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Faith “green as a leaf” Chaplaincy and prophecy in contemporary education.

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Presentation on theme: "Faith “green as a leaf” Chaplaincy and prophecy in contemporary education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Faith “green as a leaf” Chaplaincy and prophecy in contemporary education

2 It’s a long way off but inside it there are quite different things going on: festivals at which the poor man is king and the consumptive is healed; mirrors in which the blind look at themselves and love looks at them back; and industry is for mending the bent bones and the minds fractured by life. It’s a long way off, but to get there takes no time and admission is free, if you purge yourself of desire, and present yourself with your need only and the simple offering of your faith, green as a leaf. The Kingdom RS Thomas

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11 The purpose of education? Dear Teacher, I am the survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers, children poisoned by educated physicians, infants killed by trained nurses; women and babies shot by high school graduates so I am suspicious of education. My request is; help your students become more human. Your efforts must never produce more learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human. Letter to UN quoted in Theos report “Doing God in Education” 2010

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14 Why chaplaincy and prophecy? Contradictory models of ministry? Unrealistic expectations of chaplaincy in an educational institution? Basilea ministry RS Thomas “it’s a long way off but to get there takes no time and admission is free”

15 Some hallmarks of Biblical prophecy The point is not that prophets prophesy doom and destruction to the exclusion of all else, but that Jeremiah’s reading of the political situation was always within the bigger and wider context of the covenant that Yahweh had with the people. What Jeremiah did was to mediate the political reality and covenantal faith; and what came out of this was acute social analysis together with heart wrenching poetry Walter Brueggeman Commentary on Jeremiah

16 Also as a prophet, Jeremiah exemplified and embodied the pathos of Yahweh: the yearning of God. In spite of Israel’s seeming obduracy and reluctance, God wills a continuing relationship and continues to yearn for closer communion with people: the prophet is the one to exemplify this. Walter Brueggeman

17 Prophetic methods are imaginative and practical Jeremiah (ch 19) goes to the potters house followed by the smashing of pots at the city gates in front of religious leaders Jeremiah 9 and 10 scarecrows and cucumbers, diamond stylus Nathan’s story telling (on King David’s payroll) 2 Samuel 12 Miriam’s joy and celebration of success (Exodus) Deborah’s judgement (crisis) and wisdom in giving advice about decisions (Judges 4 and 5)

18 “Acute social analysis with heart wrenching poetry” Who are your people? Students, families, teaching staff, support staff? What are their lives like? Who are you to them? A sign of the immeasurable in a context of the measured? A sign of the whole in a context of the atomised eg “why did you want to be a teacher?”

19 2011 census % increase in households with adults working very long hours % increase in households with no adults working London becomes more different from rest of Britain: younger, more ethnically diverse and less married

20 A psychologist’s perspective To fill the emptiness and loneliness and to replace our need for authentic, intimate relationships, we resort to the consumption that is essential for economic growth and profits. Consumption holds out the false promise that an internal lack can be fixed by an external means. We medicate our misery by buying things. “ Affluenza” Oliver James 2007 p15

21 The Poets say……………. All we do is touched by ocean but we stand on the shore of what we know Richard Wilbur When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. Mary Oliver I do not want to end up simply having visited this world. Mary Oliver

22 Jesus of Nazareth: prophetic presence Social context and analysis important. (First century living under occupation) “turn the other cheek”, “go the extra mile”, “give him your shirt also” Silence and withdrawal “you have heard it said…… but I say…… Prophetic, energetic, playful, realised eschatology, basilea.

23 “mind forg’d manacles” The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind. William Blake A Christian life is one of boundless happiness, absolute fearlessness, constant difficulty Dorothee Soelle How much of life is decided because it is 5 o clock on a Friday? Arthur Miller Don’t imagine you are thinking when you are simply rearranging your prejudices Dean Inge

24 Witness to (against?) functional atheism in school Functional atheism is the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen – a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God. Parker J Palmer Centre for Courage and Renewal (Quaker)

25 The basilea of God is at hand… It’s a long way off but inside it there are quite different things going on: Festivals at which the poor man is king and the consumptive is healed; mirrors in which the blind look at themselves and love looks at them back; and industry is for mending the bent bones and the minds fractured by life. It’s a long way off, but to get there takes no time and admission is free, if you purge yourself of desire, and present yourself with your need only and the simple offering of your faith, green as a leaf.


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