Monday, April 27, 2009

The Hidden Curriculum

And yet another one from Leadership Journal...

Your Hidden Curriculum: What do people learn from you about the Christian life? Sometimes it's what you never intended to teach.

Here's what Sr. Scribe JoeB had to say about the article:

If the invisible curriculum of my own life hasn't shouted it down, you may recall my many rants on this subject. I call the invisible curriculum the "Unwritten Rules", and I believe the Bible calls them "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies."* I imagine all of his superb examples fall in the category of "reverse beatitudes", the ways of the world. Power before love; expedience before justice; victory before mercy. The shabbily dressed are welcome...if they sit here, at my feet. The meek inherit the soon as the powerful are done with it, and they've decided where the meek must stand.

I think these "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies" begin as individuals' shortcomings, but people play along with them and they become institutionalized. They become prescriptions for attitudes and behavior. And people master the curriculum just by breathing the air.

The invisible curriculum can be positive, by the way. And it is overwhelmingly powerful. I have experienced communities that overflow with love in the holy spirit, and it is earthshaking. In evangelism terms it is like the irresistible force.


Anonymous said...

Invisible Curriculum, Item 1:
If you are not a church employee you can only minister to foreigners.

scott said...

Good point on #1. I'd add #2-200, but I don't think I have the space here...

Joe B said...

We may think the Church no longer sells indudlgences, but from an outsider perspective, thatis not so clear. A wrd on the "hidden" curriculum form author and church uber-planter Neil Cole:
"We divide the world into saved and lost. Then we invite them in and notify them that they are hell-bound. But, good news, we can fix that for them, they can be spared by submitting to our message. Having done so, they are joined to our church, where tithing is part and parcel of the new life. To an outside, this is virtually indistinguishable
from selling pardons. Some outsiders actually delight in the notion, and buy up all the indulgences they can, whereas others think they smell a rat and decline the offer."
--Organic Leadership, Neil Cole

(This quote was formatted to fit your screen)

Joe B said...

A word about learning the hidden curriculum "just by breathing the air."

The atmosphere in bible terms is generally expressed in the greek word "oranou", usually translated "heaven" or "heavens." Broadly it denotes everything that is above earth. The stars are in it, God indwells it, and the birds fly in it. But in the passage tat speaks of "the prince of te powers of the air" it is a different Greek word, "aer", which refers to the actual gas rather than the space that gas fills.

So when I said "we master the curriculum just by breathing the air", I think I am employing the same conceptual metaphor. I could go on about why I think the common interpretations of "powers and principalities" and "prince of the powers of the air", etc, are faulty. We get WAY too narrow if we presume those phrases only to refer to personific demons and devils and heirarchies of Satan's henchmen. Most of the standard understanding of demonology is occultic in origin and is pretty dumb. The language employed in these statements is very loose, and we should be very flexible when we read them. We need to let the context define them, not some odd ideas from Dante or gnostic texts or from Frank Peretti.

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