Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Faith & Justice

For those of you who are reading this from Amarillo, I am not talking about Channel 4 news, but it is the perfect segue. We have a local TV station here with two night time anchors, Andy Justice and Faith Miller. What a deal for KAMR. Their news slogan is.....(drum roll) Faith&Justice working for you (or something similar).

And as I am about to tell my High School religion students this is no coincidence. Faith and justice go together because that is what God designed from the very beginning. The Old Testament is cram packed with references to God judging the hearts of those who are mistreating the weak, the alien, the under represented. Micah 6:8 says that God requires us to be people who Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with Him. Jesus' ministry is defined by His compassion and His care for the least of these. He tells us that when we ignore the plight of the thirsty, the hungry or the naked, we essentially ignore His plight. We read on and see that true and pure religion is defined as taking care of widows and orphans.

I have had my students looking at these verses and some shocking stats from Unicef on the real conditions of food, medicine and basic supplies around the world. One of them said, "this is just depressing" and wondered why I am making them face these things. My answer to her leads me to this post. It is a harsh reality, but empowering. Once we face the real condition of our globe, and we take the time to investigate what we can do, we can make a difference. And so I assigned them each two websites to read through and answer some questions about so that they can see how they can make a difference. We checked out everything from Tom's Shoes, to Christian Relief Fund to Kiva Microfinancing. I asked them to answer several questions about the organization and how much it would take for them to get involved in just one project. The tougher question was for them to look at their spending habits and see what it would take for them to divert money that usually flows to their entertainment etc and put it to one of these projects. It does not cost us that much really to make a difference in just one area. Buying a mosquito net from is just $10 and that can save a life. For $10 really? Just two trips to McDonalds. Hmmm..

We are taking the lesson a little further today with a field trip to Natural Grocers to hear a short presentation on Fair Trade/Equal Exchange. I am not trying to get them to spend every dollar on non profits or never drink a cup of Folgers again. I just want them to know their are options and choices where they can make an impact on the world. With Valentines coming up I thought showing them Fair Trade chocolate seemed like a good option.

Friday I have them reading a section from Irresistible Revolution and then hopefully this will lead to a school wide project or focus where we as a school can think beyond ourselves and make a mark for Justice on the world. Not because we want to be social activists (not that I would have a problem with that as the reason) but because we claim to be people of faith. And I firmly believe that faith should lead us to justice.


WendyC said...

Great stuff you are doing, Arlene!

Paula Harrington said...

Glad Wendy led me to your blog. I enjoyed it!

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
Very good. I continue to be surprised, though, at what teachers are able to do with their students. I figured, some students parent will surely arrive on the scene and question you as to how you think that you should influence that person's child.

Influence is what teachers are to do. However, I find that so many times when a teacher is truly doing something well, there is someone to say it is wrong. That is the tragedy of teaching relative values. The results backfire.

Arlene Kasselman said...

good point on influence in general and it made me stop and think.

We do have the luxury of being a faith based school, so M,W,F when they come to religion class, the students are divided into Protestant, Catholic and then World Religions/Philosophy. My class can be very Christological and unapologetic about it which is awesome. However, there is still the tension of influence and how to apply it. We are people and with us come our formed or forming opinions. Instead of telling them what to believe or asking them to think a certain way, in general I try to let scripture lead us to points of conversation.

Sometimes seeing them consider something beyond their usual realm of thought is so enriching, wow! The next section we are hitting from Acts is "church" or "community." Hmmm this should be interesting!!!

Paula, welcome - we have crossed cyber paths before via Frank Belizzi, I think.

Wendy, I left you a message on facebook.

Allison said...

hi arlene,
how awesome that you're doing all this meaningful stuff with your students--keep up your good work! (and I wish I was in your class!)

Angel said...

One easy way I have found for my students to help the world's hungry, and themselves, is There are many subjects listed for you to answer questions about, and each correct answer donates 10 grains of rice to the UN's food program. All of our 4-Hers improved their vocabulary test scores last year, AND we donated over a million grains of rice to the UN. We then tried to make it concrete to them, and donated the same amount to our local pantry. In case you are million grains of rice is approximately 39 pounds.

thekingpin68 said...

'And as I am about to tell my High School religion students this is no coincidence.'

I just think its very good that some high school students can be taught religion.

So many people here in BC grow up very uneducated on the subject and most do not attend any type of church or place of religion.

Happy weekend, Arlene.


Jim Martin said...

A very good and interesting post. These students are blessed that you would point them in such directions and challenge their thinking. The kind of global awareness that you are giving them is so important.