Monday, December 13, 2010

African Vision of Jesus as Healer

By Pamela Urfer

European missionaries to Africa in the 19th century, influenced by the Enlightenment, brought with them a materialistic view of illness. For them, everything could be explained by natural causes. They knew that diseases were caused by germs, not demons or the ill-wishes of others. Yes, there were demons at work in the world, but only to steal souls from God.

The natives they encountered had a different view of the world which the missionaries declared to be mistaken. The natives believed in the reality of malevolent powers at work in the community. And, so, even though they went to church in the morning, they would visit the shamans secretly after dark.

Their hearts and souls were divided because they knew that illness was more than just an accident. They knew that it signifies a disruption in the physical, mental, social and spiritual environment. It is a calamity that not only strikes a particular individual but also indicates a disruption of social relationships. Ultimately, for them, illness is a communal concern.

As Africa moved into the 20th century, germ theory found wider acceptance. But not necessarily at the expense of belief in supernatural causes. AIDS is a primary example. AIDS is community disruption at its height. It kills one or both parents, orphans the children, overburdens the grand-parents, deprives the village of its wage-earners, and robs the nation of a generation.

Yes, AIDS is spread by a sexually transmitted virus. We all know that now. But why is it so widespread? Who is most vulnerable? Who is most responsible? What societal disruptions have led to this disaster? And how can we go about fixing it? These are the questions that must be asked and answered if the disease is to be controlled. And these are the questions that Africans at putting to the Church.

Jean-Marc Ela, a Cameroonian Roman Catholic theologian, insists that in Africa sickness is inseparable from the spirit world and healing must be addressed within this symbolic universe. “In Black Africa, the world of the Night or of the Invisible is perhaps the privileged place in which we must understand the good news of the descent of Jesus into hell (I Pet.3) in order to announce liberation to the African menaced by occult powers.”

For the sake of believers, the church must find a way to replace the tribal healer with the power of Christ. The image of Jesus as Healer prevailing over evil powers features prominently among the African Initiated Churches. But this view is not shared by all African churches. As John Pobee, a Ghanaian Anglican, points out, “The churches founded by missionary bodies in Europe and America have been reluctant, if not unwilling, to accept this healing and exorcism by the power of the Spirit, especially if it is through Africans.”

To counter this, Jesus must be allowed supremacy over every form of evil operating in the universe, whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, or in any other sphere of life. He must be seen as the one who defeats all that is life-negating instead of life-affirming.

This is not a huge step for Africans accustomed to dealing with fetish priests already operating in the realm of the spiritual. As Ghanaian Catholic George Hagan says, “The association is already there in the minds of our people. If you have come to say that Christ is a Redeemer, and yet a redeemer who did not have the power to heal, it would have sounded very odd in the ears of an African.” But he heals not only of the physical body. As healer, Christ not only comes to heal but to counsel, to show us the way to live, to bring fullness into our lives. Jesus Christ embodies everything.

Sometimes the Christian ministers must damp down the people’s unrealistic expectations. Bishop Palmer-Buckle relates his experience of parishioners coming to him and expecting instantaneous, miraculous cures, some of whom are “shattered” when he not only prays with them but advises them to go to the hospital.

The healings that do occur are, according to Ela, not merely proofs of Jesus’ divinity, but rather they reveal the inauguration of a new age, the fulfillment of messianic hope in the presence of god’s kingdom in the world. Instead of furthering the tendency of some forms of mission Christianity that have condoned present suffering in hopes of future bliss in heaven, Ela takes a strongly liberationist approach, depicting Jesus healing ministry as an indication that he is the Messiah announced by the prophets and awaited by the poor and oppressed.

Ela challenges Christians to examine the roots of sickness in the unjust organizations of African societies, and to live the gospel by totally restructuring the living conditions within those societies. After all, there are so many ways Jesus can heal. As Kiarie says, “He can touch you, he can put mud or saliva on your eyes, he can command the spirits. By his word, he can even heal at a distance, like this Roman soldier, “You just go, your son is healed.” He can even speak to forces, so he is a real miracleworker.” A popular Swahili song played on the radio: “Nataka uguzo – uguzo wa Yesu.” ‘I want to be touched, to be touched by Jesus.’

