Christmas—Making “Myth” a Reality | December 24, 2020
Whenever Christmas time arrives, I get excited. Yes, there is the usual gifts, the much needed Christmas break, getting together with extended family members (maybe not this year). But over the years, I am realizing that I get excited not just because of all that, and not even just because of what happened 2000 years ago, but because of what is happening now because of that event.
The birth of God in human form is so fantastical that we are prone not to believe it, or much less think much about it. We might not think much about it even in Christmas season. But does it matter? How does it matter that I spend some time to quietly ponder upon the significance of the birth of Christ?
I would say that as we ponder and wonder upon the supernatural but true story of the birth of our Lord, our little stories become part of His Story. Recently, I watched an animated movie titled The Breadwinner. It is not a Christian story, but it is a beautiful, moving story nevertheless. The story is about a girl who is trying to save her father against all odds, but the way she accomplishes this is by remembering and re-telling a story, a myth, about a boy. She believes this myth story so much that she becomes the brave boy in the story and saves her father. Or shall I say the boy in the myth became her.
A Christian version of this story is how C. S. Lewis became a Christian. He was fascinated by all the folklores about how a god became a man, but only remained as a fascination, until one day, Tolkien suggested the possibility that these myth stories are just shadows of a true story—the story of God becoming man in Jesus Christ. The significance of this “conversion” story of C. S. Lewis is that believing in “a myth made fact” made a difference in his life. For Lewis, it was like a dead person coming alive. All his faith and imagination came alive, permanently.
I am proposing that’s how we receive Christmas—all year long, but especially during this season. BELIEVE in the true story of Christ’s birth, not as a “myth” that happened long ago, but as something that matters to you, in the face of all the obstacles of your life, and tell and re-tell the story of Christ to one another and watch your stories become a part of Christ’s Story. Watch the incarnation of Christ become a reality in your life.
Dr. David Kim | December 24, 2020
Covid, Corruption, Christ, and Classical Education | December 14, 2020
We are living in dark times. So much darkness, both physical and moral. First, the unprecedented level of covid cases. And then, the unprecedented level of moral corruption in America. All this is resulting in an unprecedented kind of crisis in America. In a recent New York Times Bestseller Live Not by Lies, Rod Dreher argues that liberal democracy in America is degenerating into something resembling totalitarianism like that of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the name of “justice” and “equality,” the radical left is suppressing the most treasured privileges in America: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to vote.
We are all living in the thick of it, so much so that we cannot fully see or understand what is happening around us. But I am beginning to understand that the Lord is in perfect control, and that he is allowing these things to happen to awaken us to the great blessings that we already have but are losing sight of because of the dullness of our hearts and minds.
One of the blessings we already have is the physical freedom with which the teachers and students can come to campus to teach and learn. Students and teachers alike who have experienced both the online and on campus learning know that the ability to gather in person to teach and learn is a tremendous blessing that we should not take for granted.
But an even greater blessing is our spiritual freedom. Freedom to learn the truth of God in the Scriptures, nature, and history. And the freedom that results in believing in that truth, for the truth sets us free (John 8:32). This freedom is quickly being taken away from us, in the form of suppression of freedom of speech via social media censorship and in various forms of suppression of religious liberty in the public square. We are, frankly, disheartened by all this darkness. But in reading about similar times of darkness in the past, I was encouraged to find that God allows a period of darkness to turn our hearts toward the light of Jesus Christ. This began with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ after 400 years of God’s silence and spiritual darkness all over the world. When Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 A.D. and Christians everywhere were blamed for the fall of Rome, St Augustine wrote the City of God, a Christian alternative to the Roman vision of an ideal civilization. But Augustine also wrote a book about education, On Christian Doctrine, to show what kind of education is necessary to lay the foundations of such a City of God. The book became the first book on what we now call “Classical Christian Education.” In studying this book, I realized that Christian classical education would not have been birthed in the mind of Augustine without the darkness that surrounded him and all the Christians of his generation. I see this pattern again in 453 AD when Cassiodorus wrote Divine Institutions, in 790s when Alcuin wrote on the Art of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, or in 1230s when Hugh of St. Victor wrote Didaskalion, and thereafter in other ground-breaking works on education. In my study of the history of classical education, I learned that whenever there is a period of spiritual darkness in the world, there is a corresponding secularization of education, and the beacon of light that led people out of that darkness was a re-visioning of education that integrates the liberal arts as well as other aspects of education with our relationship with Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, I want to encourage you and your children to take heart in the midst of all this darkness, and know that as you continue to help your children to re-center their education on Christ, you are leading many others out of darkness into the light of Christ.
Dr. David Kim | December 14, 2020
Creating Leisurely Learning Environment, Part 4 | December 4, 2020
In previous articles, I mentioned that leisurely learning requires a focus on God’s grace, a leisurely vision of life, and a premium on depth, rather than quantity, of learning. Today, I want to talk about the importance of Scripture-based conversation in creating a true leisure in education.
Jewish people call this scripture-based conversation “havruta” (חַברְוּתאָ), which means a companion or a friend who enjoys analyzing, discussing, and understanding God’s Word together. This companion is traditionally one person, a friend, or a parent. But many practice this method within a small group of 2-5 people. This concept is an application of the biblical principle of “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17).
The power of this method lies in that it is the most effective way of understanding the depth of truth in God’s Word. Truth in God’s Word usually has intellectual as well as moral aspect. Whenever the Bible refers to a “fool,” it is talking about a person who not only may be ignorant, but also a person who rebels against God. All truth has both intellectual and moral aspects, but
especially biblical truths. So, whenever two or more students discuss a biblical passage, they are not only sharpening their minds, but their hearts or virtues as well. They learn that for every truth that they discover, they are understanding better who God is, and how they ought to live in a manner that is in accord with that truth. And it is in this kind of conversation that
students develop a deeper purpose of life and a deeper appreciation for God’s providence in their lives. It is especially in the sharing of the joy of the discovery of God and his goodness, that true leisure is created.
But leisure is also created in the process of discovering the truth. Jewish have a saying that when “two students come together, three opinions are created.” In engaging in this type of conversation, the two or more students (or parent and child) assume that neither has a complete understanding of the truth, that they may have different opinions about a biblical text at the
beginning, but that by the help of the Holy Spirit, they can sharpen one another’s opinions, so that their understanding changes closer to what God actually says in the Scripture. A good example of this is how Jesus was engaging in this kind of conversation with the teachers of the law in the synagogue when he was 12 years old (Lk 2:46).
At Veritas, this is practiced frequently practiced in the classrooms, sometimes in pairs of two students, and sometimes in small groups of 2-4 students. The teacher is always there to train and guide the students to grow in their spiritual/academic skill of understanding a given text in light of God’s Word. I want to encourage Veritas parents to try this at home. You will see amazing results!
Dr. David Kim | December 4, 2020
Multum non Multa: Creating a Leisurely Learning Environment, Part 3 | November 18, 2020
Last time, I wrote about “roasting our game” as a key strategy in creating a leisurely learning environment. Prov 12:27 says a lazy person will not roast his game, meaning it requires diligence to enjoy what we are learning. There is a bit of irony here. We get busy in order that we find leisure in learning. But we all know the benefit of going through the trouble of securing a quiet moment in our lives, sometimes gathering together with others in a cozy setting, all so that we can enjoy a delicious conversation about a meaningful topic.
This week, I want to talk about a specific strategy that classical educators use to ensure the roasting-ourgame- culture: multum non multa. It is Latin for “much not many” or “quality over quantity.” It’s easy for any student (or parents) to get caught up in quantity in education. If we care more about a certain external achievement in education (good grades, good colleges, degree, etc), then we usually are concerned more about quantity rather than quality. Even if we care more about a specific achievement of skills for our children (e.g. great speaker, great writer, great number cruncher, great manners, etc), more than the content or the process of learning, then it is usually about quantity over quality.
From my experience as an educator, there is almost an inverse relationship between quantity and quality in education, for those who take education seriously. The more number of things we try to achieve externally, the more we sacrifice the quality (content or the process) of education. Of course there is always the danger of getting lazy, if we try to just do less. That’s why I said if we take education seriously. A lazy student doing less does not help him to grow in quality of education.
Multum non multa principle, or leisurely learning (schol ), is neither. It is neither about racking up accolades nor about being lazy. It is the intentional slowing down and reducing the number of things a student learns at a given period of time, in order to create space and time to 1) not only learn something well, but also to 2) develop the art/discipline/skill of learning, and to 3) enjoy learning (cultivate wisdom and virtue).
Easier said than done. We are always afraid we are not doing enough. And we are always worried that our children are wasting their time. So, how can we be sure that we are effectively practicing the multum non multa principle, so that our children can truly grow in wisdom and virtue?
1. First, it begins with parents. They need to restructure their life in such a way that there is leisure in their life, to enjoy God with the family. Pray and read the Bible regularly. Keep the Sabbath. Read good books together. Create family traditions.
2. Second, partner with Veritas teachers and staff to balance rigor and leisure. Veritas has recently clarified and is enforcing its No Weekend Homework Policy, and No Tests/Quizzes on Monday policy. Teachers will upload their Weekly Accountability Sheet by Saturday midnight, so students can plan for the following week, including leisure time.
3. Third, the best way to make sure that your children are not wasting their time is to spend time learning about what their learning. Take interest in what they are learning. If they spent 2 hours reading something, when they share that with 10 classmates, the quality of that learning is potentially 2 x 10, but if they discuss that with their parents, who really know their children, the quality of that learning is like 2 x 100 = 200 hours of learning!
In sum, because we believe in the integration of all knowledge under the lordship of Christ, and because we believe in the discipleship model of education, where education is more about passing down a way of life, and not just teaching of subjects, education is like a fine dining: Quality over Quantity.
Dr. David Kim | November 18, 2020
How Do We Create a Leisurely Learning Environment? (Part 2) | November 11, 2020
“Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” (Prov 12:27)
Schole is the word for “leisurely learning.” It is where we get the English word “school.” Classical, Christian schools are committed to creating a leisurely learning environment. In my last article, I mentioned that this leisure comes first and foremost from our rest in the Lord Jesus.
But the way in which we rest in the Lord Jesus requires a proper perspective, and a proper pace. A proper perspective is that Christ is sufficient for all our needs. In Prov 13:25, it says, “the righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.” Leisure comes first and foremost from our contentment in Christ. This is not easy. It is usually learned through trial. Apostle Paul summarizes his experience this way, quoting what Christ told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul learned that when he is weak, he becomes strong in Christ!
How do we train students with this perspective? By teaching them to be thankful. By helping them to feel the presence of God in the ordinary things in life, such as the beauty of nature, the daily food that they can partake, the fact that they are alive and can learn about God’s truth, goodness, and beauty.
