Before I ever heard a woman preach, when I knew it was theoretically possible, but did not know where or how to find it, I discovered two fictional women ministers: The Rev. Margaret Bonner, an episcopal priest in Gail Godwin’s Evensong and Geraldine Granger, an anglican priest in the BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley. Neither of these women was perfect, but each was sincere and real. And they made it seem so possible, as if such women actually existed (which, it turns out, they did). There is a first book (Father Melancholy’s Daughter) about Margaret that explains much of what is in the background of the second book, but I read the second book first and it holds a special place in my heart. (I will admit I have read other Gail Godwin books, and haven’t been able to get enthused, even the ones about people in academia. Go figure.) The Vicar of Dibley is just great good fun with a bit of heart and soul thrown in.
How my mind works:
I haven’t read Evensong in awhile, but “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” (in the Presbyterian Hymnal it is “Our God Our Help”, and not “O God Our Help”) was our closing hymn yesterday, and I looked up the lyrics as I wrote the prayers of the people, trying to get a feel for why it was the closing hymn for worship on Veteran’s Day weekend. As I came across the line “a thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone” something was triggered in my head: someone used that in a book. I thought of Evensong immediately, and discarded it, thinking I was getting the title mixed up with the line, but I couldn’t think of another author or book and it kept niggling at me until I pulled out the book, remembered the video Ben sent Margaret, and found it. So. It’s that kind of book.