I am delighted that REtoday has just published this article about our Worldview film resource. It has 20,000 readers. It cannot be read on the internet so here it is.

‘Nobody Stands Nowhere’ is the title of an excellent two-minute animation from the Theos think-tank (2021) which aims to unpack the important idea of worldview. You can find it on You Tube. The film shows us that there is no such thing as a neutral perspective and that everyone sees the world through a lens or mix of lenses. It isn’t just religious people who have ‘worldviews’. All people are living in a worldview story.

Football is a very helpful way to introduce worldview thinking to young people. Consider the worldview of those who believe that ace footballer Diego Maradona (1960-2020) is the Saviour of the World.

Worldwide there are 200,000 worshippers of the great Argentinian footballer. The Church of Maradona requires its followers to get baptised by slapping a football into an empty net past a life-sized cardboard cut-out of England’s then goalie Peter Shilton. This ritual celebrates the moment when Maradona cheated and scored the infamous ‘Hand of God goal’ against England in 1986. The Church even has its own ‘Ten Commandments‘.

In one of six short films I recently scripted for a classroom resource called Windows on Worldviews, produced by RealityBites, we tell the story of the brilliant playmaker Glenn Hoddle who described Maradona as ‘the greatest player who touched the planet’. In 1999 Hoddle was sacked from his job as England’s Head Coach because of the following comments made in an interview:

“You have to come back to learn and face some of the things you have done, good and bad. You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.”

In a piece headlined “Sacked Because of Karma” the Italian newspaper La Republica, suggested that Hoddle may have been the first man of the modern age to lose his job for his religious beliefs.

Many would find these two worldviews strange and perhaps alien to the UK scene, but let’s briefly unpack a much more influential worldview – the very public and Humanist faith of Elon Musk. This famous billionaire entrepreneur who dreams of relocating to Mars has a profound faith in secular progress. This is the belief that the story of the West is one of continuous advance fuelled by steadily increasing knowledge. Science will make us all-knowing. Technology will make us all powerful and economics will create a world of plenty for everyone.

How do we find out the truth about the world?  Through science.  Why do we want this knowledge? So we can develop the technology to control the world. Why do we want to control the world?  So we can have constant economic growth. Why do we want constant economic growth?  So we can all live in a consumer paradise. Thus, in our Western world science is the way to technological progress, to economic and political power, and to hedonistic pleasure.

This faith in scientific progress is a much more pervasive and popular faith than faith in Maradona or faith in karma, but if we are to help young people to understand the world around them we have to unpack secular faiths like Musk’s that are all too often ignored, unnoticed and unexamined. Two of our six short films outline and dissect this faith. 

Our approach at RealityBites is to grab young peoples’ attention by exploring our contemporary world in all its richness, complexity and drama.

In another of our five-minute story films ‘Million Dollar Virgin’ we consider the true story of Natalie Dylan who was auctioning her virginity for millions of dollars in order to finance her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family therapy. When I have led RE lessons on this story it always stimulates discussion and provokes intense debate among young people. One young student declared very firmly: ‘She has every right to do whatever she wants with her body!’ Not everybody agreed with her, but it led to a very lively debate.

Natalie’s story raises important ethical, religious and philosophical issues. Why is a young woman willing to sell herself? What does she believe about life, the universe and everything? In other words what is her worldview? A worldview is a person’s way of understanding, experiencing and responding to the world. These worldviews are sometimes invisible and under the surface. Today if we talk about ‘religion’ or ‘faith’ most people think we are talking only about Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. This leaves many other people, for example, Elon Musk or Natalie Dylan as ‘secular’ and it is often assumed that secular believers have no faith. This is misleading because, as the Theos film reminds us, ‘Nobody Stands Nowhere’.

Hoddle’s, Musk’s and Natalie’s stories form part of an innovative YouTube resource that will support GCSE and A-Level Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies students and their teachers to explore these unnoticed but often influential secular beliefs. Windows on Worldviews comprises six accessible short videos based on true stories that help us to understand non-religious worldviews. These five-minute story films are rooted in popular culture, using vignettes and tales from football, celebrity culture, love and romance, mafia hitmen, high tech and pop festivals. With engaging storylines relevant to young people aged 15 -18 they can be used in any order, individually or as a series. To go with the stories are six short ‘boffin slots’ – explanatory videos that summarise and critique the philosophical roots of these secular worldviews. The ‘boffin slots’ undergird the key learning points and will help teachers and students discuss and compare secular worldviews with more traditional religious beliefs. 

This free resource from RealityBites complements curriculum materials and will intrigue teachers and students as they engage with Humanism and Atheism as part of their examination studies. To aid critical thinking we contrast secular worldviews with pagan, New Age and Christian mindsets and to help busy teachers Windows on Worldviews also includes a written guide, with suggested discussion starters for class use and useful links to further resources. Producer Patricia Gray said:

“With these short films RealityBites aims to address some of the fundamental worldview questions in a way that speaks to young people at a time when their studies and beliefs are a major influence on their identity. The stories are engaging and contemporary. Humour and, sometimes, a gently ironic and playful tone will stimulate thinking and debate.” 

Why did we develop this free film resource for RE teachers? An understanding of both religious and non-religious worldviews is vital if young people are to engage critically with our complex and media-saturated culture. The resource can also be used at different learning levels and will complement philosophy, ethics and religious studies at both GCSE and A-levels. As a former RE teacher myself, I would have found a resource like this an absolute boon in the classroom. It will provide excellent support to meet the aims of the recently published Religion and Worldviews: the way forward (2018) and initiatives such as the Big Ideas Project (2019).

Find the story films at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfgTxb7HTGsXSPTyZNTGWiD6Bw4-o2Uj-

Find the ‘boffin slots’ at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfgTxb7HTGsVGzrgMmZMHDLH9EY8dM1gs

The author of four books and numerous articles on worldviews, Mark Roques is available to speak in lessons, assemblies, Sixth form conferences etc. Contact him at: realitybites@thinkfaith.net

Mark Roques
Categories: RealityBites

Mark Roques

Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Education at Prior Park College, Bath, for many years. As Director of RealityBites he has developed a rich range of resources for youth workers and teachers. He has spoken at conferences in the UK, Holland, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is a lively storyteller and the author of four books, including The Spy, the Rat and the Bed of Nails: Creative Ways of Talking about Christian Faith. His work is focused on storytelling and how this can help us to communicate the Christian faith. He has written many articles for the Baptist Times, RE Today, Youthscape, Direction magazine and the Christian Teachers Journal.

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