Sunday, July 27, 2014

Have You Understood All This?

Texts: Romans 8: 35-39 ; Matthew 13: 31-51

Jesus asked the crowd, “Have you understood all this?” and they answered, “Yes!” (Matthew 13:51).

Well, they were lying.  The people who heard Jesus’s parables were bald-faced lying when they claimed to have understood all he had been teaching. 

Oh, maybe they caught much of the first parable about the sower and the seeds. After all, Jesus explained it in detail (though some scholars think the interpretation was not original to Jesus). But then he piled on more parables, with less detail and less explication. The Kingdom of God is like a little mustard seed that grows into a tree or a bit a yeast that can leaven a mound of flour—variations on this same theme.  Four more parables about the kingdom round out this chapter.  But before you and I assume these brief and homey stories hold self-evident meaning, consider that over the centuries scholars have filled volumes with differing interpretations of these parable about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Have even the scholars been able to “understand all this"?

Let’s not glibly say WE understand “all this” until we consider that today’s parables themselves don’t extol “understanding” as the key to the kingdom.  An intellectual understanding is not what makes the mustard seed grow and the yeast expand.  The mustard seed can’t comprehend the processes of germination and photosynthesis. The yeast doesn’t grasp how fermentation releases carbon dioxide that causes dough to rise. They simply respond to an environment that fosters growth. The seed needs dark hiddenness to be a sign of God’s ways. The yeast needs to be worked into other elements. Like the yeast and seed, we don’t intellectualize our way into the kind of growth Jesus had in mind.  Maybe spiritual maturation requires our willingness to be transformed from a dead thing like a seed into a living thing like a tree; from a substance like yeast to a growing process that makes an inert bread dough rise and eventually provide food for hungry people.  Our lives can be like that—when God’s ways are lived out.

Every week I sample the plethora of articles and books claiming to know how to grow the church in this era when the Church is supposedly dying. But they rarely seem to address Jesus’s concern about growing the kingdom. And Jesus, unlike church growth experts, never spouted statistics or offered a formula for building up God’s realm. If Jesus had thought there was a simple formula for salvation, he’d have said—which he never did—“Believe these facts about me and you’ll be rewarded when you die.” Instead, Jesus told stories.  Not to hide the path to God from those he loved and taught.  He spoke in parables and paradox because spiritual growth is not a paint-by-numbers process. Because God’s saving work cannot be outlined in a sermon titled “How to Get into Heaven in 3 easy steps.”  In fact, his parables about “the kingdom of heaven” are not about getting into a place called heaven.  They are about participating in God’s kingdom or way of living as it unfolds, grows, develops right here and now. 

I stress this point because many have claimed Jesus wanted us to believe certain things about himself, about God, about heaven. However, if that were the case—if he had specific essential doctrinal facts to transmit—he’d have communicated in a simple creed.  He’d have catechized the crowd.  He’d have stated explicitly what to believe.  Instead, he said, “Follow me.”  Instead, he told stories.  If facts about himself were the “plan of salvation” he was trying to teach—as many have since then taught and believed—or if virtuous conduct, devoid of sexual sin in particular, is the way to “the kingdom of heaven,” as others have argued, then why did he never lay out these easy-to-follow steps to “salvation” from sin and hell? Jesus left no dogma, no simple direction, no password for entering heaven.

Instead, today’s scripture says Jesus taught ONLY through parables. He preached about the kingdom through suggestive short stories. He taught through a series of similes: “The kingdom of heaven is LIKE . . . . “  And from time to time he probably looked out at the crowd and said, “So are y’all following any of this?” Surely Jesus the rabbi was trying to be as clear as possible. He was not aiming for obfuscation. But God’s way defies simplistic summary, and spiritual paths have to be walked rather than studied.  Artful language conveys the ineffable best. Narrative communicates life’s larger lessons better than rules and Christian apologetics. 

When Jesus asked “Have you understood all this?” he might have been acknowledging our tendency to boil things down to three easy self-help steps—and he might have hoped for an honest answer: “Of course, we don’t understand.”

I like to imagine him responding: “Good.  If you say you don’t understand, you’re on the path to deeper understanding.”

