Significance of Battle for the American Mind | July 7, 2022
Dr. David Kim | July 7, 2022
Beholding the Glory of Christ and Classical Education| June 21, 2022
What does beholding the glory of Christ have to do with classical education? Everything. This conviction is stated in the mission of Veritas: To disciple students to delight, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ through classical education in every area of life. But what does it mean to delight, discern, and display the glory of Christ? And why through classical education?
First, we need to think about what it means to delight, discern, and display the glory of Christ. The three verbs here describe specific actions—to delight, discern, and display—which correspond to the three stages or aspects of classical education: trivium. The three actions correspond to the heart, head, and hand, indicating the engagement of the whole person. But I want to focus on the fact that the three actions are all acts of “beholding” (or “receiving” and “responding”) what God does, as opposed to acts of “forming” or “making” something. This is not to deny that education involves training our students to have knowledge or skills with which they make and form things. These actions emphasize the priority of receiving—rejoicing, recognizing, and reflecting—the glory of Christ, with the understanding that abilities to form things that are meaningful and honoring to God flow only as a result of receiving and beholding the glory of God.
Why is the act of receiving or beholding Christ a priority? Because Christ is not only the source of our salvation, but also the source of our sanctification. He is our life (Jn. 11:25), wisdom, sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). We become more like Christ, not by mere moral reformation, but by more fully receiving who He is to us and for us.
That brings us to the next question of: “ How do we receive Christ, or how do we delight, discern and display the glory of Christ?” First, by beholding Christ in the context of all areas of life. That’s what classical Christian education excels in. It seeks to behold the truth, goodness, and beauty of God in every area of life. Classical Christian education is the most extensive and comprehensive kind of education because it seeks the glory of God in all of creation and in the highest of human achievement, not for the sake of man’s praise, but for the sake of enjoying God.
More specifically, the way we behold the glory of Christ varies in different fields of study. In the subject of history, we study the glory of God as revealed in time and over time. John Mark Reynolds, in his book When Athens Met Jerusalem, argues cogently that, the reason Christ came to earth at the height of the Greco-Roman culture was to show that Christ is the fulfillment of the highest ideals among the philosophers and writers. Thus, in history, we behold Christ by means of studying human longings and its fulfillment in Christ.
In the study of the languages and literature, we behold Christ by studying the language and the cultural contexts of the literature. Christ is the same Christ regardless of the cultural context, but the way in which his love, mercy, and wisdom is manifested is manifold, particular to specific cultural time and space. Thus, a careful study of the tools of the language, genre, cultural context, literary figures and devices, and authorial intent contribute to a refined appreciation of the glory of Christ. Peter Leithart’s study guide on Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and his study guide on the works of Jane Austen and Shakespeare show how we can more fully enjoy Christ through literature.
In the study of science and math, the glory of Christ is beheld as we contemplate on nature. Whereas in history and literature the redemptive power of God is seen in the context of a broader cultural-historical context, in math and science, the focus is more on creational qualities of God such as his wisdom, power, and goodness in creation. But it is often in contemplating on the creational qualities of God that we come to truly appreciate the redemptive work of God in Christ. A good example can be seen in Psalm 8:3-4, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers…, what is man that you are mindful of him?” In observing the nightly sky, the Psalmist realizes that God truly cares for him (creational quality of God), but he also realizes that God has established strength out of the mouths of babies to still the enemies (redemptive qualities of God). Sociologist Rodney Stark has done all of us a great favor by showing historically how greatest scientific discoveries throughout history were made by those who truly beheld the glory of God in nature (cf. Ps. 111:2). Several classical mathematicians have shown how to teach in a way that leads a student to discover the glory of God (Paul Lockhart, Francis Su, Mitch Stokes).
Thus, we behold the glory of Christ first by seeing the glory of God in natural revelation—history, literature, and nature. But in order to properly discern the glory of God in natural revelation, students must simultaneously grow in beholding the glory of God in Christ directly through the meditation of the Word of God. This training is essential, both because without the light of God’s Word, we are prone to misinterpret the light of God in nature, but also because Christ’s light is more fully experienced in specific contexts of culture, time and place. This training is obviously not easy. A student can easily mix-up what the Bible teaches about Christ and the ideas of man. Yet, there are good examples from history of how great Christian thinkers have appreciated insights from even pagan writers because they bring the light of the redemptive work of God in Christ to bear on the light of God revealed in nature. Louis Markos, provides some excellent examples in history in his book From Plato to Christ.
In sum, a combination of theological depth and classical breadth is essential in training our students to more fully delight, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Dr. David Kim | June 21, 2022
The Ultimate Difference Between an Interesting and a Boring Book | May 17, 2022
Have you read a book lately that is interesting? Engaging and captivating? A book you cannot put down. It is difficult. Because of the internet. Because our lives are so busy. Because our brains are slowly being reprogrammed by the social media to watch what we think is interesting, but in the end is boring.
A few years ago, I was challenged by a quote from Gordon Wilson, the Christian biologist: “To be bored in this world is to be boring in this world.” This saying is not immediately clear. Because it is profound. It means two things at least. 1) First, there is an assumption that it is completely abnormal to be bored. God made the world in such a fascinating way, it is impossible to be bored, if we just look properly. 2) Second, being bored is not neutral. It has great consequences: We will be boring to other people. It’s almost like sin. But it is an interesting way to think of sin. We sin not just by doing something terrible to others. We sin toward others by failing to be captivated ourselves by God’s beauty. This thought hits a nerve.
Because sin, at its core, is first and foremost, a failure to respond to God’s goodness.