But, in order to feel the presence of God in the ordinary things in life, and to be thankful for the basic blessings of life, we need a proper pace. We need to slow down. The Prov 12:27 verse above did not immediately become clear to me. Why is it slothful (lazy) for a hunter who caught his game, his food, not to roast his game? After all, he took the trouble to catch the animal. The point here is that it is more important that we take our time to enjoy the simple things in life, such as food, and by extension, fellowship with other people around a meal, and the enjoyment of God in all of these mundane activity. Classical, Christian education aims to help our students to love learning, and enjoy the process of learning, enjoying God in the process, rather than merely gaining knowledge/skills for personal achievement.
How does Veritas help our students to “roast their game”? First, besides times of worship, we emphasize singing. Singing throughout the day. Singing is one of the best training for enjoying God. Second, we emphasize discussion and dialogue in the process of learning. Discussion and dialogue do
more than enlighten a student’s understanding of a given topic. It trains them to love the truth and enjoy God more specifically. Third, we emphasize festivities. Our normal school calendar is filled with Field Days, Field trips, Christmas Program, Christmas Ball, Secondary soiree, drama productions, Reformation Day festival, House Council activities, and other festivities, all designed to increase our students’ capacity to enjoy God more. Finally, we emphasize the “much not many” (multum non multa) principle. We choose fewer number of books and dig deeper. We choose smaller number of topics and go deeper (e.g. the new Novar secondary science curriculum). We have room for improvement in all these, but day by day, year by year, it is amazing to witness students growing in their understanding of the priority of “roasting their game.”
Dr. David Kim | November 11, 2020
How Do We Create a Leisurely Learning Environment? | November 5, 2020
One of the challenges of classical schools like Veritas is creating a leisurely learning environment while at the same time setting a high academic standard and providing a healthy rigorous training to our students.
Since the answer to this question is multi-faceted, and because it is one of the key aspects of classical, Christian education, I will be devoting a few articles in this series.
First, I would like to define what I mean by “leisurely learning environment.” I mean an environment which fosters deepening of the soul, richness of thought, and a love of learning. Creating this kind of environment involves a specific overall vision of education, a specific kind of staff/faculty, a specific type of curriculum & programming, and a specific type of campus culture. It is all these factors coming together that creates this kind of soul-nourishing environment.
But before we discuss any of those details, the first thing that is necessary is a “philosophy” or a “theology” of leisure. We need a clear understanding of how and where ultimately leisure comes from. The simple answer to that is–God. We know that. But we often think that that is not the immediate source of leisure. But I want to argue that it is the most immediate source of leisure. And the reason we or our children do not have leisure is that God is not the immediate source of leisure.
The way most of us learn the lesson that God can and needs to be the immediate source of our leisure (as well as comfort, strength, love, and other good things in life) is by going through some hardship—a hard, hardship. That is how the Psalmist of Ps 73 came to confess, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. The Psalmist honestly struggles with his own feeling of jealousy at how the wicked are doing so well, and thinks that he is abandoned by God. But after entering the sanctuary of God, he realizes that the real problem was his “brutish and ignorant” heart.
I have been recently blessed by reading about the life of Boethius, who wrote a story, The Consolation of Philosophy, basically about himself. The story is about a Roman senator who is falsely accused and is awaiting his execution. The senator is full of anger about the injustice in his life, until a “Lady Philosophy” appears in his vision, and shows him how his anger comes not so much by the injustice done unto him, but by the misplacement of his hopes and joys in his life. Eventually, the senator is fully at peace with God, and is thankful for the misfortune in his life, which causes his heart to turn to God.
This is the fountainhead of leisure that we need to cultivate in the hearts and minds of our children. We need to spend time going to God. Being still before God. And being comforted by God. Listening to God speak to us. This is why the rhythm of Veritas is marked by 1) daily faculty morning prayer, where we pray specifically for 2 or 3 students and a faculty/staff, 2) daily meditation on God’s Word, 3) weekly chapel time with singing of hymns or Psalms, 4) turning every disciplinary problem into an opportunity to expect God’s blessing, 5) intentionally seeking God’s truth, goodness, and beauty in every subject, and 6) forging teacher-parent partnership for the purpose of effective discipleship of students, so that the most important things in life are not just taught, but caught by our students.
Most recently, I exhorted our secondary students with Ps 46, that even when our earth seems to give way, even when nations rage and kingdoms totter, God promises that he will be exalted among the nations. Our role, he reminds us, is to be still and know that he is God (v.10).
Dr. David Kim | November 5, 2020
How Liberal Arts Got Started | October 29, 2020
Recently, in view of recharging myself and for the sake of taking our school to its next level of growth, I signed up for a graduate course on “the History of Classical Christian Education” with Dr. Chris Schlect, one of the favorite history teachers in the ACCS. In the spirit of classical education, we are reading primary sources, usually in its entirely on classical Christian education, mostly Christian, but some on sources from which Christians formulated their vision of classical Christian education. So far, it has been a great experience, reading books like Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory, Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine, and Cassiodorus’ The Institutes of Divine and Human Learning, and participating in rich discussions with great educators in the class.
One of the several important things I have learned so far is how liberal arts education started. Before we ever reached the concept of the “7 liberal arts” which consists of the Trivium and the Quadrivium in the Middle Ages, Augustine was perhaps the first Christian to emphasize the importance of studying secular studies including most of the Trivium and the Quadrivium, in view of better understanding Bible as the chief means of understanding and enjoying God, and beyond that, developing a Christian culture.
Augustine lived in a time (354-430 AD) where secular scholarship was growing, but there was very little Christian scholarship. So, Augustine had to meet a double challenge. He had to make sure that Christians do not follow the underlying worldview behind secular scholarship. Yet at the same time, he had to recover everything that is good in the secular scholarship, and re-purpose or re-direct them for the purpose of discovering God’s truth, goodness, and beauty, and enjoying God through them.
He laid out this vision in The City of God, his personal experience of that vision in Confessions, and the educational vision behind that in On Christian Doctrine. The key insight that provided Augustine with the foundation of a Christian vision of the liberal arts was that, most of the secular learnings, when properly directed, and studied in light of God’s Word, can become powerful tools in expanding our capacity to enjoy God. Augustine believed that every good thing in the world originally comes from God, which is why God commanded the Israelites to “plunder the Egyptians,” meaning recovering all the good things in every area of life which originally came from God. But that recovery alone is not enough. It must be totally integrated with a thorough study of God’s Word, with the result that we can develop a City of God where Christ reigns, even in the midst of the City of Man with all its problems.
It was this vision of Augustine that is greatly responsible for the many progress that was made in later centuries in developing liberal arts, which is virtually synonymous of “classical Christian education.” May the Lord enflame our hearts and minds to re-direct all learnings of us and our children for the purpose of a fuller enjoyment of God!
Dr. David Kim | October 29, 2020
Delighting as the Integrating Point of Faith & Learning | October 16, 2020
Most parents want their children to have a right relationship with God as well as excellent academics, but most parents do not take interest in the integration of the two.
And the reason they don’t take interest is that they do not know that without this integration, their children will lose or become weak in both their relationship with God and the academics. Just because their children are “smart” and gets good grades does not mean that they will become wise and do good things. Inversely, even if they may have some faith, if they do not learn to integrate faith and academics, they will only become lukewarm Christians, and live a life with a double standard. Then, how can we integrate faith and scholarship?
The “secret answer” is found in Ps 111:2: “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who DELIGHT in them.” Students study great works of the Lord, because they delight in them. The passage does not say, “we should study the great works of the Lord.” It says God’s works in nature and history are so beautiful, truthful, and good to us (meaning beneficial to us), that our hearts delight in them and we naturally desire to study them.
I once taught the Doctrine of Creation to seminary students at a seminary in Mexico. I was explaining how the Milky Way Galaxy that our earth is a part of, is in the shape of a spiral, with these arms, and these arms consist of billions of stars, and that the reason we are not among these billions of stars, but in the black space between two of these arms, is because if we are located in the arm, our sky will be so clouded by all these billions of stars that we could not look out into the space, whereas because God placed us in between these arms by God so that we could delight in the great works of God and study them endlessly. When I said this, the room became quiet, and someincluding the translator were tearful and everyone was filled with wonder.
The mission of our school is to disciple students to DELIGHT, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Because we make it our goal to train students to delight in God in every class, and in every activity, we see a clear difference in results. Students become brighter, they enjoy life more, and they study well.
Historically, this applies to many other fields, but in the history of science, professor Rodney Stark, in his book For the Glory of God, proves that the greatest scientific progress in history was made by Christians who really loved the Lord.
In short, if you make the enjoyment of God the beginning and the end of your children’s study, your children will desire to study the truth, goodness, and beauty of God, and as a result, become more joyful, and become powerful salt and light of the earth in a spiritually dark world. May the Lord richly bless you and your children!
Dr. David Kim | October 16, 2020
How Parents Can Encourage Their Student and Benefit from What Their Students are Learning | October 7, 2020
Parents often ask how they can help their children, to motivate and encourage, and even to provide guidance. But many parents are frustrated with their efforts, and sometimes, give up the effort all together. Perhaps the problem lies in the way of thinking about helping children. Three common obstacles in effectively helping children with their homework are 1) the thought that if parents help, children will not learn, 2) that I am too busy to help, 3) that their children will not listen to them.
These obstacles all may be true. But there is an effective solution: instead of thinking of helping children, think of benefitting from the amazing things our children are learning. Since most parents are deprived of an education where faith and scholarship are integrated at all aspects of education in a comprehensive way and transformative way, parents can think of it as giving their children a chance to share their learning with them. Thinking of it this way goes a long way to build not only conversations between parents and children, but also a common shared vision for the rest of their lives.
Here are some practical suggestions on how you could help your children and benefit from your children’s study at home:
1. Have the children read aloud to the parents what they are reading at school. Just a few pages after dinner would do wonders!
2. Enjoy listening together with an audiobook of what the students are reading at school or on their own. The first suggestion is ideal, but occasionally doing this together is helpful, especially if students or parents would like to listen to a professional reading of the book.
3. Ask the student what they learned from any of their classes. And then follow up with the question: “How does that reveal the truth, goodness, or beauty about God?” This is a great practical way to order our loves toward God, and even align the loves of the parents and children together.
4. Have the students present/perform any memorized lines, songs, poems, etc. to the parents. This could and should be done for the secondary students as well. Since the goal of the rhetoric stage is to display the glory of God in Jesus Christ, students should practice displaying what they understood and learned. Do not criticize. Lavish with praises, but more importantly, enjoy the display of God’s glory in your children’s presentation. If you must provide feedback, provide it constructively, accurately, and sandwiched between praises.
