Purity, Faith, and Fidelity: An Experience-Based Reinterpretation


It was Sunday morning of the final day of our 5-day retreat Image result for divine milieuat Holy Isle, Scotland, studying the work of French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, as seen through the eyes of spiritual teacher Cynthia Bourgeault. She had led us through Teilhard’s understanding of the three most important Christian virtues – purity, faith, and fidelity – which he describes in his most personally reflective book, The Divine Milieu. She then turned to us and suggested that this was our task – to define these for ourselves. Continue reading

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The Global Gifts of Protestant Scotland and its Future Challenges


Two opposing forces remain forever memorialized on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. The Giles Cathedral, where Protestant Reformation leader John Knox delivered impassioned sermons, represents the Christian heritage of Scotland, while the great rationalist skeptic David Hume holds down a strategic position along this famed street. This entry shares the great gifts that Protestant Scotland gave to the world, but also brings attention to the fact that today David Hume’s philosophy, rather than the church, speaks for the vast majority of those living in Edinburgh, the cultural capital of Scotland.

“Much of what we take for granted in Scotland today, such as the free national education system, the National Health Service, human rights and modern democracy, came about from Christian movements of the past.”

– Paul Griffiths, Famous Lives in Edinburgh, 16. Continue reading

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Teaching Teilhardian Hope in Hong Kong: A Response to Cynthia Bourgeault’s “Teilhard for Troubled Times”

Image result for heart of christ stained glassMore than two years ago Episcopalian priest andImage result for teilhard de chardin spiritual teacher Cynthia Bourgeault named 2015 the “Year of Teilhard,” encouraging study of the work of 20th century French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). Over the last month Cynthia has written three blog entries for the Omega Center entitled “Teilhard for Troubled Times,” which can be read below my reflections. The Center requested a response to the three blogs, which I have posted below.  

I write as a high school humanities teacher who for more than 25 years has been on a quest to find what power in education really means in the international setting of Hong Kong. My starting point, then, in response to Cynthia’s reflections on Teilhard, is that her comments address arguably the biggest cosmological question of all: where do we find hope?  Continue reading

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Realism, Idealism, and the New Universe Story

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The Modern Story of Realism

Dear Students,

If I ask are you a realist or an idealist, you will probably consider your basic approach to life. The realists live more cautiously or even pessimistically, while the idealists see the bright side, spotting silver linings in every cloud.

Philosophically, however, I’m trying to get at a bigger question: Image result for dean radinwhat is the fundamental nature of reality? Put most simply, what came first, God or the atom? Dean Radin, chief scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, addresses this question by contrasting two philosophical positions taken throughout Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 4.37.27 PMhistory, realism and idealism. The realists believe that the basic building blocks of reality are physical bits that we call atoms and molecules. Billions of years of random mixing of material elements resulted in the lucky strike of not only a habitable planet, but an increasingly complex evolutionary ladder that has culminated in the miracle of human personality and reflectivity that we call mind, awareness or consciousness. This certainly is the current cosmological story underpinning modern civilization. Continue reading

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Our Collective Human Purpose on a Bumper Sticker

IMG_20170326_134730146.jpgI was sitting at an outdoor table on the 7th floor of our high school grounds – the Penthouse suite view, I mentioned to a passing colleague. After a dismally dark and rainy Sunday, I was cheered by the sun, as it began breaking through the fog on this first day of the new week. Grey began to give way to a swirling promise of greens and blues and whites. I was taken by the view.

It was an inspiring setting to consider tomorrow’s lesson plan for Image result for ishmaelmy Humanities I in Action class. We were beginning our study of the novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, asking the question, “What is the guiding story of human civilization?” Overlooking the campus, a question came to mind for the students’ homework, “What in your opinion is the collective purpose of humankind?” To make it memorable, the assignment went on, reduce this message to a bumper sticker slogan like, “I have a dream”, “Just do it!” or “Make America Great Again.” Continue reading

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Did We Make A Difference? Action Research of a Teaching for Empowerment Program in South India


For the last seven years HKIS students have come to our two sister schools, Concordia-Ambur and Concordia-Pernambut, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to implement a “Teaching for Empowerment” curriculum developed by our students. Once again we returned to Ambur in March to facilitate this week-long program, but this time Image result for caroline scownan HKIS alum, Caroline Scown, who participated for three years here as a high school student and co-wrote the empowerment curriculum, returned during her university’s spring break to do action research on the program. Her surveys and interviews of the program participants aimed to respond to the nagging question that is always present in school service learning events: did we actually make a difference? In this context, can HKIS students honestly say that the “Teaching for Empowerment” program truly empowered the Indian students? Continue reading

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Well-Being and Wisdom: Considerations for a Wellness Curriculum

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As students enter high school, they are asked to begin to navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood, a daunting task. A new wellness block is being offered for all incoming HKIS freshmen next year employing an interdisciplinary approach combining PE, Counseling, and Religion departmental perspectives to offer students a much-needed orientation towards well-being and wisdom.  Continue reading

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