Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preach for the stars

One of the secret shames of the family is our white sheep, the tame vicar*.

He has this rather American habit of sending out a family newsletter each Christmas, which never ever ever EVER fails to annoy and irritate somehow. He has the knack of coming over as heinously smug and always manages to strike a jarring note.

On the whole, in theory, I think the newsletter idea is not such a bad one; it would be nice to find out how that part of the family are doing. But in practice, it doesn't appear to contain the sorts of things one really wants to know, like emotions or about serious events within the family, (such as the various cancers, remissions, weddings and the like) nor does it seem to be really about genuinely trying to reach out and make contact with the extended family. Preach out, on the other hand, oh yes.

Oh yes indeedy.

You may think this is just about me being an atheist and therefore being biased against the fellow, but my non-atheist relatives who receive these annual missives have the rolling eye reaction too.

Now now, I know, I accept, I understand that he is an evangelical and no doubt the spiritual well-being of us all is paramount to his mind and perhaps everything else seems minor to him. But really, it would be nice if he seemed genuinely interested in us & our lives or in sharing his & his family's lives with us, but what he actually shares is thin, very thin and mere gloss for an excuse to witness to us.

At least it's only once a year. He's done his duty and we're ticked off his list. In the box: going to hell. Huzzah.

It's this sort of thing that makes me sympathise with the Atheist Bus thingy, which normally I think is a total "why?" and "what a waste of energy/money" and it makes me want to send out my own, I dunno, Flying Spaghetti Monster family newsletter next year. Ramen.

It's just, well, dashed rude.

*I am not serious on this point. Much of the family is rather proud of his vocation and I, well, I consider it a trade suited to a younger son with no portion... I am serious about pretty much the rest of the post tho.


Anonymous said...

"A trade suited to a younger son with no portion" lol lol lol!!!! I think you should go with "shockingly blunt" with this tame vicar, because really what have you got to lose? Just say all polite-like, we feel patronised and preached at, what I'd LIKE to hear about is "real" news from you and I'll send "real" news about me. I know some evangelicals of such an ilk, stamp and kidney, and I think they are just terribly shy and they hide it behind piety and smugnity. I also have family members who irritatingly never tell me *anything* of their news even though I'm dying to hear, like I always send my cousins pictures of my kids and a return address, and they just don't, ever, so I can't even send a Christmas card back to them. Gah! Annoying. But that's nothing to do with religion particularly, just I empathise with your desire to have "real" communication with distant family members.

Anonymous said...

PS Abster ^ by the way.

Mephitis said...

Oh I don't know that I could actually address the issue!

I wouldn't like to try to explain in email or a letter, as hard to convey tone especially when we're virtual strangers. We don't see each other year in year out as that side of the family are a long way up country, so face-to-face isn't an option either.