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As the Church faces splits over the question of women bishops, almost 15 years after women were first ordained priests, this book gives detailed inside insight into what it is really like to be a woman in the church.
Jan Fortune’s novelised sequence of prose poems reveals the essence of an institutionalised world that is outwardly safe, yet constantly on the edge of danger. There is a dark, subtle wit at work here: a drama that is as tragi-comic as it is stark. Intelligent, crafted, darkly humorous and formerly inventive.
The events on which this sequence is based began with an interview in September 1985, when Jan’s vocation to become an ordained minister in the Anglican Church was tested. In September 1988 she was ordained deacon after a training period that stirred up more than its fair share of controversy because her first two children were born during her time at theological college. In March 1994 Jan was ordained priest at the first ever service of ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. In the two weeks leading up to the ordination she took part in over fifty interviews for media outlets around the globe. The service was recorded by the world’s media as a moment in history. Eight years later, after a series of assaults, she had to retire from ministry due to ill health. The deeper malaise, however, came not from random attacks by desperate people, but from the growing feeling that the church, as an institution, offered stale bread in place of communion.
"... far beyond the clear-sighted documentation of institutional and individual attitudes, this is the examination of one woman’s journey through a process. It is a word-dance of seven-times-seven veils, each peeled off, held up to the light and then laid aside until we see Meg, alone in the spotlight, as the curtain comes down. I found myself giving her a standing ovation – Brava! Brava!"
"... the transmission is so good that the reader wants more: more narrative, more filling-in between the vignettes. That’s a considerable compliment to this writer and this text."
John Idris Jones
Jan Fortune-Wood is a novelist, poet and editor. She has also written widely on alternative education and parenting. She lives in North Wales with her husband and children and is currently learning Welsh.