Circling overheadJun 24th, 2007 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ministry
Wikpedia defines a vulture fund as follows:
“A vulture fund is a financial organization that specializes in buying securities in distressed environments, such as high-yield bonds in or near default, or equities that are in or near bankruptcy. As the name suggests, these funds are metaphorically like circling vultures patiently waiting to pick over the remains of a rapidly weakening company or, in the case of sovereign debt, debtor”.
Vulture funds came to mind after a telephone conversation. Some clergy display all the characteristics of a vulture fund, circling, awaiting an opportunity to gain a foothold in a household, awaiting a chance to add another family to their list of adherents.
In parts of Northern Ireland it was common that pastors from tiny fundamentalist groups would use the attendance of a family member at their service as grounds to gain access to a house where there was illness and would preach their particular brand of graceless religion. Sometimes they would terrify people into submission, more often families with no church connection would tell the undertaker that they wanted a “proper” funeral and the undertaker would phone the hapless minister of one of the main churches to come to attend to the burial arrangements. The vultures would be beaten off temporarily, but would land again as soon as the obsequies were past
The impact of the small sects was questionable; they would sometimes arrive in a dramatic way only to disappear as quickly. They were often riven by doctrinal disputes and would splinter and splinter again, each successive group claiming it was truer and more faithful than its predecessor. What they meant to the people with whom they came into contact is much more serious, their particular brand of exclusive and apocalyptic theology allowed salvation only for themselves, anyone who dared to demur brought judgment down upon themselves.
While products of our personal history, we should never be prisoners of our past; even so, I remain very reluctant to step into a situation at a stranger’s instigation, for fear that I be seen as the very thing I most hate – a vulture.