Strategies for Seeing Anew #1

...towards connecting faith with all of life

An example from a Primary classroom
An example from a Secondary classroom

What does this mean?

This sacred-secular divide is the idea that there is a secular world that is the setting for our public lives and is guided by reason, and then there is personal religious belief which is viewed as a private hobby. This view implies that religious belief does not affect public life or any parts of the curriculum except RE. Some would say that faith cannot critique economics, politics, art or education as they are out of its field, and many assume that faith and reason or faith and science are opposed to one another. This attitude has lead to fragmentation of knowledge into parts often seen as unrelated to each other and God. This division of knowledge is a comparatively modern idea. As a result, sometimes learning can feel impersonal and disconnected from the rest of life, and faith can also become detached from our everyday teaching and learning practices and life choices. Ultimately the Christian faith is not about an abstract set of beliefs, but a relationship with God that makes a radical difference to all of how life is lived.

Until about a century and a half ago, scientists and scholars commonly assumed that knowledge formed a coherent whole; more precisely, they assumed that all parts of knowledge ultimately could be connected because every area of knowledge focused on some aspect of one single divine creation. J. Turner

The Bible sees things very differently. The entire world is God’s and can reveal him (Psalm 24:1) and all of life can be lived to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The musician and the engineer, the artist and the physicist are all engaged in the same work – exploring God’s world – even if they do not know it. Jesus was called Emmanuel, meaning ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). He was involved with our world (John 1:14). Faith and reason are not opposed - we are to love God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37). Many prominent scholars have been and continue to be Christians. Being curious about the world and asking life's hard questions are part of a robust faith.

The Bible does not only deal with religious issues, it deals with families and food, work and politics (1 Timothy 2:1-2), craft and farming (Leviticus 19:10). It also gives us a basic way of seeing all of life out of which we can explore and think through each issue we face. All of life comes under God.

For the Christian the material world can be a door to the sacred and God may be glimpsed through the things of this world: maths and science, music and poetry, politics and art. An experience of God is not restricted to religious settings. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins talked of the world being ‘charged’ with God’s glory.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like the shining of shook foil… Gerard Manley Hopkins

This section is about moving towards connecting faith with all of life. You may wish to think about where people move from; is it a move from deliberately keeping faith and public life separate, or from not thinking about the issue and the separation happening by default?

What does this mean in school?

The false division between sacred and secular and between faith and reason are an issue for all subjects:

  • Teachers can foster this oneness of knowledge by making connections across subjects and bringing these to students’ notice, showing how faith plays a role in history, science, or literature.
  • Questions of belief and values can be asked in subjects other than Religious Education. Why not ask if numbers go on forever in maths, and why, or ask questions of ethics and meaning in science, or consider faith in other cultures in modern languages or geography?
  • We can draw on religious sources. Why not canvas the local church on an environmental issue? Or present the work of a prominent Christian scholar?
  • We should represent Christians as working in all spheres of life, not just as vicars, saints and missionaries but as poets, engineers and scientists.

When have you experienced knowledge being divided into ‘religious stuff’ and other knowledge? Did this come from the students, from staff or is it just something people take for granted? Locate a lesson or unit where you could develop more integration using some of the suggestions above.

