The Intersection of Religious Education and Values
The references to ‘personal’, ‘physical’, ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ universes alert us to cosmic dimensions of the problem. Doug Porpora suggests that ‘moral purpose must be emotionally and conceptually grounded in some larger worldview’; however, in our current cultural context we must contend with ‘a culturally pervasive lack of orientation in metaphysical space, an inability to place ourselves meaningfully in the cosmos’ (Porpora, 2001: 58, 152). It would be customary, in a chapter of this length, to identify one particular aspect of the intersection between religious education and the fact-value divide and subject it to microscopic analysis. However, the principle of the hermeneutical circle, which affirms the need for interpretation to relate parts to wholes and wholes to parts, offers a compelling case for stepping back and attempting to establish a panoramic perspective on the issue as a whole. Hence this chapter sets out to provide a telescopic account of the contemporary dislocation of our moral, aesthetic and spiritual values from our understanding of the ultimate order of things, and to explore its implications for religious education. The trajectories of dislocation and relocation are approached systematically, in terms of their philosophical, theological, political and educational dimensions. In turn, this all feeds into a consideration of the culpability of contemporary religious education in perpetuating the fact-value divide, and of the potential of the subject to under-labour for its dissolution. Inevitably, given the scope of the task ahead, I will be forced to employ broad brush strokes, and trust that the limited possibilities of adding detail to such an expansive canvas will not negate the value of the exercise as a whole.