Economic Utility or Discipleship in the Way of Justice: Which God Will Your Christian School Serve? Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley,

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  • Economic Utility or Discipleship in the Way of Justice: Which God Will Your Christian School Serve? Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C.
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  • Conference Theme Educating for Global Discipleship Assumes two things: Purpose of education: discipleship Context of education: globalised world Opening story as entry into theme
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  • Story illustrates... Most powerful religious currents at work in global world are economic Currents are pervasive, shaping all aspects of Western culture including education Resistance to this very powerful global story and implementation of Christian education is exceedingly difficult
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  • Two Part Structure of Talk Understand global context of Christian education Briefly narrate the story shaping our global world Attend to the powerful presence of economic idolatry in global world Observe impact on education Issue call to Christian educators To education for discipleship Sketch Matthews notion of discipleship Especially Matthews concern for justice
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  • What time is itin the Western story? Enlightenment humanism shaping Western culture for over 200 years: Deep faith in human ability to progress toward a better world through science and technology Todaythree powerful spiritual forces: Globalization: Global spread of this humanist faith (in an economic form) around world Postmodernity: Loss of confidence in the Enlightenment humanist faith Growth of consumer culture
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  • A new faith at the Enlightenment (18 th c.) The West had lost its faithand found a new one, in science and in man. - Richard Tarnas
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  • Enlightenment Faith: Seeds of Economic Globalization Humanist: Confidence in human ability to save world Secular or naturalistic: No need for God Story of progress toward paradise Reached by scientific reason Discern natural laws Translate into technology to control non-human world Discern laws shaping human society Translate into rational societal and cultural structures
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  • One important Enlightenment figureAdam Smith (1723-1790) His economic vision will eventually dominate Western culture Moral philosopher in context of economic deprivation and poverty Noble concern: Increase goods to improve living conditions of poor
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  • Adam Smiths vision Progress toward material prosperity Scientific and technological organisation of production and economic life Free market to coordinate all forces Economic growth: end of society
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  • Idolatry of Economics Idolises one societal end economic growth and prosperity Idolises certain social means free market and innovative technology Organise and unify society around vision of life
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  • Industrial Revolution Adam Smiths economic vision implemented in Industrial Revolution (19 th c.) Begins to reshape all society
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  • Capitalism has reorganized the social structure for the purposes of manufacturing, production, and consumption... It has changed the shape of our world... - David Wells
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  • Reshaping education Economic vision reshapes all of society including education More treatises written on education in 18 th century than all previous centuries combined Education play big role in progress toward material prosperity
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  • 20 th Century Confidence in optimistic Enlightenment vision of progress reaches pinnacle at end of 19 th c. Series of body blows to optimism of progress: wars, depression, failure to deliver Enlightenment dream Yet progress as economic growth toward material prosperity survived and flourished Dominant worldview in West
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  • ... it is to Adam Smith... that we should look for the inner meaning of progressive ideology [today]. - Christopher Lasch, 1991
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  • The concept of progress can be defended against intelligent criticism only by postulating an indefinite expansion of desires, a steady rise in the general standard of comfort, and the incorporation of the masses into the culture of abundance. It is only in this form that the idea of progress has survived the rigors of the twentieth century. More extravagant versions of the progressive faith... collapsed a long time ago... - Christopher Lasch
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  • Enlightenment Vision of Progress in the 20 th Century Confidence in Enlightenment vision of progress reaches pinnacle at end of 19 th c. Series of body blows to optimism of progress: wars, depression, failure to deliver Enlightenment dream Yet progress as economic growth toward material prosperity survived and flourished Dominant worldview in West Growth of consumer society in West
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  • The Religion of Our Day? Consumerism is... arguably the religion of the late twentieth century. - Steven Miles
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  • Making consumption as way of life Our enormously productive economy... demands that we make consumption a way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. -Victor Lebow, economist, 1955
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  • Papal critique of consumerism There is excessive consumption by some while others suffer want Excessive consumption threatens the environment Creates ungodly character For many consumption has become the primary goal to the detriment of their own well-being
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  • Enlightenment Vision of Progress in the 20 th Century Confidence in Enlightenment vision of progress reaches pinnacle at end of 19 th c. Series of body blows to optimism of progress: wars, depression, failure to deliver Enlightenment dream Yet progress as economic growth toward material prosperity survived and flourished Dominant worldview in West Growth of consumer society in West Globalising of economic worldview
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  • Economic Globalization Economic modern worldview is primary unifying power in global world Global economic system and market Asymmetric globalisation: Inequity and injustice Increasing gap between rich and poor Created wealth to support consumer society in West Unequal share in fruits: 1 / 5 population accounts for of consumption
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  • What god will your school serve? New gods that shape education: economic utility, consumerism Table of Contents Part One 1. The Necessity of Gods 2. Some Gods That Fail 3.Some New Gods That Fail 4. Gods That May Serve
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  • God of Economic Utility If you pay attention in school, and do your homework, and score well on tests, and behave yourself, you will be rewarded with a well-paying job when you are done. Its driving idea is that the purpose of schooling is to prepare children for competent entry into the economic life of a community. - Neil Postman
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  • God of Consumership One may wonder, then, why this god [economic utility] has so much strength... I believe the reason is that the god of Economic Utility is coupled with another god, one with a smiling face and one that provides an answer to the question, If I get a good job, then what? - Neil Postman
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  • School Act, 1996... the purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable all learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy;
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  • Ontario Ministry of Education announcement Full-day kindergartens is all about building the skills and education of tomorrows work force. Were doing this because it will make Ontarios economy stronger.... This is absolutely critical for the social and economic progress of our province.
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  • Impact of Economic Idolatry on Christian Schools We are often blind to economic and consumer powers at work in culture We often underestimate power of entrenched educational practices and structures (testing, curriculum) that unwittingly support an economic and consumer worldview
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  • Impact of Economic Idolatry on Christian Schools We face parental expectations arising from consumer society that bring economic pressure We are sometimes hostage to state funding and testing along with a corresponding vision of academic excellence that is deeply indebted to consumer society We sometimes measure our success almost exclusively by state testing and the universities our kids get into
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  • Impact of economic idolatry on Christian Schools Consumer society can often marginalise continuing education for teachers (lack of time, priority, and funding that arise from economic pressure; disinterest and pragmatism of teachers) We marginalise subjects in the curriculum that dont raise test scores and academic profile of school We devote disproportionate energy and space to economic issues in planning, meetings and literature
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  • Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I