Tonight (March 19th) I watched Craig Rennebohm's video. I believe that he is deeply convinced of the value of every inner person. He is fascinated and hopeful in the balanced combination of various disciplines to serve mentally ill "consumers/clients".
If asked as a chaplain to enumerate the non-negotiables in presenting a healthy faith foundation, (I believe) he might use the following: 1) God is good. 2) God is involved. 3) God may be consulted. 4) God is not responsible for all that hurts. 5) God is especially tender to the broken and contrite. 6) God wants you in some community of faith and nurture. 7) God finds no person more worthy than others of the benefits of Christ's passion and resurrection. 8) Jesus understands human suffering.
I liked particularly his image of standing beside the consumer and facing the world together, and in the simple day-to-day. The mentally ill are usually so terribly down on themselves, and they need the affirmation and simple sounding-board. The sense of a partner. He spoke of a Belgian faith community that simply welcomed the mentally ill into households who attended a particular assembly and all got involved in some aspect of service. Nothing extraordinary in the consumer's contribution. How wonderful just to be "normal" in this.
I heard the speaker deal a lot with what to do, what to prioritize, how to comfort. I did not hear anything on what to present. He was entirely secretive on his spin on the Gospel and the simple capability of the life of Christ to revivify. He was so respectful of traditions that he neglected the man Christ Jesus in his presentation. Now here comes the touchy point. The chaplain should not just be another comfort pillow. We know clearly that the Gospel first wounds and then binds up. Newton's hymn reminds us that Grace first teaches the heart to fear and then relieves those fears, unto everlasting peace. This must be the really difficult part of chaplaincy (to be honest with the Gospel, but at the same time constantly hopeful and reassuring). Many medical practitioners would be happy with a syncretic presentation of God minus the Four Gospels. Present a band-aid solution. Skip the surgery. These people are just too delicate after all. Well at another point these caregivers say that we must treat the consumers as normally as possible. (sucking and blowing?)
I remember reading a book by Corrie Ten Boom (Common Sense Not Needed). Very small and very simple; dealing with some of her pastoral encounters with the "feeble-minded". Her stories indicated that issues of honesty, repentance, restitution, apology, brotherhood, giving and forgiving were not foreign to these people. They could deal with them and triumph. The Holy Spirit played a role in illuminating them to spiritual concepts.
Note: See also the earlier post: http://momentsmidstream.blogspot.ca/2011/01/chaplains-note.html