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Out of the Grey: Cultural Vertigo and the Vibrant Gospel of Jesus – Theme 2015-2016

 

I avoid malls like the plague. There are a lot of reasons for it; one particular reason involves a recurring feeling I had as a kid, it was a feeling of disorientation walking through the endless rows of shops that all looked the same. I felt like a rat in a lab experiment, though instead of looking for cheese, I was shopping for clothes that I didn’t care about. I loved finding the map and the large X that said You are Here. It provided for me some sense of where I was in relation to other things, like the nearest exit. A couple of years ago I experienced something very similar to this with my son as we moved from our small town in Kentucky to our home in Tulsa. The small town was all that my son had known and in some way he had a map of his entire world in his head. WilmoreHe knew where the trains crossed main street (ding-dings), where the police cars (woo-cars) often stopped unsuspecting city folk, where dad worked, where dad went to school and the way to get from wherever he was to where he wished to go. All of that changed when we moved to an urban environment. Cars were everywhere. It was loud. Most importantly, my son had no crucial landmarks that said You are Here. The first month was miserable. There were night terrors and random, unexplainable (even for a two-year-old) fits. In some way, my son was experiencing his own form of vertigo (this means you’re disoriented), he had no sense of place; his world had little definition.

These, of course, are metaphors for our own vertigo, our own disorientation. It is now clear that our culture has no sense of place, very little definition. We don’t know where we are or where we should go. The only direction we hear involves the ever-louder calls for greater self-expression and being true to oneself (whatever that means).  All else is grey (what a great metaphor, no one can even agree how to spell it!). We know more than ever about the human body, but we have little idea about what a human body is and what it is for. The new catchwords of love, embrace and acceptance hover around us as a mist without anyone asking what do these words mean and who constructed those meanings? Such is the cultural logic of life in our own vertigo.

As someone who is interested in ancient history and early Christianity, I continue to find some surprising and exciting parallels between our new cultural situation and that of our Christian forebears (it’s not all bad folks no matter the clever, doomsday quips on social media). Those individuals who embraced the gospel walked out of one world and into another. Of that former world Paul writes, “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led” (1 Cor 12:2, ESV). Paul describes life in the ancient Mediterranean world as involving people obeying some form of stupid but dangerous cultural logic. Any study of the ancient world knows that Paul is referring to the hypnotic effect of life in the ancient city: endless sports, violence and entertainment, overpowering images and persuasive speeches on every corner, celebration of appetites, and a buzz among the populace that a new era had dawned. All of these things were entangled with Graeco-Roman civic religion, that is, idols. As you can see, there are some interesting analogies between their world and ours. To step out of that world into the life of Gospel was to trade one map for another.map The New Testament makes it clear the transition was anything but easy. Many of our Christian forebears found the old maps more intelligible from time to time. Like smuggled goods, the values of the culture found their way into the communities that worshipped Jesus as Lord (they went back to their old sexual practices, sued each other, valued the wealthy and beautiful over the have-nots, etc.).  That is why a large number of our New Testament writings exist, to provide greater clarity and definition, a better map for those mesmerized by cultural vertigo. Again and again these writings through the inspiration of the Spirit state that the old maps, no matter their appeal, don’t work, they are confused, they go round in circles before leading off a cliff, they lead to human degradation. But the Gospel, say these writings is buoyant and life-giving, leading those who follow to holiness, community, vitality and true human flourishing. In short, the vibrancy of the Gospel leads people out of the grey. Through dusting off old words (like love surprisingly) and challenging common assumptions, these writings say You Are Here and this is the new world you’re invited into.

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As ministers in this community, we sense the grey that has descended upon our culture, the church and even our beloved students. The hum of our cultural logic is persuasive. So, we feel it is time to return to our map, to return to those words that the writers of Scripture dusted off an invested with true meaning. First Corinthians 13 (love-is-this-not-that) is a great place to camp. It has little to do with romance and weddings. It has everything to do with the people of God finding their way in a confused world.So, we want to talk seriously about holiness, community and human flourishing while challenging our current cultural logic. We want to invite our student’s to embrace the vibrant Gospel of Jesus and move out of the grey.


Grey Areas

  • Where Is the Authority?
  • Darwin and the Myth of Progress?
  • Sexual Identity
  • Gender Identity
  • Sacred Life and Abortion

Written by Mr. Ensor

Simply Christian: Theme 2014-15

The spiritual landscape is currently undergoing a tectonic shift. The places and spaces once largely marked by Christian faith are emerging as new mission fields, while the mission fields of yesteryear are becoming centers of vibrant Christian faith. Commenting on this shift Al Mohler offers a perspective now widely accepted by scholars and missionaries alike,

 

“We are now seeing a remarkable development. For two hundred years and more, Western nations have sent Christian missionaries to the continent of Africa. Now, in a remarkable turn of events, the Africans are sending missionaries to us…This is a development worth watching and a sign that the center of gravity in world Christianity is shifting to places like Africa, and away from Europe and North America. We have become mission fields.”

