Life continues. It was very good to whinge about being an… - Sally's Journal
I was brought up by priests. They earned remarkably little and I fitted the criteria of "poor" you describe above (although I knew a lot of people who were worse off, we lived in nice houses, I managed to go to a private school through a) coming top in the entrance exam and b) my parents being priests and elegible for bursaries (it was an Anglican school) and so I never felt poor). My parents are excellent at managing their money, and we always managed to get free or nearly-free holidays in cornwall and things. And clearly with two academic-theologian-vicar parents I was brought up with an outstanding home education which I'm continually grateful for. So yes, disposable income is not the best indication of the phenomenon you're discussing.
|Date:||June 1st, 2005 11:06 am (UTC)|| |
I've often found it hard to understand the way in which priests are poor. Or rather, I've wondered about monks, so some of this doesn't apply to priests, I guess!
They have, largely, a security of food and shelter, and respect and status, that for other people costs a great deal of money, and is, really, the vast majority of their spending. I'm not dissing the life of the priest in any way, there are I'm sure it can be very difficult and arduous life, but I'm not sure the extent to which it's typically poor.
(Not knowing anything about your circumstances, I don't mean this to diss your argument, it's just something that I wonder about, and that you mentioned).
By "poor", I mean things like "home made clothes/hand me downs/no trendy clothes/no "latest" toys/no posh holidays/all home made food/sharing rooms with siblings in a small house" rather than "no food" or "no well made, well fitting shoes" or "no roof over head".
I was using this definition of "poor". Personally, I'd describe "poor" as being much lower than this. And in some ways we were lower than this - if we needed to spend unexpected money because the washing machine broke usually it could be covered by my parents savings, which were low, but always there because my dad is an amazing budgeter. But sometimes if there were two of these things in one month or something we'd run out of food. As with the student example though - it's amazing what you can live on if you have to, you don't expect otherwise, and you know there'll be some money coming in soon.
Priests aren't "poor" by any sort of single-mum standard. They get a house and social status. However, they earn about £18 a year for working 70-hour weeks (at least) and are often required to do several other jobs simultaneously for which they aren't paid (my father, for example, was Warden of Readers in the Leicester diocese, which was officially a three-day-a-week job but for which he was entirely unpaid.) I also know cases where the diocese had simply run out of money (the Anglican church is *not* rich, that's a myth) and therefore were obliged to make someone NSM (a non-stipendary minister; i.e working for nothing) particularly in cases where two priests are married to each other. Half a vicar's salary is their rent, yes, but my parents only ever had the one house, and never received compensation for the house they weren't given. But. I'm not complaining, I'm making the point that no disposable income != poor :) We had no money, but we weren't poor.
I should probably also add that a huge reason that we had no money is that my parents have always given away 20% of their income to charity, every month, even when they couldn't afford to do so. It's a choice I could never make, but I vastly respect them for it, and I don't believe I suffered as a result.
It's a thing which monks themselves often wonder.