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An Other Kingdom by John McKnight, Walter Brueggemann, Peter Block

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4 TENTACLES OF EMPIRE

You gave me no water for my feet …you gave me no kiss …you did not anoint my head with oil.

—Luke 7:44–46

In Cuernavaca in the 1960s Ivan Illich had a discussion about institutional evolution with people from around the world. He was very prophetic in saying that you could trace the community benefits of institutions through time. They rise and then flatten out and then they begin to recede and move in the opposite direction for which the institution was created. He called that counter-productivity. In fact, he said, this process was what we were observing at the moment, so that in the end you would have crime-making justice systems. You would have sickness-making medical systems. You would have stupid-making schools. All are a manifestation of how the tentacles of empire reach into every corner of our lives.

THE CORPORATIZATION OF SCHOOLS

Our schools are one place where the strength of the empire is especially clear.

Universities are increasingly marketplace-driven. They are revising their curricula away from the humanities and promoting programs dictated by industry that off-load the cost of education onto the public. They are growing their educational customer base by giving students more flexibility as a recruiting device. University of Kansas used to have seventy-two required courses to graduate. Now they have fifty hours of core curriculum, all designed to be more adaptive to the changing marketplace. They don’t want people to have to take courses ...

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