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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

13 September 2013: Alistair McConville, All Saints' Church, Steep

Exams and authentic living

It has been exam results season recently - something of a national obsession - and the press has focused on the success stories. It's hard not to wonder, though, how this makes those feel for whom things didn't go quite so well, despite their best efforts. Do we place too much emphasis on grades as indicators of a life well-lived so far, or as predictors of future 'success', probably understood in socio-economic terms?

Sebastian Thrunn, a Stanford professor and Google vice-president thinks education in particular, and life more broadly, should be richer than the treadmill experience which it can so easily become. He satirises it: "... we should play for the first five years of life, then learn, then work, then rest and then die.

I believe we should be able to do all those things all the time". Jesus would have agreed, though he would no doubt have included love: "I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly" (John chapter 10 verse 10). He too is railing against the treadmill experience of slavish obedience to law and cultural norms, when they are at the expense of an authentic life of love as intended by God, lived in the here and now. He exhorts us not to worry too much about the future if it prevents us from entering fully into our current experiences.

It is the quality of our relationships with one another which is paramount, and the foundation of a life well-lived.


This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Herald on 13 September; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

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