Certainly, further reflection and action is needed concerning the liberating dimension of the gospel in relation to health issues, such as corrupt health systems, the AIDS pandemic, the lack of potable water, the scandalous proliferation of preventable diseases, and politically induced famine. As John Mbiti says, “The greatest need among African peoples is to see, to know, and to experience Jesus Christ as the victor over the powers and forces from which Africa knows no means of deliverance.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Gift of the Present

Posted by Rabbi Shlomie Chein

Our sages state: If not now, when?

One may add: If not now, what?

One may conclude: If not now, naught!

We often think of the present as the link between the past and the future. i.e. there was a past, there will be a future, and in order to tie it all together, we have something called a now. We revere the past as vast and the future as infinite, yet the present is often perceived as a mere fleeting moment. We can spend endless hours studying history, and millions of dollars planning our destiny. But what time or consideration do we give the now?

This morning I said a prayer, tomorrow I will recite it again, but for now I would like to share what it means for the present.“The L-rd reigns, the L-rd reigned, the L-rd will reign forever”. The prayer is quite simple, and better yet, really short. But its format offers a deep appreciation of the now. When viewing the line of time we usually speak of the past, present and then future. The order of this prayer, however, mentions the present first, then the past and future.

From this prayer’s perspective, the present doesn’t merely link the past to the future; it creates them. First and foremost there must be a present; only then can we speak of a past or a future. Any memories you have of the past, any visions you have of the future, only exist because there is a present. If you didn’t exist in this moment, no other moment would exist in you.

The now is thus a powerful antidote to the past/future syndrome. Let’s use Jewish identity as an example. A big question amongst scholars and rabbis, global politicians and searching Jews is, what makes you Jewish? From a technical Halachic standpoint the issue depends entirely on the past. What makes you Jewish is simply your familial genealogy. If your mother is Jewish you are Jewish. From a homiletic perspective, one looks to the future. A cute (non-binding) thought has been circulating lately which maintains that one can be considered Jewish if his/her children and grandchildren are Jewish; i.e. if s/he managed to pass the torch along to the next generations.

Now, whilst both of those perspective attempt to define being Jewish, neither of them says much about living Jewish. The past and future can’t account for living Jewish. To live Jewish one must look at the present. Granted, you have a rich Jewish history, and yes, you hope to eventually contribute to the Jewish destiny; but what does your Judaism mean to you today? Aside from your parents or plans for parenting, how is your Jewishness expressed?

Thus the prayer puts it eloquently: all of G-d’s miracles of the past, and all of G-d’s promises for the future, begin with G-d’s relevance in the present. Ironically, the biggest challenge to the now is the very past and future it sustains. Often as soon as we start thinking about the importance of now, we immediately try to recall if every prior moment was lived, or if every future moment can be lived, to these standards. But that’s the problem. Those thoughts are essentially a return to the past/future perspective rather than the now! When we think of the power of now we are not supposed to think about every other now we had or will have. We are supposed to focus on the current now.

In his magnum opus, the Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi describes the perfect achievement for the average Jew. This is not the level of Tzadik (sainthood) which he says is reserved for few, rather this is the level of the Beinuni (average), a state of being each and every Jew can accomplish. He describes it as a state of being in which one never did, nor will ever do, anything wrong.

At first glance this seems impossible if not contradictory. Are we really to believe that every Jew can achieve this? Do you even know of any Jew who has achieved this? Furthermore, how can something be achieved if its ends leave no room for the various stages of its means? I.e. how can someone ever overcome fault when the definition of overcoming means he never had fault?

But these questions only arise and remain in the past/future perspective. Rabbi Shneur Zalman, on the other hand, is focused on the now, and with this statement he is highlighting the power of the present. When he speaks of never did or will never do, he is not speaking of a time called the past or an era called the future; he is speaking of the wholesomeness of this moment.

His definition of perfection asks one question: In this moment, today, right now, are you beyond wrongdoing? If the past and future were to be shaped by the now, how would they look? If we were to view your entire life through the lens of now would we see a hint of past, or a likelihood of future, wrongdoing? It is so easy to abuse and neglect the now because of a stigma from the past or a concern for the future. This is because we think the now merely serves as a link to times bygone and times to come. But the now is much more than that. The prayer places the now first instead of having it get lost in the middle, to teach us that the now is the foundation for everything that was and everything that will be.