Richard Rohr describes the spiritual journey as “a journey into Mystery, requiring us to enter the ‘cloud of unknowing’ where the left brain always fears to tread. Precisely because we’re being led into Mystery, we have to let go of our need to know and our need to keep everything under control. Most of us are shocked to discover how great this need is” (Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, “Letting Go” July 21, 2014).

Think about your own faith life and the list of things you long to understand, the questions you ask and ask:
How long, O Lord, must ___ continue?
Why has ___ happened?
Where, God, are you leading me?

Yet something about NOT knowing fosters spiritual maturity.  Certitude is the antithesis of faith.  We can and should seek wisdom.  But most of the time we just respond to God in the unknowingness.  We "live the questions," as Rilke advised.  We give up the quest for simplistic answers or the illusion that we can be in control. We hold conclusions tentatively.  We refuse to see parables and the rich biblical stories in general as simplistic sermons. Instead, we choose to lay bare our hearts and expose ourselves to the demands of loving this crazy world without any hope of understanding it.  We do so because “God so loved the world.”  Those who follow Jesus trust in his compassionate ways and join in his saving work of love. 

Perhaps God plants us like tiny seeds in dark times and deep places.  Nothing may happen for a long time. We rest in the utter unknowingness.  Until our hard outer shell cracks.  And out spills something, and it feels our life is ebbing out, and we no longer can contain and control what’s happening.  But that cracking point might be, spiritually speaking, a way out and up into the light.  And that new path toward life will offer life to others: a tree that gives shade and shelter to others.

Or God may knead us as a woman with strong, aching hands mixes yeast into a pile of flour. Left all to ourselves we are inert.  Added to flour and worked and worked and pounded and stretched, our yeastiness is dispersed through the dough.  The woman’s hands shape and reshape us. Nothing happens for awhile. But the warm hands massage us and wordlessly teach us what we’re called to do in that flour-y world.  And even in the oven we keep expanding: eventual nourishment and strength for others.

No.  I don’t understand the spiritual biology or chemistry of being seeds and yeast.  It’s a learn-as-you-go-along project.  No, unlike the crowd Jesus taught, I admit I do not understand and may never understand in any deep way many important things.  In fact, I confess I do NOT understand . . .

how to love God purely. . .
how to follow Jesus consistently. . .

when to hold my tongue. . .
where to stand my ground. . .

I do not understand why some experience tragedies that refine their spirits while others experience tragedies that cripple their spirits.

I cannot fathom my husband’s patience and tenderness, my mother’s quiet dignity, my daughter’s strength and courage.

I cannot wrap my mind around words like 

No, sweet Jesus. I do NOT “understand all this.”

And you don’t have to understand, either.  But these parables invite us to engage them. Jesus’s parables are prompts for our ethical and spiritual response—not an argument to be settled. 

As one Bible scholar theorizes, Jesus’s parables might have originally been discussion starters—not catechism.  A parable “is not a monologue to be heard and accepted but an invitation to conversation and communal reflection” (Herzog 265).  The meaning in the parable “lies in the interaction between parable and community” (Herzog 266).[i] 

So I invite you to share something you understand –or don’t understand—about today’s parables, about the kingdom of heaven in general. 


I like to imagine that Jesus would have urged us not to try to “understand” the Apostle Paul’s exquisite faith statement from today's Epistle reading--that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Instead, I imagine Jesus suggesting that we try to inhabit and rest in that vision of God’s enduring love.  We understand Paul’s faith statement to the extent that we have lived into its meaning for US.  We have experienced God’s enduring love in our lives.  Do I often feel this love and live it and breathe it?  Yes!  Do I understand all this?  No. 

PRAYER:  We, your seeds and yeast, O God, are here to serve your kingdom of love. Amen.

[i] Herzog, William R. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"The Parable of the Wheat and the Purple Nutsedge: The Weed We Need"

TEXTS:  Genesis 28: 10-19a;  Matthew 13: 24-30


A story on All Things Considered last week reminded me that a weed can meet a need. Archeologists studying a prehistoric burial ground in the Sudan discovered evidence in the dental plaque of the remains of a pre-farming society that these people survived, in part, thanks to a weed. The purple nutsedge, which looks like grass with tiny potato-like nodules along the roots, was a staple in the diet of some early hunter-gatherers. It grew everywhere. Still does. And though it tastes like dirt, it provided starch for energy and an essential amino acid and created antibacterial chemicals in the body that might explain why the early “weed eaters” had relatively few cavities. 