A further implication of this quote as to how we can become interesting to other people is to take interest in God’s true, goodness, and beauty in the world. When we take this insight and apply it to what makes a book interesting, then we have a standard by which to choose a truly interesting book. If you were on an island by yourself, and you could take only 3 books, what would they be? Or if you were to talk about a book to your new friend, what would it be? Some people try to talk about a book they read to impress people, to get them to like them. But that effort is usually ineffective, unless the book they talk about is really interesting, so interesting that your friend realizes that you are not faking it. They want to know why you are so captivated by this book.
C. S. Lewis talks about a moment in his journey to becoming a Christian, when he started to realize what books are truly interesting and others boring.
All the books were beginning to turn against me. Indeed, I must have been as blind as a bat not to have seen, long before, the ludicrous contradiction between my theory of life and my actual experiences as a reader. George MacDonald had done more to me than any other writer. . . . Chesterton had more sense than all other moderns put together. Johnson was one of the few authors whom I felt I could trust utterly; curiously enough, he had the same kink. Spenser, and Milton by a strange coincidence had it too. Even among ancient authors the same paradox was to be found. The most religious (Plato, Aeschylus, Virgil) were clearly those on whom I could really feed. On the other hand, those writers who did not suffer from religion and with whom in theory my sympathy ought to have been complete—Shaw and Wells and Mill and Gibbon and Voltaire—all seemed a little thin. . . . They were all (especially Gibbon) entertaining; but hardly more. There seemed to be no depth in them. They were too simple.
My own understanding of this difference goes like this: The most interesting books are those that describe the transcendent spiritual reality of God, yet at the same time his immanent goodness and nearness in the ordinary experiences of life. That’s what you have in all the great authors that Lewis mentioned.
If I could only choose 4 books (assuming we could take the Bible with us) to take with me on an island, it might be: Aeneid, Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, the Lord of the Rings.
What books would you take? What books would your children take by the time they graduate Veritas? What kind of interesting person would you like to be?
Dr. David Kim | May 17, 2022
Christian Worldview Integration: Quality of an Excellent Education | April 29, 2022
One of the most elusive goals of educations is the integration of Christian worldview with a given subject. Most Christians agree that integration should be our goal. But not too many people know what it means, or is able to explain it even if they knew, and even less number of people know how to teach integration.
What does that integration look like? Typically, we understand integration as a biblical perspective on a given subject. But what does that mean? For example, if I was gazing at a star as part of science, what does gazing at a star from a biblical perspective mean? Am I looking for some aspect of God? Am I looking for some truth that the stars may symbolize? Or am I waiting for some mysterious experience while I am gazing at the stars?
Or let’s take an example from a humanities class—philosophy. If I am studying a philosopher like Plato, what is the relationship between Plato’s perspective and biblical perspective? Do we use Plato to understand the Bible better, or use the Bible to understand Plato better? If it is both, in what ways are they both? Is some parts of Plato helpful for some parts of my life, and Bible helpful for other parts of my life?
The difficulty lies in pinpointing the value of a subject for us on the one hand and the role it plays in reflecting God, on the other. Let’s take stargazing again. If we are gazing at stars, normally we are filled with awe of its beauty, and the grandeur of the universe. This is beneficial to the student, so it is good. Let’s say the student went on to become an astronomer and found new stars—this is all good.
But what if the student starts to make some conclusions from observing the stars, like there is no God, or that life is ultimately meaningless, or that the bodies of the heavens are moving by pure chance. This conclusion is not only invalid, because the conclusions lack hard evidence, but it assumes the autonomy of man. Man is alone without God and is left to himself to control his own life. This is a bad education. Many intelligent people who studied all their lives have concluded that there is no God and therefore there is no standard by which we evaluate our lives. So, in the end, education is used to justify the autonomy of man. This is a bad education.
A proper integration is captured in Ps 8:3,9: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?… O, Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Here, the Psalmist’s stargazing leads him to reflect on God’s goodness, love, and care for us. Here is an example of an excellent education, an education that leads a student to delight in God’s great works, as a result of his study: “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them” (Ps 111:2). The implication of this last verse is that the purpose of education is for us to know God and grow in our relationship with God. This is the way great educators in the past (e.g., Augustine, Cassidorus, Hugh of St. Victor, Milton) have defined the purpose of education.
You may ask, “Is this kind of integration between a study and God’s goodness biased, and not objective?” My answer to that is yes and no. There is ultimately no “objective study.” It begins and ends with either the conclusion that I am on my own, or I am a child of God. I believe the former conclusion is more biased, and the latter conclusion is more evidential.
An evidence that our students at Veritas is getting some of the most excellent education in the world is the Senior Rhetoric Banquet two Fridays ago. At the end of all the presentations, I shared how it would be difficult to find a similar caliber of students even among all the classical schools in the country, students who can read so deeply, think so clearly, and speak so persuasively. But so far, that’s a good education, not an excellent education.
Did our students grow in their faith and delight in the Lord? My heart felt yes. It is not just because some used Bible verses in the presentation. I felt it in their brutal honesty, as they used philosophers and other authors to reflect on their shortcomings. I felt it in their sense of humility and repentance. Teenagers usually cannot speak honestly about their failures to another person, let alone a room full of all their parents, teachers, and peers. I felt it in their putting trust in God and delighting in God, some more directly than others. Most of them used quotes from Christian philosophers like Augustine, Pascal, Bonhoeffer, or Kierkegaard to do this. Some used Bible verses. Most amazingly, I felt no sense that these students were either trying to impress us or to gain approval. I sensed that they were standing in the presence of God, with humility and awe. That is the quality of an excellent education.
