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Anne Rowland, June 28, 2018 in
Poetic Pedagogy with Dr. James Taylor
This is a comment mainly for Chris, who brought up the really good, really important question in class of evangelism and how it is hindered by living in a culture that isn't educated poetically.
So, Dr. Taylor mentioned the importance of community as a partial answer to the problem. That's what I wanted to share, too. I have a friend (graduated 4 homeschooled kids AND used to teach in public schools & still has valid teaching certificate) who has been sent by her denomination to coach missionary families on how to homeschool their children rather than send them away to boarding school. I think this is wonderful, not just for the families, but for their ministries. I am currently protestant, and I really don't know what evangelism looks like for Catholic & Orthodox. But from a protestant perspective, this is a huge shift in thinking about evangelism & ministry. The old model was about the missionary interacting with the unreached people and "sharing the gospel" or however you want to say that. The new model is about living as a Christian family in the midst of the unreached people. I think that's much more "poetic" because (though "sharing the gospel" probably always includes some sort of actions as well as words) the emphasis of the old model was the "message" and the emphasis of the new model is the experience of seeing a living, breathing unit of Christian community up close & personal. That's an oversimplification, I'm sure. But I think the answer to your question is along these lines. I think that when Christians remember how to do community, we'll start to overcome the handicap of living in a non-poetic society.
Anne, I am glad you put this is the forum. It is one of my favorite topics to think and talk about; and I think we could all talk about this for days on end. I will try and keep my comments brief to add to your question and thoughts.
After college I worked in Catholic Schools and Parishes for a number of years and witnessed two overall trends to evangelization that the majority took part in. One approach was an apologetic approach that was heavy on content with typically well thought out arguments. The overall theme carried great content and good intent, but typically focused more on information than relationship. The other approach, which I observe to be more prominent, is the approach of community. However, the community being promoted is not the genuine, nitty gritty, feast celebrating, community. Rather, it is an approach based on sentiment only, where everyone should feel good and be welcome. Both of these approaches have so much good in them, but tend to neglect the other...they tend to focus on right teaching only, or right living only...they divorce the two. The minority I see out there in the Catholic world lies mostly around those focused on homeschooling, classical education, healing ministries, good (and beautiful) liturgical celebrations of the Church, and quality conferences. What I see in all these is a focus on authentic community receiving life from the rich worship of the Church. I think the desire for poetic knowledge is there, but people don't know what it is or how to participate in it. We just don't know what we don't know. Rich evangelization though is happening in homeschool co-ops, classical schools, churches with traditional liturgies, and personal and intentional evangelization efforts. The seeds are being sown for sure, but we certainly have a road ahead of us.
Now, in the world outside the church walls...yikes. I've been in that world for 8 years now and hold a leadership position in a large insurance company. It is a bit of a nightmare to be completely honest. I don't want to go into all the negatives, but I will simply say we are in a post-Christian and post- Pagan world. The message from many companies and far too many people I work with is there is no objective truth. Everything has become very political and about resource groups for every ideology and ethnic group (besides white males) out there. It is in our faces daily...I'm not exaggerating. My heart sinks because so many have no idea what their purpose is. I think this gets to the heart of Chris' question in the class. In a excessively distracted world where so many rarely go outside (especially without ear buds in), the task ahead of us is steep.
A few items I keep in mind and utilize with evangelization in the workplace:
1. Fix me first. I need to repent and pray. Rinse and repeat.
2. I use fables, fairy tales, and excerpts from good books in my coaching and leading. I quote from them a lot spontaneously in interactions with my direct reports and peers, which sometimes prompts questions about the source. Then I get to talk about Zane Grey, Louis La'mour, Chesterton, Belloc, Frost, and Mother Goose, etc. I see this as a tilling of the natural soil of their hearts so that the Gospel may find more read ground to take root.
3. I use classical pedagogy in my coaching and training sessions. I also teach this to other leaders because it is effective in leadership and it promotes deep thinking.
4. I utilize walking outside when coaching, having review meetings, and planning. We are blessed with a good amount of wildlife and trees on our campus. More tilling...
5. I pray for my team and my peers.
6. I have started, with two other men, a top secret Catholic men's meeting that meets bi-weekly for 30 minutes. We just had our first meeting. We will eat, discuss, and pray.
7. Most importantly, love others where they are. Give them my full time and attention. Build a trusting relationship with them as much I can. Without this, 2-6 will not likely go anywhere.
Well, not so brief.
Wonderful. Keep it up.
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