5. Enjoy what your students learned by simply asking good questions. This requires a bit more discernment on the parents’ part, but parents should ask good follow up questions, questions that students probably know the answer to, or questions that will help students to understand and apply what they learned from a biblical perspective.
6. Create an imaginary real-life scenario in which students can apply what they learned. This is a time-tested Jewish method of developing wisdom in their children. Even though Socratic discussion is a staple of classical education, real-life application with parents packs a punch in driving home the lesson learned. Remember to keep the direction of the application toward honoring God and edifying others.
These methods are simple yet effective ways to both encourage your children in their study and enjoy what they are learning at the SAME TIME! May the Lord richly bless your times with your children.
Dr. David Kim | October 7, 2020
Developing a Discipleship Family Culture | September 29, 2020
One of the challenges that Veritas families will face is developing a family culture that supports and complements the culture that we are seeking to create at school, since a student can thrive only when there is a shared culture between the two.
Veritas is intentionally moving away from the model of education, where school is for career preparation plus social interaction, and home is for personal & spiritual education. Comprehensive Christ-centered education is provided at school AND home, requiring a strong partnership between the two. Of course, because students are getting most of their instruction at school, we are not expecting an equal amount of instruction at home. But we do need to create a family culture with the same vision and goal in mind. The mission of Veritas is to “disciple students to delight, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ in every area of life.” So, how can families disciple their children at home? To delight, discern, and display the glory of God?
1. Recognize & share with your children that unless the parent’s culture and children’s culture is shared, this goal of forming loves in our children will not take place. In most modern families, the value system of parents and children are divided because they just don’t share culture, which shapes our loves and delights. Internet is making this very difficult. Parents need to set apart some time to have honest heart-to-heart talk with their children about this problem, and recognize that unless a godly culture is shared between parents and children, neither parents nor children can expect a flourishing of their loves for God.
2. Create a space and time within which a conversation will flow. No matter how wellintentioned the parents are, if their children cannot share their hurts and hopes to their parents, a Christ-centered family culture cannot be developed. So, parents need to create a “space and time” where children can go to their parents to share, where there is no judgement, no hypocrisy, and no fear. Now, this is first and foremost, not a literal time and place. It is the hearts of the parents. If the relationship between parents and children are so broken that there is little conversation, this requires repentance and reconciliation first. But assuming that there is a general trust between parents and children, parents need to create an intentional, REGULAR, physical space and time for children and parents to share their loves.
Two most important factors to keep in mind in creating this space and time is
1. Making sure that parents’ loves are aligned with that of God, which requires brutal honesty.
2. Not judging the child’s loves, but providing guidance and understanding, and tuning their loves.
The first one requires that parents study God’s Word diligently, so that their own loves are aligned, and that they are actually enjoying God. If this does not happen, then they cannot expect real changes in their children. Children will see right through the parents’ hypocrisy. No parents are perfect. We are talking about honest, real effort. The second one requires humility and charity. We need to lower ourselves to where the child is and exercise charity in giving them the benefit of doubt in understanding and in their behavior. When our children see that we are not judging them, and that we are providing discernment, understanding, and guidance, they will listen. But parents need to first listen to see what is driving their thoughts, speech, and action, praise the student for whatever is good, provide understanding for whatever is shortcoming, and be charitable in areas parents are not clear about.
3. Creating a Hearth, a Feasting Table. Although the hearts of the parents are the most important, it is also important to create a physical, REGULAR rhythm of space and time for children and parents to share their loves, and order their loves. The ideal time and space is the dinner table, where there is laughter, healing, reconciliation, and guidance. Parents should intentionally set expectations about the sacred space and time for the daily dinner table.
4. Sharing of Stories—Although a good feast should help, the main menu on the table should be good stories. Ultimately all stories should point to the work of God in our lives, but there are several kinds of stories.
a. Sharing Ordinary Daily Events—Sharing current events with each other and discussing them in biblical light. (Albert Mohler’s Daily Briefing)
b. Biblical stories that helps children to understand the bigger frame within which they can read their own stories. (Nancy Guthries Nine Stories to Understand Your Stories)
c. Share your own stories of God’s redemption (don’t be afraid to be honest)
d. Tell your children about what God is doing in their lives (they won’t forget these, since it is coming from those who knows them the best)
e. Tell them the “mighty deeds of the Lord” (history, particularly biographies, e.g. History Lives). Children need to see themselves in light of the cloud of witnesses in the past, to gain wisdom, encouragement, and models to follow after.
Dr. David Kim | September 29, 2020
The Urgency of Building the Community of Christ | September 18, 2020
We are living in a time of great upheaval. Record-breaking forest fires, social unrest and violence, resurgence of COVID. Homes and physical bodies are being destroyed. But underneath this physical destruction are moral destruction, the disintegration of moral standards—people fight about their rights, not about what is right and wrong, whether it is about sexuality, race, life or other moral issues. And underneath moral disintegration lies a false view of God, and a false relationship with God. In 2005, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, two sociologists interviewed hundreds of teenagers about their religious beliefs, and found that they believed in something which these researchers titled “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” meaning a god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth, that god wants to be good, nice, and fair to each other, and that central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about one’s self, and that God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when needed to resolve a problem. In short, surface problems of social unrest or moral problems reveal or expose the deeper problems of our relationship with God. But what happened to the millennial and post-millennial generation? Why did they become the way they are? How did they end up having such loose moral standards? How did they end up believing in Moralistic Therapeutic God?
I suggest that it is the result of a disintegration of a Christ-centered community. Moral standards of a society depend on the spiritual commitments of a community—to their commitment to the God of the Bible, to the education of their children from a Christ-centered perspective. Moral standards of a community becomes loose when parents do not live out those standards and when parents cannot live out those standards, when they lack a shared theological and spiritual foundation that undergirds those moral standards, and when those foundational vision and values of a Christ-centered life is not passed on to their children.
In 2010, Smith and Denton, the two researchers mentioned above, conducted a follow-up interviews with 230 of the same individuals included in their first study in 2005. The result of that study is summarized this way: “Perhaps the most significant impression presented in the project is that these young adults have distanced themselves from their parents and from their parents’ religious faith to greater degree….” Above all, the study showed that they are preoccupied with the concern of the self, and that they are sexually promiscuous. They also found a positive correlation between young adults who remain closely related to their parents and their church community and the moral life that they live.
The trend that we are witnessing in the society is clear: a rapid disintegration of the moral fabric as well as the rapid disintegration of a Christ-centered community. One cannot exist without the other. The implication of this trend for Veritas is that we must work on building a Christ-centered community, if we want our children to have a chance of not just surviving but thriving as Christ’s witnesses in the world. Understanding the moral education of our children from this perspective, we begin to understand why a true education must begin and end with vision for the community.
Dr. David Kim | September 18, 2020
What Kind of Community Fosters Classical Education? | September 11, 2020
The theme this year is “Building the Community of Christ.” We have prayerfully chosen this as our theme this year not just because of the challenges of meeting as a Christian community in our individual churches as well as an educational community at Veritas. We chose it because classical education cannot reach its full potential without the formation of a certain kind of community.
Many Veritas parents who have been at Veritas for a few years say that what they like about Veritas is first and foremost the community. The quality of the faculty is a part of that. So, our strength has always been the community.
But it is necessary for us to raise the question, “What is it about our community that makes us unique?” And “How can we further grow as a community that will allow our children and parents to grow to their maximum potential?”
Here are a few, based on biblical reflection, experience, and listening to wise people.
1. It is a Vision-driven community. What makes us tick is our vision: to disciple our students to delight, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ, in such a way that results in the transformation of our culture, and the unity of home education, church, education, and school education. Even if we sometimes fail and falter, it is this vision that unites and motivates us with love and hope. A good biblical passage on this vision is Eph 1:1-2:10.
2. It is a Community Reconciled in Christ. No Christian community is perfect. But what makes a community beautiful is when it trusts in the work of Christ to reconcile us whenever we are divided for whatever reason. The unity reconciled in Christ is a deep unity—of heart and mind. It overcomes all socio-political-cultural barriers. But it does not diminish the diversity within the body of Christ. In fact, when we are reconciled in Christ, the diversity makes us richer. (Cf. Eph 2:11-22)
3. It is a Community willing to Count the Cost for a Gospel-centered Education. Many parents are attracted to classical education because it will guarantee their children for a career. But in order for our children to thrive, parents have to be first and foremost “partakers” (partners) of the promise in the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 3:6)
4. It is a Community that Experiences New Life in Christ by Sharing their Gifts. Children learn from their parents by watching how they live, particularly when they serve others. In all my years at Veritas, it is so beautiful to see how, when parents are involved in serving at Veritas, their children also grow in wisdom and virtue (Cf. Eph 4:1-16).
5. It is a Community that is Committed to Cultural/Moral Transformation. Education without virtue/moral training is dangerous. Classical education is committed to a cultivation of wisdom AND virtue. In fact, biblically speaking, true wisdom is closely connected with a life of righteousness, justice and peace (Cf. Eph 5:1-21)
6. It is a Community that has Christ at the center of their Family Life. Family is where the rubber meets the road. It is where children are loved, motivated, disciplined, encouraged, and ultimately discipled. But parents cannot do it alone. Veritas exists to come alongside of the parents to partner with them and to support them in their effort to bring up their children in the Lord (Cf. Eph 5:22-6:4)
7. It is a Community that seeks to put on the Full Armor of God through Word and Prayer. Everything we do above is bathed in prayer and God’s Word, which alone can change us and our children. (Cf. Eph 6:10-20)
We may get discouraged thinking about the list above—such a tall order to be a community of Christ! But what God is saying in Ephesians is that it is not so much about what we can do, but Christ has done. All we really need to do is to put on Christ—every time. Through prayer and meditation on His Word. With our children. For our children. God will build a dwelling place for God among us.
Dr. David Kim | September 11, 2020
Cultivation of Wisdom as the Goal of Education | September 4, 2020
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding… She is more precious than gold…Long life is in her right hand…Her ways are ways of pleasantness…She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her, those who hold her fast are called blessed.” Prov 3:13-18
Proverbs has so many promises about the blessings of getting wisdom. But it is not clear on what wisdom is. If it is that good, at least we need some good grasp of what it is.
Let’s begin with what it is not. It is not simply God’s teaching or instruction. It is usually coupled with instruction. “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7), but it is more than that. It is not simply a know-how, a way to solve a problem. It is also not separated from instruction or knowledge. Wisdom is usually coupled with knowledge and understanding: “For he Lord gives wisdom from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (2:6).
Wisdom is about living a life of righteousness, justice, and equity (1:3). “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright…guarding the paths of justice…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path” (2:7-9).
