I was first engaged on the subject of inequality in education by a book from a college sociology course, Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, by Jonathan Kozol, which pointed out inequality in public schooling in America, often in school systems geographically ajacent to one another or of close proximity. I found the research represented in the book disturbing.
What got me thinking about this again? Leonard Pitts, Jr., who writes for the Miami Herald, addressed education reform in his recent column. In it, he mentions Michelle Rhee, who is also the subject of a feature in the latest issue of The Atlantic (plus a web-only interview). She came through the Teach for America program, founded and led by Wendy Kopp.
I mention these because I am inspired by Gen-Xers like me changing the world. They re-light the fire inside that wants to change the world too. Plus, the Scripture I preached from on Sunday was Jesus’ Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30. The three servants are given incredible treasures each (5, 2, and 1 “talent” each, Greek “talentas”); one talent equaled roughly 20 years wages for a day-laborer, so a heck of a lot of money. The first two are praised for doubling their sum even though we aren’t really told how they did it (isn’t that what we incessantly want to know? how-to?). The third is called “wicked” and “lazy” because he carefully preserved his talent by burying it in the ground. Among other things that may surely be said about this parable, we should definitely say that caution and risk-aversion are not what Jesus is looking for. What sort of master entrusts 8 talents in 3 servants while he’s away? That’s a ton of cash! Only imitation of this sort of master can lead to the sort of radical abandon needed by the first two servants to double the endowment they were given. Fear of a master like this (certainly a realistic response, we must admit) leads to the disastrously cautious response of the third servant, whose trepidation costs him some common sense–that he could have earned something via the decidedly non-industrious route of putting the money into an interest-bearing account of some sort!
It is worth considering, then, what our response shall be (and has been) to the One who is Power and Holiness and Righteousness and Justice…and Love. Will we hesitate in the headlights of the power of God? Or will we fling ourselves headlong into the imitation of this God who has given us the greatest of treasures through Jesus Christ–Life reconciled with God and restored to his design?