Tuesday, April 25, 2006

matters of faith, free will and public education

an old friend of mine and i were discussing some observations that she had been making concerning cultural expressions of spirituality all over the world- most notably in her travels through israel, egypt, and russia- and the differences between cultural and personal faith...

as for the christian spirituality thing, it is sometimes hardest for people who have grown up in a household where one or two of the parents practice this faith because of the 'choice' element...

free will is such a huge and important part of our response to God as christians that sometimes it gets confusing. i mean, kid puts up with it until such time as the faith practiced is no longer legislated within the household (often, moving away from home is a catalyst but there are others: puberty, driver's license time, high school graduation. i recently read that the 'age of identity' is between twelve and fourteen years of age*- probably just about anything significant that happens any time after that can be a trigger)... ultimately, the faith of the parents is meaningful tradition, foundational in one's becoming who one is- just as everything in life has been. but eventually it has to be adopted as one's own or rejected as the faith of our fathers and nothing more than that. a choice is a choice.

once faith becomes one's own, it seems more organic and, in many ways, can be far easier to invest in. until then, it is simply wearing someone else's spiritual hand-me-downs. no matter how well-kept and 'like new' they are, they are still used garments of praise.

i think that this whole process of adoption is, for many, a bit like their experience with education. high school is mildly socially and intellectually interesting (we are engaged, but as to whether this is positive or negative, that's a whole nother blog) and so on for most of us, but upon graduation everything seems to change: people who didn't do a thing all through high school start working hard for their grades at university or tech school, while some who worked their butts off through high school don't even bother applying anywhere.

like the journey of faith, this all has something to do with ownership, in that while we are forced to attend to it, we simply deal with the force in the way that makes sense to us or is the least unpleasant... but once we are no longer forced into the discipline of learning, it finally becomes about the schooling-or at least about the goals which can be realized through it- not just about the external forces inflicting the schooling upon the young and impressionable (this last cliche phrase was in here because this old friend is a former student of mine, an adult now living in japan... had to make a noticeably self-deprecating remark there- it's the canadian way!)

some choose to make a discipline their own while others walk away from it to explore a different future. as with faith, the outcomes have more to do with free will than with anything tidy like the old nature versus nurture thing.

that i have been afforded the freedom to, as a teacher of young people, enter into dialogue that deals explicitely with issues deeper than those covered in our secular-humanist curriculum, rather than implicitely is a gift from God for which i am grateful. it has always been my view that the whole battery of curricula is simply a life-support system for mentoring relationships... the curriculum gets the funding but the relationship bears the fruit.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


while i was holding my breath for forty days, fred_call and i dialogued a bit via email... on one particular day, we were talking about science and the strange things that people do, all the while justifying their actions in the name of progress and the 'greater good for the greater number' thing. my view that science has replaced God for many, and that the people in our western world seem to struggle with accepting a pluralism that would afford attention to be given in different ways to both God and science- recognizing science as a means of understanding God's work more deeply rather than a means of somehow overcoming him (the whole either/or rather than both/and debate)- was probably important context for the views that went charging off of my keyboard into cyberspace. however, there was also some basic human stuff going on in my life- broken relationships leading to betrayal and the like that also fueled my comments. not being able to blog this stuff left me a bit lost, as writing is, for me, a means of bringing sense to the senseless in this life... call it idealistic whining or nagging optimism or something. that others occasionally read the ramblings is just a bonus... but it does also force me to keep my perspectives in check- ongoing accountability is a good thing!

anyway, thanks fred for those emails. likewise, thanks curious servant for your prayers, and marcy and cj for your words. finally, societyvs... we gotta hook up, man.

i was watching this show on the Holocau- i mean History channel one evening. with a motherlode of cadavers to choose from, doctor death was free to experiment away in the name of science, doing strange things like fusing people together surgically and the like. people just love to play God.

the atrocities committed in the name of science almost match those committed in the name of God... almost.

the key difference is probably to whom the justification takes place. with science, we justify our actions to colleagues, citing a higher purpose; with spirituality, we justify our actions to our victims, citing a higher promise.

point of reference and frame of mind are everything some days, but it seems to me that the one thing that humankind does better than anyone else on the planet is exploit.

well, we're certainly a cynical little believer today, aren't we?

this too, shall pass.