Tag Archives: SlowKingdomComing

Practice: Confession

From: Annan.K.2016.Slow Kingdom Coming.InterVarsity Press

  1. Confess Your Mixed Motives: “God and neighbor, I confess my mixed motives. Help the fruit of my efforts to be beautiful and just.”
  2. Confess Your Desire to Feel Good When You Help: “God and neighbor, I confess that I’m tempted to contribute in ways that make me feel best, not that help most. Help me to slow down to serve my neighbor in the best way possible.
  3. Confess Your Public Gestures: “God and neighbor, I confess I want to be seen as good. Free me to do what is good.”
  4. Confess Your Hero Complex: “God and neighbor, I confess that I claim too much credit. Grow my humility and show me how to rightly give credit to others.”
  5. Confess Your Compassion Fatigue: “God and neighbor, I confess I’m sometimes empty of compassion. Renew me in the deep gladness of the call to work for justice.”
  6. Confess Your Privilege: “God and neighbor, I confess the privileges that benefit me. Help me to give them away again and again.
  7. Confess Your Pain Caused and Received: “God and neighbor, I confess that I have caused pain of, and am hurt by, injustice. Help me to participate in healing for others and myself.
  8. Confess Your Longing for Change: “God and neighbor, I confess my hope is in you and in this kingdom coming.

2021 marks 10 years since I left Microsoft to become a teacher. I confess mixed motives in doing that. I say it was to help students see the potential and possibility of jobs in technology, but sometimes I see it as a way to be honored and respected for that decision. Instead the beautiful and just outcome is helping students experience physics and get information and skills for technology careers.

I confess my desire to see students succeed and know that it was my efforts that helped bring it about. Instead I should take pride in good teaching and in helping all my students see physics or see technology in a new way. Even if none of my students ever get hired by Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. I will still have value, my efforts will not have been wasted.

I confess my desire to be known as the teacher that ________ (is cool, knows technology, worked outside of teaching, etc. etc.). When people don’t know of me or haven’t heard about me I am slightly wounded. Real goodness is doing what needs to be done when no one is around to see.

I confess my desire to be the hero. I see patterns in my electronic communications or activities where I want to be the clutch-player who had the best idea at the best time which caused real change. True humility would persist in doing the right thing and never calculate on how it is being perceived or how many “likes” your statement got.

I confess my compassion fatigue. Teaching is hard work, in many ways it consumes me more than any work I ever did at Microsoft. That said, when I feel like I am not appreciated, I want to pull back and stop giving. This also shows up when I am tense or short with students that don’t ever deserve that treatment. I confess that it is compassion fatigue that forces me to resentful emotions when I am not appreciated.

I confess that I am a WASP with so much privilege that I have the privilege of not having to calculate or ever reckon with a lack of privilege. I would like to give that privilege away, to employ it in ways that benefit others, but even that desire is fraught with condescensions or patronizing attitudes. So I will re-read Kent Annan’s declaration more often in the coming years, and subscribe to it more confidently.

From Kent Annan, (C) 2016.

I confess that in trying to guide my students to a career in still-mostly-misogynistic physics, or no-way-friendly-to-POC technology jobs, I may be doing more harm than good. I confess that every time I wax nostalgic about science that has been a tool of oppression (race, class, gender) or how great college was (when it cost much less) and the stakes were lower, I am not respecting student wishes to live creative and good lives which they themselves are free to define, free from my criteria. I confess that when I am blind to my privilege or resort to attitudes of the oppressor and owner in subtle but real ways I am causing pain and the not the healing I most fervently desire.

So finally, I confess my longing for change. For a just society that does not overvalue economic gain, I pine. For a job market, education system, research industry, that seeks to be as diverse in the ownership and direction of the means of production as the people that it serves. I long to be replaced by a teacher of color, of another gender, of authority that speaks more to students about what is possible for them based on actual experience rather than theoretical probabilities. And, in that hope I will wait.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther
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