Dear Diary

November 16, 2011

Romance! Marriage! Family! God! This week’s diaries take on the big questions.

Naomi

If you live in the UK, I highly recommend you watch the TV series Rev (Thursdays, 9 PM, BBC2). Usually, on any drama or comedy, priests are comedic characters—blundering, out-of-touch white-haired men. But Rev gets it right. It shows vicars* as they are. They smoke and drink and have doubts and swear and have to figure out how to balance their home life and their church life. They have irritating parishioners to please, and homeless people ringing the vicarage doorbell. I should know. My father is a vicar.

Most of the time, the fact that my dad is a priest is just another normal part of my life, like anyone’s dad having a job. But there are certain ways in which it’s really different.

For instance, we don’t own our house. The church owns it. I used to worry that visiting friends would think we were rich because of its size—especially the size of our garden. Because the truth is that vicars do not get paid very well, especially for how much work they actually do. But at least we have a free house to live in!

Dad knows everyone, and everyone feels like they know Dad. Whenever I’m with him when people approach, I feel bypassed and a little awkward, standing there with nothing to say while apparently whatever these strangers are saying to Dad is of the utmost importance. It can be frustrating to watch these interactions, because these people don’t really know Dad. They don’t live with him day in and day out. So many people pull his attention and energy in so many different directions with so many different demands. They don’t realize how hard it is for him to please them all. The church can occasionally attract strange people—I suppose it’s good that it accepts everyone for what they are. Sometimes, though, it seems like accepting everyone is impossible, and I step back and wonder at how Dad can be such a good, wise, humble man.

It’s not surprising that everyone wants a piece of my dad. Another name for priest is preacher, but my father never really preaches, you know? He isn’t patronising. He doesn’t use his authority to control people. He is invariably kind and considerate. He never turns anyone away. For some people, he is their only hope. He manages to balance all these people that invest so much in him, and he earns their trust. He is really, really good at his job.

The freedom that my parents give me is something I try not to take for granted. I’ve been able to shape my ideas and spiritual identity on my own terms. I’ve never been forced into anything. We are a liberal family primarily—pro-choice, in favour of gay and female priests, not denying the fact of evolution. I am not forced to go to church on a Sunday. We rarely say grace before meals.

I have many different aspects to my life; spirituality just happens to be one of them. It’s integral but not overbearing. I recognize that spirituality and religion can be so many things to different people. I’m a teenager, so I haven’t had time to figure everything out just yet, while my mind is already full to bursting. My relationship with spirituality is fluid, changing and developing from one day to the next. I like my relationship with God the way it is—personal, almost private. My father respects that and lets me be. I am pretty sure God’s all right with it, too.

There are people at our church who understand the pressure that my father is under, and thank goodness for them. Church might not be full of saints or people who would agree with my interpretation of the Bible, but there are a lot of fundamentally good people who mean well and have a lot of love. But my dad still trumps the lot of them. ♦

* Common name for priests in Britain.

Page

1 2 3 4

14 Comments

  • moonchild November 16th, 2011 7:25 PM

    This is really great. ILUUUUU KATHERINE! and I want a burrito too.

    http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

  • Juniper November 16th, 2011 7:49 PM

    You know I’ve actually always wondered what it would be like to be a priests kid.
    Thank you! http://marieljuniperberry.blogspot.com/

  • Ophelia November 16th, 2011 7:58 PM

    Burritos. I can relate to this. :)

  • C.M. November 16th, 2011 8:18 PM

    So I know this isn’t the most appropriate venue to express this matter…but is anyone freaking out that the entire Marc Jacobs S/S 12 was just SWIPED from a train?

    • Anaheed November 16th, 2011 8:42 PM

      Whoa, seriously?

      • C.M. November 16th, 2011 9:09 PM

        Mid-tranfer from London to Paris it just vanished! They had to cancel any future press regarding the collection because there was nothing to show! 46 outfits. Gone. It’s like taking the Mona Lisa then WEARING IT.

  • Ruby B. November 16th, 2011 9:20 PM

    Aww, Katherine! That sounds terrible! But don’t let it get to you; she’s obviously not so confident herself if one of her main values is marrying someone else.

    Ruby
    therubylotus.wordpress.com

  • roseinthewild November 17th, 2011 8:19 AM

    I have to say as a 24-year-old the marriage pressure only gets worse. At 17 I could not have been less fussed about marriage, although some of my associates were. Now I am 24 and recently dumped (what an awful word), I feel “on the shelf” and left behind my friends who are engaged or already legally bound. I am in terror of being “too old”… Too old for what though?

    There is so much pressure for relationships to “go somewhere” and this is propagated by almost everyone I know my age. I don’t even know what my own, true, views on marriage and relationships are anymore because I feel swept along by these expectations.

    Other people’s behaviour like that which you experienced never stops either. Well, not up to the age of 24!

    I hope you can detach and not internalise these beliefs. I was rejected and alone and “a freak” for most of secondary (high) school and although I am okay with my individualism now, the fact that no-one else seemed to be okay with it has left me with some very troubling low self-esteem. Which seems to lead to bad boyfriend choices, difficulty in relationships, rejection, being alone and feeling like “a freak”. Who will never get married. Vicious cycle.

  • mangachic November 17th, 2011 4:48 PM

    Naomi’s article was fantastic, it’s heartwarming to hear about a pro-lgbt vicar who thinks his kids have the right to decide their beliefs for themselves. There are all the horrifying stories about religious anti gay programs and the like and it’s uplifting to hear about someone who combines religion with tolerance. Not trying to be stereotypical or critical here, I’m sure that there are a number of Christians are open and accepting of lgbt, but you don’t hear about them as much. Or maybe the majority aren’t accepting, I’m not really sure. Anyways.
    He sounds like a great guy.

    • Naomi November 17th, 2011 7:32 PM

      i completely understand what you’re saying. i think it is a lot different in the uk than the usa actually. and also, you don’t tend to hear about it as often really, as with most good things!

  • back2thepast November 17th, 2011 6:03 PM

    It’s great to have such a great man be your father. I always love Naomi’s articles!!!!

    • Naomi November 17th, 2011 7:33 PM

      thank you!!!! and yes, he is a great great man

  • spiderplant November 21st, 2011 3:51 PM

    i have been slowly totting up the similarities (midlands, countryside, music) but the vicar-dad connection has finally got me. Rookie-sister, we are as one. Love your writing and would love to send you a copy of my old perzine with a cool priest-pa article in it x message back if yah x

  • chaplin December 7th, 2011 1:49 PM

    Someone once told me that I am the type of person who will never date or get married, and I will only attract weirdos. That comment seriously lowered any self confidence I might have had. It hurt even more because I considered this girl to be my friend. I should say though that I stood up for myself and called her a jerk for saying that. Also this girl and I are no longer friends; I decided that she is not a nice person and I don’t need her.