More ways of seeing anew
Next way of seeing anew

1The earth and everything on it belong to the Lord . The world and its people belong to him. 2The Lord placed it all on the oceans and rivers. 3Who may climb the Lord 's hill or stand in his holy temple? 4Only those who do right for the right reasons, and don't worship idols or tell lies under oath. 5The Lord God, who saves them, will bless and reward them, 6because they worship and serve the God of Jacob. 7Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 8Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , a strong and mighty warrior. 9Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 10Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , the All-Powerful! (By David.) A prayer for guidance and help
1Friends, I want to remind you that all our ancestors walked under the cloud and went through the sea. 2This was like being baptized and becoming followers of Moses. 3All of them also ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink, which flowed from the spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ. 5But most of them did not please God. So they died, and their bodies were scattered all over the desert. 6What happened to them is a warning to keep us from wanting to do the same evil things. 7They worshipped idols, just as the Scriptures say, The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance around. So don't worship idols. 8Some of those people did shameful things, and in a single day about twenty-three thousand of them died. Don't do shameful things as they did. 9And don't try to test Christ, as some of them did and were later bitten by poisonous snakes. 10Don't even grumble, as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel. 11These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days. 12Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall. 13You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. 14My friends, you must keep away from idols. 15I am speaking to you as people who have enough sense to know what I am talking about. 16When we drink from the cup that we ask God to bless, isn't that sharing in the blood of Christ? When we eat the bread that we break, isn't that sharing in the body of Christ? 17By sharing in the same loaf of bread, we become one body, even though there are many of us. 18Aren't the people of Israel sharing in the worship when they gather around the altar and eat the sacrifices offered there? 19Am I saying that either the idols or the food sacrificed to them is anything at all? 20No, I am not! That food is really sacrificed to demons and not to God. I don't want you to have anything to do with demons. 21You cannot drink from the cup of demons and still drink from the Lord's cup. You cannot eat at the table of demons and still eat at the Lord's table. 22We would make the Lord jealous if we did that. And we are not stronger than the Lord. Always honour God 23Some of you say, We can do whatever we want to! But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful. 24We should think about others and not about ourselves. 25However, when you buy meat in the market, go ahead and eat it. Keep your conscience clear by not asking where the meat came from. 26The Scriptures say, The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord. 27If an unbeliever invites you to dinner, and you want to go, then go. Eat whatever you are served. Don't cause a problem for someone's conscience by asking where the food came from. 28But if you are told that it has been sacrificed to idols, don't cause a problem by eating it. I don't mean a problem for yourself, but for the one who told you. Why should my freedom be limited by someone else's conscience? 30If I give thanks for what I eat, why should anyone accuse me of doing wrong? 31When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honour God. 32Don't cause problems for Jews or Greeks or anyone else who belongs to God's church. 33I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved.
1Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham. And this is a list of his ancestors. 2From Abraham to King David, his ancestors were: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers (Judah's sons were Perez and Zerah, and their mother was Tamar), Hezron; Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David. 6From David to the time of the exile in Babylonia, the ancestors of Jesus were: David, Solomon (his mother had been Uriah's wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers. 12From the exile to the birth of Jesus, his ancestors were: Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim; Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah. 17There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah. The birth of Jesus (Luke 2.1-7) 18This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David's family. But before they were married, she learnt that she was going to have a baby by God's Holy Spirit. 19Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to call off the wedding quietly. 20While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. 22So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 23A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel, which means God is with us. 24After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord's angel had told him to do. 25But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus. The wise men
