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Friday, 13 February 2009
Message for the Unemployed
Good evening. Now you may not have heard of me, but I am a clergyman. And, as such, I have one of the safest jobs in the country. Indeed I am especially safe because I am a bishop and indeed the one for London. So you might find me in St. Paul's Cathedral from time to time, and I do a lot of the big things with government and royalty.
I'd like therefore to talk to you about the benefits of being unemployed. Now when I move down Blackberry Way, in the City, I think about all these people working, and how they would prefer to be more like me, not having to do so much from day to day, or at least if I don't do much I can get away with it rather easily. Although we do go by the maxim: "Jesus is coming, look busy."
As I understand it, though I probably don't, most people when they work get told what to do, or, if they are self-employed, know what they have to do, in order to keep some money coming in. Well, for me, I just act as a bishop and for this I live in a very nice house all paid for and money in the bank every month.
I really want to recommend this, and tell you to get a bit of the work life balance so denied to people who move down Blackberry Way but which I am able to enjoy.
As I also understand it, and I probably don't, we have a welfare state and so people who are unemployed fall into a nice safety net which is a bit prickly of course so that the government hopes you get itchy and look for a job. Indeed if you don't look for a job you can lose your benefits and you will soon end in dire poverty anyway.
Whereas, of course, the clergyman is on flexitime, though I do like to deny my clergy people freehold so that they sharpen up a bit with a threat of unemployment. It's good for them. This is especially if they are women, and certainly anyone who is gay or who gets married as a gay, though I can't get that bloke who did it because he has a freehold.
But rather than see unemployment as a threat, and as no way to live, falling into debt because the benefits are so low, and losing your house, and can't afford to run a car, and cannot renew anything - even clothes, why not instead see unemployment as an opportunity?
In the Church of England we already do some modelling on this basis. We do not pay lay readers anything for their labour, nor non-stipendiary ministers, nor anyone other than those we put in one of our houses. No, we expect all but choice clergy to do the work for nothing, and indeed give generously so that the money comes into my account once a month. I understand that in some other denominations they pay people for taking a service, as well as providing travel expenses. We manage to do a few travel expenses.
But I especially recommend unemployment because you don't have to travel anywhere! No, you can stay at home and get under each other's feet, and enjoy the feeling of poverty shared around the house. Blessed are the poor, after all. When the washing machine breaks down or something like that, there is the dignity of labour of hand washing clothes and then you don't need to have the heating on. We know that people on the dole get no help with heating, and this is because the government thinks the unemployed should be out walking in the snow asking their neighbours if they can do their washing, by hand of course. But let me reassure you: I do not think this - you must not wear out your shoes; I think you can stay at home, so long as you come out on Sunday to visit one of my establishments.
And another thing you can do. When you are unemployed you really can get rid of all those mobile phones and other electronic devices, because you won't need them. Indeed you can really enjoy a monastic-like life of no contact with anyone in particular.
Incidentally, if anyone feels a vocation to be a priest, please make sure that you are in work first, because we are rather suspicious of people who approach us without a job. Indeed, if you are an older worker coming along, we'll probably arrange one of those cheaper distant training courses after which you can stay local and we will never pay you for what you do. But, despite my pay, I do model my life on the unpaid and unemployed, and this I can do because I am probably the last person in the world to lose my job.