Monday, August 10, 2009

Is God the cause of injustice?

Ever since I read Pedagogy of the Oppressed Pedagogy of the Oppressed several years ago, I have been a Paulo Freire fan.

I recently started reading Pedagogy of Hope. It's a heavy read, but there are little nuggets throughout that make it totally worth reading.

Freire believes in talking *with* the peasants in his home country of Brazil. He learned this lesson from a man who stood up and challenged him after one of his presumptuous talks to peasants explaining that they should not physically discipline their children.

Though that conversation is completely worth writing and repeating here, one that struck me was a conversation with a group of peasants who 1) thought Mr. Freire could provide them with all of the answers and 2) assumed that their life was rough because that was God's destiny for them.

In his book, he has this conversation with them:

"Fine," I had told them. "I know. You don't. But why do I know and you don't?"

"You know because you're a doctor, sir, and we're not."

"Right, I'm a doctor and you're not. But why am I a doctor and you're not?"

"Because you've gone to school, you've read things, studied things, and we haven't."

"And why have I been to school?"

"Becasue your dad could send you to school. Ours couldn't."

"And why couldn't your parents send you to school?"

"Becasue they were peasants like us."

"And what is 'being a peasant'?"

"It's not having an education...not owning anything...working from sun to sun...having no rights...having no hope."

"And why doesn't a peasant have any of this?"

"The will of God."

"And who is God?"

"The Father of us all."

"And who is a father here this evening?"

Almost all raised their hands, and said they were.

I looked around the group without saying anything. Then I picked out one of them and asked him, "How many children do you have?"

"Three."

"Would you be willing to sacrifice two of them, and make them suffer so that the other one could go to school, and have a good life, in Recife? Could you love your children that way?"

"No!"

"Well, if you," I said, "a person of flesh and bones, could not commit an injustice like that--how could God commit it? Could God really be the cause of these things?"

...

"No. God isn't the cause of all of this."

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