4. The Joke About The Horse And Descartes

What came over me?

There I was, having been shortlisted for the position of House for Duty Team Vicar in the Schorne Team of churches, with responsibility for two beautiful rural parishes, sitting with fifteen of my interviewers over lunch on the day of my interview and out popped the joke!

To be fair, it was probably because I didn’t feel I had any chance of getting the job.

After all, the second person shortlisted was an accomplished vicar with years of experience in traditional church. And I’m sitting there, bald head, earring, with a slight Cockney twang, no experience in traditional church, let alone rural ministry, without any real idea about how things work in these parts.

It’s like when you first fall in love with someone you really want to have a relationship with, but at first, the whole situation is rather intimidating and overwhelming and you end up saying ridiculous things to try to impress them!

First encounters like this are normally memorable for all the wrong reasons, but never very impressive!

The interview process was over two days and involved meeting various people, including the “competition” who was chaperoned along with me by the Rural Dean who spoke enthusiastically and realistically about the opportunities, challenges and expectations awaiting the newly appointed Team Vicar. On the first evening we shared a meal together in a local restaurant accompanied by Parochial Church Council members of the two parish churches concerned and clergy colleagues in the Schorne Team.

The meal was great, the conversation stimulating and the people interesting and interested in the both of us. Sarah, my wife, joined me and we stayed overnight in the delightful home of one of the Church Wardens and his wife.

The second day was interview day and lasted several hours, with various groups of people involved in the interviewing process. We had been asked to present a five minute reflection on verses from Jesus’ prayer in John 17. It came to my turn and I dispensed with notes and clutching my big black Bible, spoke from the heart. It has always been my custom to prepare well, rehearse well and remember bullet points to which I attach the salient points of my talk – rather like using pegs to hang clothes of all shapes and sizes on a washing line. It seemed to go well, although I worried that I may have been a little informal in my approach.

Oh well! If you try to be something you really are not, people know it immediately. I could only be me, as inadequate as that might be.

Then came lunch and the inevitable joke!

I know you want to hear it!

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks the horse if he’s an alcoholic considering all the bars he visits, to which the horse replies “I don’t think I am.” And suddenly, POOF! The horse disappears. Now if you are into philosophy you would know about Descarte’s proposition of cogito ergo sum – “I think, therefore I am.” But if I had told you the meaning of the joke at the beginning, that would have been putting Descartes before the horse.

Yes, I know! And the miraculous thing is – I got the job!

About Steve Flashman

Steve Flashman is a singer/songwriter, published author and has appeared on TV many times over the years. He toured extensively as a professional musician and set-up a Short Term Service Charity which worked in some of the poorest areas of the world. He is currently living in Buckinghamshire UK with his wife Sarah and is Vicar of two rural parish churches.

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