Saturday, February 19, 2011

Preparing them to go before colleagues, friends and wolves...



It comes from his blog which you can find here!


People send their children to our Orthodox Christian school for different reasons … very different reasons. They appreciate a safe environment, classes that are small, or classes that are able to meet their child’s unique needs. Their children might have had problems or were unhappy with their previous school experience. Maybe they were under-challenged. They like the Christian environment. One parent told us that he thinks it is good for his child to see men in black robes and beards, icons and be exposed to prayers … so many reasons, each one particular to a family. Though we realize that God calls people together in various ways, we want to make clear our goals and reasons for our Orthodox school. That won’t necessarily change the logic of the parents, but at least it will make clear what we are aiming at.

So why? We are doing something very normal as far as we are concerned. We believe in Christ, and we not only believe in Him but our senses and thinking have been changed as a result of knowing Him. Our curriculum is based on the Orthodox faith, on what we know and on how we as Orthodox Christians see the world, life, and ourselves. We proclaim in the Liturgy of St. Gregory, the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy: The Light of Christ Illumines All! Our understanding of history, geography, language arts, mathematics, science and etc. are affected and deepened by this Illuminating Light in a unique way. Someone said: “math is math.” Is that true? Are subjects of study compact things without deeper meaning? Don’t they have lateral and vertical dimension and relate to other realms of knowledge? Whatever happened to the sense of what is behind or within or under the philosophical foundation or axioms that are the basis of what one studies?

There is no value-free, philosophy-free school or curriculum, as there is no house that doesn’t start with a foundation and build from there. That is why every political regime in modern history has fought to control the educational system. As parents, teachers, pastors and evangelists, we have a big stake in education from the ground up, not just higher education or “religious education.” Curriculum planners and teachers express their world view in what and how they teach. This is why Orthodox schools are vital.

Children need to be educated and need to understand the world from an Orthodox view, from teachers and parents that know Christ and see the world, life, and their own soul with the illumination of Christ. This is very important. The children need to be formed in this environment, but they need also to learn how to wrestle against the world view they will encounter after they leave our school or home.

This takes place while they are still within our influence. While you are riding to school, the children are looking around and drinking in what you aren’t seeing, and thinking about what you aren’t hearing. If you asked them who they should invite to their party, and they said please invite the poor, because they heard a sermon at school about the Lord, Who said that we should invite the poor to our party and not just our friends, what would you say? You might think: we can’t because they will rob us. From the earliest age we are forming our children and their relation to the poor, the sick, the aged. Please pay attention. At school we visit the elderly and the children are excited and also challenged. They set up for our weekly the soup kitchen. Maybe they can come and help serve when they are older.

St. Herman said that the Christian has to learn to fight through realms of demons to acquire the kingdom of heaven. School is one of the training grounds … learn the facts, what really happened, learn the faith, also learn to counter and refute wrong doctrine, and, most importantly, to stand in the faith and live it.

Our school is not meant to shelter children from the world but to prepare them to be in the world but not of the world. We prefer that our children understand the world in which they providentially live, not fear it. Let the world be affected by the presence of young adults who know themselves, who know their faith and their God.

Education is serious … not just for our economic future but for our eternal future, and for our present life. How we live in accordance with the Truth while we are still here in this world is our preparation for this blessed future and it also makes the journey to our eternal existence much richer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

everyday life

Dear Friends,

Indeed it’s been a while. Part of me is pretty hesitant to post things, because I’m caught between two choices, neither of which I’m keen on making. The first is to post stories, quotes and experiences having something to do with my time here in Greece, but never quite getting at the core of what goes on. The second is to be honest--what really happens in Greece--But this is hard to do on a consistent basis. The third, I suppose, is to do what I’ve been doing--simply not posting anything :).

But it seems like its time to share a bit. Everything is going well. These days have been consumed with paper-writing, researching and church functions. All of these things have been very nice. My papers are coming along at just the right pace, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write them. The more I enter the world of “theology” proper, the more I see that true theology lies mostly outside of what we generally call “theology.” This is what my heart tells me at least. In other words, a man or woman can be full of theology, bursting at the seams with it, having never said a word. In fact, the best theology is often unspoken. What I read in these books guides my understanding and allows me to develop a vocabulary for that which we can express in words...But everyday, after so many things have entered into my mind, there is an explosion inside, and all of it disappears, and I humbly start at the beginning. I have found theology in unimaginable placest. In fact, think of the last place you’d expect theology to be, and there it is! In the darkest alleys, the darkest faces and the darkest moments. Out of all of this gloom and fallenness blossoms a ray of light that shines in an unexpected brilliance. There’s a humorous side to all of this; they let you go to a school to learn something, and you come out realizing that the world is a school of theology, the world is a temple, and so are we.

I’m thankful for the moments of weakness, for the moments of sadness and for the moments of vulnerability. I am beginning to appreciate more and more moments of pure humanity--of beauty, tears, of the joy in simplicity. This is what theological studies does to you. The heart breaths during Bach’s Ich Habe Genug and finds rest in a Copperfield short story. Why? Because, between the lines and under the sweetly flowing notes, it sees the words in the textbooks come to life. When theology shows up in the most unexpected places, it makes a smile from a complete stranger as mysterious and beautiful as the Incarnation. In fact, it reflects that very sacred and awesome even, where God himself showed up in the most unexpected place--a dark and damp cave.

Let us see Christ incarnated in everything!

Hoping you are all well!

with love in Christ,