To boldly go

Changes, changes, changes. Who can predict the future? Post Brexit referendum the jury is still out as to what that all means. Gibraltar the clearest ‘remain’ vote (could this be down to vested interest?!!) and yet one of the biggest financial contributions to the leave vote campaign came from there. How will a year-old party shape up in France? Across the pond what is happening?

Dependent on the glasses one wears and therefore how we see the world I guess we could be anxious wanting to go back to some safe boundaries (for safe read yesterday and status quo) or we can see opportunities in the space that is opening up. I lean heavily to the latter. From a theological perspective I do so as my eschatology does not have space for a future antiChrist, but consists of an open future that we are challenged to shape in the light of the gospel of freedom; and from an intercessory perspective I see the open space as a result of prayer. Our task is to open space and let it be filled by those of positive vision for the future whether they have faith, as we define it, or not.

In some correspondence today I suggested there are three aspects of society that are essential to shaping the future at this time. I do not place them in an order of priority but suggest they are:

  • education
  • media
  • arts

All aspects / spheres of society are important but some have been colonised more than others; some have been suppressed more than others; hence I select these three as perhaps containing the greatest potential. In reverse order…

The arts. Years ago I gave a crazy prophetic declaration that when we learn how to value art the housing market will be re-valued (in many areas that means de-valued). When house prices dictate who can live where, we are not living in a free world. There are also come crazy valuations in the art world, but there are many artists (in the broad sense of that word) who are working with little return. Meanwhile there are those who make money from money… Paul was clear that those who are entitled to eat are the ones who are working, which of course begs the question as to how the word ‘work’ is to be defined biblically. I mentioned above that some spheres have been colonised, and some words certainly have. We have colonised ‘work’ along an ’employed’ / ‘unemployed’ line. Once we remove those terms from a creational context we will have very little left to pull us in a new-creational direction.

Artists are gifted to open our eyes, ears, emotions and imagination to where we could be going. There is a lament contribution that can be made that exposes the right grief about what we have done, but I think now we need more than ever a message of hope. Faith is related to what we hope for, it creates the shape for faith to develop.

The media. We have prayed for a new media. I admire the way that the media continues to push to get stories, even when so much of it has been designated as ‘fake’! The media is not unbiased, and this applies to the media that I like as well as the media that I disagree with. Thank God for social media, although so mixed, it gives access to alternative perspectives, sometimes alternative facts, but even when that is the case these are alternative facts coming from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down.

A free media is vital. In most of our democratic western nations we struggle to really have a free media. The mainstream newspapers of the UK… the TV channels in Spain… ‘freedom’ is not the first word that could be used to describe them. But we are witnessing the same kind of shift as during the Reformation with the printing press and the release of Scriptures in the ordinary language. Controlling the press cannot and never will be absolute, and I applaud those who are committed to its liberation and doing so at personal cost.

Education. I love history, knowing the story of where we have come from is essential. The wisdom and knowledge that has got us here has great value. Animals seem to learn some aspects through instinct, but we as humans learn this through intentionality. We have the knowledge how to build a car, but imagine if you were the last human alive. I would struggle to put together a cart akin to one from ancient society. The knowledge and gifts are held corporately. We can build a cart, a car, a space rocket. Knowledge has great value in being passed on, but creativity birthed from questioning will take us further. Education is not simply teaching people what to think, it is certainly teaching people how to think, but perhaps its greatest goal is to teach people to question.

Neo-liberalism has all-but destroyed most aspects of the economic and business realms, so much so that there seems even in the Christian world very little radical thinking. Unless we have at the core the deliberate non-maximisation of profits, coupled to a strategic plan to be free from the love of money, and at least a measure of embracing the principle of jubilee there does not seem much hope for a change there. (And if this is not arrested I might well have to change my beliefs about an antiChrist – not because of the Bible but our inability to take the Bible seriously enough…)

So in this little musing coming out of this morning’s correspondence I am suggesting that the three areas of education, media and arts might be at the forefront of setting health care free from the monetary colonisation that is there… and from health care there might even be a shift elsewhere.

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6 thoughts on “To boldly go

  1. Education. Root of the word meaning ‘to lead out’.

    I am blessed to have my own children in a school run by my local church as the result of brave, risk-taking men and women who went before me deciding to take responsibility for the educating of their own children rather than handing them over to the state.

    I look on sadly at our UK state system and the way we have emphasised temporal knowledge on superficial issues over deep issues of character. You can know all you like about the latest computing language but if you do not understand that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ then what’s the point really.

    I don’t care if my children become poets, computer scientists or street-sweepers. I do care that they grow in knowledge of the Lord, of His ways and that they are full of the joy that comes with. I want to ‘lead them out’ in a knowledge of Him, no more, no less.

    In that sense Martin, I might be a bit more muscular than you in my approach to education. I think the whole “teach them to question” idea explains pretty well how we have got where we are today.

