What shall I do about my Tourette’s? People say it’s very entertaining when my outrageous comments issue forth. One day, though, if they haven’t already, they’ll get me into terrible trouble. Are my Tourette tendencies eruptions of some long-suppressed frustrations? Evagrios (4th century) said: The demons that fight us in the front line are those entrusted with the appetites of gluttony, those that suggest avaricious thoughts, and those that incite us to seek the esteem of men. Is this my problem: the need to show off to others, the craving of recognition by those whose recognition is not worth having? If so, I suppose the first step is to recognise the embryonic urge to utter forth in glorious voice something that would best be left unuttered, and nip it in the bud.
Or perhaps my brain is wired that way, and this is an expression of me. If it were suppressed, would I cease to be me? Are the brains of comedians and performers – like clergy – wired in such a way that we need some degree of Tourette’s in order to do our work? Neuroscientists and pyschologists must have opined on this.
A common image of Jesus is, to quote from hymn and carol, someone meek and mild, obedient and good. The Jesus of Holy Scripture is charismatic, elusive, revolutionary, sometimes offensive, physical, thoughtful, sympathetic, empathetic. He rarely if ever answers a question directly. He is described by others as a glutton and a drunkard. These two sets of images do not match. Why not?
The church seems to emasculate men. It often seems very ‘girly’. Perhaps theological colleges have a burdizzo (look it up). No wonder men and boys are deserting the church. Which would you rather do: play sport or be passive in church? Of course, church needn’t be passive, and it’s possible to do both church and sport (or whatever), but in this case, Sunday morning ain’t a good time for getting folk in.
Maybe it’s this conflict between what I feel I am, and what people expect me to be, that’s the cause of my pseudo-Tourette’s. On reflection, though, I think I’ve always been like this. Maybe it’s hardwired in and I should live with it, enjoy it. When I and my colleagues were ordained, the Bishop told us that we must never lose our humanity. The hand that made us is divine.
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Not sure about theological training emasculating clergy. There is also the tradition of muscular christianity. tI have been working with groups of clergy in an Anglican diocese and they seem to be about as mixed as other gatherings of men and women I come across.