Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Teaching and Destiny

In The Meaning of Persons, the Swiss Christian psychiatrist, Paul Tournier recounts and experience of one of his clients, a man with a mystical sense of life. This man had the experience that he effected ineluctably the destiny of everyone with whom he had any significant contact throughout his life. He left his unique mark on the souls of others forever. I read that in 1977 and have never forgotten it.

Similarly, Francis Schaeffer taught that humans make ripples that press out into eternity. In a time when so many worldviews were reducing humans to machines (secular humanism) or to waves in the infinite ocean (pantheism, which he astutely called pan-everthing-ism), Christianity teaches that we are made in God's image and likeness. Our thoughts and actions resonate with a unique frequency. The mark of men and women is write large in the world, and cannot be erased.

Now apply this insight to teaching, a particularly influential mode of being in the world. When teaching, I beckon human beings to attend to me, my ideas, my personality, my way of orienting myself to reality. They look to me, listen to me, speak to me, and write for me in relation to class readings and exercises. They dedicate many hours to my program of instruction, whether it be lectures, choices of texts and other readings, quizzes, tests, in-class discussions, or the comments I make on their papers. I then make up part of their destinies, and they make up part of my destiny--before the face of God.

Think on these things, teachers of the world.

1 comment:

david said...

Last summer I had a Schaeffer some books, listened to the radio series, watched the dvds...I must say one of the most influential summers in my life.