Perfect the now, says the rabbi, for if you perfect the now the past and future will mirror that perfection. After all, the latter merely exist as extensions of the former. Now, before you move on to the future leaving this article in your past, think about this: if there is truth to the adage “If not now, naught”, can you imagine the gift of a utilized present!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Does the University Interfaith Council Do?

Posted by Pamela Urfer

(This article was originally published on the Diversity and Inclusion webpage – in August, 2010)

The University Interfaith Council (UIC) is composed of the dedicated representatives from twenty different faith-based groups – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu, Sikh, American Indian and Christian – who work together to provide a wide range of support programs for students of many different faiths, both those students who arrive on campus as members of a faith group and those who choose to embrace a faith and spirituality as a result of their time spent in the UCSC community.

In many ways, the work of the UIC is similar to that of the Ethnic Resource Centers on campus, and plays a key role in creating and maintaining a positive climate for religious diversity at UC Santa Cruz. According to the 2006 CIRP survey, 48.9% of incoming UCSC students self-identify as practitioners of a religion. 52.1% will have attended a religious service in the past six months and 33.8% have discussed religion with their peers in the past year. Roman Catholics, at 17.5% are, by far, the largest self-identified group.

These figures mandate a positive and pro-active approach to the needs of these students, especially those first-years who have recently left behind a close and caring faith community. These students’ faith heritage is a basic and powerful aspect of their identities which can help them survive the changes and challenges incorporated within the university experience.

It is the goal of the UIC at Santa Cruz, working together with Student Affairs, to build a stronger sense of choice for students to practice and find their faith community on campus, provide and enhance opportunities for developing leadership skills, and link students to community service opportunities. To this end, our programs include celebrations and interfaith gatherings, worship/ meditation, educational events including religious study courses, community service, and spiritual care and counseling to students, faculty and staff.

The UIC also works to create a space for interfaith relationship building between students from different faith groups. The Student Interfaith Council is a loosely organized gathering of students interested in meeting with one another to share a meal and discuss their spiritual journeys and the values of their own faiths. Some of these students will form the core of the new UCSC Spirituality and Faith Theme House opening in Fall 2011.

The UIC attempts to provide a safe space for students to talk about their spiritual paths and aspirations, seek new growth experiences, and deal constructively and appropriately with negative reactions to their beliefs or cultural background. We champion any in the university community – student, staff or faculty – who suffer from religious bias and will work, through our involvement in the Chancellor’s Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to put an end to any such illegal and damaging practices.

Membership in the Interfaith Council is open to any faith-based group focused on serving the UCSC campus community. Representatives may be either adult ministers/rabbis/priests, interested lay persons, or student leaders of student-run groups. The loving co-operation practiced by the UIC’s members can be looked upon as a workable model of diversity and inclusion and belies the common misperception that religion inevitably leads to discord. We invite the entire UCSC community to celebrate their own faith walk with us and help promote tolerance, peace, and understanding toward all faiths and religious traditions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SEX - Part IV

Posted by Pamela Urfer

Getting back to the original question asked in Lisa Miller’s Newsweek article – How can college-aged men and women best resist peer pressure to have sex, or, at least, resist the kind of sex they don’t want? As Donna Freitas says, Students “want the right to demand more from their peers when it comes to sex and relationships – more joy, more satisfaction, more commitment – and less sex.”

Perhaps we could think of this choice as one between “high level” and “low level” sex. I’m not talking here about the quality level of the sex act. There are plenty of books for advice on that. I’m talking about the emotional, relational, and spiritual level of sex. It may be hard for some to imagine a “spiritual” component to pre-marital sex, but many who are sexually active on campus are searching for precisely that. They want to know how to conduct an affair that is respectful, responsible and constructive for the persons involved. They want to know how to practice kindness, consideration and truthfulness in a relationship, and how to refrain from using the other to satisfy their own selfish needs.

For a moment, let’s imagine the unimaginable: two college or grad students, perhaps even Christian students, begin a serious affair, moving in together. If they were older, out of school, they might have planned a wedding. But they both know this is not the right time to marry. In an earlier, more “Biblical”, age this couple would have been married off by their families as soon as they reached sexual maturity – at fourteen for girls and perhaps sixteen for boys – a natural remedy for their burgeoning sexual urges and desires. Surely this is what Saint Paul meant by advising “it is better to marry than to burn.”