Dr. David Kim | April 29, 2022
The Difference Between a Mediocre Classical Education and an Excellent One | April 22, 2022
Recently, I’ve been wrestling with myself (really with God) about what an excellent classical, Christian education should look alike. This tinge of skepticism comes from a lack of evidence in seeing our students change in their relationship with God, because that is the goal of Veritas: to make disciples who delight, discern, and display the glory of God in Jesus Christ. This wrestling was quiet but intense. I know that our students and parents generally appreciate the education of their children at Veritas. But are our students truly delighting in Christ? Can they critically discern between good and evil, and between the ways of God and the ways of man? Do they have such convictions of God’s grace and gifts in their lives that they can confidently display God’s glory before others?
A positive answer came to me in a quiet but intense way through two means. The first was in my close reading of C. S. Lewis’ biography, Surprised by Joy. There are several turning points in Lewis’ conversion story, and the first one goes as follows:
Turning to the bookstall (at the train station), I picked out an Everyman in a dirty jacket, Phantastes, a Faerie Romance, George MacDonald. Then the train came in. . . . That evening I began to read my new book. The woodland journeyings in that story, the ghostly enemies, the ladies both good and evil, were close enough to my habitual imagery to lure me on without the perceptions of change. It is as if I were carried sleeping across the frontier, or as if I had died in the old country and could never remember how I came alive in the new. For in one sense the new country was exactly like the old. I met there all that had already charmed me in Malory, Spenser, Morris, and Yeats. But in another sense, all was changed. I did not yet know (and I was long in learning) the name of the new quality, the bright shadow, that rested on the travels of Anodos. I do now. It was Holiness. For the first time the song of the sirens sounded like the voice of my mother or my nurse. It was as though the voice which had called to me from the world’s end were now speaking at my side. . . . Up till now each visitation of Joy had left the common world momentarily a desert. But now I saw the bright shadow coming out of the book into the real world and resting there, transforming all common things and yet itself unchanged. Or more accurately, I saw the common things drawn into the bright shadow. . . . All this was given me without asking, even without consent. That night my imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized.
Up to this point in his life (first year in college), Lewis experienced “Joy” (God’s love and grace) only sporadically and distantly, whether in nature or in books. But now, in reading George Macdonald’s Phantastes, Lewis realized that God’s presence was near him and all around him.
It is this direct experience of God through reading (or other common things that we do) that became the first major turning point in Lewis’ life, although it took him a couple of more years to become a believer. I believe this is the hallmark of an excellent classical Christian education: Seeing the light of Christ through the light of common things (nature, books, or even other people).
Of course, the challenging part is how can we, parents and students, experience that? I believe this experience is ultimately given by God, as Lewis states, but the optimal condition for that experience can be established by another person (parent, teacher, friend, or an author) with that perspective. In the case of Lewis, it was George MacDonald, who wrote a story in which the light of God shined through the real world in a permanent way. This perspective in life was new to Lewis. But gradually Lewis came to know that this perspective was the most real one, and that he had been resisting it all along.
To me this is the difference between a mediocre classical education and an excellent one. The former has all the aesthetically awe-inspiring, intellectually satisfying, and even morally uplifting quality of a secular classical education. The latter has everything the former has, except that they only serve as prisms that reflect the full glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, what Lewis calls “Joy.”
As I was contemplating about this experience of Lewis, I noticed that the Joy that Lewis experienced was rubbing off on me, in a deep and lasting way. But a definitive confirmation of this difference came last night, at the Senior Rhetoric Banquet, where each of the eight seniors presented their “Synthesis Paper” to the audience of all their parents and secondary faculty and a few guests. In Synthesis Paper, students draw from all that they have learned in the past 4 years and write about how they have grown. I will write more in detail about this experience in the next newsletter, but I felt that each of the eight students had and were experiencing what Lewis experienced: the presence of God’s Holiness in their search for meaning and joy. This is the sign of an excellent classical Christian education.
Dr. David Kim | April 22, 2022
Watching “The Miseducation in America” Documentary at Veritas U | March 29, 2022
Dear Veritas Parents,
Grace and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord. Next Thursday (April 7th 6:30 – 8:00 PM) night is our “Veritas U” Night. It is one of the four required parent practicums at Veritas. Typically, we offer a few elective seminars that parents can choose from. But instead, we will meet in person at school to watch and discuss the screening of the recently made highly acclaimed documentary titled “The Mis-Education of America” by Fox Nation, the subscription video service of the Fox News Network.
This engaging and lively documentary provides a clear historical analysis of how classical Christian education (“Western Christian Paideia”) was developed, hijacked by the extreme Left, and is now permeating through every aspect of our culture, and how classical Christian education can effectively restore the Christian Paideia back. I watched all 5 episodes and feel that all our parents and all our secondary students should watch it to understand the roots of classical, Christian education, and why it is needed more than ever before. This documentary will help us to understand the real dangers behind the CRT and socialist movement that is raging around us, and how we can take captive this thought and become obedient to Christ.
The host of this highly acclaimed documentary is one of the familiar faces in the Fox News, Pete Hegseth, who sends his children to one of the classical Christian schools. One of the key guests interviewed is David Goodwin, the president of the ACCS (Association of Classical and Christian Schools), of which Veritas Classical Academy is a member.
This documentary is accessible by subscription on Fox Nation, but since it is fast paced and packed with well-researched information and analysis, I feel that a good discussion led by a Veritas administrator will be fruitful. To this end, we are holding an in-person screening on campus. Since chapel does not have an adequate video projection equipment, we will divide into two groups, one for the primary, and one for the secondary, which also makes it for a better discussion. We will watch only the first two sessions (each about 30 minutes), with a 15-minute discussion after each session. This required practicum will be followed by two optional Saturday morning sessions to watch and discuss the rest of the documentary.
Although only one of the parents are required to attend, I highly encourage both parents to attend. Refreshments will be provided. I look forward to a great night of education and discussion.
