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April 23, 2005

Clown ministry

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While researching the post on gospel magic, I stumbled upon a remarkable subculture: clown ministry.

The Layperson's Guide to Clown Ministry helped me get my bearings.

It's not all squirting flowers and homilies, I'll have you know. The gospel clown posse has developed an estimable theological and doctrinal corpus (cf. The Clown Commandments, and The Clown's Prayer). You may not agree with them, but you have to respect their supple theological minds.

There are several sub-sects within the movement, including the ever-popular Gospel balloon ministry. Professor Wonder's Gospel Balloon Applications Database allows gospel balloonists to share their routines online.

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As you may have guessed, clown ministers more internet-savvy than your average street mime or itinerant friar. They also use the web to share skits like these crowdpleasers: Clown Crashes the Nativity, Donuts and Freckles ("a skit for two clowns, demonstrating what baptism is, and isn't").

The Spilt Milk Clown Company asks:

Would you believe that we have had the opportunity to share our love of Jesus in prison and homeless shelters?

Frankly, I'm having a hard time picturing Bible clowns going to prison. (I keep thinking about Tom DeLay.) But apparently, clown ministry is mainstream within the greater clown community. For example, the general interest clown site ClownForum has set aside an entire forum for Church And Ministry Clowning.

One of the more popular threads is Clowning at a Memorial Service, wherein clowns talk shop (e.g., grief counselling with balloon animals)...

I also wanted to add that there are several stories you can use and add balloon scupting to it. type in Waterbug and grief on you search engine. It's a great story for helping people deal with death and while telling the story you can use a bumble bee balloon and a long balloon [160?] and go from a waterbug to a dragon fly. You can use any story about any animal that changes, tad poles become frogs, caterpillers become butterflies ect.
...and discuss their own end-of-life preferences...
BANANA TREE: I know after going to three funerals this summer I began discussing my own preperations. I told the wife that I didnt want my last act on this earth to be something that makes people cry after a lifetime of laughs. I havve instructed her to request balloons and streamers instead of flowers, and to dress me in my Jester outfir and Gilroy makeup. I've also requested to be wearing a button that everyone can read when they approach the coffin - the button will say "I'm not wearing any pants" I figure if that doesnt get a laugh, nothing will.

Some may find that tastless, but I see death as a reason to celebrate, not to mourn, and I want people to remember me and giggle. My dream funeral would be the one from the Mary Tyler Moore Show when chuckles the clown died - She laughed her head off during the Eulegy. I can think of no finer compliment that a clown could be paid/

MR. BUCKAROO: What a great idea. and instead of the funeral march play a john philips sousa march or circus music.

BANANA TREE: Actually I was thinking something like Livin La Vida Loca or the Hokey Pokey...maybe even the bunny hop for while they aare viewing the body on their way out.

SAPHIRE6SUE: I'm with ya there, I'm on time now [barely] but used to be at least 3-5 min late no matter how hard I tried. I've told all my family I'm serious and I'll haunt them if they don't to it, but I want my casket in another room for viewing, and to wait until they start the service and about 10 min into roll me down the aisle so they can tease me about being late for my own funneral. I told mom every would get a good laugh, beleive me I'm not in any hurry to get there but I know were I'm going and it should be a celebration as much as it can be.

Recommended reading: Clown Ministry Handbook ("Arguably, the book on Clown Ministry"),Who's Who in Clown Ministry, and The Clown and the Cross magazine.

[Addendum: Mathias of Industrial Relations has a great tip in the comments, a link to that bears on two issues dear to my heart. Mathias' link demonstrates conclusively that Johnny Damon is Jesus and Jesus loves clowns.]

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In the interests of fairness and balance, I am including a link to the Porn Clown Posse. (Not safe for work in any way shape or form.)

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Clown ministry:

» Jesus & Clowns from Last Day of My Life
Lindsey Bernstein found a bunch of links for Christian clowns. The subculture is rather huge. [Read More]

» Clowns on the Left, Jokers on the Right from Slice of Laodicea
If staging a nativity scene by the Sunday School is considered tired and old and definitely not likely to draw in the masses, churches may consider livening up the Christmas story with....clowns! That's right. This skit idea where a clown... [Read More]

» Clowns on the Left, Jokers on the Right from Slice of Laodicea
If staging a nativity scene by the Sunday School is considered tired and old and definitely not likely to draw in the masses, churches may consider livening up the Christmas story with....clowns! That's right. This skit idea where a clown... [Read More]

Comments

I'm gonna have nightmares tonight, I know it.

So what's their policy on mimes?

Lindsay...I have always found clowns and evangelists scary. However, after visiting the Clown Ministry site and reading about the twin newborns in separate warming bins,I think i am sold on the Clown Ministry. Thanks for turning me on to this sweet ministry and ridding me of my paranoia about clowns. I am still worried about evangelists. BXVI seems to think there is only one way. I bet there are Muslim clowns.

John Wilkins and I worked out that Godspell is what mimes learned to sing, having been sent to the scorpion pits by Discworld's Patrician, advising them to "Learn the words."

And while I'd probably not call them clowns, nor necessarily religious, it's difficult not to be reminded by your article, of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Let's not forget that Jesus loves Clowns too (Jesus with Clown)

Thanks, Mathias! I've updated the post with a link and an acknowledgment. (See above.)

In related news:

"A Chinese Rhythm stick is used to tell the story of Paul the apostle. (Acts 9:1-31)"

"A running hedge trimmer, a sword, and a set rat trap are juggled to discuss the fact that we were created to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (John 3:36)"

From here

I am now going to have nightmares of flipping channels ten years from now and finding that the Insane Clown Posse have been born again a la Hammer and have created their own Clown Ministry.

I don't think I'll be able to handle that.

I had just been thinking about how few really funny Christians Ive run into lately. And how few really unattractive female pundits there are on TV.

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While ICP doesn't claim to be Christian, or anything... they do believe in a higher being... Look up the lyrics to "Thy Unveiling"... (ignore the swearing... if you haven't HEARD all the music with an open mind, you'll never get the whole meaning of the song...)


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Tyrone Slothrop | April 23, 2005 at 09:52 PM

I am now going to have nightmares of flipping channels ten years from now and finding that the Insane Clown Posse have been born again a la Hammer and have created their own Clown Ministry.

I don't think I'll be able to handle that.

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