Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leading Caribbean Intellectuals on Education

". . . for an institution that is often celebrated in Antigua is the Hotel Training School, a school that teaches Antiguans how to be good servants, how to be a good nobody, which is what a servant is. In Antigua, people cannot see a relationship between their obsession with slavery and emancipation and their celebration of the Hotel Training School . . ."

Jamaica Kincaid, author of A Small Place

"Our approach to education is mercenary. What is important is the marketability of skills, not the training of minds. Too many PhDs at the College of the Bahamas spend their best hours teaching Bahamian students the basic critical skills our high schools have not taught them, and the subjects that expand the mind and spark students’ creativity are undersubscribed and underfunded. Too many Bahamians believe that the purpose of college is get a degree, and not an opportunity to explore the world of ideas and to learn how to think."

Nicolette Bethel, Director of Culture
Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture
Nassau, Bahamas

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas is Not Your Birthday

This is the time of year when everyone is looking forward to what they’ll be getting under the tree on Christmas morning. So we were wondering, how would Jesus answer if we were to ask him, “What do you want for Christmas?”

Perhaps Jesus would direct us to the song that his mother Mary sang shortly after discovering she was pregnant (Luke 1:46-56). In this song, we find that Mary anticipates that the coming of Jesus will challenge the social order as we know it: Rulers will be brought down while the humble are uplifted and the hungry will be filled while the rich are sent away empty.

It is precisely these earth shaking kinds of social changes that we are committed to bring about as American Baptist missionaries. By ministering to the needs of Haitian migrants in the Bahamas, we are attempting—at least in a small way—to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ birth in both word and deed. So when Jesus looks under the tree on Christmas morning, he won’t be getting a new stereo, the latest video games, or even that fancy new electric can opener that doubles as a camera—at least not from us! But he will be getting the best gift of all: Our commitment to serve him and join him on his mission to transform the world.

But too often we don’t think about what Jesus wants for Christmas. We just think about what we want. But Christmas is not our birthday; it’s Jesus’ birthday. So we hope that you will take some time this advent season to remember whose birthday it really is and, more importantly, to reflect on ways that you and your church can truly celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.

This post originally appeared in News from Daniel and Estela Schweissing on 11 December 2006.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the Week

". . . Antigua got its independence from Britain, making Antigua a state in its own right, and Antiguans are so proud of this that each year, to mark the day, they go to church and thank God, a British God, for this."

Jamaica Kincaid, author of A Small Place

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Exciting Developments in African Theology

Mark McEntire, an associate professor of religion at Belmont University, makes some interesting observations about recent developments in African Theology:

African theologians are rapidly overcoming this and other barriers to advanced academic training, though. The next century is going to witness a new wave of Bible translation in Africa. Existing translations, produced mostly by Western missionaries translating English versions into African target languages, will be replaced by direct translations from biblical languages into African languages by African scholars. This movement needs the full support of worldwide Christians with the resources to assist it.

If it is true that Africans possess a unique capability to read and understand the Old Testament, what will be done with that capability? Will Westerners seek to keep it under control, and harness it for their own use within a Western theological context, or will they help enable Africans to take this capability and run with it, developing their own traditions of biblical translation, interpretation, and theology which they can bring to a worldwide dialogue of what it means to live a life of faith informed by these ancient texts.
Click here to see the rest of the article.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So this is why only one person reads my blog . . .

readability test


Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Gifts for Teachers

James Lang, a columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, makes some practical suggestions for helping out teachers in our cash-strapped public schools.

The fact that most urban schools are underfunded and poorly equipped is no secret:

You may think back fondly on your days as a kindergartner, and remember a wonderland of crayons and markers, coloring pages, paste and scissors, and myriad supplies for arts-and-craft projects. My wife's students will never know such bounty. She was forced to spend most of her supply budget on copy paper--not that she ever gets to copy much on those blank sheets of paper, since the photocopy machines are perpetually breaking down.
While the best solution, suggests Lang, is to address the broader issues of why schools are not being properly funded in the first place, he also shows how we can give school teachers a hand while we fight the long term battles that will ultimately increase funding for public schools.

Last year, as the holiday season approached, a colleague and friend of our family asked my wife what sort of school supplies she needed for her classroom. My wife rattled off a list. Before my colleague left for her holiday break, she and her husband filled up a laundry basket with school supplies and delivered it to my wife just before Christmas. That basket of gifts made a substantial contribution to my wife's students in the weeks and months following the winter break. My colleague didn't spend a fortune. Glue sticks, scissors, crayons and markers, paper, cleaning supplies -- for $20, $30, or $50 you can easily fill up shopping bags with much-needed supplies for struggling schools.
Imagine what a difference we might make if each of our churches were to "adopt" a nearby public school and take the inititiative to help out in this way.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Emilie Townes Elected to Presidency of AAR

Emilie Townes, a Baptist theologian at Yale University Divinity School, has recently been elected to the presidency of the American Academy of Religion.

Here's the press release issue by the American Baptist News Service:


VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/29/07) — The Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School, has been elected president of the American Academy of Religion, the world's largest association of religion scholars. Townes, an ordained American Baptist minister, is the first black woman to serve as president of the Academy.

“Professor Townes is a trailblazer who has helped develop the next generation of theological scholars,” said ABCUSA General Secretary Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley. “She is a woman of strong faith in whose life the gifts of Christ are being used to benefit people of all backgrounds. We are proud of her impressive accomplishments, but most especially of her efforts to encourage black women to answer the call to ministry and theological education.”

Widely respected in her field, Townes’ teaching and general research interests focus on Christian ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, cultural theory and studies, as well as on postmodernism and social postmodernism. Among her many publications are Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health and a Womanist Ethic of Care; Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope; and In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness.

Townes served with ABC Women in Ministry during its early years and was a member of ABCUSA’s General Board. Townes holds an A.B. from the University of Chicago, an A.M. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, a D.Min. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

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Haiti at the Annual SOA Vigil

I have previously written about the School of Americas and its role in perpetrating human rights abuses in Haiti. The second half of this video, shot at last month's vigil to close the School of Americas, talks briefly about the U.S.-sponsored coup d'état against Haiti's democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in early 2004.

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