I thought for a long time that I had some real issues with Nouwen... I realised via this exercise, however, that the issues were centred more around some of his 'followers'.
Something that I'd always found bizarre and frustrating was the Nouwen 'devotee'. It seemed to me that a small group of Nouwen 'devotees' seemed to take what Nouwen was saying and completely misappropriate its meaning... almost as a permission for them to not only be aware of their 'woundedness' but to completely transgress boundaries and bleed all over the place, leaving a rather messy trail of destruction after them. It's why I've been twitchy for years about Nouwen and this particular model of ministry.
As I wrote the piece on Nouwen's model, I realised I was not only twitchy, I was still, to some extent, a bit angry from having observed folk misusing the model, taking it and working through their own stuff by ostensibly 'helping' others. My sense was that it encouraged self-absorbed, self-indulgent, navel-gazing which did not in any way help the person move on to a space of healing and freedom. It seemed, as practised by those I observed, rather to encourage folk to remain in a cycle of dependancy or worse, to continue further into a downward almost narcissistic spiral. And seemed to be the very antithesis of what Nouwen was actually saying. I've never personally seen this model used well - in my limited experience - and wondered if others who happen upon this blog might have...? All comments on this model of ministry welcome - good, bad or ugly!