The Car

The Car

Thursday, 23 March 2017  | Gerry - Administration Manager
In his book, “The Road Trip that Changed the World: The Unlikely Theory that will Change How You View Culture, the Church, and, Most Importantly, Yourself”, Pastor Mark S delves into the idea that ‘the car’ figures strongly in our current underlying western worldview. This is expressed in areas such as the rise of the 'generation gap', and in our changed approach to church, and is perhaps a key source of the popular ‘journey’ metaphor for life. The trigger for this reflection about ‘the car’ is the fact that the life you live in your car is going to become inconvenient for a few months.

Why is that? Well sometime in April, we do not know exactly what day, construction work will commence on the installation of pedestrian operated traffic lights at the school crossing on York Rd. The work will continue through to sometime in June. While the work happens there will be lane closures on York Rd between 9.30am and 3pm each week day – thankfully outside of the main school drop off and pickup times. I’m going to predict that even without the lane closures, traffic flow will be affected. We will all need to dose up on patience during Term 2.

Traffic chaos aside, I’d claim that without the car (and its big brother the bus) MECS could not exist – even from the very beginning. If you have seen the home movie footage (now on video) of the very first day of MECS in 1973, what is notable is the number of cars arriving to drop kids off (mind you some of those cars seemed to have more kids get out from them than you could imagine possible). Today of course we like to see those cars driving smoothly, efficiently and safely through kiss 'n' drop. If MECS’ enrolments relied on students that could walk or ride (a bike or a horse) to school our numbers would be tiny. Indeed I believe this would be true for just about every school in Melbourne. Our entire culture is so reliant on the car that it is very difficult to imagine a society without it.

What’s the point of thinking about the car? It’s worthwhile because the car is one facet of our culture that shapes our worldview. I’d like you to recognise that the car is both friend and foe. Friend, because it enables you and your children to participate in MECS, your church, your job, your sports club, your holidays, and your whatever. Foe, because it enables lives to be built upon experience, pleasure, mobility and self-discovery (thinking again about what Mark Sayers writes). And when the experience comes up short of expectations we tend to drive off seeking the next thing, the next school, the next church. This is not to complain, this is to help us realise that we are wearing worldview lenses that affect the way we live in the world.

Can the car be redeemed or transformed? I am certain that our faith can bring about some transformation to any part of culture – the car included. Transforming the car cannot simply be about making it more efficient or carbon/energy neutral (though that is significant), and it cannot simply be about driving less (though that too may be important).

Transforming the car cannot simply about ceasing to hanker for the latest 4WD, and it cannot simply be be about hanging on to your old car as long as possible (the end for mine came at 463,000 km). Transforming the car must be about seeing how it can serve the Kingdom of God, and how my relationship to the car helps me rather than hinders me in: showing mercy, pursuing peace, seeking justice, taking care of the earth, contemplating creation, imagining innovations, expressing creativity, celebrating life, relishing play, learning humility, practising hospitality, loving God – in short making Jesus Lord of all (these are just a sample of discipleship responses that we seek to embed in our curriculum at MECS – we call them threads).

Just as we can and should wrestle with the faith ideas that may transform the car, at MECS we are seeking to wrestle with faith ideas that transform education. That wrestling is expressed in a couple of important resource books. First, Transformation by Design, published by the National institute for Christian Education (authors include our director of Teaching and Learning Jacqui and former Principal Martin). Second, Transformational Education: A Framework for Christian Education (our own book published two years ago and now with more than 2700 copies in circulation around the world; and still available for purchase at the office). Perhaps we should record the later book into 16 podcasts so that you can listen to it while you wait patiently with the road works on York Road in Term 2. Travel well.

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