We now find it impossible to live as we have done for the last three years on a single clergy stipend alone, about 25K a year before tax.
We have no dependants, no dog, no repayments. We have only one car (well actually not at present since the back axle is banjax(l)ed, so that’s a few thousand smackers on a replacement vehicule). The point is—and this is a rhetorical question—how do people manage these days? There’s a lot of people earning less than me, without the house, without the expenses, without the non-contributory pension. Maybe unmarried, sorry unpartnered, clergy can manage, but there must still be some clergy families—yes families, not a couple like us—who have to manage on a single stipend.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m out of touch and all clergy spouses earn. After all, many of today’s clerics are married to doctors, lawyers, and other professionals, reflecting the fact that only romantic idealists would think of clerical life, and you don’t find many of them lurking in places where people run round like blue-arsed flies* doing several jobs in order to feed the family and pay the bills.
This, of course, says a great deal about the institutional church and its view of those at the sharp end of ministry. It surely can’t be long before parish ministry is entirely in the hands of House-for-Duty or retired clergy. I hear that one diocese in the extreme north west of England is tacitly adopting such a policy. This will allow the smaller number of paid clergy to have jobs in diocesan offices thinking fine thoughts and dreaming up initiatives and wheezes to inflict on the volunteers who actually do the work. Imagine, dear reader, telling volunteers what to do. How long before the volunteers tell the apparatchiks where to stick their wheezes? Still, I suppose with fewer paid clergy, stipends can be raised. Maybe not.
But let’s put clergy aside. After all, there soon won’t be any left and I doubt few will mourn their loss.
What about daily life for a huge number of people, including many here in this parish, as prices rise and inflation gathers momentum, the rich getting phenomenally richer while they do not?
What can we do about it? Will a change of government accomplish anything? I doubt it. Will Obi Wan Korbynbi, sitting in his magic money tree counting his leaves, come to the rescue? I doubt it. St Paul’s is hosting a refuge for the homeless this winter, but that’s like sticking an Elastoplast over an abscess—handy enough, but no substitute for the surgeon’s knife.
Comrades, revolution is called for. The trouble with a revolution, though, is that you end up exactly where you started. That’s what revolutions do.
* does any species of Diptera have a blue arse?