Welcome! This is a site news and commentary blog for dailyoffice.org. I am Josh Thomas, the lay Vicar of the title. I don’t actually march around the parish boundaries, but I’m all in favor of churches doing it – one theme of my initial post.
The Daily Office East and West (two sites, timed for the hemispheres) evolve frequently, and as the founder and host, I need to communicate with our members/visitors outside the context of the daily prayers. In the past I’ve done “Special Posts” when something unusual was happening, but the bigger we get (2.5 million page views), change occurs more frequently – we’ve launched Friday Video Evensongs and daily webcasts just in the past few months – and I feel I should make a more frequent effort to discuss innovations and new understandings, and invite your feedback. So this is our online parish newsletter, without the postage and dead trees.
As the title Rogating Vicar indicates, I hope to do this with a light touch. God is serious business, but I am not. Long screeds are banned from these pages. This is one place we can come to have fun.
Now is as good a time as any to mention why I call myself Vicar. Since the 1970s I’ve been a commissioned Lay Evangelist in The Episcopal Church, with a national preaching license from the Office of the Presiding Bishop. You can count the number of people like me on one hand; very few people have even heard that Episcopalians have Evangelists. And I’ve found from the beginning of this site in 2005 that no matter how often I tell people, “I am not a priest, not a deacon, not ordained, I’m the same as you,” some folks will never understand, and I’ll always get e-mails addressed, “Dear Father Josh.” This always worried me because I was afraid someone would think I was masquerading as someone I’m not; but no amount of correcting them ever did any good. I’d answer those e-mails, “I am not a priest,” and the next day get a reply, “Thanks for writing back, Father Josh.”
So I gave up, and decided to invent a title for myself – one American Episcopalians have heard of, but don’t really know the meaning of, just that it sounds churchy and vaguely English. It worked! I get mistaken for a priest a lot less now, but I have more permission than ever to throw my weight around and order minor functionaries about. It’s the best of both worlds!
In other words it’s just a persona. I’m really not the Evil Vicar, but I occasionally pretend to be for laughs. People just needed to be able to put me in a mental slot they understand, so my phony title works out great. Meanwhile, it’s a job with a serious aspect – properly speaking, a Vicar stands in “vicariously” for a Bishop who has the final say over a small church – and I am working with my own Bishop, +Cate of Indianapolis, to clarify what the lines of authority and responsibility are. We are independent of the Diocese in some respects, yet very much a part of it in others. When I started this hootenanny nine years ago, my first act after I hit Publish was to write to her and tell her what I was up to, so she wouldn’t be blind-sided and could exercise whatever discipline she felt was needed. We’re still working it out, but I am loyal to my Bishop in her vocation and ministry.
I am very lucky that she keeps a watchful eye but lets me cut up on occasion. So I tend at times to play up my imperious side – it was either Vicar or the Dowager Duchess of Grantham, and Maggie Smith already beat me out on that one.++