Twenty Years On

In 1997 I was unemployed and recovering from some serious illness. I was disenchanted with the church, and was more wounded than I knew. I'd had huge commitment, some talent, and the beginnings of some wisdom. I'd felt like I was really beginning to be useful as a minister. All that was no match for fear and lies. The whole experience showed in sharp relief the pointlessness of much that churches were doing- all the busyness and shifting of deck chairs.

Struggling back to work, faced with what seemed like pointless shuffling in the parishes I knew, badly lacking in perspective, I had no answers. I had no language to communicate what little I knew. I could see no future for the traditional parish I had grown up with. I wanted to explore and search, but felt like I was been asked to shout the old words even louder so they would somehow work. I felt like I was being asked to embody a lie to help people feel safe and happy about things they could no longer believe.

I couldn't do it. I no longer had the energy or the patience for parochial pieties. I was getting grumpy even over the good things. So l left church employment.

I tried to find on my own way of saying what is important. One Man's Web, which had begun life as Jan Struther's Home Page, was an attempt to continue to say something, to force me to articulate what I was thinking, and to keep some kind of faith with my calling.

It's been a privilege to talk and write to people from all over the world- nothing like as many as I would have liked, but enough. I've had the privilege of being able to write a little truth, and to encourage people to be honest with, and face their struggles. I wanted people to know that it is ok to doubt, and fear, and struggle, and have no answers. Especially men; we are supposed to be so self sufficient. Other men- and women- pounce on any sign of weakness.

I wanted to model living a faith where the way is not clear, and to model being patient as answers develop over time. I wanted to encourage people to trust their instincts and experience of life, as well as being probing and questioning about the old traditions. I wanted to model growing and changing, and not being ashamed of previous ideas that we can no longer espouse, but which helped "then."

The site has always competed with a growing family and a busy job. It's patchy, hurried, and not always well thought or well expressed. The only "grand plan" has been the paragraph above! My priorities have changed  with time.  And as always, my cynicism, and my liking to start things more then maintain them, has shaped what has happened.

So after 10 years I was slightly surprised to find I was still online, working on through the issues. I am encouraged and blessed to have found a way forward, and to find despite all my cynicism and doubt, that the Divine still is.

For three years I put my creative writing into a now defunct site called a church (re)Wired, sponsored by Scots Church Adelaide. Most of the material was transferred to One Man's Web in 2011, and I am writing here again. I hope there is something here for you. (2015)

I was born in Australia in 1955. I grew up on a mixed farm, did a degree in agricultural science, and worked as a community development person with Pitjantjatjara people in the late 70's and early 80's. Currently I am the minister at Hare Street Uniting Church in Adelaide.

In the beginning I named this website  "Jan Struther's Home Page" as a whimsy based on Joyce Anstruther's hymn "When a Knight Won his Spurs…" This is because the site began exploring what it meant to be male, and wondering what had been lost in the ockerdom which marked my childhood. I had benefited enormously from the feminist theologians I had read, but felt something lacking; I needed to take the insights of my sisters and yet express them in my lived experience. I understood that I could not live at the expense of the more than female half of society—not that I had much idea 20 years ago just how entrenched and how extreme male privilege was, and still is—but neither could I live someone else's experience. What I said about God, how I lived, had to be true to my experience. What did it mean to be a man who did not live at the expense of other people, especially women?

The site witnesses to 20 years of being re-made. Not according to some grand plan that I had in mind, but serendipitously (another name for grace) as this life unfolded.  I have not revised much of the content; one of my early goals was to model being able to grow and being relaxed about earlier ignorance. However, in a few areas, I have removed some unhelpful content. Andrew Prior (2018)


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