Dr. David Kim | March 29, 2022
Reflections on Ukraine from God’s Word | March 11, 2022
Ukraine. Horrors of war. The unprecedented real time access to it all. It is overwhelming to us all, especially the children. While we should take care not to overexpose ourselves, especially our children, to what is going on Ukraine, we as parents need to be able to process what is going on in Ukraine in light of God’s Word and communicate that to our children in age-appropriate ways, and in ways they can face the realities of this “brave new world” with courage, grace, and hope. I would like to share how God is showing me how we can process all this from God’s Word. Providentially, the passages from the book of Psalms that we are reading in the daily faculty prayer meeting since the beginning of the unfolding of this war, have provided for me a way to process this overwhelming turn of events.
Ps. 56:1, 11 – “ Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me” “ In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Persecution leads us to fear God, and not man. It sharpens the focus of our heart on God.
Ps. 58:11 – “ Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” In a world where God’s standards are trampled upon, those who fear God and live according to his Word will be rewarded, and those who do not judged. Faith and actions that follow faith are surely rewarded by God.
Ps. 59:12-13 – “ For the sin of their mouths… let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter, consume them in wrath… that they know that God rules over Jacob…” Sin, especially lies, is self-destructive.
Ps. 60:1, 4 – “ O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us…You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow.” Like the bronze serpent and Moses, sometimes God brings down catastrophe to all of us, and set up a plan to save those who will look to God.
Ps. 61:2-3 – “ Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge…” No one is more dangerous than the one that trusts in himself; no one is more secure than the one who trusts in God.
Ps. 62:1-2 – “ For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” God is not simply a problem solver that we call upon. He wants a relationship. Sometimes we need to wait in silence, until my hope is completely on Him.
Ps. 64:5-6 – “ They hold fast to their evil purpose; they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see them?” They search out injustice, saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.” For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.” Evil actions have deep roots in a man’s heart. Without God’s mercy and grace, evil will proliferate. Evil needs to be addressed in a child, so that it will not take deep root.
Ps. 67:1,4 – “ May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us…Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.” God is surely in control. God will surely bring justice. God will surely make his face to shine upon those who look to Him.
Dr. David Kim | March 11, 2022
My Soul Waits for God Alone | February 25, 2022
That’s the title of the Psalm 62, which we read together in our morning faculty prayer meeting this morning. A timely message God gives us on behalf of all the families in Ukraine under the Russian invasion, and all the rest of the world that are watching the plight of the Ukrainians.
The second verse: “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” A teacher at the prayer meeting shared about reading a letter written by a Ukrainian pastor who decided to remain in Ukraine to care for the wounded. Only those who completely trust in the Lord will have the peace and courage to do such a thing.
The third verse: “How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?… They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.” A fit description of the Russian leaders. This verse tells us that a violent behavior begins deep in the root of taking pleasure in falsehood. They believe in falsehood so much that they have fooled themselves into believing that they are doing some good. Their seared consciences were formed in their childhood when falsehood was condoned and celebrated.
Verse Ten: “Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.” An even more blunt description of the Russian leaders. Extortion and robbery. And a suggestion where those types of behavior come from: Setting our hearts on riches.
But the Psalmist ends with these words: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God…For you will render to a man according to his work.”
This Psalm is a poignant reminder of three truths:
People who do not fear God will have no morals. They will take pleasure in falsehood, and their hearts will be set on riches.
Those who do not fear God and have no morals will resort to violence.
God is our only fortress. He has the power. And he will bring justice according to our work.
The implications of all this for education is that Christian education is essential, both to prevent immorality and injustice, and to raise a generation who will trust in God as their fortress and who will effectively resist such tyranny and promote true justice and mercy.
Dr. David Kim | February 25, 2022
How the Soul of a Child is Destroyed and How they Are Saved | February 11, 2022
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26)
Recently, I have been thinking much about this passage in the Scripture as it applies to our students. I remember reading Anthony Esolen’s book titled Ten Ways to Destroy the Imaginations of Your Child and how it has helped me to understand the spiritual dangers lurking around our children’s lives. My observation in my experience in education is that many times the line between gaining the world and gaining our children’s souls blurs easily. Unless we as parents have personally experienced the forfeiting our own soul or the soul of our children, it is difficult for us to understand what it means to forfeit the soul. Every child, unless prayerfully led and guided by adults, is surrounded by spiritual dangers that can destroy their soul.
A prominent figure who wrote about his childhood experiences of losing his soul is C. S. Lewis. He provides an analysis of how a faulty education can destroy a child’s soul in The Abolition of Man, but he describes his own childhood experience of “losing his soul” in his autobiography Surprised by Joy, and how he gained it. Here, I will summarize some of these childhood “seeds of pessimism” or “causes of doubt” that are commonly experienced by children, and how Veritas seeks to gain the souls of children.
1. Questions about Limitations of Ability—Lewis was born with a defect in one of his thumbs which made it difficult for him to grab things properly. This made him question the goodness of God. He was frustrated that many things he wanted to do, he cannot do, and even if he did it, it would not turn out the way he wanted it. Only later in life did Lewis come to realize that this limitation in one area helped him to develop in other areas, namely in reading and writing. At Veritas, we believe it is important to understand the way God has gifted each child and to maximize their potential. Setting realistic goals for each child each step of the way is just as critically important as it is to aim to develop the maximum potential of that child. This takes much collaborative effort from the parents, teachers, and the administrative staff. But Veritas is committed to the flourishing of each child’s gifts so that they come to praise God.
