Talk 3: Re-Imagining a New World
In the Middle Ages, Kings and noblemen had the privilege to be amused by people who performed comedic acts. They were called Court Jesters. They knew how to bring a smile to the king’s face, but one function they carried out was vital to the well-being of the Kingdom. There were few people who could speak or criticise any act of the court, especially if directed to the king. However, the jester was one such person who could speak freely without worrying about the consequences. Jesters were not afraid of causing offence by telling what they thought, particularly in a humorous way. Often when the king was made to laugh, he could see himself as he really was.
As an attendant in King David’s court, Nathan the prophet was well-placed to reframe the thinking of a king who was losing touch with the convictions of his faith. Jesus was the master teacher in reframing the thinking of those He met. He brought such transformation in the minds and hearts of individuals by opening them up to think about things differently and to see the world in a new way. Jesus was truly like the court jester who taught the foolishness of God to reframe the so-called wisdom of the culture and reveal a different way forward. He spoke in paradoxes about the mysteries of the new way “the least among you all shall be the greatest … “(Luke 9:48) and “whoever wants to save their lives will lose it, but whoever loses their life will save it” (Luke 9: 24). Jesus presented truth with such a new and honest realism that the Gospel writers could not have made Him up! He redefined the nature of the Kingdom in profound and liberating new ways.
Frederick Buechner in his book “Telling the Truth: The Gospel, Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy-tale” sums up the Biblical narrative as tragedy, comedy and fairy-tale. He states that the Gospel is “bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner … that he is evil … that is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding … that is the comedy … the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen to him just as in fairy tales extraordinary things happen.”
In our post-truth culture, we, like Jesus, are to be those who reframe learning for our students, for learning is to make sense of life and the meaning of experience. To do this effectively we need to see that every student approaches learning from their own worldview or habitus. Habitus refers to the physical embodiment of culture, the deeply ingrained dispositions, habits and life skills which they have due to their life experiences. As teachers, we need to possess a rigorous knowledge of our students and the subjects being taught and the alternative narratives that shape them. The design of the teaching and learning is to open new ways for students to look at things, rather than just information to be remembered. The intention is that they will flourish as they learn a language to articulate faith and to think critically, respect dialogue and build a spiritual and moral framework. It is important that students who do not have a Christian worldview feel supported to express their viewpoints in class and to be part of discussions about the consequences of ideas and actions.
In history week at our school, a history teacher told the story of Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, who was a Japanese commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and is best known for leading the first wave of bomber attacks on Pearl Harbour. This directly led to the USA’s entry into World War II. From immense pride at this destruction, he was called to inspect Hiroshima after the atomic bomb, which he would later recall that life had no meaning. He hated the Americans for what he believed was their treatment of Japanese POWs, but as providence had it, he heard the story from a prisoner of a young American woman, Peggy Covell, who treated him and his fellow prisoners with compassion, though her missionary parents had been killed by the Japanese. Unlike his code that demanded revenge, Peggy embodied the forgiving love of Jesus. He also encountered the testimony of Jacob DeShazer, an American POW, who found Christ in the camp. In 1949, Fuchida became a Christian. He realised that he could be forgiven, and that the redemption of Jesus alone could change the human heart. For redeeming love defeats the power of evil and death in the history of the world. There is hope in the new creation brought about through the resurrection of King Jesus. It is truly a story of Tragedy, Comedy and Fairytale understood through the lens of Scripture. It’s the new world restored to its creational goodness.
The jester’s eye sees that the faith will endure, because of the nature of faith itself. Even if a hostile culture is our greatest challenge today, or if rival gospel alternatives are powerful, our faith will endure. “Its currency is truth; its source is an unconquerable kingdom … Like an eternal jack-in-the-box, Christian truth will always spring back. No power on earth can finally keep it down …”
“… the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:21
Grace and Peace
 Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, (USA: Harper Collins Religious US, 1997), 7.
 Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File-Secret Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church,( Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1983), 243.