So, then how do we get wisdom? I draw three conclusions from meditating on Proverbs.
1. We get wisdom by fear of the Lord (1:7). Without a personal relationship with Christ, there is no wisdom. We need to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Prov 3:5). For education, it means students are trained to delight in the Lord.
2. We get wisdom by searching hard after it. “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures.” (Prov. 2:4). It requires a disciplined pursuit. It is a pursuit after God’s wisdom, God’s perspective. For education, it means disciplined study of everything from God’s perspective.
3. We get wisdom by imitating after God. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open.” God did not randomly create the world. He did it by wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. So, students need to understand how God did it and does it.
4. We get wisdom by training to love virtues and hate vices. There is a moral component to gaining wisdom. “Wisdom…will deliver you from the way of evil…” (2:12) “do not despise the Lord’s discipline” (3:11). Wisdom is a way of life. So, it requires training in virtues, and it requires correction and reproof.
So, these are four key words that summarize how to live a life of wisdom: Delight, Pursuit, Imitate, Virtue-training. But if you think about it, all of these requires a mature person to show. Wisdom cannot be gained by mastery of knowledge or skills. It is the transfer of a way of life, from person to person. This is what classical education is all about. Therefore we need PERSONAL involvement from parents and teachers alike. May the Lord bring our parents and teachers together so that together we may train our children to grow up in the wisdom of the Lord!
Dr. David Kim | September 4, 2020
How God Builds the Community of Christ through a Challenge | August 29, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
It’s this past Wednesday, about 3 PM. It’s been a long day, third day into the beginning of on-campus school. The office gets a call from Ms. Diaz saying that there is a water leak in the small out-of-order restroom next to the 5/6th grade classroom. Grant goes over, looks at it, runs back, and reports breathlessly, “Dr. Kim, I think a water pipe burst in the restroom! You should go take a look.” I call the pastor of the church, but he is not picking up. I run to the restroom, and sure enough, water is beginning to flood both rooms adjacent to the restroom. I see that the tube leading to the water tank broke off, by itself (the door was locked without a knob), and that the water was spewing at a high pressure. I try to shut off the water valve, but the old valve would not budge. I try it for a few minutes to no avail. I’m getting soaked all over.
Seeing that I cannot manually shut off the valve, and I cannot reach the pastor, and the plumber will not come without the landlord’s permission, and the water is flooding the two rooms, I begin to realize that I have to take drastic actions. I fetch as many brooms and mops as I can, and call a couple of available people to help sweep the water out. In the meanwhile, I run around the campus looking for a special wrench to turn off the rusted valve. I struggle for a good 10 minutes to shut off the value. In the process, I end up breaking off half of the valve. From that point on, I have to be gentle and firm at the same time, because if I break off the other half before shutting it off, we could have a major flood situation.
While I struggle with the valve, a couple of images ran through my head: Backdraft (the popular movie in which firefighters are fighting to control a fire to save lives, though I know not why this image came to my mind when I’m struggling to control water), and Odysseus who is navigating between Scylla and Charybdis to save his men (this was a more fitting image since the water tube that was thrashing about with high-pressure water was like the many-headed giant snake (Scylla) and the spewing water was like the giantmoreer vortex (Charybdis)).
By the time I “slay” the snake and safely emerge from the maelstrom, I am sweetly surprised that in those few short minutes, many adults and children had assembled to sweep the water out of the rooms. Some are moving furniture from the rooms because water was getting into the carpet as well. Others are forming assembly line to sweep water out of the rooms, and some are sweeping water out of the hallways, and some are scrambling to find towels and rags to soak the water-soaked portions of the carpet.
When it is almost done, I realize how beautiful all of this is. We had an emergency. A situation virtually out of our control. But it brought us together, staff, teachers and students. It tested and developed our character, faith, and love. I thanked God for a crisis averted. But more importantly, I thanked God for an opportunity to grow as a community of Christ.
A few minutes after that the pastor arrived and then a little after that the plumbers and Joe, the church maintenance man arrived. My thankful heart became even more thankful when Joe quipped with a laughter, “Imagine if this happened at night!”
Dr. David Kim | August 29, 2020
COVID-19, School Waiver, and God’s Providence | August 21, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
As you know by now, our application for waiver to the Governor’s order for all schools in 30 CA counties to go online has been approved. You may have found out that we are one of only 10 private schools in Orange County that have been granted this waiver. This waiver means that as long as there is no major emergency, JK-6th grade can be on campus for the rest of the year. And we still will be able to offer concurrent classes to those who choose to participate from home. This is a great news to us, because we can minimize the disruptions due to changing the mode of delivery if we have to go back and forth, and because the discipleship model of education that we have at Veritas is best suited for in-person education. So, we praise the Lord for his mercy and goodness, and we want to thank all of you who have cried out to the Lord for his intervention.
But another level of blessing that we have experienced was the process of finding ways to bring our school back to campus. We were looking for a legal and ethical way to open the school in case we did not get the waiver. We went through several rounds of discussion at the faculty level and admin levels, and we consulted lawyers, leadership of the Association of Classical & Christian Schools, Pacific Justice Institute, Orange County Health Department, State representatives, other Christian schools. In looking for a both legal and ethical solution, we had many discussions about questions like: What is the function of the government in situations like this? What is the extent of their authority? What motivated the governor to make this order? What is the basis of the waiver? On what grounds can a Christian school oppose a government order? And then, after discovering from the lawyers that it is legal for us to function as a “day camp,” a host of other questions were raised? Is the government actually allowing this? If they are, on what basis? Are they turning a blind eye? Is running as a “day camp” a form of civil disobedience? What constitutes a “day camp” as opposed to a school? Can we be considered as a school while running as a “day camp”?
The result of asking all these questions both within our staff & faculty, as well as to the authorities, we came to a better understanding of the very special circumstance that we are in with the COVID-19, the respective roles that the government and local authorities have, and most importantly, how for Christians to think through ethical questions like this, especially in the context of a community, where different people may have different opinions on any given subtopic.
The process required that each of us humble ourselves and pray to God for wisdom, discernment, and charity toward one another, as we seek to be committed to both God’s Word, and toward the unity in the body of Christ. It also required us to be both respectful toward the civil authorities God placed over us and be courageous in being able to critically evaluate them from a biblical perspective. The intense process of searching for God’s truth, wisdom, and grace made us all stronger toward God, toward truth, and toward building the community of Christ as Veritas.
We are humbled and thankful to God for guiding us through this process and revealing his glory to us, as a sign of his blessing to come for the rest of the year.
Dr. David Kim | August 21, 2020
An Education for Heavenly Citizens | August 14, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Greetings in the name of Christ our Lord,
An unforgettable summer has already come and gone. We are at the doorsteps of what is probably going to be an incredibly unique year. Back in March, people were talking about how there is going to be a new norm, and I could not imagine what that would look alike. Well, we are all beginning to feel the new norm. The way we do just about everything has changed—including education.
But, throughout the summer, I have had some opportunities to meditate on how all this new norm may be a blessing for us all. Since then, I gained a new hope during all these trials. A new perspective. A new delight.
At the SCL online conference, I attended a seminar by Todd Buras of Baylor University, on teaching moral philosophy as a capstone class. After the seminar, I immediately email Dr. Buras, thanking him and asking him for his PPT. And then I added, “Btw, I have fond memories from my three years at Baylor, especially Dr. Ralph Wood and Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey.” To my surprise, Dr. Buras emailed me back that same day saying, “It was my pleasure. By the way, those two professors are two of my true friends.” And then the following morning, to my shock, I received a long email from each of those two professors, updating me about their lives, and inquiring about me with warmest and kindest words. It was then, that I realized, that some of the motivating forces in my life were teachers who genuinely cared for me, and who pointed the way to the heavenly realities in Christ. As I was reading those emails, it was as if I was Jacob with the stairways to heaven before him.
To me this is the promise of classical education. It helps our children to experience heaven on earth. It helps our children to see the extraordinary beauty of God amid seemingly ordinary things. It helps our children to experience the love of God, amid the valleys and deserts of our lives.
All of this became clearer as I re-read The Great Divorce with all our faculty and staff. The point of the entire book is captured by this line:
“Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.”
If we teach our children to delight in God in all areas of life, then they will learn to love and delight in everyone else around them, and they will realize that they have been living in Heaven, in spite of all the chaos of the world, all along.
I want to invite you to partner with me, our staff and faculty, to help your children and your family to gain that eternal perspective in this amazingly special year.
Dr. David Kim | August 14, 2020
For Such a Time as This: An Unprecedented Opportunity | July 11, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Thank you for participating in last week’s meetings to discuss about the re-opening plans. I also had a follow up meeting with a small group of parents, and then a meeting with the PTF officers, and another meeting with teachers. Several things were accomplished through the meetings.
1. A clearer picture of the different needs of different families. In times like this, it is important for each family to understand the different needs of other families, because whatever choice each family makes, they are called to be considerate of the needs of other families.
2. A re-affirmation of the school’s commitment to serve all the families. Because of the various needs of the families, Veritas will develop creative ways to accommodate the various needs of all the families.
3. A presentation of the safety measures & technology the school will implement—Plexiglass sneezeguard (when desks are less than 6 feet apart), face masks/shields, online livestream technology, cleaning/disinfecting schedules, drop-off/pick-up procedures, staggered breaks/lunches, temperatures gauges, etc.
4. A clearer picture of realistic options—5-day on-campus/concurrent class model and 2-day on campus/3-day online hybrid model. In either case, we will be able to accommodate 5-day on campus and 5-day online students. For the primary, we will be able to make decisions by each class.
5. A better understanding of the challenges facing teachers, and the adjustments they are making—Whichever model we decide to go with, teachers are preparing to incorporate concurrent classes, whenever necessary, as well as to switch completely online, whenever necessary.
As specific details of the re-opening become more clear, its implications for the community and for the education as a whole is also becoming more clear:
1. A greater understanding and commitment to a Christ-centered education— Many Veritas parents have expressed their appreciation of the high-quality online education that teachers provided in the Spring. Parents are realizing that the difference is the fact that Veritas teachers, despite the online delivery, are still discipling students, and transferring a way of life, and not just imparting information. Everyone at Veritas agree that this discipleship model of education works better in person than online. Yet, we also recognize that it is this discipleship model of education that makes Veritas online education more effective than a secular online education. So, whichever model each family will choose, Veritas will be more committed to the discipleship model of education.
2. A greater partnership between parents and teachers— Because of the different needs of the families, and because of the challenges of online education, and because of the various challenges brought on by COVID-19, we are in greater need of parent-teacher partnership than ever before, to disciple our children in the Lord. We need more honesty, more humility, more faith in Christ, and more love for each other to bring about the flourishing of the soul of each child.