Purple nutsedge continues to flourish. By the 1970s it was named the World’s Worst Weed.  It is pervasive and invasive and can only be eliminated from crops by pulling each weed up by hand.  (Sounds like the very problem our parable references, doesn’t it?) But let’s give this weed some credit. It once provided "snacks that people were munching on for millennia . . . while plodding along the route to development. At the very least, it helped them avoid totally horrible teeth” (

There is a weed we may need. And I don’t mean what they’re selling in Colorado.

Let’s look again at the story I’m renaming “The Parable of the Wheat and the Purple Nutsedge.” Jesus used the threat of weeds among growing wheat to help us think of our response to evil.  When a grain field becomes infested with weeds, it might seem the work of an enemy. Yet we can’t efficiently uproot the diabolical nutsedge without destroying the good plants, too. It’s like the wartime dilemma of targeting an enemy who is embedded among innocent civilians. To bomb an enemy leader hidden among children is to intensify rather than lessen evil’s effect. (Setting aside for now the basic moral questions about war.) Jesus says we sometimes have to let the weeds and the wheat grow together until it’s time to harvest the wheat.

Let’s not read this as Jesus being “soft” on evil.  He named his enemies “snakes” and criticized unrighteous practices and certainly paid the price for calling it as he saw it. 

But in this parable he may be speaking both theologically and practically.  It’s not possible to completely and neatly separate the evil from the good that reside together inside an individual or an institution or a nation or a system.  Practically speaking, you can’t surgically remove the bad from the good. Theologically speaking, you can’t dichotomize people or ideas or systems.

Jesus cautions that sometimes we have to let a situation develop until we understand it and before we can eradicate the evil weed. (Again, not what they’re selling in Colorado!)  Jesus elsewhere warns us against pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye when there’s a log obscuring our own vision. 

We who advocate for justice, protest on behalf of the marginalized, and speak truth to power . . . we who work to dismantle oppressive systems . . . we continue to remember the complexities of social problems.  Let us neither oversimplify social problems nor be incapacitated by the complexities. 

So here’s a spiritual exercise for us to try: 

Think of something within you that you wish you could eliminate: some habit or tendency or failing or weakness that you believe prevents you from growing into the fullness of your human potential. This trait might actually be seen as the shadow side of a strength within you that doesn’t need to be eliminated. 

If you need an example, I will confess that a weed I’d like to pull from my life is my tendency to talk too soon or too much. But this shadow side of my personality is connected to a strength: willingness to lead and a passion for justice. I must keep monitoring the shadow side of that trait. Growing together in me are both the desires to help and lead out along with the tendencies to overdo, to monopolize a conversation, to inject my opinion first.  The good and the bad of me are intertwined. Over time, I hope and pray, the strength will live and weakness will disappear.

I invite you to silently acknowledge a shadow trait in your life.

Now link that trait to a strength and give thanks for the strength.


Next, you may want to resolve to monitor that trait that is the flipside of one of your strengths. Realize you don’t have to eliminate a part of who you are but be aware of circumstances in which the shadow side comes out. Consider how you can cultivate your strong side of that part of your personality.



Next think of a more systemic example of “evil.”  Recall a time when you were involved in a situation or relationship or an institution that had great potential for good yet its very strength made it vulnerable to problems.


How did you handle that situation or relationship or involvement in a group or institution? 



“We have met the enemy, and they are ours,” said Commander Perry after a naval battle in 1812.  “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” said cartoon character Pogo, surveying his trash-strewn Georgia swamp. 

“I have met the enemy, and he is my brother,” thought Jacob, no doubt, while fleeing the angry Essau.   

You and I have met the enemy. And sometimes she was our sister or co-worker.  Sometimes he was a political leader or neighbor. Or ourselves.

The ladder Jacob dreamed up connected earth and heaven, a reminder that the human and divine traverse a continuum. The weeds Jesus said grew among the wheat remind us that the evil and good are likewise not always such distinct categories. As we tell our children, making a bad choice doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. As we remind ourselves, no political party or leader is entirely right or wrong about every issue.

