My late life partner and I used to love to watch the British comedies broadcast by the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., PBS stations — Are You Being Served?, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Chef, Last of the Summer Wine, Waiting for God, Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line and The Vicar of Dibley were among our favorites. I stopped watching most of them after Margaret died because their association with memories of her made me sad.
But late on Christmas Day, after my brother and his son, Awesome Nephew, had gone home and I had gotten Dad tucked into bed, I sat in the living room with my kitties idly browsing through the onscreen TV guide and noticed The Vicar of Dibley was about to come on. I love the arrangement of the 23rd Psalm that is sung over the opening and closing credits, so I tuned in and was delighted to see it was an episode I’d never seen. In fact — spoiler alert — it was intended as the last episode, in which the eponymous vicar, gets married and her side of the church is packed with other female vicars. Did I forget to mention the vicar was a woman, one of the first ordained by the Church of England?
The Church of England first permitted female vicars in 1992 and Richard Curtis created The Vicar of Dibley in 1994. Dawn French played the vicar, Geraldine Granger. Although only 20-ish episodes were created over the next 13 years, I suspect the show’s warmth and humor went a long way toward tipping the battle for acceptance of female vicars greatly in favor of, “This could work out better than we think.” And the fleeting image that captures the transformation wrought over the 13-year course of the show is when the camera pans over Geraldine’s side of the church before her wedding and all the pews are filled with female vicars:
As a woman I was glad to see how shows like The Vicar of Dibley can dispel fears whipped up by people whose real concern is losing power. As a lesbian, I wonder when liberal Hollywood will ever create comedies and dramas that will do the same for gays — illegal aliens and Muslims have rather jumped the line, in that regard. And as a conservative blogger, flabbergasted as I am that Obama kept a promise and signed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” on Dec. 22, the photo above is a symbol of where I believe gays and lesbians serving openly in the military will be a few years from now — making a valued contribution, equal and all the predictions of doom laid to rest.
If The Vicar of Dibley piques your interest, you can search on YouTube and find the first episode and the wedding episode. I learned this by searching YouTube to see if anyone had uploaded a video of the arrangement of the 23rd Psalm behind the credits — and lo!, someone has! I am joyful about this because the last time I searched for it on iTunes it was nowhere to be found, although that could have been because I searched for “Vicar of Dibley Lord’s Prayer” even though, dagnabbit, I know the words to both the prayer and the psalm. I hope you will find this arrangement as haunting and comforting as I do, and my new year’s wish for all my dear gentle readers is that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life and that you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: