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This week we read selections from : “The Advent of Justice” a book of meditation by Brain Walsh, Richard Middleton, Mark Vander Vennen and Sylvia Keesmaat.  

The selections were original meant to be for a series of Advent mediation, but of course it is not necessary confined to reading and meditation at Advent.  I have always had this notion that when meditations and prayers sometimes turn us inward too much. I believe without some outward “pull” in the form of reaching out to the community we live in can cause us to be too inward looking to the point of “spiritual narcissism”. It is towards avoiding this imbalance that I selected these readings. 

I am posting two of the three pieces we read just in case someone wants to follow our readings. I have made some editing for our purpose. I hope I am not infringing any copyright violation.  Our discussion took an interesting turn. It ended more like a discussion on the purpose of education than a discussion on our outward movement towards justice issues. However, given the context of a group of students I believe the relevancy is exactly where it should, it is ultimately about the “justice” (and therefore integrity)Of our education and the objective. 

One of the students asked the following question. I asked her to write it down for me afterwards and here it is. After reading “Wake up call”, we were challenged by the author to think about healing steps that may take us out of the “magic sleep of our time.”  This refers to how we readily accept the fast paced movement of technology, rationalization, reason and logic without qualm.  A few weeks before our Sunday school class were asked to think upon how the world around us with wars, disasters and rising and declining global powers and how it affected us Christians.  It is becoming more apparent that as Christian students we have the potential to be the radical change that Jesus requests of us.  What is an effective way to make a difference in the world?  “Do we make less time for things that take us away from our studies (including serving at church or A/CCFs) to become “top dogs” that can make effectual change? The extreme example being Bill Gates and his millions of dollars that he donated for the fight against AIDS.  or Do we sacrifice time on things that aren’t directly linked with subjects we’re studying — and perhaps come out as the underdog (which we agreed wasn’t any less than that of a “top dog.”)  The example being a social worker.  It was mentioned that the two options mentioned may not be mutually exclusive.” 

There was some doubt concerning the effectual of our work. Someone said, “Can a beggar help a beggar?” In a sense we are all ineffective in redeeming ourselves, yet in another sense we are should be effective since we are the ones who has experience God’s grace. The real question seemed to be in what manner can our help be most effective. I am a bit concern about the term “effective”. Are we the ones to determine what is effective? Is Bill Gates’ giving effective? I read somewhere (which I forgot) that reminded us that the fact that Bill Gates has all the billions of dollars to give seems like there is a problem of imbalance within the system to begin with. When we deal with issue of justice, we are not just dealing with a singular act but a system and thus we must concern not only the act but the context, subtext and pretext of the act.  The spin-off question(s) (actually the real question IMO):  

So why are we in university in the first place?  Is it only a means to an end?What is the end?  Is it to be the “top dog” to make change?  (And we also agreed that one doesn’t have to be a “top dog” to induce change)  Is it to meet and develop relationships with others that are founded in Christ?  Or is it to devote time and personal growth to the beauty and appreciation of the subjects at hand??? *cough cough* Yes, subjects like chemistry and plant physiology are included. There seems to be an overwhelming negative sentiment towards university. I know some came off a rough year but still the negative energy was a bit of a surprise. The education seems just a necessary evil on our way to our future It almost seems there is a conspiracy again us by some dark evil force that we cannot defeat. Our side of the deal seems to be just survive the ordeal while taking as few casualties as possible and move on.  

Personally I was taken back by the comments. I am a romantic and I did and still do romanticize the education experience. I imagined that the education would be fill with “
Eureka” moments. (The legend of
Archimedes who jumped out of his bath tab shouting “
Eureka” when discovered the solution to his pure gold problem.) I also imagined the education experience would be encountering of genius and mad scientist, as well as off beat characters and wild woman. None of these happened of course but I did my imagination. In fact I think my education experience was heightened by my over active imagination because I was more alert to what was happening around me. I am uncertain of an overly utilitarian perspective of education will bring as rich an experience as it should be.   
 I am also concern about the integrity of knowing if I may use that term. Knowledge is truth, and knowing is also truth. If we use knowledge as a means to our goal I think we are losing something along the way. If we were just learning to write exams then what happen when there was no exam to write but only real live problems. I am not really very good at expressing this but I believe our learning must have integrity and passion and not just GPA and degrees. Particularly when we are Christians. I believe that is part of our integrity to uphold even if that cost us a great deal of pain. If we do not who will.  

I do not believe if we get through school by conforming to the system while hating it will result in us being about to create influential changes in the larger society. I believe those agent of changes started small and move on to larger theatre of operations.  Honestly, the options of study, serving God and relating are so related that it just does not make sense separating them. I believe the real priority would be to look at education as practice ground. Whether it is to excel in study or relating to people or to serve God I think the underlying purity of motive to maintain integrity is the real essence of education.

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