May the Lord bring Veritas community together for such a time as this to reveal his grace and truth in unprecedented ways.
Dr. David Kim | July 11, 2020
Impact of Covid-19 | July 10, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
The last two weeks have seen a new chapter in the social unrest in the US and around the world, after the entire world has been put on a pause through the COVID-19.
Whatever impact both of these turmoils are having on us as communities and individuals, it is a wake-up call on two harsh realities of life: the fragility of both the physical and the socio-political aspects of human life. Both are results of sin. Sin brought both the natural chaos and socio-political chaos into this world. And it will continue to rage until the end of the world.
There are no quick solutions to these problems. Even if a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered, we can be threatened by other new viruses and other forms of natural disasters. For the problem of racism, we all know the problems are deeper than socio-political aspects.
At the core of the problems that we are facing is our loss or lack of humanity. COVID-19 situation is testing how we should respond as human beings. The protests and riots are testing the same. How should we treat one another as human beings in the midst of trials? How can we bring justice and mercy at the same time? How can we truly be reconciled to one another at a deeper level than merely “social justice”.
I believe God is using these two situations to wake us up to the underlying problems, as well as to the underlying solution: a Christ-centered liberal arts education.
When we look back in history, it was during some of the greatest times of socio-political turmoils that we have seen major educational reforms. In the 4th and 5th century, in the wake of the fall of Rome, non-Christians were blaming Christians for the fall of Rome, and Augustine responded with a clear vision of the City of God, and laid out a vision for classical Christian education in his De Doctrina Christiana. In the 8th century, when England was being terrorized by the Vikings, Charlemagne called Alcuin of York to bring about an educational reform that led to social and political stability. In the 15th century, when Italy was at the peak of their tribal warfare, Renaissance along with educational reforms brought stability in the land. At the beginning of the 20th century, when WW II was about to break out, C. S. Lewis gave a speech about the importance of learning during war-time, a period which gave birth to the flourishing of Christian literature from the pens of Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers, which led to the current revival of classical education.
Thus, we can take heart in the face of great upheavals of our time. It did not happen by accident. In fact, historically and providentially viewed, it happened for a great purpose. We need a wake up call to see what are the roots of the problems of our generation, and return to the fundamentals of raising up a generation that loves the Lord and that is armed with the tools of learning, so that they can bring about a fresh time of revival in the world, as it has happened before.
Dr. David Kim | July 10, 2020
We Praise the Lord for His Goodness Throughout the year! | May 29, 2020
Dear Veritas Parents,
Once again, we praise the Lord for his goodness throughout the year!
As I participated in the Primary and Secondary Promotions this week, I was overwhelmed at the ways God blessed each and every student. Just in case you did not attend, please watch the recording of those promotions through the link provided in this newsletter.
As so many parents have commented in the past, everyone is blessed when each teacher explains what specific character trait each student has grown in. It is a short summary, but since we are like a big family, we can all understand and agree exactly what the teacher is describing and celebrate God’s perfect blessing to each child.
This year, I was particularly moved and awestruck by the speeches made by the 6th graders and 8th graders. Every student spoke with such conviction and grace, that we were deeply moved. We could tell that their minds and hearts have been transformed throughout the year, by the work of the Holy Spirit, and by the love poured into their lives by parents and teachers. I was so moved by these speeches, that I shared with everyone that these students, who had the advantage of starting classical education earlier than the previous graduates, will take the classical education to the next level at Veritas. Once again, it renewed my hope in the power of a comprehensively Christ-centered, classical education.
Veritas is still young, this is our 8th year. Only 5 years since we have been a 5-days/week school. And there are many small challenges due to the small size and resources of our school. But listening to testimony of these students and teachers during the promotion once again affirmed my conviction, that everything is secondary to our focus on Christ in every aspect of education. Christ is sufficient for all the needs of the parents, teachers, and students.
Compared with last year, Veritas has grown leaps and bounds in every aspect: administratively, academically, in the unity and quality of our faculty, curriculum development, and in our community. And I am convinced that the “secret sauce” in all these growth is our focus on Christ. We can analyze our growth and our potential growth in various terms, but it is our intentional focus on Christ which is the fountainhead of our actual growth. When people say that they love Veritas’ community, it is a community that is continually being built around our bond to Christ. When people say that they love Veritas’ academic training, it is the Christ-centered integration of all subjects that build up children’s sharp discernment and moral imagination. When people say that they love Veritas’ teachers, it is their personal commitment to Christ that enables them to lead each student to Christ.
Dr. David Kim | May 29, 2020
An Unbelievably Great Year! | May 22, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
It is the last week of school. All the classes are finished. We just have the promotions and graduations left. It has been an unbelievably great year. I am so thankful for so many things.
I am thankful for all the new families that joined our school this year, and who were able to acclimate into the Veritas community and the classical vision. I am thankful for all the older families for continual growth as parents and as a community. I am thankful for amazing teachers, who not only genuinely loved their students, but who discipled them and led them closer to God in so many ways. I am thankful for an amazing office and support staff, who worked so hard to provide the support for the growing needs in all aspects of the school.
But I am most thankful for the fellowship that has been and is being forged among the members of Veritas community. It is a unique fellowship because of its unique vision of radical discipleship in Christ. It is our common vision and common love that brings us together. We may have begun our journey with vast amount of differences, but every day, as we draw closer to Christ and his vision for our families, we draw closer to each other. I believe these are the very foundations of the City that God is building. And the impact of those fellowships will go much beyond the walls of Veritas. It will impact our culture and your children’s children.
I am excited about the next phase of growth, as we prepare for next year. Because of all the great evidences of God’s grace this year, I am reminded of the words of the apostle Peter in the beginning of the early church. May the Lord bless and keep you and your children.
“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39)
Dr. David Kim | May 22, 2020
Coronavirus, Christ, and Education | May 15, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Greetings in the name of Christ,
I hope you and your family are safe and well. Looking at the news these days, we hear about how Coronavirus is not going away easily. To all of us, it is a disheartening news. We all wonder, why is there no vaccine yet? What are all the great scientists doing? But meditating on God’s Word, we begin to realize that this is all good for us, that God has a clear purpose in allowing this situation to be prolonged. Meditating on Psalm 97, we see that God is the one who shakes the earth: “His lightenings lit up the world; the earth saw and trembled” (Ps 97:14). God is showing us through COVID-19 that man is powerless, no matter how advanced our technology may be. Just when mankind is so dependent on the power of the internet, for business, education, entertainment, and for just about everything else, God shows his mercy by showing us that man is powerless. COVID-19 also reminds us that God is all-powerful. With such a tiny “bug,” how can anything or anyone bring the entire world to its knees, except God? Furthermore, God’s power in Coronavirus should unsettle us. “Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols.” (Ps 97:7)
As I meditate on the idols of the parents in the task of raising our children, there were many:
The idol of parents evading the primary responsibility of discipling our children.
The idol of making the educational goals of our children to be those of worldly success
The idol of enjoying various pursuits in our lives more than God, and thus passing those idols down to our children
The idol of exasperating our children with our own temperament, expectations, and threats, and not with love and discipline.
The idol of not trusting in the many promises of God in the Scripture for our families, and not obeying how we ought to live as families (e.g., Dt 6, Eph 6, Ps 127, Ps 128)
But the good news is that through COVID-19 the power of the cross is revealed. Through the cloud and darkness (Ps 97:2) of the cross, God preserves the lives of his saints (Ps 97:10). And to those who trust him, he sows a seed of light in them (Ps 97:11). Light represents power. It is the power of revelation, understanding, life, strength, and hope. Do you see that? God desires that he sow the seed of light in you amid COVID-19. God desires that you abandon your worldly goals for your children, and your evasion of your glorious calling as fathers and mothers, and have the light in your heart to believe in God’s promises for your family so much that you begin to share your hope with your children, to take time to read and share the stories of Christ in Scripture and in your lives. The light that God is sowing in your heart is an evidence that God is powerful and that God is good! May the Lord cause your hearts to rejoice in the Lord!
Dr. David Kim | May 15, 2020
Developing a Christ-centered Family Culture | May 8, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
I hope you and your family are safe and well. It is a strange time we are living in. So much technology. But the entire world is at the mercy of a virus. But it only takes a little bit of biblical thinking to know that God is allowing all of this to take place for a purpose. I know that at least a part of that purpose is to give God’s people a chance to return to God’s design for families. Everybody knows that families are the building blocks of a great society. But Christians lack in understanding God’s design for families, and the practical dynamics of a family life, and its powerful effect on children and on shaping a Christ-honoring culture.
I will save the details for a later time, but here are some basic principles and practices, and a short list of recommended books to develop a Christ-centered family culture.
Principles & Practices
Principle: God’s grace must reign over the practical aspects of family dynamic.
Practice: For any problem of any member of the family, take it to the cross, before you talk about it, and take it to the cross together during and after you talk about it.
Principle: Family “DNA” must be recoded with God’s Word daily. Practice: God commanded parents to children “fear of the Lord” and “commandments.” Both can be done by reading tiny bits of God’s Word daily to re-set the orientations and affections of all members of the family. No substitute.
Principle: Clear boundaries need to be set as a way of practicing wisdom and love.
Practice: Set up a “no-electronic media” policy during the designated time of study. Set up a limit on how much electronic media can be used daily, under the condition of finishing homework and house chores. Emphasize that boundaries are means to safety, freedom, and ultimately love. Be creative in what children can do within those boundaries.
Principle: Create a space and time to read & discuss great stories which reflect God’s truth, goodness, and beauty.
Practice: Have the students read it to the parents, and ask them questions to help them understand the rich meaning of stories, both fiction and non-fiction. As much as possible, take 15-20 minutes every evening, and take a couple of hours over the weekend. It is important that parents choose stories that will help them to develop moral imagination and hope for the entire family.
- Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Rachel Jankovic)
- Recovering a Christian Vision for the Family (C. R. Wiley)
- Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God (Voddie Baucham)
- Standing on the Promises (Douglas Wilson)
- Reforming Marriage (Douglas Wilson)
- Why Children Matter (Douglas Wilson)
Dr. David Kim | May 8, 2020
Guidelines on Thriving at Home with Children | May 1, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
I hope your family is safe and well.
It has been five weeks since your children began online education. Some of you may be adjusting better than others with the new situation of being with children at home all day long. Depending on how you respond to this challenge, it could either be a negative experience or a positive one for the entire family. I would like to recommend some general guidelines, and some specific recommendations so that your family is not just surviving but thriving during this time.