But this is America, and education trumps nature. Careers , and enhanced earning power, await and must be prepared for. This is the path we as a culture have chosen and the young must suffer for it. God is not the only, nor, perhaps, the most important, person expected to have a say in such matters. The young people have not finished their studies, and neither family would countenance marriage at this point. Their families counsel restraint – perhaps for years. Easy for them to say. But the young people must acquiesce. After all, it’s the families who are paying the bills.

Couples who choose pre-marital co-habitation cannot be considered “spouses,” with the (perhaps illusory) permanence that entails. But they should aim, at the very least, at being “friends,” people who act towards each other in a trustworthy, caring and reliable manner, like non-sexual friends. They shouldn’t have to think of the one with whom they are having sex as a rival, enemy, liar, user, or traitor. Although these relationships are not, at the moment, permanent, neither one of the couple should have to wake up in the morning wondering if their partner has left in the night.

In scripture, God has given us much good advice in conducting relationships, from “A gentle answer turns away wrath” to “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” to “Love is patient and kind, it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable. It does not keep a record of wrongs.” If we could all achieve relationships like this, life would be happier all around.

What these young people should be learning are the skills needed to argue constructively, avoid pushing each other’s buttons, and treat each other with respect and kindness. If the arrangement fails to become permanent, as lots of marriages do, at least the skills learned here may help create a stronger tie with partners who come later. And it might even lead to marriage itself. Mine did – going on forty-four years now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SEX - Part III

Posted by Pamela Urfer

As we struggle to find a way of discussing sex at the university level, let’s first distinguish among different types of “sex.” Premarital sex is one issue, and probably the one most of concern to students. Cheating on a spouse is another. Pornography is a third. Homosexuality comes in here somewhere. And then there’s marriage. And divorce.

It’s helpful if we can agree that not all of these are equally horrible and offensive to God. Nor are all sins equal. The Apostle John distinguishes sins that do and do not inevitably lead to death. (1 John 5:16.) And Jesus speaks of the “unforgiveable sin,” implying that whatever it is, is worse than some others he could name. There’s rape, and then there’s the rape of a child. Much worse.

Currently, Christian practice treats divorce as more a disaster than a sin, even though that is not the traditional stance. Nor does this position acknowledge the relative weight of its consequences. More hurt to families and children has happened because of divorce than because of, say, homosexuality (with only 5% of the population participating versus 50%) even though, at this time, disproportionate attention is given to the evils of same-sexuality.

Going back to premarital sex, we must acknowledge that this is no longer the huge problem it once was. For most of history, for a man to have sex with a woman meant the risk of getting her pregnant. If they were not married and he abandoned her, pregnant, both she and the child would suffer – poverty, ostracization, loneliness.

How could that be prevented? Marriage. And if the man were already married? A little late to be thinking about that, but he could still provide financially for her and the child, at least until she found another mate. That would, at least, eliminate societal approbation and poverty. The problem here is that once the man got a woman pregnant, what would prevent him having sex with her again? If he liked her, it would be hard for him to refrain. This, of course, would place his wife and children in a painful situation. Now they would be the ones suffering societal approbation and perhaps poverty, as funds were diverted elsewhere. Thus, it became common to label the woman a whore and exile her from the community, most likely to a brothel.

These were all serious considerations in the days before reliable birth control. And Christian teaching, quite rightly, proposed many and varied restrictions to prevent these ills. Societal care was taken to assure that unmarried persons not be left alone or in “compromising situations.” A woman’s virginity was considered a prize to be claimed only by her legitimate spouse, and a lack of it a hindrance to a respectable married life. Many less than Christian hindrances were also applied: any illegitimate offspring were labeled “bastards” and had a limited chance of succeeding in life, which was thought to encourage restraint. And, of course, the same “outlaw” fate would be visited upon the woman, if usually not the man.

