Religious change according to Bouma

…where Australian religion and spirituality are being taken seriously, they are being taken seriously in a distinctively Australian way. These Australian characteristics include a tentatively curious exploration involving listening, attending, venturing with the whole person and being true to one’s experience.

(Gary Bouma, Australian Soul p1)

Chaplains will immediately recognise these characteristics. They are at the heart of today’s chaplaincy.

…Pastoral Care is a caring resource at the client’s point of need. It allows the client to ‘set the agenda’ with the chaplain being available to journey with the client as a vulnerable, caring, listening fellow human. 

(SA Heads fo Christian Churches Chaplaincy Committee)

I once heard a remark that the “best ministers” were becoming chaplains, creating a problem for filling ministry vacancies in parishes. And more recently, a retired Anglican priest insisted to me that every parish priest should spend some time in his career as a chaplain.

Bouma’s insights suggest why chaplaincy might be becoming a preferred option for, or way of, ministry – namely that there is something going on in Australian society that resists the traditional way of presenting ‘answers’, particularly if there is only one ‘answer’! We are more at home, he suggests, with quesions. We value exploration.

I’ve only read the first chapter, but his new book looks like being an invaluable contribution to understanding the religious and spiritual shifts taking place among us.

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