- Create a Clear Structure for the Day. Students should wake up at a regular time and sleep at a regular time, with sufficient amount of sleep. Creating a pattern and rhythm to life is essential. Train the students to do this on their own as much as possible. A general schedule could be posted somewhere for everyone to see. Keep it simple, and not too rigid. The order is generally schoolwork, housework, and family time/free time. Begin the day with reading from a few verses from Proverbs and pray together for God’s guidance.
- Keep Students Accountable for their School Work. You never had so much control over your children’s education, while getting all the help. Do not be afraid of setting new expectation. In your family meeting, establish simple clear rules based on God’s Word, and encourage everyone to follow through. Regarding homework, your expectation should be that your child finishes the assigned homework for the day without any distraction. This includes using computer or phone for anything else other than homework. The value of this discipline cannot be overstated. Real progress in developing critical thinking cannot be expected if the student is not focusing while learning, including the live sessions and homework. The other values are training in responsibility and work ethic. Work closely with your teachers to make sure that your child is learning, and not just getting by with good grades.
- Teach Your Children Life. A great advantage of online education is that you have an unprecedented opportunity to train your children on good, life-long skills of life, such as chores and contributing to the well-being of your family. Depending on your family’s unique make-up, make sure each student is assigned to a fair amount of chores. Make sure there is regular group project, so that chores turn into fellowship and training in teamwork.
- Limit Technology. First, adults should set an example for children. Besides the school-related screen time, students should not be on the screen (all types, including phones, social media, games, TV, ipad, etc) for more than 1 to 2 hours a day. Bedroom should be free of electronic temptations before sleep time. Get passwords to your children’s devices. Use filters, and accountability software like Covenanteyes.com. Have periodic media-fasting together. Regularly discuss what is edifying way to use the limited screen time, both methods and content.
Create Family Traditions. This should not be for children’s sake only. Family traditions are Dt 5 ways of creating opportunities for parents and children to enjoy God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. Schole, which is where we get the word “school,” means “undistracted time to focus on things that matter the most.” Schole can apply to the ways your children learn things on their own, as well as the way your entire family learns God’s truth, goodness, and beauty together. This could include Morning 10 minute Family Devotional, After Dinner Conversation about what they learned that day that reflects God’s truth, goodness, and beauty, or After Dinner Reading of a great book together. It could include board or card games. Finally, a regular walking or hiking even around the neighborhood is highly beneficial. Ask your children to come up with a list of 20 things they would like to do (that is non-electronic/computer) when they have free time, and hang that on the refrigerator door. When they have done their homework and chores, they can pick from the list.
Dr. David Kim | May 1, 2020
Integration of Christian Worldview in Education as a Game Changer | April 24, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Peace and grace in the name of Christ. I hope your family is doing well.
I hope that despite the many new challenges you have been able to find blessings from God.
I wanted to both update you on some of the things we are doing to prepare for next year, and to encourage you with how integration of faith and Christian worldview into your child’s education will make the ultimate difference in the kind of person and leader your child will be in the future.
First the update. In staff/faculty personnel, we have been working on both further training the current teachers and raising the bar of criteria for new staff/faculty. We are planning on spending 2 additional weeks in the summer for teachers to work on curriculum. All staff & teachers will also be encouraged to attend the free online ACCS conference this summer. (Parents may participate as well for free!)
On curriculum development, we have already begun the process of refining goals for each grade, developing a clearer scope & sequence, updating textbooks and teacher resources, and designing lesson plans that are even more consistent with time-tested classical methods.
On marketing, we have been developing our new-formatted newsletter, and have begun to work on a brand-new website, with a professional web-designer. We are also planning to produce booklets that will explain our vision and program in much greater detail. On school signage, we have been given the permission by the Branches church to put up a banner on the fence.
On preparation of the rooms, we have created a Campus Beautification Team to decorate the rooms with elegant, classical designs in line with the aesthetic vision of classical education, and to the maximum extent allowed by the Branches church. You may also know that we will gain 3 small rooms in Building A next year, which enabled us to open the Junior Kindergarten class with 4 students enrolled already.
But all this preparation serves as decorations on the most important aspect of education at Veritas: the integration of faith and Christian worldview with every aspect of education. With every year, I am growing in my conviction that discipling model of education, integration of faith/Christian worldview, and classical methods of teaching are the “secret sauces” to education that produces truly great leaders in the world. Here are the hard results you can expect:
- A Genuine Deep Hunger for God and His Kingdom. Every year, I see students graduating from Veritas with a deep hunger for God and his kingdom. At every major fork in the road, they will choose to follow God and his kingdom, and not the world. This is the material of truly great leaders.
- Persuasive Public Defenders of the Christian Faith. By the time students graduate from Veritas, they know that they are in the frontlines of historic spiritual battles. In response to God’s call in 1 Peter 3:15, they are “prepared” to provide a persuasive and reasonable presentation of the Christian Faith, not just to defend, but also to impact the culture and the policies of our nation.
- Compassionate and Visionary Leaders. Classically-trained students know how to face challenges, analyze them at the root of the problems, propose God-honoring solutions, and communicate them to their community with compassion.
- Truly Brilliant Scientists. A personal relationship with Christ and a deep conviction of Christian worldview are sine qua non (absolute essential) of producing a true scientist. Besides witnessing students at Veritas grow to love science and math, Reading Rodney Stark’s For the Glory of God has done more than any other book to convince me of this.
Dr. David Kim | April 24, 2020
Fulfillment of God’s Promises | April 17, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
I hope you and your family are doing well amidst a historic upheaval in the world. As one parent put it, “it is surreal.” But as I have been reflecting on God’s Word, I am more encouraged to see God’s sovereignty behind all this, and that with a proper perspective and attitude, much of this can turn into blessings. Yesterday I was reflecting on Ps 85 where through great trials, God calls us not only to repent and turn our hearts to him, but also to return to the fear of God and walking in obedience to His ways. This morning, I was reflecting on Romans 5:1-5, which assures me that God wants to produce joy and hope of his glory through suffering.
One of the chief ways that our situation can turn into blessing is by parents spending time with their children to remember and learn about our God together. Some of you remember me saying at the beginning of the year that the reason I prayerfully chose the theme of discipleship this year was to emphasize the need for parents (and teachers) to spend time together with children learning about God. And covid-19 situation provides us a perfect excuse to do that. I am sure God wants us to do that, because that’s how God’s wisdom and virtue is passed down from one generation to the next. That’s how we experience the glory of God.
Here are some tips on what you could do with your children in fulfillment of God’s promises.
- Read the Bible everyday in the morning, before or after dinner. Read from Psalms, or a Bible Reading Plan that mixes 3 or 4 parts of the Bible evenly. Keep it short, max of 1 chapter, 10-15 minutes. A parent should lead this. Parent leading makes all the difference. Even if children do the reading and praying, a parent needs to take responsibility of leading this.
- Keep a Journal. At Veritas, all students 3rd grade and up should be keeping Commonplace, which is like a journal, except that in a Commonplace, students write down a passage from anything they read or heard that is inspiring, insightful and encouraging. Parents should begin a Commonplace/Journal. This is the gamechanger. Many families in classical education are doing this. Just sharing around the dinner table what people have in their Commonplace will revitalize the family.
- Walk Together. There is a reason why in Dt 6, God mentions walking together as a family. That is not because they did not have TV back then. It is where family can really share their love toward one another, and toward God. It is where real discipleship can take place. Whenever I walk with my family, which is very frequent these days, I feel great because I get exercise, and our bond becomes stronger. Parents need to make sure that all of our conversations are edifying and God-honoring.
- Read a Classic Book Together. Reading great books should be an extension and application of reading the Bible. It will make your family rich in wisdom and love. If you are limited in English, there are the audio versions, or have your children read to you, even if the teachers do not require them to. I will make available a short list of recommended books for families to read together.
Dr. David Kim | April 17, 2020
Peace and Grace in the name of our Lord Jesus | April 9, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Peace and Grace in the name of our Lord Jesus.
I hope you and your family are safe. As we are faced with the peak of casualties from the Coronavirus worldwide, we cannot but sober up and reflect on the sovereignty of God behind this historic pandemic. It is too difficult to understand why these things are happening, but as those who trust in the God of Jesus Christ, we believe these things are happening for some ultimate good. While meditating on Psalm 78, the 4th Quarter Bible memory verses, I would like to share how this passage may shed some light on what we are experiencing.
Ps 78 is about the importance of transferring a way of life, from parents to children (v.1-6). The primary means by which faith is transferred is by parents sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives and in the lives of God’s people in history and Scripture.
The rest of Psalms 78 is devoted to an example of what parents might share with their children (v.9-72). At the first reading, or several readings, one might become a bit discouraged, like me. The long passage reads like a litany of all the wrong things that the Isralites did against God, and how God became angry at first, then softened his heart, and gave them another chance. Repeat. One might wonder, how is telling our children this kind of story educational? How does this pass down God’s faith from one generation to the next?
Good questions. I had the same questions. After patiently meditating upon these passages, here are some principles of discipleship story-telling.
- We need to tell stories about our failure to trust in God, and their terrible consequences. This long passage is full of them, from the fear in our children in the face of challenges (v.9), to God’s rejection of entire communities (v.67). According to Dr. John Patrick, Jewish people have a high sense of ethical standards, because they grew up hearing about what happened to their ancestors when they turned away from God. The educational principle here is this: We cannot expect our children to follow a high ethical standard, if they do not know that there are terrible consequences for our sins.
- We need to explain how God showed his mercy despite our failure to trust and obey. We must not fail to follow up with explaining God’s mercy, lest we fall into legalism, which is more deadly than violating the letter of God’s laws. But we must not share God’s mercy as if God extends mercy automatically or that he owes us mercy. He does not have to. Sometimes he does not, for a while. So, when God does extend mercy, even in limited ways, they are real. We should be humbled and thankful. Although we are at the “peak” of mortality rate of Coronavirus, we should be thankful that we are not hit like the Spanish Flu of 1917. We have been spared.
- We need to tell real, honest, specific stories about God’s acts of mercy and grace in the life of our family, and in the lives of larger communities that we belong to. For our children to really trust in God wholeheartedly, our stories must be as it is, with all its rawness. We should use age-appropriate language, expressions, sensitivity to the audience and context, but children need to know the truth, and they get it, better than adults. Both the depth of sin, and the heights of God’s mercy.
- We need to share the ultimate good that those redemptive stories produce. Many times, we cannot see an ultimate good in the many sufferings that we go through yet. But it is there. In Ps 78, the Psalmist ends the long history of Israelites’ failures and God’s mercy with one specific good: God brought forth David, to “shepherd Jacob his people, Israelite his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.” Despite David’s own failures, we cannot think of the history of Israelites as well as biblical history without king David. A man after God’s own heart. A poor shadow, but nevertheless a shadow, of Christ to come. What ultimate good is God bringing out of your life, your children’s lives, and our life together? Please share them with your children. May the Lord bless your family.