2. Lack of a Settled Sense of Happiness—Lewis wrote that with the death of his mother, all settled sense of happiness left him, and that even as an adult, he never quite recovered from his loss of a sense of security. Lewis found this happiness again in friends who sought after the truth in Christ. That included his brother Warren, his childhood friend Arthur Greeves and his family, a few college friends such as Neville Coghill and Hugo Dyson, and professor friend, J. R. R. Tolkien. Death of a mother is not common, but a loss of a settled sense of happiness at home is not uncommon among children. At Veritas, we aim to help each child to understand and experience genuine friendship in Christ. It is sometimes an arduous and slow process, but an intentional Christ-centered approach is critically important.
3. “Argument from Undesign”—Lewis says that the arguments from certain secular authors such as H. G. Wells and Sir Robert Ball led him to think of the universe as a vast cold space with man having no significant place. He allowed himself to be convinced by an argument from Lucretius: “Had God designed the world, it would not be a world so frail and faulty as we see.” Without a wise Christian guide, secular perspective on the world can persuade our students to have a dark pessimistic view of the world. Lewis was able to overcome these pessimistic thoughts eventually when he was introduced to the biblical worldview of original design, sin, and redemption. At Veritas, students are challenged to think critically, to expose the underlying secular worldviews behind our culture, and to embrace the biblical worldview that leads them to experience a living hope.
4. Worldly Sophistication—During his years at Chartres school (age 13-15), Lewis effectively lost his faith, virtues, and simplicity. By “simplicity,” he means a good kind of simplicity, that of purity, of enjoying simple things in life. But he lost that when one of his “masters” introduced him to “sophistications” of his culture—of wearing fashionable clothes, introducing latest secular songs, language and fads. Lewis admits that he fell into the temptation of “desire for glitter, swagger, distinction, the desire to be in the know.” Lewis “gained his soul” in increments, but ultimately when he received Christ into his heart, and realized that he was harboring “a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, and a nursery of fears.” At Veritas, we strive to not only provide a wholesome culture for our students (e.g. no phone use policy, culture of honor), but also to cultivate in our students an appetite for pure and simple things in life—such as enjoying nature or reading a book with family, wholesome conversations with friends, or appreciating a good piece of art, literature, or music. Many families at Veritas have and are reporting a change in their children and in their families in the direction of this simple heavenly pleasure.
Dr. David Kim | February 11, 2022
Truth Will Set You Free | February 4, 2022
Most recently, my soul has been wrestling with helping parents understand the heartbeat of our school. Some parents are motivated by pragmatic reasons for sending their children to Veritas—rigorous academics, caring teachers, small classroom size, character formation, college readiness. All of these are good things. But if these pragmatic factors are driving a parent’s decision for sending their children to Veritas, these factors are no more than winds that drive a ship without a rudder. We need the winds, but even more importantly we need the rudder, to guide the ship in a clear direction.
To that end of providing that rudder, I would like to share with you the meaning behind the name of our school, “Veritas.” It is from my life passage, John 8:32: “If you know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
This passage captures three of the deepest struggles in my life, and the solutions for those struggles.
First, it is the problem of freedom. Everybody loves freedom and needs freedom. Physical, financial, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. But freedom is something that cannot be appreciated until it is limited or taken away from us. When we do not understand how precious our freedom is, we will take freedom for granted, just like the Jews in their answer to Jesus: “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” (Jn. 8:33). Growing up in America as a poor Korean immigrant, I have experienced limits of freedom in various forms. But the more I lived in America, and the more I studied in high education, the more I realized that America is still the greatest nation in the world because it values freedom—particularly freedom of religion and freedom of intellectual inquiry. I have found the latter one to be critically lacking among our generation. We tend to be swayed by opinions and fads, and not be guided by deep truths. But when I first read these words, “the truth will set you free,” my spirit soared. At Veritas, this freedom is vigorously defended and sought.
Second, it is the problem of deception. It is one thing to know the truth, and another to think that we know the truth. The problem of deception is complex. Rarely anybody thinks they are deceived. But a sign of the end of times is that people deceive others and they themselves are deceived (2 Tim. 3:13). The underlying assumption here is that they do not know that. We are constantly deceived by the messages of our culture, by the opinions of people around us, and by our own sinful desires. I learned that unless I am constantly dashing my deceptions against the rock of the truth of God’s Word, I cannot be free from them. Jesus says, we will be set free, “if we know the truth.” Bible uses the imagery of “washing” ourselves with God’s Word. Veritas is where the hearts and minds of students are purified and washed daily, so that in God’s light we see the light of everything else (Ps. 36:9).
Third, it is the problem of discovery. The scientific method of inquiry is a fine tool. Question, observation, hypothesis, experiment, analysis of data, conclusion. We use it at Veritas. But if scientific method becomes the overarching method of life, then we might fall into the trap of thinking that truth is only a matter of discovery, with the emphasis on pushing ourselves to discover. But I have come to realize that the larger problem in life is our refusal to be found by God. God loves us and pursues after us. He wants to set us free. He wants to open our eyes so that we can see everything. But we like to hide. So, even though we should still seek the truth, and seek to abide by the truth, we need to believe that it is the “Son who sets you free.” (Jn. 8:36). At Veritas, personal relationship with Christ is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. As Augustine put it, it is faith in Christ that leads to true understanding.
Dr. David Kim | February 4, 2022
Veritas Portrait of Graduate Explained | January 28, 2022
Love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts, as well as with their minds and their strength (Spiritual)
Education (discipleship) begins and ends with love. Every child needs to be motivated first and foremost and throughout their entire life by the love of Christ. It is their sunshine and their water for growth. And the goal of education is to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, minds, and strength (Dt 6:4ff). Furthermore, students need to be filled with Christ’s love not only in their hearts, but also in their minds and strength. Love in the heart without a love in the mind, is like heat without light. Darkness can be exposed only if there is both light that brings truth, and the heat to melt the ice. And what good is loving God with our hearts and minds, if not also in strength, meaning in real action? Love of Christ is the actual and real motivation behind the entire educational process, in teachers and students. It is the power that will grow in the child and go out to the ends of the earth to change the world.