Maybe this second parable in Matthew’s Gospel, riffing off the first parable, is telling us we should not resort to the theological equivalent of Round-Up.  If we resort to such an attack on “enemies,” we might despoil our own backyards.  And that purple nutsedge just might have some nourishment for us.

My intention here is not to curb our enthusiasm for righteousness, dampen our convictions, weaken our resolve, or soften our demands that friends, strangers, and Mother Earth be treated kindly, fairly.

But let us be way of a tendency to polarize complex issues or blame another for a misunderstanding for which we, too, have some culpability.  Let’s also consider that we can make strong, forthright support for just and peaceful ways—without attacking others who see things differently. Almost always we can do that.

And trust God that evil will not have the final say.

(The congregation may sing the Sanctus, pp. 74-75 in songbook,
during this period of prayer.)

Choose a stone from the basket.  First hold it as you pray silently for one who needs a good night’s sleep tonight—a sleep that will comfort, give strength, restore hope, ease anxiety.  Next place this stone among or on top of the pile of stones to the right of the basket.  Place a drop of oil on it as you offer a silent prayer for the new “Beth-el”/House of God we will move to in two weeks. Think about your hopes for Open Table as you pray.  We’ll bring these stones with us to All Saints for our first service there and use them for a prayer at “Beth-el.” 

Prayer station 2:  BURNED BETHEL
This print of the original oil on canvas byJohn Biggers, “Shotgun, Third World,” 1966, is housed in the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  A community watches from across the street as their neighborhood church burns in the night.  This church was their “Beth-el.” Their facial expressions are hidden from us.  The cause of the fire is unknown.  But you might imagine a story about this faith community.  And your response can be your prayer for our world.

Imagine that you are receiving the Sacred Cup from one you might consider an enemy, that is, someone you feel is doing harm in this world. Maybe this person who holds the chalice for you is a leader in a political party not your own, or is someone who has hurt a friend of yours, or has mistreated you. Now imagine that person has “a back story” that you cannot possibly know. Are you able to receive something from him or her that can strengthen you rather than poison you with bitterness? Can you work against evil without enmity in your heart? At this table of reconciliation, take a wafer, dip it in the common cup, and eat in an act of radical faith that we can love even our enemies.

As you contribute financially to the work of Open Table, pray that the seeds you are sowing with your monetary donations and your contributions of time, skill, and effort will yield a harvest of goodness.


BENEDICTION     May you leave this place saying, as Jacob did, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”  May you hear God saying to you, what was said to Jacob: Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seeds of Understanding

Text: Matthew 13: 1-9; 17-23                           

The parables were not earthly stories with heavenly meanings but earthy stories with heavy meanings, weighted down by an awareness of the workings of exploitation in the world of their hearers. The focus on the parables was not on a vision of the glory of the reign of God, but on the gory details of how oppression served the interests of a ruling class.   --William Herzog in Parables as Subversive Speech[i]

A sower indiscriminately scatters seeds onto a hard path, among rocks, and in thorns—and these seeds yield nothing. But a few seeds land on a bit of fertile ground, and these yield a harvest beyond imagining, a harvest that will bring hope in a hungry land. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells this first of many parables and then, in this rare instance, he interprets the story.  It’s as if the very first parable is the algebra problem the teacher writes on the board and works as an example for the students before they solve the rest of the equations themselves. 

Since Jesus handily concluded this parable with an interpretation, maybe there’s nothing else for me to add.  Jesus explained that:

SEEDS = the word of God’s kingdom (verse 19)
SOILS = the situations that either permit or prevent kingdom growth (verse 20-23). 

We might just head into the narthex now for refreshments. Jesus has already solved the equation, explained the story, preached the sermon. We’re outta here.

Yet interpreting a parable is really NOT like solving a math problem. In fact, the very point of this parable seems to be that parables cannot be solved or explained. They must be experienced by and revealed to and grown within receptive soils . . . or souls. Jesus’ followers are being acculturated into a new world, a new realm he called God’s kingdom, a new way of being. The kind of understanding Jesus expects of his disciples is a deep, experiential way of knowing, not just head knowledge. Parables offer discussion starters, not pat pronouncements. “It is not a monologue to be heard and accepted but an invitation to conversation and communal reflection” (Herzog 265). For learning God’s ways, a parable is just the thing.

