s when my dad was a curate and  it seemed my mum dressed us almost entirely in  church jumble sale items. (Apologies to my mum if she considers this to be a calumny...)

-People whose teenagers never  ever attend church expect you to be there every Sunday without fail. (This was true in the 1980s. My dad's reply to "Where's your son/ daughter today?" was, "At home. Where's yours?")

- All your friends give you the religious Christmas card in their assorted pack and explain you got it so that they could get rid of it. (Yeah, thanks...)

- When university friends find out your parental occupation, they say, "You don't look/ seem/ act like a vicar's daughter." You feel a sense of deep gratitude.

-When they then meet your parent, they say, "S/he doesn't look/ seem/act like a vicar, does s/he?" ( Most clergy act like themselves, not a stereotype. Anyhow, to their children they are not really "a vicar", they're dad/ mum!)

Any others?


  1. An unlooked for, yet greatly valued role I have fulfilled among my ordained friends, is to be ‘ordinary’ and treat them, likewise, as ordinary – many knew before they donned the dog-collar anyway. However it does amuse me to see how others treat them – particularly when they are wearing their dog-collars. One such ordained friend, at his 40th birthday (held in one of the staff cottages of one of the better known episcopal palaces, where and his wife and children then lived – he was bishop’s chaplain at the time) showed the CD I had bought him for his birthday of Iranian folk music to several fellow guests. One turned to me and said ‘I presume you bought it because you know S*****’s tastes.’ To which I replied: ‘No S***** is tone deaf, any old ethnic shite would do, he just likes to have it on the shelf in his study to look sophisticated.’ The guy looked a bit stunned at my reply, whereas my friend laughed like a drain and said that I knew him too well!

    In a very real sense the world we perceive is constructed in the space between us. Many – particularly those who haven’t personally known vicars, nuns, monks, bishops, pastors etc. – have a picture of an ordained person that is built upon preconceptions. And it is true to say that priests, vicars, nuns or what you will, also play along with these preconceptions. The belief that the child of a vicar should be any different to the child of a doctor or an electrician is wrought in out of popular myth. An Afro-Caribbean friend of mine told me that it was the pastor’s son who performed the rite of passage that leads girls from virginity to womanhood at the Pentecostal church she was forced to attend in south London. Clearly this isn’t the expected behaviour of a cleric’s son!

    I am godfather to a vicar’s son and I can’t discern anything about him that would make him different to any other 12 year old boy – save the fact his parents are poorer than most.

    There are faults on both side of the vicarage door – those within who play up (or wilfully reject) the Derek Nimo stereotype; and those in the parish or wider world who think vicars are ‘different’. The only difference I’ve really notice is that vicars and their kind, tend to be a little more ego-centric and have a rather grandiose view of themselves, their role and abilities...

  2. When I was at school in the '70s there was aspeculation that my girls grammar school was to become mixed as part of a scheme to introduce comprehensive education. A rumour circulated (presumably based on the fact that my father had "Rev" in front of his name) among my contemporaries that if this were to happen my father would move me and my sisters to another school.

    I was also asked on one occcasion whether my parents allowed me to go to the cinema.

    I'm not sure what sort of image these people had of clergy families - certainly my parents had never had any concerns etiher about mixed schools or cinema-going and I've never come across anyone who did have religious objectins to either!

  3. Clergy children shouldn't be expected to be any holier than anybody else's children - and most clergy families see it that way. None of us are very holy really, are we, why should clergy, let alone their kids, be any exception?

    I should have added a point about being poorer than most - though I suppose the jumble sale clothes one hints at that. My dad worked a lot of his career as a school chaplin (which did pay better than a parish priest.)

  4. Peter, do you really think sex is what turns a girl into a woman? Can't a female become a woman without a man's help? :- )

    I know some remarkable single women.

    Iffy Vicar