Delight in and graciously express the truth, beauty and goodness of God through writing, speaking, acting, drawing and singing (Aesthetic)
If God’s love motivates a student, surely then the first proper response of the student is to delight in the source of that love–Christ. But the student does not merely delight in God in her heart, but in all that she does. For that is why God created man in his image, and revealed himself in created things–so that man may more fully enjoy God. The chief end of man is to glorify and to enjoy Him forever, and the way to glorify God is to enjoy Him forever!
God can and should be delighted because it is God who reveals his truth, goodness, and beauty in all of nature and history. God is the artist, and God is the author of history. It is by delighting and imitating God that students become truly creative, because they are displaying the glory of God to its fullest.
Evaluate all things in the light of God’s Word (Biblical)
Scriptures say that “thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Scripture is God-breathed in every aspect, thus infallible and inerrant. It is the standard against which everything else must be measured. It is the light by which everything else must be revealed. Our hearts and our minds are so darkened by sin, that without the hard truth of God’s Word, we will distort and manipulate the truth, both in our personal lives, as well as our public life as citizens of a free nation.
Master language skills in grammar, reading, writing, and poetry, in English and Latin, and are able to speak persuasively (Language)
Language is a unique gift of God to human beings, not shared with other creatures. Since humans are made in the image of God, and the image of God is a reflection of God, language is a part of that image of God that helps us to understand and reflect who God is. Language is also the foundation of culture and civilization. In history, whenever language education flourished, culture and civilization flourished. This is the legacy of classical education. On an individual level, history also proves that those who have a good training in grammar, logic, and rhetoric become leaders and influencers because they have mastered the art of thinking, communicating, and persuading.
Develop a well-rounded competence in fine art, drama, music, physical activity, math, logic, and science (Skills)
An education is not complete without skills, but not just skills for a job or a career. Students need skills to create and build a culture that reflects the truth, goodness, and beauty of God. Just as a person who has many skills, but no conviction or a discerning mind, can misuse their skills for wrong purposes, a person with a conviction and a discerning heart, but no skills, can easily become puffed up in theoretical ideas. A training in the practical, common arts, is necessary for students to become humble servants of Christ. Therefore, students need to be trained both to enjoy God as well as to act for God. A combination of these two kinds of training will produce formidable leaders for God’s kingdom.
Read deeply, interact critically, and gain wisdom from the great works of literature and theology throughout the ages (Wisdom)
Wisdom is knowing how to live out our convictions in God’s truth in real life situations. This wisdom comes first and foremost from fear of the Lord (Ps 111:10), because God is all-wise and our hearts are errant. But since wisdom is application of truth in real life situations, wisdom cannot be gained without reading much about how people have lived out God-given convictions in their lives throughout history. No human work is perfect, so we need to read everything critically, in light of God’s Word. But much wisdom can be gained from a cloud of witnesses in the past, both Christians and non-Christians through common grace, who have lived out their God-given convictions in specific life-situations.
Honor their friends, humble themselves before others and speak the truth in love (Virtue)
Culmination of education is participating as a member in a thriving community of Christ and contributing to the development of a Christ-centered culture. This is the Christian version of Plato’s concept of eudaimonia. And as in Plato’s vision, this type of culture is developed only when individual citizens grow in virtue, which is character formation. At the heart of virtue training is love. Ultimately education should be about how to love God and our neighbors. Practically and pedagogically speaking, this means three things. First, learning how to honor other students. As heirs of Adam, children tend to act selfishly, until someone teaches them how to honor others, in their heart, speech, and action. Second, a training in humbling ourselves before others. This means being patient, listening to others, asking for help, trusting others, and being a good team player, a community builder. Third, students learn to practice loving by speaking the truth, and making sure that they are motivated by love as they are speaking the truth.
Dr. David Kim | January 28, 2022
Three Levels of Imaginations | January 21, 2022
In education, the word “imagination” is a big deal. We know it is important. But it is not always used with clarity, so it is slippery and elusive.
For me, one of the most helpful definitions and distinctions about various kinds of imagination comes from C. S. Lewis. In his biography Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis discusses three kinds or levels of imagination.
The first kind of imagination is the “world of reverie, day-dream, wish-fulfilling fantasy.” This is the most common type of imagination. Lewis admits he “knew more than enough” of this kind. He sees this type of imagination as chiefly a negative thing: “in my day-dreams, I was training myself to be a fool.” Thinking about this, I realized that most people do not think of this type of imagination as a bad thing. In fact, I have heard many people think that it is a good thing, except when it interferes with our current work. You might retort: “Are you saying we should tell our children to stop dreaming?” Lewis says yes, if dreaming refers to day-dreaming in the sense of idly idolizing.
A second kind of imagination is what he calls “invention,” the ability to come up with a great idea or a creative story with interesting characters. Lewis believes this is clearly a better kind of imagination than the first kind. He says he knows because he experienced both, and says that only those who experienced both know the difference. Lewis seems to think this second type of imagination is significantly better than the first because it trains a person to be creative. According to the great orators of the classical era, invention is the most important part of rhetorical training, and in some sense, the most important part of education. Invention involves skills of memory, analysis, synthesis, logic, creative juice and a knowledge of a whole lot of stories, fiction and nonfiction. So, this second kind of imagination is a skill set. This is what most people think of as imagination. When people compliment someone as having a “powerful imagination,” they are complimenting the person’s creative power.
