While I was visiting friends this weekend, a few people quizzed me about the mystery life of a curate. We all know ministers work on Sundays, but what about the other six days of the week? You know, all those days off…
Well I do get a day off (usually). It’s on a Saturday. But as for the other days, though there are a few fairly stable points, one of the refreshing things about my work is the variety. Every day is different. I alternate between working on cerebral things and relational ones, with children and with elderly people, with the sick and the healthy, in different places, in different social contexts… the list goes on. I also seem somehow to inhabit two eras: the twenty-first century, where almost everything and everyone is online, and another earlier time where everything is determinedly lo-tech.
Quite often, Tuesday is a day when I create a space to study. This morning I headed up to the church for 8am as usual, to open up before Morning Prayer, which I say there daily (Monday to Friday) at 8.15am with anyone else who’s around. It’s a reassuringly lo-tech affair: a prayer book, a bible, and at this time of year plenty of layers to keep out the chill of a cold church.
After Morning Prayer I made a few phone calls, dealt with some emails, checked the church Facebook and Twitter accounts and met someone for coffee before heading to spend the rest of the day at the library. I’ve been here, gazing at a laptop screen, since mid-morning, with occasional breaks to retrieve a book from the stacks. Study days tend to be long; I can’t afford not to make the most of them. I prefer to work at home, but just now I’m in the early stages of some research, a so I need books at my fingertips.
My research topic is tied to how we use technology, looking at the phenomenon of selfies. The idea is to write some sort of theological engagement with them. There isn’t much written on selfies yet, and less still from a Christian perspective. What there is seems mostly quite critical, concentrating on interpretations that regard selfies as narcissistic, or as somehow undermining the value of human persons. While I’m sure that can be right (think Kim Kardashian) , I’m not convinced that’s the whole picture, and I wonder whether there isn’t something more constructive to say. We shall see. Wherever the project goes in the end, it seems reasonably clear to me that we need to continue to reflect seriously, and theologically, on how our use of technology might be influencing us, and how our use of it influences the world around us over time. Maybe by the time I submit my thesis I’ll have more of a clue. I hope so.
Tomorrow will be a different sort of day. We host a community lunch on Wednesdays, staffed by a team of volunteers who make soup and serve it, along with sandwiches and then tea and cake, and it’s free for anyone who wants to come. There will be volunteers to chat with, and I try to be around to have lunch with the guests. Often, around 20 folk come. For many it’s their only contact with church, and for some it might be their only company all week. We laugh lot, and there’s good conversation, not to mention good cake. There’s also a short service in church at the end. Lots of lunch people stay for that, and I go too. Then in the afternoon I’ll probably make a home visit or two. Finally, in the evening we’ve got a ministry team meeting – a monthly get-together of the group of folk in the congregation who help lead worship in different contexts. We hatch plans for the future and keep an eye on how any changes and innovations are going.
But for now, I should get back to the books.