Monday, August 8, 2016
I arrived early this morning and the church was not yet open, so I sat in my car a while listening to the radio. The news reported a story about changes taking place in schools in China.
Some Chinese leaders noted that despite improvements in Chinese schools, they still lagged the United States. Innovations --- changes which impacted the world, largely came from the United States. And so China, as it so often does, is now seeking to copy the winning ways of the United States; it is seeking to teach innovation.
The news told of how in some Chinese schools even gym classes have been changed, from boring regimented military-like exercises, now some kids play tag. Wearing t-shirts with chemical symbols on them, the kids seek to tag others with chemical symbols with which they could start a chemical reaction. They in turn tag others. They see and create relationships and learn the value of working together --- not with diversity celebrations that all are good, but rather that some fit and work well with us, and some don’t. Putting together groups of random chemicals, or people, don’t automatically generate good reactions.
The news people also told of changes to history classes in China, which are now being combined with mathematics. Chinese children study historical facts and apply math to see historical relationships. They see the odds of some actions of history working out well, and some actions of history ending badly. When they see trends they investigate why they seem consistent in history, and how things might have been changed for the better. A Chinese student comments: “I used to be afraid to raise my hand, in case I didn’t know the one answer to the problem. Now I get up and justify why I think my --- and perhaps my teammates’ --- answer is best, and we discuss things logically.
The Chinese schools are beginning to teach their kids how to think, which will lead to innovations in the future. I recalled a recent point I wrote regarding colleges in the United States are being like Judas goats, telling our kids “This is the way to think; this is the answer. We know.” I read in a book yesterday how already in this 2016 election campaign over 90% of Harvard professors have donated to Hillary’s campaign. How much to you think these professors are encouraging free thinking in their classrooms? And in First Things magazine I read last month how China is the fastest growing Christian nation on earth right now. Oh, the numbers are somewhat small --- although perhaps as many as 30 million, but they are growing rapidly, and in the not too distant future China may be the largest Christian nation in the world.
In some ways, these are encouraging things, yet sad. We who have so much, and have had so many blessings, are choosing to disregard them in favor of “what we want --- and have a right to.” We think we know best, and will dictate it right now, even to our kids. Meanwhile across the world is another country that is saying: “Perhaps we don’t know best, and so will stop dictating it.” And they are opening their eyes to God.
Perhaps even in my lifetime I’ll see the day when American families send their children to China for a good education, even as Chinese families send their kids to U.S. schools today. The thing that would bother me about that is that it would be proof that we who had so many blessings continued to reject them. We’d have chosen to reject ways that worked in the past, and selected ways that were proven to have failed. We’d have chosen to repeat the worst ways of history.
How stupid can you get?
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But even these things are not cause for anxiety. In today’s Gospel I heard how Peter tried to protect Jesus from the government and planned to do “what he knew best.” But Jesus then taught Peter not to do for others what he thought best, nor to take actions best left to the government. Jesus taught Peter to do what he does best, and then trust God. And so Jesus told the fisherman Peter to go fish, and in the mouth of the first fish he caught would be money to pay the taxes owed by Peter and Jesus.
“Trust me,” Jesus was saying. And I also heard Him saying: Do not be anxious.