And how like Jesus to match his message with his method. Quite simply, Jesus practiced what he preached. His parable is not solely about the seeds that grow God’s kingdom; the parable is itself a kingdom seed planted in the hearer’s heart.  

I’m going to share a particular meaning germinating in my heart. But before I do, I want to suggest how this first parable of Jesus teaches us to read parables—and maybe to read scripture in general.

1.This parable teaches me to expect the unexpected with Jesus and his parables. The kingdom of heaven, as Jesus describes it, doesn’t work the way this world works. This parable surprises me by describing the kingdom as carelessly and wastefully planted—not what I might have expected from God the sower. Nevertheless, an extravagant harvest results. Jesus also says that the things I might expect to further growth and success can actually be impediments. Consider the thorns in today’s parable that choke out the kingdom. Jesus said they represent money that can thwart kingdom growth. Then, as now, the kingdom of THIS world requires money for growth. So this parable—and those that will follow—upset his listeners’ expectations and keep hearers a little off kilter. Let us take note: be suspicious of our interpretations when they leave us feeling smug and sure. If we unpack a parable in ways that reinforce the ways of Wall Street or Washington, if we use a parable to prop up our preconceptions and prejudices, shore up our way of life, or judge someone else as not quite kingdom material, there’s a chance we do not understand Jesus. Despite this parable’s cozy familiarity and Jesus’ helpful interpretation, the parable of the kingdom seeds must continue to tease our minds into uncomfortable incongruities and insights and lure our lives into more faithful though unexpected paths of followship. William Herzog categorized Jesus’ parables as subversive speech intended to upset the interests of those in power.[ii] In reading parables, we must look out for the edgy and unexpected. 

2. This parable also teaches me to listen to parables not only with my ears but also with my life. The seed the Sower plants cannot remain just on the surface. It must penetrate deep into our lives. The meanings must move into our very being.  In some ways, a parable is like a poem, which, as poet Archibald Macleash advised, “should not mean, but be.” Let this parable be. Which is not to say let it alone. Let it be what it is. Which is not a riddle to decipher. Let God’s Word penetrate and become part of you.   

If you’ve ever planted seeds in Dixie cups of dirt with a Sunday school class of 5-year-olds, you know there will be one child who just can’t resist taking his cup from the window ledge each Sunday and pulling his lima bean out of the soil to check on it.  I am hoping to let the seed of understanding grow in my life.  I am trying to resist pulling this parable out of the earthiness and preserving it under plexiglass and typing a neat caption above it that declares one meaning for this parable for all time.  I want to listen to this parable as it continues its growth deep inside the totality of my life. And since my life is different from yours, the seed of meaning may develop a bit differently in me than in you. 

3.Finally, the parable of the seeds illustrates Side by Side Thinking. The word parable comes from a Greek verb meaning “to set side by side.” Think of parallel lines. A parable works by analogy. You bring one thing alongside another for comparison. By putting the concept of God’s kingdom alongside the story of the seeds, we glimpse something of the ineffable, still not completely realized Realm of God.  The parable IS a seed: encapsulated mystery, growing in darkness, revealing only a little of the hidden potential for meaning.  How could we glimpse God’s ways except through analogy and paradox? 

The Side by Side way of thinking allows us to appreciate a story that came out of one culture and later shared in the context of another culture. You will know what I mean if you ever figuratively put the Bible alongside the Mobile Press Register to ponder where God is amidst today’s headlines.  This side by side process is different from prooftexting, which extracts a Bible verse from its contexts and forces it in literal form onto a contemporary situation to score a debate point. Instead, side by side thinking lets us hold two realities together, fully aware of their different contexts—and yet in that side by side relationship, sacred meaning can open up for us.  Parables in the Bible and events today live side-by-side to help us see that the kingdom of God is not far off but is beginning to unfold here, is already a realm we can be living into, for those with eyes to see.