However, compared to a third sense of imagination, the second sense of imagination is not imaginative. Lewis explains that this third sense of imagination is the highest sense of imagination. This imagination is not so much of a person’s ability, but a sensation of desire. He calls this imagination “Joy.” Joy, not in the sense of satisfaction of a desire, but the desiring itself, a longing. A longing after God. An awakening unto God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. This imagination is so important that, Lewis tells his reader that if they are not interested in hearing more about this imagination or “Joy,” they should stop reading his book, because that is the focus of his biography, the turning point of how he became a Christian, and the main theme of all of his works.
Lewis understands that explaining this third kind of imagination is not easy. He expressed his concern that people would read his biography and charge him of being too subjective. But even though Lewis fully understands that each person has their unique set of experiences of this third kind of imagination, nevertheless it is the truest form of imagination that everyone ought to aim for.
Lewis described this imagination as a kind of spiritual awareness, a participation in what the Holy Spirit is doing. He describes his first experience of this kind of imagination when his brother showed him a toy garden on the lid of a biscuit can. He was filled with wonder and a longing for a heavenly reality. He experienced this again when he read Squirrel Nutkin, a Beatrix Potter book. And yet again when he was reading Longfellow’s poem, where the line goes: “I heard a voice that cried, Balder the beautiful Is dead, is dead–” For Lewis, this highest imagination is not so much a set of creative skills, but an intense awareness of God’s presence in our life.
In sum, in C. S. Lewis, we have an amazing insight into what a true imagination is and does, and how this third kind of imagination not only provides us with the deepest joys of life, but a kind of brilliance and wit that so powerfully radiates throughout all of that person’s life and work. Here is a goldmine for educators and parents.
Dr. David Kim | January 21, 2022
Present Hell and Heaven as Transformative Realities | January 14, 2022
Sometimes we as parents may wonder how our Christian worldview make a difference
in the education of our children. Our children may go to church, read the Bible, and
even pray a little, but how does Christian education change them fundamentally?
Sometimes, when we look at our children and see how they behave or even think
similarly to non-Christians, we wonder how Christian worldview is supposed to
One major aspect of the Christian worldview that I have come to understand over the
years as making a major impact on Christians and non-Christians, children and
parents alike, is heaven and hell. How people think of heaven and hell seems to
impact people in a fundamental way.
For some people, heaven and hell are just symbols. For others, they are real, but
places to go after life. It is relatively rare to see Christians who have a good
understanding of heaven and hell as present realities, in addition to final
realities. But thinking about the theme of heaven and hell in the history of literature,
it dawned upon me that the greatest impact was made by those Christians who have
clearly portrayed heaven and hell as present realities, and not just final destinations.
A prominent example that comes to my mind is Pilgrim’s Progress, which is the story of
a “Christian” who is making his progress into heaven. It is full of real perils, but he has
full access to God’s mercy and grace, so that he can overcome temptations. This
story has encouraged and taken hold of the imagination of countless number of
Another great example is that of Dante, who in his Divine Comedy, described the
journey of a “Dante” from Inferno (hell) to Purgatory to Paradise (heaven). The role
of Purgatory was not clear at the time, but Dante used it to describe what happens to
people who are not in hell, but who are in the process of being purified, morally
changed, on the way to heaven, by the grace of God.
Then, in the works of C. S. Lewis, the theme of heaven and hell as a present reality
receives a much clearer attention. One line from The Great Divorce summarizes Lewis’
view: “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.” Recently, as I have been reading Lewis’ “space
trilogy,” I was struck at the fact that this theme is perhaps the most important theme
or insight in all of Lewis’ works, both fiction and non-fiction, and it is perhaps what
captivated and challenged so many Christians and non-Christians to turn to God.
A confirmation of the importance of this theme of present heaven and hell in our
own education at Veritas came to me most recently when our juniors and seniors were
reading from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together on a chapter on reconciliation, a
reflection on Jesus words in Matthew 18 about what happens to us when we are angry
at a brother. It was conveyed to me that when students were reading the part about
how it is perilous for our soul to let the sun go down on our anger toward someone,
and how the ancients believed that the Satan may even temporarily take hold of us
when we sleep with anger towards others, several students sincerely and quietly
confessed their sins toward each other and others, after school.
In sum, as evangelicals we clearly believe that once we are delivered from the bondage
of sin, Satan, and the gates of hell, we are secure in Christ. However, we need to learn
the lesson from history and great writers that our journey from hell to heaven while
we are on earth must be embraced with all of our imagination and courage.
Dr. David Kim | January 14, 2022
How Good Stories Shape Reality | December 30, 2021
One of the challenges we have as a generation, and as a community, is to read, more specifically fictions. About a year ago, I was speaking to the principal of the only classical school in South Korea, and she complained to me with frustration, “Dr. Kim, the problem with the education in South Korea is that nobody likes to read any more, no parents and no children. It’s as if babies are born with smartphones in their hands.” Of course, she was referring to books of substance, not books for information. I concluded we are not too different here in America.
Ever since then, I thought long and deep about this problem. Why don’t people like to read classics, especially fiction? Of course, it is not easy for me either. But I love it. And I know many people don’t. Then here is what I discovered. It’s not that some naturally love books, and others don’t. And it’s not that some are more naturally more science-oriented, and others are more humanities-oriented. They may be slightly more gifted in one area or the other, and they may have a better education to read widely than others. But everybody loves stories, and everybody needs good stories to shape their view of reality. Basically, those who are poor on stories, on right kind of stories, are poor in their souls.
The most terrible kind of education a child can have is to read only books about how things work, and not also stories, fictions with good and evil, and stories of hope and redemption.