    If there is any point to teaching (older to younger) it is that there are lessons learned in the past that are worth passing on to the next generation. For me those are issues of righteousness, integrity, character etc that are mainly found in scripture. “Train up a child in the way he should go” is a positive and active phrase, quite different to “teach him to question”.

    blessings

    Nigel

    1. Thanks Nigel. I take your comment on education. The issue with a post is they are short and incomplete. My angle on the teaching them to question is related to the at quo of how things are, and more applicable to later education. It also highlights the need for worldview issues to be central.

      The post was also in the context of where can we look for leverage for the transformation of the dominant worldview. Hence I suggested the three I chose.

      Further I do not think education stops (nor begins) with school. The most effectual media is often non-educational. Telling people what to think.

      I value your take and response. And applaud your desire for the future of your own children.

  2. Speaking as an educator. . .
    Who also lives in a diverse, multi-cultural society. . .
    It is great for people to train their children in their traditions, cultural heritage, and religion as long as the children are not trained to despise or negate or harm others. I love the religious and cultural diversity of my classroom because we are all human beings first and foremost and mostly just the same as one another. Same needs, same desires, same issues. So as long as parental education stresses respect and care for others, all others, I’m good. In fact, I use it in the classroom to engage and for all of us to learn from one another.

    I agree with the other comment that education is about more than technical skills or a chosen career and its training. Much more and that is why it is so critical. I struggle with people removing their children from the public system. The rich have done this forever as a means of perpetuating and reinforcing a class system (soft or hard, loose or rigid). Religions also like to do this, also as a means of insuring that their offspring reflect their particular values. And I even have a friend who works in a school on her off days to ensure that immigrant kids learn their parents language from their former country, in this case Russia. In some cases, removal from the public system diminishes and harms the public system and in the case of the Saturday language school, does not.

    I think the real issue is how the parents see themselves in relation to the wider society. If you see the wider society as something harmful, which for the sake of your children, you must resist, then that will be communicated to your kids. If you see the wider society as something very human, that is both great, and sometimes terrible, then perhaps you might have a different response and a different approach.

    For me, as an educator, my goal is to train young people to be critical in their thinking about their chosen profession, about the training for it, about the wider society. I want them to leave even my technical skill classes asking questions, tough questions. Why is our economic system the way it is? Who does it benefit? Is that fair? What changes need to be made? How does that happen? (Our understanding of fairness is part of being human and has little to do with religious training) What is our relationship to the earth? Are we caring for our home or destroying it? What are the ramifications of our behaviour? What changes have to be made? Who is accountable to make the changes? How do we make them? How do we live together as human beings? What does it mean to respect others and their decisions for life even when those are different from mine? How do we cooperate with people different from ourselves to build a better society for all? What are the acceptable limits on behaviour within a community? Why? Who determines and enforces those?

    Obviously, I could go on.

    The key issue in educating a young person is that we are mentoring them into the skills and values they need to survive in their context. That might involve everything from knowing you don’t lie to growing one’s own food. And it might involve, in our cultural context, knowing how to program a computer. The prime difficulty in education right now is that our context is radically changing. I was in a meeting this week with government officials concerned about skills training for a low carbon economy. Interesting discussion that included union officials, people from different trades and educational institutions. It was too narrow in many ways.

    Public education has also been undermined in the past few decades as administrators (who proliferate like bunnies) have introduced the ‘business model’. Teachers are underfunded, employed mostly part-time, and stuck in a system that often does not allow them to actually teach. It is frustrating. But I’m not sure withdrawal from the system is the answer. I think we actually need lots more parents involved. Not the way we usually see them now. . . arguing that their child should be passed or graduated when they really failed or cheated. But rather engaged enough to demand a system that actually prepares their child for a future, one we can barely imagine, where most of what we know will change and will present many new challenges.

    That kind of engagement would be the most helpful to the educators and the students.

  3. “Artists are gifted to open our eyes, ears, emotions and imagination to where we could be going. There is a lament contribution that can be made that exposes the right grief about what we have done, but I think now we need more than ever a message of hope. Faith is related to what we hope for, it creates the shape for faith to develop.”

    Love that quote. Think it is a shift that is already being witnessed in the world of music. The response to Manchester was a hastily arranged concert by Ariana Grande, the pop singer caught up in the bombing. The response was not one of anger, but of hope, healing and affirmation. Many of the artists would not be considered political heavyweights at all, but the concert gave back to the city a little something that was a balm to the cities wound. I also see in the world of rock music a shift towards a sound of hope and celebration. Bands like Arcade Fire, M83, Mew, Gungor, The Flaming Lips and even Coldplay, are adding dashes of colour to the old indie sound. Their concerts become places of celebration, hope, affirmation, emotion and community. A richness permeates the bleak landscape and the dark clouds of life, and a shaft of light hits you through it all. Hope creating a springboard for potential faith. Whether restoration of faith back in humanity, or faith in God, the potential arises in the refreshing atmosphere. Thanks for sharing Martin,

    Paul.

    1. Thanks Paul for taking the time to comment. The Manchester event made such an incredible ‘artists who artist on unjustice’ (to misquote) response. If artists can boldly go maybe others can follow?

  4. I guess that regarding an un-biased media, Wikitribune is worth looking out for when it will finally come out.

    I can’t wait for it to be launched!

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