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Curacies & How to Survive Them

Author: Matthew Caminer with Martyn Percy and Beaumont Stevenson
Published By: SPCK (London)
Pages: 139
Price: £12.99
ISBN: 978 0 281 07343 6

Reviewed by Richard Dormandy.

Quite often as I’m driving or while doing DIY, I have Radio 4 playing in the background.  I find it moderately interesting, but it rarely interrupts the demands of my immediate situation. At the end of my listening, I have enjoyed eavesdropping on countless interviews and conversations, but can recall precious little.

Unfortunately, this book is presented as a series of ‘conversations’ between its three authors, as if they are being quoted as they speak. The authors are a psychologist, a theologian, and a management consultant. This makes it a perfectly enjoyable read, but I was left much as I feel after I’ve been listening to Woman’s Hour or Moneybox. I have been entertained, but not engaged.

For the authors to hear this would be quite frustrating, since they go to lengths to engage me! Each chapter ends with several points for reflection both for curates and for training incumbents. For example: “Would you know if you were crossing the line between assertiveness and bullying?” and “How do you balance the need to ‘be yourself’ and the need to ‘fit in’”?

This book is practical, rooted in reality (including fictionalised real case studies) and full of sound reflection. The authors discuss how each case study could have worked out better, and along the way allow some general principles to tumble out. It’s all well and good, but I’m simply not convinced that it’s the sort of book that many new incumbents or new curates would want to read. My suspicion is that they would actually prefer something presented more directly. At the same time, incumbents who have done a good deal of training are either unreformable or have had most of the thoughts contained in the book anyway. To sum up: it was fine. For both training incumbents and curates it may be worth a read, since it touches on all the basic issues in a sound way. However, it didn’t really take me anywhere beyond the obvious, and it didn’t present the obvious in a compelling or memorable way. This book leaves me wanting something better!

Richard Dormandy

Vicar, Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill, South London

Ministry Today

You are reading Issue 65 of Ministry Today, published in November 2015.

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Ministry Today aims to provide a supportive resource for all in Christian leadership so that they may survive, grow, develop and become more effective in the ministry to which Christ has called them.

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