1In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. 2From the very beginning the Word was with God. 3And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created 4received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. 5The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out. 6God sent a man named John, 7who came to tell about the light and to lead all people to have faith. 8John wasn't that light. He came only to tell about the light. 9The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. 10The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word. 11He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. 12Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God. 13They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children. 14The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us. 15John spoke about him and shouted, This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born. 16Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another. 17The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth. 18No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like. John the Baptist tells about Jesus (Matthew 3.1-12; Mark 1.1-8; Luke 3.15-17) 19The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and temple helpers to ask John who he was. He told them plainly, I am not the Messiah. 21Then when they asked him if he were Elijah, he said, No, I am not! And when they asked if he were the Prophet, he also said No! 22Finally, they said, Who are you then? We have to give an answer to the ones who sent us. Tell us who you are! 23John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah, I am only someone shouting in the desert, Get the road ready for the Lord! 24Some Pharisees had also been sent to John. 25They asked him, Why are you baptizing people, if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet? 26John told them, I use water to baptize people. But here with you is someone you don't know. 27Even though I came first, I am not good enough to untie his sandals. 28John said this as he was baptizing east of the River Jordan in Bethany. The Lamb of God 29The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him and said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30He is the one I told you about when I said, Someone else will come. He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born. 31I didn't know who he was. But I came to baptize you with water, so that everyone in Israel would see him. 32I was there and saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven. And the Spirit stayed on him. 33Before this I didn't know who he was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water had told me, You will see the Spirit come down and stay on someone. Then you will know that he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. 34I saw this happen, and I tell you that he is the Son of God. 35The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. 36When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, Here is the Lamb of God! 37John's two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, What do you want? They answered, Rabbi, where do you live? The Hebrew word Rabbi means Teacher. 39Jesus replied, Come and see! It was already about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day. 40One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, We have found the Messiah! The Hebrew word Messiah means the same as the Greek word Christ. 42Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas. This name can be translated as Peter. Jesus chooses Philip and Nathanael 43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the home town of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, Come with me. 45Philip then found Nathanael and said, We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth. 46Nathanael asked, Can anything good come from Nazareth? Philip answered, Come and see. 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said, Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn't deceitful. 48How do you know me? Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree. 49Nathanael said, Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel! 50Jesus answered, Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. 51I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man. Jesus at a wedding in Cana
1Once again Jesus used stories to teach the people: 2The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a king gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3The king sent some servants to tell the invited guests to come to the banquet, but the guests refused. 4He sent other servants to say to the guests, The banquet is ready! My cattle and prize calves have all been prepared. Everything is ready. Come to the banquet! 5But the guests did not pay any attention. Some of them left for their farms, and some went to their places of business. 6Others grabbed the servants, then beat them up and killed them. 7This made the king so furious that he sent an army to kill those murderers and burn down their city. 8Then he said to the servants, It is time for the wedding banquet, and the invited guests don't deserve to come. 9Go out to the street corners and tell everyone you meet to come to the banquet. 10They went out into the streets and brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike. And the banquet room was filled with guests. 11When the king went in to meet the guests, he found that one of them wasn't wearing the right kind of clothes for the wedding. 12The king asked, Friend, why didn't you wear proper clothes for the wedding? But the guest had no excuse. 13So the king gave orders for that person to be tied hand and foot and to be thrown outside into the dark. That's where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 14Many are invited, but only a few are chosen. Paying taxes (Mark 12.13-17; Luke 20.20-26) 15The Pharisees got together and planned how they could trick Jesus into saying something wrong. 16They sent some of their followers and some of Herod's followers to say to him, Teacher, we know that you are honest. You teach the truth about what God wants people to do. And you treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. 17Tell us what you think! Should we pay taxes to the Emperor or not? 18Jesus knew their evil thoughts and said, Why are you trying to test me? You show-offs! 19Let me see one of the coins used for paying taxes. They brought him a silver coin, 20and he asked, Whose picture and name are on it? 21The Emperor's, they answered. Then Jesus told them, Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God. 22His answer surprised them so much that they walked away. Life in the future world (Mark 12.18-27; Luke 20.27-40) 23The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So that same day some of the Sadducees came to Jesus and said: 24Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother. 25Once there were seven brothers who lived here. The first one married, but died without having any children. So his wife was left to his brother. 26The same thing happened to the second and third brothers and finally to all seven of them. 27At last the woman died. 28When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? She had been married to all seven brothers. 