Tuesday, January 8, 2008

from the director of New Horizons Romania

Hi all,

Unfortunately I had to leave for a mandatory YL conference that is once every 4 years. Which is fortunately infrequent because we are living in the lap of luxury, and frankly I don't want to participate in this lap dance...considering the opportunity cost involved. But, "asta este" as they say in Romanian.

Anyway, we are honored to host you as students and guests in Bucharest, Lupeni, Timisoara, Straja and the other locations. Special thanks to Jeff Bouman, Janelle and Daniel and our Bucharest staff (Maria, Diana, George) for all that they put into it. And as I have heard, and is always the case here in Romania, there are unexpected surprises.

For my part, I hope you can catch a vision for how service learning/IMPACT can play a powerful role in grassroots development issues. Linked with this is the role of values for development and how adventure education can help surmount post-communist apathy. This is the praxis orientation of our work.

Now for theoria, or moral/ontological l vision The other main idea is the social doctrine of the Trinity and how this can provide an ontological, epistemological and ethical framework for community development. Here is the link to my paper if you did not find it http://www.new-horizons.ro/about_us/img/JournalOfTheYouth.pdf This is linking the Trinity with social capital development and fighting corruption.

Unlike Western theology, which tends to posit a linear direction to spiritual development from theoria to praxis, Eastern theology inverts this and argues that right living (asceticism) is necessary for right thinking. Orthopraxy is necessary for Orthodoxy.

2 things follow: First, If this is even partially so, service learning can play a positive role for the kingdom even when explicit faith language is not used. It is structuring human experience along Trinitarian, self-giving, kenotic experiences.

Secondly, service learning can be viewed as a form of positive asceticism, world transforming asceticism and not a form of flight from the world, as was often the case where the Greek philosophical anthropology (the body is a tomb, etc.) has influence.

Okay, I am still on jet-lag and am wandering probably dangerously close to the precipice of heresy! I look forward to seeing you again!

Much love,

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