Dr. David Kim | April 9, 2020
Thanks to Everyone Involved! | April 3, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
It has been a week since we began the online education. It feels like it’s been a month! I want to thank each of our families for your cooperation in making the transition. I am so thankful to our staff and faculty for their huge sacrifice of time, energy, and love in such a time as this. We are discovering that in many ways, online education is much more demanding and exhausting than the onground education. What amazes me is how the worst of times can bring the best of us. What drives us to go above and beyond the normal call of duty? The growing conviction in my life is that it is the result of the love of God in us. It is like a seed that springs forth after a stormy weather, except we are still in the storm. So, we are ultimately thankful to God for all the blessings in disguise for purifying our faith and love through these trials.
Another unexpected blessing that the COVID-19 situation brings us is the fact that families get to spend much time together. Who could have imagined that all the crazy speed of modernism and all the social disruptions that it has created could be put on hold like this, as if God just pressed a pause button to a video? Who could have imagined that the biblical norm of parents having the time and the leisure to spend time with their children talking about God is ever possible? Well, nothing is impossible with God!
But I pray that none of us take this historic opportunity lightly. At the core of classical education, I have been repeatedly saying from the founding of our school, are the parents who fear and love God, and who take their time to disciple their children’s heart, by 1) telling them of the glorious deeds of the Lord and the wonders of what he has done (Ps 78:4), 2) teaching them God’s Word and discussing how it applies to their lives (Dt 6:4-8), and 3) cultivating a Christ-centered lifestyle in their children (Eph 6:4). I believe this is the primary means by which our children are discipled, and everything we do through classical education is to support parents to do that better.
Please take advantage of this special time to return to God’s plan to train our children in the Lord, and God’s plan to bless your families. Our faculty and staff at Veritas are more committed than ever before to help you in this process.
With Prayer and Gratitude,
Dr. David Kim | April 3, 2020
Grace and mercy of our God to your families! | March 17, 2020
Dear Veritas Families,
Grace and mercy of our God to your families!
We began the Faculty Training meeting this morning with a meditation on Psalm 11. I want to share the same message with you.
“In the Lord I take refuge” (v.1): This is our prayer. Our cry. Amid a worldwide pandemic, this ought to be our prayer. Why? Because we are tempted by what follows next in the verse.
“How can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to your mountain’s” (v.1b). In a crisis like this, we are tempted to be overcome with fear and to flee “like a bird.” But whether we take refuge in our Lord or flee to our own comfort zone is no small matter. It has to do with everything.
“For behold, the wicked bend the bows, If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” This is ultimately a spiritual battle. “Wicked bend the bow” reminds me of the creaking sound of the bows of the army of the Orcs, just before the battle of Helm’s Deep. Satan is aiming at destroying our foundations, our faith in God. Satan is very smart. He knows where to hit the foundations. If he destroys our faith in God, he knows everything else a God-glorifying civilization and culture will crumble.
But as the history attests, the worst of times can be the best of times, for those who look to God. David, in this Psalm, looks to that God. God who is sovereign.
“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyelids test the children of man.” God is ultimately behind the Coronavirus. He is not the author of evil, but he allows it to happen to test the children of man. He is waking us up from our deep spiritual slumber. It’s going to take something strong to jolt us out of our spiritual slumber of self-reliance, materialism, and oblivion to God of creation and history.
“The Lord tests the righteous, let him rain coals on the wicked” These are times of reckoning. God is judging. Consequences for the righteous and the wicked.
“For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” But it is not too late. God saved those who looked to him during the time of Noah’s flood. God saved those who looked to trusted him during the ten plagues of Egypt. God will save those who look to him during the Coronavirus pandemic. But beholding his face is not just asking God to save us. It is making God the very object of our safety, joy, and peace.
Obvious application to education is that if the goals of parenting our children is anything less than leading our children to make God the object of their refuge, joy, and peace, it is a great time to wake up from our slumber.
Dr. David Kim | March 17, 2020
Pascal’s Wager Applied to Parenting and Education | March 7, 2020
You may have heard of Blaise Pascal, one of the giants in the history of math and literature. That’s right–both math and literature. He had an IQ of above 160. Blaise’s father gave Pascal a classical education. Blaise studied Latin and Greek early on, and started to explore geometry on his own at age 12. He came up with theorems, such as what came to be known as the “Pascal’s triangle.” At 16, he wrote a mathematical treatise on the properties of the sections of a cone at age 16. At, 19, he invented the calculating machine to help his father’s business. He wrote many other treatises that laid the foundations of math and physics. Before 20, Pascal became well known in the academic circles. Living in a city like Paris, Pascal was also exposed to a worldly and fashionable life. He became rich and famous.
But he was not happy. He was living in a time of self-evident religious faith, led by skepticism of Montaigne and the rational empiricism of Descartes. His mind constantly hungered for truth, but his association with these “free-thinkers” did not help. Things began to change when his father started to attend Jansenist renewal movement, a theological movement that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace and predestination. At the encouragement of his father, Pascal began to study the Bible seriously. After many years of wandering, one night, while reading John chapter 17, Pascal had a powerful spiritual experience, which he quickly wrote down and stitched to his coats and told no one.
That night, Pascal experienced what he calls “mind on fire,” meaning he was not only filled with true joy which he never experienced before, but he began to understand the spiritual world of God, soul, and purpose of life, in connection with everything else in life. He realized that the problem with most men and women of his time, the Enlightenment thinkers, was that they believed in progress by human reason alone, and that way of thinking is an act of man’s rebellion against God, and that it limits man’s ability to understand the things of God, life, and true happiness.
Pascal wrote all these deep insights down in a series of notes later named “Pensees” in defense of the Jansenist community which was under heavy persecution from the Catholic church. The result was that his writings were so brilliant that Voltaire, the greatest of the Enlightenment thinkers (an atheist), considered Pascal the finest prose writer of France.
At the core of his challenge to the skeptics of his day is what Pascal calls his “wager”: Trust and obey the living Christ and see if everything else in life is not going to make better sense. Either trust your own reason for everything, or trust that Christ’s forgiveness and love is what you need and see that your mind will be set on fire.
Applying Pascal’s wager to our parenting and education will go something like this: Either choose to raise your children focusing only on the academic progress, or believe that the mere focus on academic progress is a great idol, and that true understanding of all things (spiritual and natural) and happiness that follows comes only when parents and children humbly receive the grace of God in Jesus Christ. That’s Pascal’s legacy. That’s Pascal’s wager.
Dr. David Kim | March 7, 2020
Insights on Education from Quintilian | March 3, 2020
Last weekend, I participated in a retreat for classical educators hosted by Alcuin Fellowship at Trinity Classical Academy. Last year, we read and discussed Milton’s “On Education.” This year, we discussed Quintilian’s “On the Teaching of Speaking and Writing.” Sitting around in small groups of about ten teachers and administrators, we spent two days chewing on the wisdom of one of the greatest educators in history: Quintilian.
Immediately, you might raise the question: What does a 2000 year-old Roman educator (a contemporary of the apostle Paul) have to do with us? That was initially my question, when I first read Quintilian several years ago. But the more I read these ancients, the more I find them relevant to us today, especially to Christian schools like Veritas.
One of the most important challenges I have received from Quintilian is his equal emphasis on cultivating a good and wise character and the training of skills (eloquence, in this case). This integration of wisdom and eloquence, or character and skill, is embedded into every aspect of education.
To begin with, Quintilian believes that the goal of education is to produce a “perfect orator,” who is defined as “a good man skilled in speaking.” By “perfect,” Quintilian means a “complete orator,” meaning that a vast majority of students, no matter where they are at the beginning, if given a proper and complete education, both intellectually and morally, can become a powerful agent of change for a good society. Without eloquence, wisdom is not effective; Without wisdom, eloquence is harmful. By “wisdom,” Quintilian has in mind something closer to the biblical definition of wise person someone whose character is trained in the classical virtues (justice, fortitude, temperance, courage) and one who is committed to the good of their society. It is nothing like the practical wisdom of our age.
Someone might argue against making “a good man skilled in speaking” as the goal of education. That it is too narrowly focused on speaking. But again Quintilian’s purpose behind speaking is not mere communication. It is communication of virtuous qualities by virtuous people that will create virtuous society. It is a good approximation of biblical goal of “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). Nothing in the modern vision of education comes close to it.
In sum, the challenges that Quintilian bring us are: 1) Education that has a clear hope of producing a virtuous society, 2) A clear conviction that the only way to achieve that goal is by training men and women to be good, 3) The method of training such good men and women are by mentorship (what we call discipleship), and training in eloquence.
In case you wonder what good results Quintilian produced, some of the greatest reformers of nations throughout history, including Luther, Calvin, Edwards, John Adams, Dorothy Sayers, all have cut their teeth on Cicero and Quintilian. They were all “good men (and women) skilled at speaking.” It would do us good to stand on their shoulders.
Dr. David Kim | March 3, 2020
Core Values of Subjects Taught Classically (Part I) | February 24, 2020
Last Friday evening, Veritas teachers gathered at a hotel meeting room in Dana Point for a productive and refreshing overnight work retreat. Especially refreshing and energizing to everyone was when teachers shared their core vision for each subject with one another so that everyone grasped not only a more clear overall vision for each subject and their eternal impact on our children, but also a more clear picture of what each teacher does at each level. Here, I would like to share just a glimpse of those core values we discussed in two subjects: history and philosophy.
History Students study the providence of God, both in redemptive history and general history, so that they clearly see God’s truth, goodness, and beauty, and develop the love and passion to play their critical role in the unfolding drama of God’s story. We shared examples from history how the great history makers all had a deep understanding of history from biblical perspective. A recently published book titled, For the Glory of God by Rodney Stark, proves not only that major scientific advancements were made by Christians, but it was their belief in a monotheistic, personal, moral God that lies behind these great advancements. At Veritas, grammar students learn the “grammar” of history who (biography), what, when (timeline), and where (geography) of history from providential perspective. Logic students learn the why’s and how’s of history causes and consequences, how man’s relationship with God has consequences in history. Rhetoric students learn how to analyze and evaluate people and events in history from a Biblical perspective, sharpening their wisdom through debate.
