Summer is at its peak. It’s hot. And for reasons outside your control, the otherwise-reliable power supply has been cut. No air conditioning, and since you don’t know when it’s going to come back (it will come back, right?) you don’t dare pillage the fridge, so to preserve the chilled food you have left.
What do you do to stay feeling cool? These make my list
- keep the curtains closed when the sun is up
- try to draw a breeze by opening two or more windows
- keep meals light and cold, or at least uncooked
- keep the lights out, even if modern lights don’t produce much heat any more
- take frequent, light showers (or at least make good use of a damp wash cloth)
- drink as much cold water as possible
- air the bedclothes before sleeping
- wear modern fibers, which wick sweat, dry quickly and minimize feeling sticky
Of these, all but the last was common in my grandparents’ day, and perhaps their grandparents’.
When we read about — heck, know — about highly educated (and deeply indebted) ministers who are unemployed or under-employed in church work, it’s not hard to sense that times are changing, and are very unlikely to return to the go-go days of postwar Protestantism. The power is going out: short stoppages now, but there may be a day when the grid fails completely. We need to prepare for this risk, and be grateful that we still have choices (if not always happy one) and that these are not fundamentally life and death issues.
And, looking back on that hot weather solutions list, I’d like us to consider the wisdom of an earlier time that faced some of the same problems and had to cope. Relying on a practical ministerial education more, say, than an academic model. Forming more parish yokes. Making ministerial fellowship more flexible for dip in and out of (better paying, one would hope) secular work. Revisiting credentialed lay ministry, an inheritance from the Universalists, was only formally laid down a few years ago. Not to mention making conference attendance and professional development less of a financial burden.
There is surely room for modern technology, but I bet we already know and have known the essential steps to making necessary changes. The will is another matter. Until then, the heat is on.