perhaps i'm mad

sometimes it can be difficult being involved in the conversations that i come across being involved in fulcrum. especially at the moment with all the discussions on whether women can be bishops or not. the problem being that really all these discussions revolve around the same 'headship' issues that simply proves that the conversations that were done around women's ordination to the priesthood did not do the job they professed to do. if people can accept women as priests only because they have a man above them as bishops, then we still have a problem with how women as priests are viewed, and therefore treated, by their male counterparts. this is more deeply rooted in anthropology than issues of church order.

anyway, point being, that sometimes all that stuff washes over me more easily at some times than at others.

but in this last week it has all been a little bit tough really. i'm not sure why. but it has made me ask whether i'm not just a little bit mad to be giving myself, not just to God, but to an institution that remains decidedly ambivalent about whether i'm a valid part of the structure or not. why would any sane human being do that to themselves? i'm sure psychologists would have a field day. some would suggest i have a deep seated self-loathing that leads me to give myself to something that tells me every day that i don't quite match up to the norm/ideal.

whenever anyone makes the argument that women are just demanding their 'rights' when it comes to leadership in the CofE, i just laugh - i mean, seriously, who would want it if they didn't think it was a response of obedience to God?

but one of the other things that i've been struggling with, which has been a bit unexpected, is being a little bit lonely. i have some good friends here, i do, so i'm not sure lonely is the right word. it's just that the way that the structures work here is such that Q and i slightly slip through the cracks. let me explain. i am the ordinand, Q is the spouse. but Q is not a 'wife' and i am not a 'husband'. so when it comes to socialising together my friends, who are generally blokes, don't tend to ask me to play, and the spouses don't tend to ask Q out. but neither does Q get invited out by the male ordinands or i by the female spouses. can't win really.

in addition when it comes to the 'couples' thing, it tends to be the women who hold the social diary and so when they think 'who shall we invite for dinner', they tend to gravitate towards their friends, who tend to be the women they meet at the spouses group (not Q). and my male friends tend not to invite us for meals together because it's just not where their head is at. ergo, Q and i have not been invited to anyone's house for a meal since arriving at college over a year ago. no, i lie, we have been invited for one meal. one. in a year. it was a female ordinand.

this is not anyone being mean, it's not that these are people who don't think i should be here, it's not any big 'political' statement...lol....it's just that the structures that are in place, official, or unofficial, do not support women with young families training - and this is one way that plays out in the 'social space' of theological training.

it takes a lot of energy to be here, as i've said before, sometimes i'd like it not to be me that does the running. so when you encourage women to go for ordination, remember to ask yourself the question - are you willing to be her friend? - because unless you are, it may be that you are asking too much....


Luke said...

why do you state that issue's of headship are more to do with anthropolgy that church order?

radical disciple said...

hi luke

i see the conversations that are had being much more about the relationship between men and women as human beings (biblical anthropology worked out through readings of Genesis read through our cultural and societal lenses), than, stemming from Paul. If one reads the (about 10) verses from Pauline letters from a background where the idea of hierarchy between the genders is defunct then they can fairly easily be read entirely differently.

However, people tend to read Paul through anthropological lenses that assume hierarchy, and not only that, but assume the divine nature of hierarchy.

Chris Howson said...

The good news is that the Church of England is changing. The trajectory is one of liberation and hope. It may not feel that way at times, but even in my brief life as a priest, I've seen the level of conversations improve regarding women in the church. Women are gradually humanising the Church! The real struggle will be if we can see greater maturity in conversations and decisions over the issue of sexuality.

Blessings on your journey, and please be in contact if in the Bradford area!

Jill said...

My sympathy on the 'loneliness' thing. As a woman in ministry, I find that I need to take the initiative. If I invite colleagues for dinner, they're quite likely to invite A. and me to theirs subsequently. But yes, we fall through the cracks in so many ways.

Jo Royal said...

Gosh - reading through some of this blog was like reading my own thoughts! I so know what you mean about it being a lonely road sometimes - and that this road wouldn't be our first choice if we didn't really believe we were called to travel it! It isn't easy! I am going through ministers training at the moment, and know that the battle hasn't really started yet - but I am ready for the fight (well, most of the time!) Thanks for this!

radical disciple said...

jo, thanks for leaving a comment. good to know that it resonates for others too.we do need to articulate what is going on for women in training, or in curacies and incumbancies, there's a paucity of stuff which makes women feel like they are on their own.

where are u training?