So, I have been very excited about writing for threads and as I sat down to pen (key?) my first contribution, I began to wonder what I would write about. What has tickled my boat and scratched my bell this week?
There is only one topic really.
The dancing vicar. Rev Kate Bottley shakes her booty as part of a wedding flash mob – one that the bride and groom spent weeks practising with her and that got the rest of the congregation up and dancing.
You must have seen it.
If you haven’t, then take a look at it here.
Cue everyone having an opinion.
Some think it was fantastic, some think it irreverent, some – on the more ludicrous end of the scale – think it makes the argument against women’s ordination or could save the C of E (those are two different people, you understand). There are people who think it’s kowtowing to being a ‘trendy vicar’ and somehow seem to want vicars to be seen and not heard, while others are practising their own dance moves as I type.
I suspect that there is a healthy dose of jealousy involved in some of the comments which sound like they want Kate to go away and become invisible. However it raises a question. Should Christians be present in the public square? And if so, then what should that look like?
On the issue of whether Christians should be present in the public square, then I admit that I am rather irascible – where on earth else should we be? Christianity is all about entering into the worlds around us, whatever they may be and however alien they may feel to us. For goodness sake, we follow the One who entered the most aggressive world, butt-naked and as a baby, why would we think we are called to anything less?!
So then, should we have some collective rules about keeping the side up? You know… so we don’t embarrass each other? Believe me, sometimes I wish that we could when, head in hands, I watch some Christian campaign group proclaim things that I think are very far from my understanding of Christianity, or at least how I would articulate it. And this is why often you find the wide range of Christian voices missing from the marketplace.
The extremes don’t care what they look like and the people in the middle, who should be there, are too worried they might say the wrong thing. We’re worried we’ll get eaten alive. But the answer is not to hide ourselves away, it is to risk embarrassing ourselves and to recognise that the risk of not being present is far greater than the safety of invisibility.
Often people have these questions about blogging, tweeting, Facebook etc. They are concerned that something will be misunderstood, or taken out of context. My answer to that is: it is worth the risk. To stay silent is not an option. Presence is essential.
I refer you back to the butt-naked baby.
Childbirth is dangerous, bloody, messy….and….did I say dangerous? Babyhood is pretty undignified, vulnerable and unpredictable. Childhood is absolutely filled with space where you can roundly put your foot in your mouth at any given moment in time. And adulthood? Well, what can I say? It’s a veritable quagmire of possible pitfalls.
When this baby is our example I’m not sure that we have the right to remove our own particular distinctiveness from public examination.
With all its risk of showing us to be vulnerable human beings, we must enter the public square. In fact we must enter the public square because the risk of being human is our framework. Because the risk of being human, in public, is what it means to follow Jesus.
And that’s why anyone pronouncing that Rev Kate should have kept her feet firmly nailed to the floor, has missed the point. It isn’t about being a ‘trendy vicar’, it’s about Kate being Kate. In all her glory.
No one is saying that all Christians should get up and boogie in public. But I think Rev Kate absolutely should. It looks like what she was made for. And that is what every one of us is called to do – the thing that we were made for, to be the person we were made to be. If dancing is not what you were made for… then don’t do it. But whatever you were made for….do it.