"For many are called, but few are chosen."
And some who are chosen, it seems, become clowns.
A few weeks ago I put up a clown training video, and it opened a door for me into a world I knew nothing about: the world of Christian Clowning.
The door opened while I was looking through some of the YouTube links to try and find out more about that clown training video. I found out, for instance, that there is a website called GodTube (the "t" in tube is a big cross) that has many, many inspiring videos. I found websites where you can get clown ministry skits to use for free. Skits like "Beating Hearts", described as "an unashamedly pro-life skit for 6 clowns." You can find all that, and more, on the website Clown Ministry.
There are websites devoted to Christian Clowning Resources; there are websites for individual performers like Kingdom Karactors (if clowns aren't your thing, they also make and sell puppets!)
But it's not all yucks and poignancy in the world of Christian clowning. There is controversy.
In January, the Milwaukee Catholic Herald featured a cover story about a Pallottine priest named Fr. Greg Serwa. Fr. Serwa, in addition to his regular duties, also appears and ministers as Stripes the Clown. Here's Fr. Serwa on his ministry:
"As a priest, you’re always dealing with things that are important to people’s lives. You have to be real gentle with people. The same can be said for clowning; little kids can be quite frightened of clowns.”Well, this feature provoked a somewhat angry response in the "Off The Record" section of Catholic World News:
Putting aside the fact that many people are creeped out by clowns, it's hard to see the point of foregrounding this kind of story as part of vocation promotion. ... After all, do we want to entice into the priesthood the kind of 22-year-old male that would be attracted by Stripes?Finally, I stumbled onto an organization called Clowning 4 Christ. Clowning for Christ hosts a series of 2-day conferences around the country. The next one will be in Cincinnatti, Ohio, in April. There's a clowning competition, and workshops on hospital clowning, marketing your clown show, and "mime juggling."
Now, I don't know, personally, if a Clowning for Christ Clown Conference would be as much fun as Jesus Camp or Hell House, but I'd like to find out.