29Jesus answered: You are completely wrong! You don't know what the Scriptures teach. And you don't know anything about the power of God. 30When God raises people to life, they won't marry. They will be like the angels in heaven. 31And as for people being raised to life, God was speaking to you when he said, 32I am the God worshipped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He isn't the God of the dead, but of the living. 33The crowds were surprised to hear what Jesus was teaching. The most important commandment (Mark 12.28-34; Luke 10.25-28) 34After Jesus had made the Sadducees look foolish, the Pharisees heard about it and got together. 35One of them was an expert in the Jewish Law. So he tried to test Jesus by asking, 36Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law? 37Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38This is the first and most important commandment. 39The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, Love others as much as you love yourself. 40All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments. About David's son (Mark 12.35-37; Luke 20.41-44) 41While the Pharisees were still there, Jesus asked them, 42What do you think about the Messiah? Whose family will he come from? They answered, He will be a son of King David. 43Jesus replied, How then could the Spirit lead David to call the Messiah his Lord? David said, 44The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right side until I make your enemies into a footstool for you. 45If David called the Messiah his Lord, how can the Messiah be a son of King David? 46No one was able to give Jesus an answer, and from that day on, no one dared ask him any more questions. Jesus condemns the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses (Mark 12.38-40; Luke 11.37-52; 20.45-47)
1First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honour God. 3This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour. 4God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6God showed us this at the right time. 7This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth. 8I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands towards heaven and pray, without being angry or arguing with each other. 9I would like women to wear modest and sensible clothes. They should not have fancy hair styles, or wear expensive clothes, or put on jewellery made of gold or pearls. 10Women who claim to love God should do helpful things for others, 11and they should learn by being quiet and paying attention. 12They should be silent and not be allowed to teach or to tell men what to do. 13After all, Adam was created before Eve, 14and the man Adam wasn't the one who was fooled. It was the woman Eve who was completely fooled and sinned. 15But women will be saved by having children, if they stay faithful, loving, holy, and modest. Church officials
1The Lord told Moses 2to say to the community of Israel: I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too! 3Respect your father and your mother, honour the Sabbath, and don't make idols or images. I am the Lord your God. 5When you offer a sacrifice to ask my blessing, be sure to follow my instructions. 6You may eat the meat either on the day of the sacrifice or on the next day, but you must burn anything left until the third day. 7If you eat any of it on the third day, the sacrifice will be disgusting to me, and I will reject it. 8In fact, you will be punished for not respecting what I say is holy, and you will no longer belong to the community of Israel. 9When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing along the edges of your fields and don't pick up what falls on the ground. 10Don't strip your grapevines clean or gather the grapes that fall off the vines. Leave them for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the Lord your God. 11Do not steal or tell lies or cheat others. 12Do not misuse my name by making promises you don't intend to keep. I am the Lord your God. 13Do not steal anything or cheat anyone, and don't fail to pay your workers at the end of each day. 14I am the Lord your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble. 15Be fair, no matter who is on trialdon't favour either the poor or the rich. 16Don't be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone's life. 17Don't hold grudges. On the other hand, it's wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the Lord , and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself. 19Breed your livestock animals only with animals of the same kind, and don't plant two kinds of seed in the same field or wear clothes made of different kinds of material. 20If a man has sex with a slave woman who is promised in marriage to someone else, he must pay a fine, but they are not to be put to death. After all, she was still a slave at the time. 21The man must bring a ram to the entrance of the sacred tent and give it to a priest, who will then offer it as a sacrifice to me, so the man's sins will be forgiven. 23After you enter the land, you will plant fruit trees, but you are not to eat any of their fruit for the first three years. 24In the fourth year the fruit must be set apart, as an expression of thanks 25to me, the Lord God. Do this, and in the fifth year, those trees will produce an abundant harvest of fruit for you to eat. 26Don't eat the blood of any animal. Don't practise any kind of witchcraft. 27I forbid you to shave any part of your head or beard or to cut and tattoo yourself as a way of worshipping the dead. 29Don't let your daughters serve as temple prostitutesthis would bring disgrace both to them and the land. 30I command you to respect the Sabbath and the place where I am worshipped. 31Don't make yourselves disgusting to me by going to people who claim they can talk to the dead. 32I command you to show respect for older people and to obey me with fear and trembling. 33Don't ill-treat any foreigners who live in your land. 34Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 35Use honest scales and don't cheat when you weigh or measure anything. I am the Lord your God. I rescued you from Egypt, 37and I command you to obey my laws. Penalties for disobeying God's laws