10 November, 2010

I was home last week for three full days and returned to Atlanta on Saturday. My time at home was bittersweet, as I was able to spend time with my family, but under unfortunate circumstances. Since I’ve been back, my time has been packed with work at GJP, visiting neighbors, hanging out with my roommates, and reading. So I thought I’d give you a little glimpse of what’s in my book bag at the moment...

I've been reading Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed for a graduate course I'm taking at Eastern University called Theology of Poverty. It's a bit of a tough read, but completely worth it! Although I'm only on the first chapter, I've already learned so much about the dialectical struggle of the oppressed and the oppressor, and the quest for liberation. Freire articulates these issues extremely well and has stirred my heart to fight harder against oppression. Freire writes...
The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor -- when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks and act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality, in its praxis. To affirm that men and women are persons and as persons should be free, and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce.
- Paolo Freire

I’ve also been reading Beverly Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? It’s part of our Mission Year curriculum that we read and discuss as a house. I was supposed to read this book for a class in college but only got half way through it (Melanie, if you’re reading this… sorry!) But I’m giving it another chance! I’ve only just begun, but so far it’s about understanding racism and how we shape our identities. It’s been really interesting to read about these things from a different perspective.

I just started reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith and already really enjoy it. He starts off with a story…

I’ve often had a fancy for writing a romance about an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas… There will probably be a general impression that the man who landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton, felt rather a fool. I am not here concerned to deny that he looked a fool. But if you imagine that he felt a fool, or at any rate that the sense of folly was the sole or his dominant emotion, then you have not studied with sufficient delicacy the rich romantic nature of the hero of this tale. His mistake was really a most enviable mistake; and he knew it, if he was the man I take him for. What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again?

What a charming story! And what a perfect analogy for my time in Mission Year thus far! I feel as if I am rediscovering all of my passions, but from a different perspective and with a deeper understanding. I’ve always known that God has a love for all people, but I am rediscovering this truth as I see Him in the people I meet, whether poor, homeless, wealthy, convicted of crimes, young or old. This realization has given me a much deeper understanding of the character of God. I’ve been passionate about social justice for quite awhile but am rediscovering that passion from a new point of view, and gaining a much deeper understanding of what it means to actively pursue social justice.

Amidst the theology, philosophy, and psychology books, I just needed some good ol' classic fiction. And what could be better than J.D. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenter? I've read this before and find it simply charming and delightful. If only I could settle down and read one book at a time, I might actually be able to finish one!

From Atlanta, with Love

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