 Such developments are of course both worrisome and exciting-worrisome that many of our beliefs are no longer shared cultural assumptions (not to mention the alarming statistics claiming 5 out of 8 millennials will leave worshipping communities permanently or temporarily), exciting that robust Christian faith is being practiced in new places. Exciting and challenging too is the task of engaging our own culture as a mission field. Of course, parenting is a mission all its own, as parents long to reach their children with the gospel of Christ. We understand our vocation at Wright as joining our parents in this mission. With all of the above in mind, our theme for the current academic year is “Simply Christian” (based off the book by N.T. Wright by the same title). Through our theme, we hope to offer our student’s not with a simplistic understanding of faith, but with a clear, simple and relevant presentation of a life-giving, robust faith. Thus we agree with N.T. Wright:

 

“Being a Christian in today’s world is, of course, anything but simple. But there is a time for trying to say, as simply as possible, what it’s all about, and this seems to me that sort of a time.”

 

Education is not Neutral

We have had a tremendous re-enrollment this year (92%) and an incredible new enrollment this first half of February with five of our grade levels already closed! It is a great encouragement and a blessing to have our families place their trust in the ministry of Wright Christian Academy and we prayerfully join them in the education of their child(ren).

Here is a brief excerpt from an article out of the Christian School Educator magazine I received this week.

Worldview

A worldview is the product of every learner’s education.  This eliminates the myth that education can be or is neutral.  Worldview answers life’s big questions and these answers are learned through the means of a school’s curriculum.  It is worldview that addresses the “whys” of life.  Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? What is life’s purpose? Does the world have meaning? Philosophy stated most simply is the study of these questions.

In a culture that denies the existence of absolute truth, the Christian school must stand for objective truth as revealed in Scripture.

It is our commitment to join our parents in proclaiming the wonderful message that Truth is a person and that person is our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Way to eternal, abundant and joyful Life.

We dedicate ourselves to the partnership with parents in providing the students of Wright Christian Academy a Christian education from which is formulated a Christian worldview grounded in the Truth.

Honored to serve,

Jeffrey L. Brown, Superintendent

Bowl-A-Rama 2014

IMG_8098Our annual fundraiser has become a much anticipated part of the fabric of our community.  This year the goal was set at $24,000 and the challenge given to our students and families.  Once again, the generosity of many and the blessing of the Lord resulted in easily surpassing our goal with a total of $38,000!IMG_8159

While these funds are very important to the operation of the academy, the highlight of the experience is bowling as a family.  It provides those rare moments in which we can just be together outside of an academic setting.  We can laugh, play and just enjoy being together.

A huge thank you goes out to the wonderful people who make up this educational ministry!  Thank you for your support and for your generosity.

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Washington DC – 2014

We just returned from our bi-annual trip to Washington DC with our eighth and ninth grade students.  Our students had opportunity to experience the birth place of our country in Jamestown, sense the beginnings of the Revolutionary War in Williamsburg, walk through Monticello and spend three days on Capitol Hill.

Students at the Vietnam Memorial

There are as always opportunities to stop and think about the sacrifices which have been made in the past and the role of each person in continuing the legacy of freedom we all enjoy.  But of all the incredible things we see the most memorable things always involve people and our relationships with them.  On Wednesday we had the opportunity to visit the Vietnam War Memorial and talk about the sacrifices of the men who served and gave their lives in that conflict.  We shared how many of these brave men did not receive from the country they served the welcome nor the gratitude they deserved when they returned home. Further discussion highlighted that when given the opportunity we should always express our thanks to them for their service.

 

We had just such an opportunity when we were at Arlington National Cemetery to lay our wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Upon leaving we saw a man wearing a Vietnam Veterans hat. We asked if we could take a picture with him.  Our tour guide Tracy from American Christian Tours asked his companion if we could take this picture and she replied, “Oh yes!  He just remarked that he wondered if any one cared or remembered.”

After our photo we asked if we could pray with him and he graciously agreed.  Each student then took the time to shake his hand and say “Welcome home! Thank you so much for your service.”  It was a very proud moment for me to see our students act upon the lesson, regarding honor, that they had learned.

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As I turned to leave the sacred grounds of Arlington, a place of constant reminders that indeed Freedom Is Not Free, I looked back to see this new friend in a full embrace weeping over the simple gratitude of our students.  I remembered then why we have been doing this trip for almost twenty years!  Our freedom certainly was not free – it cost the life of our Lord Jesus and we should live each day as people filled with gratitude.