Thursday, 8 July 2010

Do justly

All the teaching this term in one of our local Primary Schools is about chocolate, and I’ve been trying to add a relevant religious education component.

The school has begun to use the International Primary Curriculum. For this, all the teaching in each term grows out of a single theme. Most recently it was Inventors and then it was Volcanoes. What is taught in areas like History, Geography and Science are then built around this, making a huge investigatory project out of each term.

RE (determined by local syllabuses) isn’t seen as being something which fits into this, but that hasn’t stopped me trying . For Inventors, we worked with Gutenberg’s moveable type, and thus also with the impact of having the Bible in English freely available in the country. For Volcanoes, we picked up Christian Aid (near Christian Aid Week) and thus also support for those who face natural disasters.

But what would you do for Chocolate? I wanted to do something on fasting and feasting, but it turned out this ground was already covered in the normal RE syllabus. I though too late of Cadbury and its Quaker model village at Bournville. What the school suggested was Fair Trade, and we went with that.

We set up the problem some Christian groups had identified and which sparked the modern Fair Trade movement - coca farmers getting low prices from large companies which nevertheless had decent profit margins. We then asked some Year 5s on Tuesday what might people have suggested be done about this. Magically, a few of them said 'protest', ‘get the buying and selling done by somebody else’, ‘set up their own company’, and ‘create a new brand’.

So I’m living this week with the sense that God gives us new eyes not to accept what is in front of us but to look at it anew with his eyes, and the sense that God gives us new ways to begin to live differently as a result.

And I discover this has given me a different perspective to deal with the readings for next Sunday: the prophet Amos’ picture of God’s plumb line revealing how crooked the building of Israel was and how it needed to come down; Jesus’ picture of the Good Samaritan revealing how an idea of ‘neighbour’ being ‘like one of us’ needs to give way to a radically different possibility.

I suspect that Christianity which is primarily judgement can become a burden, and Christianity which is primarily hope can be vacuous, but Christianity which makes us see both what we and others collude in accepting as normal must die and makes us embrace the Easter possibilities beyond it can be true repentance. I hadn’t expected Chocolate to get me back to this awareness in a few days.

The moth was on our window yesterday.

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