All these concerns and their (partly successful) remedies were dealt a death blow in the 1960s with the invention of the Pill and other preventative devices. Yet, with (much) less worry today about pregnancy, but with the same societal norms holding sway in many communities, new methods of insuring compliance with the still-existing ban of pre-marital sex must be discovered, or invented. Scriptural quotes are invoked, ignoring the fact that pre-marital sex is never mentioned in scripture, only extra-marital sex, as girls were married off as soon as, or before, they became sexually mature. Chastity is held as a high moral goal, creating the need for Chastity Balls and Purity Rings to validate the effort. And I’m sure Christian parents still warn their sons about marrying a girl who has “slept around.”

But which men today are as concerned about female chastity as they were when the status of their male heir could be called into question, or when one episode of pre-marital sex could label their wife-to-be a whore? And which parents really believe that their daughter will never find a good husband if she is not a virgin? Who cares about this sort of thing anymore?

God? Does God care? I’m not sure He does. Scripturally, sexual purity is not a Christian but a ritualistic concept. The Israelites refrained from sexual acts as a preparation for bringing their sacrifices before the altar. Jesus praised the “pure of heart,” not the pure of body. Scripture also says that God’s bottom line is the Great Commandment: to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving your neighbor means looking out for their welfare. Pre-marital sex is not necessarily harmful to anyone’s welfare – and might even be good for it.

What do you think?

Friday, February 19, 2010

SEX - Part II

Posted by Pamela Urfer

In my last posting, I mentioned a book, Sex and the Soul, by Donna Freitas, which had been quoted in a recent Newsweek article. In her book, Freitas recommends that college students be given an opportunity to tell the truth about what they want out of relationships, including courtship, romance, intercourse, and abstinence without incurring the derision and wrath of their peers, mentors and campus ministers. Freitas feels that the dominance of the hook-up culture places undue pressure on students and praises “True Love Waits,” an organization at Harvard (and elsewhere) for opening up the discussion.

Under her direction, Freitas’ own students, dissatisfied with the prevailing level of “sex talk” on their campus, decided to publish their own newspaper, one devoted to sex, dating, religion and spirituality. “The purpose was to challenge the sexual ethic on campus with both personal experience and religious wisdom – in the hope of making romance and relationships more meaningful.” The plan worked. Other students told the publishers how they’d spoken truth, said aloud some things they’d thought themselves but were afraid to admit, wrote of feelings they didn’t know anyone else on campus shared, and made them feel less alone.”

Freitas goes on to say that “the students’ stories, discussion, and articles made it painfully clear that hook-up culture does not help young women and men discover the thrill of sexual desire or romantic passion, of falling madly in love and expressing this love sexually. Within hook-up culture, many students perform sexual acts because that’s ‘just what people do.’” Feitas goes on to say that “living within hook-up culture means putting up an ‘I don’t care’ front about behavior, submitting to unwanted experiences, and, in many cases, slowly chipping away at personal standards, expectations, sense of self, and respect for others, until these are sublimated so fully that students almost can’t remember what they were in the first place.” The result of the campus-wide discussion was that a fresh, new approach was made in the area of both sexuality and spirituality.

I realize how difficult it is to start a discussion about sex, especially for those who believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin. But in our culture sex is more than a sin; it’s a contamination. Richard Beck, a Christian psychology professor, says that when he asks his class “Raise your hand if you feel like you spend too much money on yourself?” Every hand goes up. When he then asks, “How many of you aren’t virgins anymore?” No hands go up. But, he says, “there were a lot of nervous faces in the room.”

“Why the reticence? We all know sexual sins are qualitatively different from other kinds of sins, but why are they?” As he explains, “the reason has to do with the metaphorical structure of the sin and its associated psychology. Most sins are understood via ambulatory or performance metaphors. Sins structured this way are ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures.’ We ‘stumble’ and ‘fall.’ But note that there is nothing particularly noxious about falling down. It hurts, but there is no stigma attached to it. Thus, we willingly admit to committing these ‘ambulatory sins.’”

But sexual sins are structured by a different logic, a purity logic. When we fall in sexual sin, we become “polluted” or “defiled.” This brings a strong feeling of revulsion, which, when centered on the self, creates self-loathing and shame. Worse, the logic of contamination implies permanence. You don’t just “get back on your feet” after a contamination sin. You simply experience a self-loathing that is associated with a permanent “taint.”

