Sunday, March 27, 2005

Why is it called that?

Chaplinesque. My spell-checker even recognises it, though it offers no definition. Mine would be, “reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, the English comedian who walked, danced, marauded through the world cinema from the 1900s to post WWII, the shabby tramp who made light of politics and pretension, aspirations and art.”
So maybe that is close to my mode as a chaplain here in the northern region of Melbourne in the autumn of 2005: a clown as well as a cultural critic, someone who’s spent time being alternately amused and terrified by the depth of pretension and hollowness in the modern world, but aiming towards some greater clarity, integrity and freedom.
But sometimes I think I work as a minister simply because it gives me such great pleasure: to talk and pray and play with people while offering them a safe and considered place to consider their relationship and response to what God and life may be asking of them. It is a joy and delight as well as an awesome responsibility.
I see myself as a teacher and minister of the parables: highlighting and exploring the biblical tales that Jesus tells to remind us who and whose we are; as well as helping others in their own moments of choice and chance when life – or God - drops a direct question in the midst of history, identity, or community and says, “So, where do you find me here?” I have worked well there because I have been there too: sustained struggles in my own history have taken time but it has often turned out that the raw material of my own life made me a better companion and minister for others going through the same or similar territory. I am convinced that God can use every experience in moving towards a new creation, and so can we!


Jim said...

Many others would have given up along the road you have traveled through the years. With various ecclesial committees saying that we can't make room for you and your ministry, you have bravely chose to minister nonetheless (and done so more fruitfully than many of these committee sitters).

Robert Whalley said...

Thanks for that. I think that there are a lot of us who receive mixed messages from the institutional church. I have gotten enough support from those off and on the committees to stay around, albeit on the fringe - or as we call it, the creative edge. This is not saying that I don't like corporate endorsements (everybody wants to be loved by mom and dad) but that there's a lot to be said for simply doing work you love and taking the support that does come along.