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Top 10 tips for staying healthy as a Curate in a Vacancy

A screengrab from Google showing zero results for the search phrase "Healthy Vicar"

I received a call the other day from a colleague who is doing some research work on clergy well-being and asked me for my top ten tips on how to stay healthy as a Curate in a Vacancy. I’ve given it some thought and produced my list which, with his permission, I reproduce below. Oh, and by the way, that really is a screengrab from Google – I didn’t mock that up.

The early ones in this list are general tips for ordained life rather than specifically about a vacancy or being a curate. The later ones are more specific to the kind of situation I’m in now.

I have to say too, as something of a disclaimer, that some of these are more aspirational in my life right now than reality before anyone who knows me cries ‘hypocrite’!!! I do know that I need to work harder at Read more

CofE falls foul of digital switchover

An image of a microphone on fire

You know how you sometimes bookmark news stories and websites that you think ‘I must blog about that’ and then never get round to it? No, may just be me then.

Anyway, here is my oldest ‘must blog about this’ story that I never got around to that stems from 2007. The BBC ran a story in February that year about the Government’s plans to auction off the spectrum of frequencies controlled by Ofcom. They noted that the auction could threaten the use of radio mics in theatres, festivals, concerts and other special events because they were not being ring-fenced in the proposals. Use of such frequencies could either get more expensive (much more expensive), they might cease to function entirely, or, at the very least, if they did work, interference could be a real issue.

I took note of the story because the obvious thing to say from a church perspective is that a lot of churches would be affected as well. I can’t remember a time when I visited a church (even fairly high, traditional churches) where the leader of the service and/or the preacher was not mic’d up. Indeed, more often than not the microphones were radio mics. Churches, in that sense, are obvious users of such technology since as a president of a Holy Communion service or a preacher, you’re going to need a fair bit of freedom of movement that a static microphone is going to find much harder to accomodate.

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Atheist Delusions

Photo of the book jacket for Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart

As a Curate, along with the rest of my mentor group of Curates, I’ve just finished reading David Bentley Hart’s 2009 book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.

I must admit that it’s not the sort of book that I would have naturally chosen to read if my mentor group had not made me. However, I’m glad that I did take the time with this American Eastern Orthodox theologian, philosopher, writer, and cultural commentator.

The book is pure polemic in which Bentley Hart takes on the so-called “New Atheists” of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and even Philip Pullman. I think it’s more than fair to say that he doesn’t have very much that’s good to say about them. One of the real marks of this book is how incredibly and deliciously rude he can be about his opponents. Check this out from p220:

‘The best we can hope for [in the contemporary debate] are arguments pursued at only the most vulgar of intellectual levels, couched in an infantile and carpingly pompous tone, and lacking but the meagerest traces of historical erudition or syllogistic rigor [sic]: Richard Dawkins triumphantly adducing “philosophical” arguments that a college freshman midway through his first logic course could dismantle in a trice, Daniel Dennett insulting the intelligence of his readers with proposals for the invention of a silly pseudo-science of “religion”, Sam Harris shrieking Read more

Our shame adds to Egypt’s shame

Picture of the icon of Christ with Abba Minas or Christ and the disciple

David Keen has been highlighting the activities of the UK Border Agency today and, in particular, a story written by Paul Vallely writing in the Independent about the detention of children by that agency and the impact on their mental health. 1300 children were held in immigration centres in 2008-9 here in the UK. Moreover, the Royal College of Paediatrics and the Royal College of Psychiatry’s study into the mental health of children in such centres showed that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the children displayed some signs of distress and 73% had developed significant emotional and behavioural problems since being detained. Not one of them had previously had such problems. Paul Vallely writes:

All the children seen by clinical psychologists presented as being disorientated, confused and frightened. More than half, who had previously been well behaved at home and in school, had developed conduct problems.

It is nothing short of shameful that this kind of treatment of families and children should be happening in the UK.

However, I want to focus on another aspect of Paul’s story. I want to focus on the Egyptian Coptic Christians, Hany and Samah Mansour, and their five kids under ten who fled to the UK Read more

Frozen UK 2010

A photo from a satellite image of the UK totally frozen white.

I saw this image the other day, taken from NORAD satellite imagery, of the United Kingdom in its current frosty condition – submerged below heavy snow. I honestly can’t remember a period like this where one heavy snowfall has followed another and another in such quick succession.

The usual deal with snow here is that it comes, it melts, it goes away. We are all inconvenienced for a day or two (and we really don’t *do* snow very well in this country) and then we get on with our lives.

This year has been most unusual, at least in my experience, in that it seems like the snow is here to stay.

I know we haven’t been the worst affected in the UK but even so, the picture from my back garden tells its own story. The garden table (with a bird table on it being well used by the local population at the moment) is covered in about 10 inches, I would guess, of this ‘orrible white stuff. Read more