Philosophy A study of history should culminate in a study of philosophy, which is a study of ideas. Veritas students take 2 years of philosophy in their Junior and Senior years. Combined with history, students will understand how ideas beliefs about what man is, whether there is God, whether there is purpose and meaning in life, and what is truth have radical consequences, good or bad. Greatest leaders in history are Christians who can articulate the wisdom of a Christian view of life. A few examples are Augustine (City of God), C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity), Chesterton (Orthodoxy). Grammar students learn the Christian view of life through songs, catechisms, and Bible memory verses. Logic students learn the “logic” of what they believe by learning the reasonableness of Christian worldview as it is related to all aspects of life, and the Rhetoric students learn to articulate and defend that view in contrast to other belief systems. Thus trained, students of classical education become both counter-cultural yet winsome in the world at the same time, as the recent Cardus study shows.
Dr. David Kim | February 24, 2020
Beatitudes, a Description of Disciples of Christ | February 17, 2020
During the 3-day visit, Dr. Patrick mentioned the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 several times throughout his talks, explaining that his life took a drastic turn when he first meditated on this passage many years ago, and since then almost not a single day goes by without him thinking about some aspect of the Beatitudes.
Dr. Patrick believes that the Sermon on the Mount is about the difference between a disciple of Christ and a mere believer. Since discipleship (“abiding in Christ”) is the theme for Veritas this year, this message is very timely for students as well as for parents.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. We are blessed when we ask God to show us what our hearts look like. It’s never good news, if we are honest. But that’s the beginning of the kingdom of heaven. C. S. Lewis captured this point well in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. When he received his first degree at Oxford, he continued to pursue his second degree. At that time, he came into a circle of about six students, including two students, who along with Lewis would change the spiritual landscape of England for the next 50 years. Within a few weeks of meeting them, the two students convinced Lewis that he is a fool to remain an atheist. Lewis realized for the first time that the human mind could not have come from mindlessness in the universe. Lewis got down on his knees and acknowledged to God, “I am a zoo of ambition, a bedlam of ambition, a harem of lust. My name is legion.” He did not yet become a Christian until a few weeks later. He was coming to terms with the poverty of his spirit.
When we are dead honest with ourselves, we inevitably end up getting to the source of all truth, which is Christ himself, which is at the heart of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we are honest to ourselves, and teach our children to be honest, the rest of our lives will change. Teach your children, “Please don’t ever lie to me.” And whenever your children tell the truth, celebrate first.
Blessed are those who mourn. It’s not enough to see the truth about ourselves. We need to repent. Can we repent? We usually avoid saying sorry in a sincere way. Or we say it in a superficial way to manipulate the hearer. But Jesus teaches that repentance is something God gives. In the story of Cornelius, we know that he came to repent when he found out that the gift of repentance is given to the Gentiles. In other words, we are able to repent only when we realize that it is by God’s grace that we can repent. Lewis says that repentance is not something we do; it is simply a description of what coming to God is like.
As a result, Jesus promises comfort. Lewis wrote famously, “Joy is a perfume that is left behind when God passes by.” Christian joy has nothing whatsoever to do with your situation at the time. He can overwhelm you with joy any time, any where, any place.
Blessed are the meek. Meekness should not be confused with weakness. The Greek word praeis is associated with a word which describes a horse that has been broken in, trained, and ready to be ridden into the battle. When you wake up and begin the day, begin with the prayer, “Lord, ride me into the battle.” It is a tremendously relieving prayer. Sensitive to the slightest touch by the rider, we just need to take the next step, and leave the result to the wisdom of the master.
As a result, Jesus promises that we will inherit the earth. We inherit love, joy, peace, etc, Christ’s full presence on this earth.
When I first heard of Dr. Patrick’s testimony on the Beatitudes about 3 years ago, it was a time of awakening in my life, opening me up to greater level of freedom and joy. Parents, please share this with your children and pray with them, “Lord, help me to be honest about my brokenness, help me to grieve over my sins in the light of your forgiveness, and ride me into the battle every day.”
Dr. David Kim | February 17, 2020
Dr. John Patrick’s Talks on Education, Parenting, and Cultural Renewal | February 10, 2020
Dr. John Patrick’s talks on Education, Parenting, and Cultural Renewal over the 3-day period were truly refreshing and enlightening. He is a rare breed of people who can speak comfortably about so many different subjects, and make it all connect very easily from a Christian perspective.
In the first half of Thursday night, Dr. Patrick spoke about the Parent’s Role in Cultural Renewal. He began by citing that Jews believe Deuteronomy is the reason why they produce more than 30% of the Nobel Prize winners. It lies in storytelling that includes the biblical narrative of the Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Jewish children grow up hearing “And they did evil in the eyes of the Lord” all the time. As a result, they have a strong ethical backbone to their culture. And because they cultivate a strong sense of right and wrong, they cultivate a culture of trust. Dr. Patrick argues, citing many other sources, that trust is the rockbed of a flourishing culture and nation. Where the fear of the Lord is not taught, you can be sure that it is difficult to find trust.
A second major outcome of a culture where parents raise their children to trust and obey the Lord is that they gain wisdom. Dr. Patrick belabors the point that there is no concept of wisdom in modern university. Wisdom is a mumbo-jumbo language to reductionistic atheists who believe only in data and pragmatic results. But for the Jews, wisdom is more important than knowledge. Dr. Patrick said, “Information without knowledge is meaningless, and knowledge without wisdom is dangerous” because wisdom is what provides meaning and purpose to knowledge. And wisdom comes from stories of redemption that children hear from their parents.
Dr. Patrick shared his own life stories about how he grew up, and the lessons he learned about the blessing of raising children. He began with his own story of growing up in a poor working family, with a devout mother, who immediately after being converted, began to pray for his son to return to Congo as a medical missionary. 45 years later, after the death of his mother, Dr. Patrick was invited to go to Congo, and reluctantly he accepted to call, only to find out from his father the fact that his mother had been praying everyday for 30 years for him to go to Congo as a medical missionary, which was an impossible feat because it was very uncommon for a child of a blue collar worker to become a doctor let alone a missionary.
While in Jamaica, before Congo, when Dr. Patrick was only a nominal Christian, his wife suggested that he teach Bible to graduate students, which he did with hesitation, only to result in him realizing that he did not really know the heart of the Bible. While he was reading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, he was challenged that, whenever we are going through spiritual doldrums in our lives, we should ask God to speak to us through a specific Bible passage. When he started to pray for that, God opened his eyes to the Beatitudes, which became his favorite passage in the Bible for the rest of his life.
Briefly expounding on the Beatitudes, Dr. Patrick explained that the first one (“blessed are the poor”) has to do with internal honesty, saying that if we can be dead honest about moral spiritual deficiencies, it is the beginning of living in the Kingdom of Heaven. His favorite is the third one (“blessed are the meek”) saying that the word “meekness” describes a horse that is trained and “broken” to the point that she is totally ready to obey the master into the battle. He mentions a lady who prays at the beginning of everyday, “Lord, ride me into the battle,” meaning “I will obey you totally.”
Dr. Patrick shared the story of how he spent time reading to his four children, and now his grandchildren, how he would send his grandchildren to Africa every summer, and how such an upbringing in the redemptive narratives and service has made his children not only very bright, but very happy and active in serving the community. One of his children is a professor of Stochastic Analysis in the University of Ottawa, a brilliant teacher. This son was once offered a professorship at Stanford University, which he took, and then left two weeks into it, telling his father that he does not want to lose his soul at that university. One of his daughters is working in Malawi and has adopted 99 orphans as her own. Dr. Patrick says that he believes his four children’s marriages are happier than his own, and that his grandchildren are even happier than their parents.
For the second half of the talk, Dr. Patrick talked about the cultural history from 1277 to the present, showing how western civilization grew because of those who were seeking the glory of God, and how the western civilization began to be disintegrated when it lost the sight of God, beginning from the Enlightenment. More specifically related to education, he pointed out that children who are not brought up reading God’s Word do not have a deep understanding of the Western Civilization, since the most significant progress has been shaped by biblical worldview. (See below for books recommended by Dr. Patrick related to this talk)
For those of us who were able to spend more time with him on other days, we were able to get much more details about his family members, the great people he worked with, the impacts he made in many places around the world, and many books that he recommended us to read. Here is a list of some of the books that he recommended, some with brief descriptions.
Allen Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, especially the 1st Chapter. Dr. Patrick loves to quote Bloom on how the loss of biblical narrative in modern education is responsible for dumbing down education.
Peter Kreeft’s Best Things in Life. An excellent book for Junior High school and High School students to raise fundamental questions about the most important things in life, in the context of the pop culture that surrounds them.
Robert Frost’s “Whitetailed Hornet.” A poem which Dr. Patrick quoted at Harvard in persuading the atheist liberal women at Harvard why pro-choice is bad.
As our comparisons were stoutly upward
With gods and angels, we were men at least,
But little lower than the gods and angels.
But once comparisons were yielded downward,
Once we began to see our images
Reflected in the mud and even dust,
‘Twas disillusion upon disillusion.
We were lost piecemeal to the animals,
He is saying that if we always set our human standards compared to animals (“yielded downward”), we will treat each other like animals, which the pro-choice people are. Rather, we need to constantly compare ourselves upward, as we are meant to.
Watership Down (Richard Adams). Dr. Patrick recommends this children’s book (and film, the 1978 version is better), a parable about 4 ways of life, showing us both the dangers of a way of life without meaning and purpose, and a way of life of purpose, love, and sacrifice.
- Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt, and Signature in the Cell
- David Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales
Both of these books put the nail in the coffin of Darwinism
- Wendell Berry’s novels. Watch With Me, Fidelity. Stories about agrarian life, community, and God.
- Lesslie Newbegin’s Foolishness to the Greeks. On the importance of tacit knowledge.
- Robert Fogel’s Fourth Great Awakening. On the list of virtue for American progress
- Sense of Purpose
- Vision of Opportunity
- A sense of mainstream of life & work
- Strong family ethic
- A sense of community
- A capacity to engage in diverse groups
- An ethic of benevolence
- A work ethic
- A sense of discipline
- Capacity to focus and concentrate one’s efforts
- A capacity to resist the love of hedonism
- A capacity for self education
- Thirst for knowledge
- Appreciation for equality
- Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. With introduction by Harvie Mansfield. A classic on what makes America great, and different from democracy in Europe.
- Alistair McIntire’s After Virtue. In this seminal work, the author shows the root of the decline of virtue in our modern age, a loss in teleology, the purpose for our virtue.
- C. S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man C. S. Lewis’s classic work on the problem of modern education: Dr. Patrick’s favorite line: “For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique.”
- Father Lukefahr’s Four Levels of Happiness. The author argues that we confuse true happiness with false happiness, which is first three levels of happiness without the fourth level of happiness of experience of God himself.
- Rodney Stark’s For the Glory of God. The author argues that throughout history people acting for the glory of God have shaped our modern culture.
Dr. David Kim | February 10, 2020