Is this the situation at UCSC? Are our students bothered and depressed by the dominant sexual norms but feeling powerless to change them? Are they ashamed to admit they have had, or what to have, sex because of the contamination aspect? Do we even know what the students think? Perhaps it’s time to find out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SEX - Part I

Posted by Pamela Urfer

A few months ago, one of the Newman Center students, Andrea, asked me about organizing a forum on Sexuality and Spirituality. She said:

“I feel that this is an important topic for people of faith, especially since the Christian Church is unwilling to engage in conversation about it. In college people are exploring their sexuality, whether they consider themselves spiritual or not. I think it would be wonderful to engage in conversation that is open and not controlled by leaders who are simply shouting ‘abstinence only’… without a reason why.”

Then, a few weeks ago, an article came out in the Religion page of Newsweek called “Sexual Revolution, Part II” by Lisa Miller. Miller is talking about a recent dispute at Harvard between the True Love Revolution, which supports sexual abstinence as a lifestyle, and feminist students who say that “calling the sexual act degrading to [women] is the complete opposite of feminism.” They say women have the right to have sex with whomever, wherever and however they want. The TLR counted by changing their mission statement to assert that sex outside of marriage is “harmful to both parties,” and that choosing abstinence is “true feminism” which “recognizes the natural characteristics, strengths and abilities of women and seeks to affirm them in this identity.” This position has the feminists up in arms because it raises questions about the goals of the sexual revolution: Does female liberation mean being able to say yes? Or does it mean saying no?

Unfortunately, what might have been a useful discussion has turned acrimonious with hot-headed letters posted in the student newspaper and on message boards throughout campus. Miller thinks this is a shame as she feels TLR is on to something here and admires its ability to articulate students’ dissatisfaction with sex and sex talk on campus. Many students complain that the “hookup culture” is dominant and oppressive. Donna Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul, believes college students are not given an opportunity to tell the truth about what they want out of relationships – desires that include courtship and romance – without drawing the derision of their peers and even their professors.

Their health services hand out condoms and lecture about sexually transmitted diseases. Their friends boast and complain endlessly about hookups real and imagined. “The average college student is miserable about sex. The idea of getting to step away from it is really appealing,” says Freitas. Miller believes that religious groups on campus are missing an opportunity if they don’t invite a more nuanced conversation about sex and help guide students through this modern sexual wilderness. Why not look to religion for some of the most thoughtful analyses of how liberated women and men can reasonably opt out of sex – or, at least, the kind of sex they don’t want to have? Christine Firer Hinze, a theological professor at Fordham University, believes that choosing abstinence can carry a strong counter-cultural message and a vision of personal fulfillment beyond immediate gratification. “A religious viewpoint can point you in a direction that says wholeness, integrity, enjoying life, even being a sensual person, can lead to a kind of fulfillment.” Teaching kids that saying no can feel as good as saying yes – that’s a revolution.

I think Andrea would agree with me that it’s time for us to talk about sex and God in the same breath.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Who is Really Following Jesus?

Posted by Peggy Pollard

One of my modern Christian heroes who I believe effectively lives out Jesus’ message is the head of the University of California Merced, Chancellor Steve Kang.

According to the book “Everything must Change” by Brian McLaren, Jesus’ original message is full of radical socio-economic-political statements, much less concerned with our personal comfort than that we each serve God’s purpose for ALL people, most of whom have much less power, wealth,and opportunity than we Americans.

How do we do this effectively?

Not just a feel-good-fuzzy love for humanity, nor naively telling everyone to “give away all you have to the poor,” Jesus’ message requires a more sophisticated understanding of what God is calling us to.

First we must rely on a personal relationship with God to equip, empower and guide us into God’s bigger intentions of love, justice and equity for ALL members of the human race. Jesus calls us to battle the systemic injustice of our culture’s “Security-Prosperity-Equity Suicide Machine” that pushes us to self destruction, McLaren says.

Certainly maximizing the power of our education is one of the best ways.

Chancellor Kang does this. Without religious talk, he accumulates a treasure trove of education and academic power to bless many, many people.

UC Merced has the highest percentage of the students from low socio-economics families of all UC schools. Small classes and high quality faculty empower students with academic excellence, then sends them out as a powerful force to improve our society.

Chancellor Kang is doing exactly what McLaren says we SHOULD be doing: using our lives to bless and empower the disadvantaged of the world.