Scholars may try to get to the “root” of the original Jesus saying that “germinated” the parable as now recorded. It’s right for us to be cautious about how we appropriate a story from a very different time and place in order to see meanings for us today. But as Jesus said elsewhere in this same chapter, “Listen with your ears but understand with your hearts.”

Here’s how I imaginatively plant the seed parable alongside the full sweep of the Biblical story and modern understandings of this world. I imagine the Cosmic Sower recklessly scattering stardust like fists full of seeds into every crevice of time and space out of a boundless desire to multiply life.  With boundless love, the Sower then planted a precious seed into a human womb within a dangerous empire, and that seed grew into the image of Love itself. It was killed—but lives again and eternally. Flamboyantly, excessively, the Sower of life and love continues to breathe new hope for peace and justice in dark places, for seeds must begin in the hidden darkness. Even in times of war, of inequalities, of greed, of hatred, there are seeds breaking through to the light.  According to today’s parable, most of the seeds failed, but the few seeds that fell into fertile ground produced a harvest that yielded 30, 60, even 100 fold.  

Oh, the harshness of this world can make it seem as if God’s kingdom exists as a hopeless fairy tale, or some remote promise that will materialize only in another place and time, but our lives as well as scripture tell us that God’s mercy, justice, and loving community are already here in part. The Gospel does not promise wealth and power, in fact warns they thwart the kingdom—as do the worries of the world (verse 22). Yet the Gospel does not turn mere positive thinking into religion. On the contrary, the Gospel is quite realistic. But Jesus heralded a grace-filled kingdom to fulfill God’s purposes of love, of justice, of peace. 

I invite you now to place alongside Jesus’ parable and the entire Biblical story, some part of your story.  What kind of soil were you planted in?  Even if you landed in the soil of easy growth, you’ve seen potential for the God’s Kingdom wasted. 

So call to mind now those times in your life when you have planted a seed—invested your energy or emotion or resources in a plan or relationship or cause that just never took off. 

Recall also the plight of others—for instance the refugee children from Central America piling up in our border towns—that make you wonder why the seeds of God’s justice have yielded so little fruit.

Think of your own tendency to look at a loved one and focus on what is lacking in that relationship instead of appreciating what is thriving or might yet grow. 
Jesus honestly acknowledges that all God’s seeds have not developed.

But hear this good news: when hearts are ready, God’s bounty, though long hidden, will spring up in surprising places. Give thanks for the times that a seed DID grow in your life in ways you never expected: a chance meeting yielded a life-long friendship; a simple change in circumstance took you down a better path in life; a bit of hard work brought you positive results. 

Reflect now on ways our faith community—called a new church “plant”—is bearing fruit in our community.  Not all that has been planted will produce fruit. But much already has. Just in this past week I’ve been contacted by several folks I’d never met who have heard about Open Table and are thankful for your commitments to God’s welcoming ways. This week I met with someone in our larger community who needed spiritual counsel from a pastor who supports LGBT folks. Another person I’d never met before called to ask me to perform a same-sex union ceremony and I agreed. Yesterday I was invited (while we were painting our new office) to speak to the PFLAG group that meets at All Saints. (One member of that group said she’d heard Open Table’s ad on Alabama Public Radio and was overjoyed to hear a church proclaim that it is “pro-gay, pro-green, pro-science, pro-arts, pro-questions, pro-YOU.” She could quote almost the entire ad.) Last night I received an email from another person I’ve never met who wanted more information about our “diverse” community. These evidences of life and hope are not very visible, not the kinds of things I report to you regularly, but the seeds growing in our hearts and congregation ARE producing. Let’s give thanks for that. 

This sermon will not end with a pithy summation. The parable is not yet finished with us. For some, not all, it will keep growing, instructing, nudging, needling. This sermon ends with these words of Jesus: "Let anyone with ears listen." And continue to listen.

PRAYER:  Extravagant God, We pray that our hearts will be fertile soil, ready to receive new seeds of understanding.  Amen

[i] Herzog, William R. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994, p. 3.
[ii] Herzog’s title, Parables as Subversive Speech includes a subtitle, Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed, that borrows from Paulo Freire’s famous work Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which advocated an educational model that respects what learners already know about their culture and uses it to liberate people from oppression. See Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2007.