Magazine article Anglican Journal

Christy Clark: Natural-Born Politician-Of Faith

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Christy Clark: Natural-Born Politician-Of Faith

Article excerpt

ASA TEENAGER, Christina Joan Clark would stay after class and passionately argue points with her history teacher. At the family dinner table, young Christy debated the issues of the day with her father, a schoolteacher and a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) candidate, and her mother, a family therapist. As one observer noted, it would be easy to imagine a pigtailed Clark rounding up votes in the schoolyard for the game the kids would play at recess. Of hardworking Scots descent, she learned to have respect for a dollar.

Now in her second term as premier of British Columbia, Clark, 48, makes good use of those early-honed skills as she pursues her pragmatist's agenda of growth, job creation, debt reduction and the elimination of poverty in her economically stalled province.

A cradle Anglican who grew up in the small, progressive congregation of Christ the King Church in Burnaby, B.C., Clark has since attended every type of Anglican church and pretty well every other type of worship site, from temples to synagogues and mosques. Once a student of comparative religion at the University of Edinburgh, the premier remains fascinated by other traditions of worship and the doctrines that underpin them. She considers it a privilege of her office that when she travels, she's often invited to worship with people of other faiths.

Still, she finds plenty of variety in her own fold. "The Anglican church has many different faces of worship, but whether the service features a rock band, a beautiful choir or a spare liturgy, there is always the same basic element of tradition, which for me is very important," she says. The familiar patterns offer her a respite from the agendas and stratagems of political office and an entry point into meditation. "The repetitiveness of worship helps draw us into a space where we are thinking about faith and what it means," she says. "The prayers, the psalms draw me to the familiar and make it much easier for me to be contemplative."

While she's gratetul to those who enter the priesthood, the self-confessed extrovert says she doesn't have the special mix of patience, diplomacy and, above all, listening ability to be a good priest herself. "I do a lot of listening, but I also give a lot of feedback. I'm probably more directive and opinionated than a good priest should be," she says. Clark, who is a parishioner at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral, admits to being "a bit in awe of the range of skills priests need to have today."

Her faith remains an essential part of her survival kit in the often-hostile territory of partisan politics. …

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