C. S. Lewis makes a comment about this regarding Eustace, the mean selfish kid, upon entering a cave with a dead dragon: “Most of us know what we should expect to find in a dragon’s lair, but, as I said before, Eustace had read only the wrong books. They had a lot to say about exports and imports and governments and drains, but they were weak on dragons.”
The reason good stories are so important is that they shape the way we view our lives, as well as our motives, hopes, and actions. Everybody must face suffering and evil. More or less. The key difference lies in how we view those sufferings and evil and overcome them with a happy ending. And I’m willing to bet those armed with beautiful, powerful stories filled with wisdom and wonder have a better ending to their lives than those who are not. During the Christmas break, I rewatched the Lord of the Rings Extended version with my family, and we are reading the book together as well. I cannot tell you how much more this book is shaping the way I think and feel about everything than when I first read the book many years ago, and more than many other stories I have read. It is because it is a good story, a right kind of story, with real sufferings, real evil, and real redemption.
There are many books out there. But good books are rare. As I am reading C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, I learned that Lewis created his own genre of sci-fi fiction. According to Lewis, there are four existing genres of sci-fi fiction. First kind is just regular story with a setting in the future. Lewis does not consider this as a real sci-fi. Second kind, Lewis calls it “fiction of Engineers,” which speculates on technological advancement. Third kind speculates on the kind of climate or condition that a certain planet has, but not what it is like to be there. Fourth is called “Eschatological” in that an imaginary future has a role to play in the story. He lists H. G. Well’s Time Machine as an example. Lewis believed that these four existing types of sci-fi fictions were not realistic enough, so he created his own genre which may be named “fantastical sci-fi,” where science is simply the means of conveying a fairy tale, which captures the spiritual realities of good, evil and God’s grace. This is an example of why it is necessary to create good stories, because good stories ultimately shape our own understanding of the world, and the way the stories of our own lives will end.
As we are about to begin a new year, after two years of a cancelled culture, it is a good time to ask ourselves, “What stories am I going to fill myself and my family with, by which I can enter a new chapter of evil and redemption?”
Happy New Year to You and Your Loved Ones!
Dr. David Kim | December 30, 2021
Christmas Stories and Wonder | December 10, 2021
Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
What sets apart an average story from a great story? Whenever we watch a great movie or read a great book, we talk about why it was so good. In classical, Christian education, we believe that our children need to be nurtured with the best books and best stories of all times. We believe in the important of telling excellent stories because we believe that wisdom and virtue is more caught than taught. Children become like the characters they read about. So, it is all important what kind of stories we consider to be the best.
Sarah Mackenzie, the author of Read-Aloud Family, believes that good books fill the reader with hope, because it is hope that helps us to see the mundane world around us with new eyes. I agree with her. But I would like to add the element of wonder as another important mark of a best story. Hope and wonder. Best stories of all times have these two traits. Hope is given during a dire, hopeless situation. Wonder is taking the next step. Why and how am I given hope? Who loves me and why? It shifts the focus from me to God, the source of my hope.
And what better time to read stories about hope and wonder than Christmas time. Little more than 2000 years ago, Christ was born into a world filled with evil and chaos. Even now, Christ in his Spirit comes to us during spiritual, moral, and political chaos. What better time than now to direct the hearts and minds of our children to the one who not only can deliver us from evil, but one who wants to be discovered and fall in love with.
Let us take time to behold the beauty of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, for God’s beauty reflects his truth, and his truth reflects his goodness toward us. Recently I heard a beautiful song in Latin that captures this and fills our hearts with the wonder of God’s love toward us. (Click Here)
Veritas vertuatem redit, pulchritudo veritatem redit.
Truth reflects goodness, beauty reflects truth.
Here are a few recommendations of Christmas stories for you to read with your children to fill their hearts with hope and wonder of the beauty, truth, and goodness of God’s gift of his Son to us.
The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald by George MacDonald. 4-6th Grade Level. Written by MacDonald himself, these stories tell of a generous bachelor who adopts a street urchin, a farm girl who searches for her wandering brother, and a cold-hearted London family who learn to be more sensitive.
Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien. Every December, an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas.
Christmas Stories: Classic Christmas Stories by various authors, including Louisa May Alcott, Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Dickens and many more.
Dr. David Kim | December 10, 2021
A Letter from an Alumnus | December 3, 2021
Dear Veritas Parents,
I hope your Christmas season is going well. I cannot wait to be at the upcoming Christmas Concert, and the Christmas Ball. I peeked at the Concert rehearsals the other day and it’s going to be great! Logic students are also doing a short but delightful Christmas play. And this is the third time we are doing the Christmas Ball, and we had so much fun the first two times, it’s guaranteed to be fun and meaningful for the entire family! Please make your reservations now to help with our preparation. On a different note, I want to share with you an encouraging email I recently received from one of our alumni, Timothy Suh. There are many other Veritas alumni who really want to encourage our community, but for a starter, I thought it best to share Timothy’s email to you in its entirety here.
Hi Dr. Kim.
I was accepted into Georgetown and will be transferring there for the spring semester! I have made the absolute most of my time here at UCSB through the honors program, student government, and much more and I am excited for what’s to come in Washington D.C. Along with taking classes at Georgetown this spring, I plan to intern in Congress.
I will always be grateful for Veritas and everyone who played a part in my development. I can confidently say that classical education has made me who I am today. My classical education has not ended — far from it. It has just started. I’ve embarked on the lifelong journey to read all of the great books, to understand Western Civilization, to cultivate my mind, heart, and soul for Christ. Now more than ever have I seen the materialistic, utilitarian, godless thinking present among my peers — my generation. Classical, Christian education is needed now more than ever before. I hope and pray that the Lord gives you the strength to continue serving Veritas and all of its students. I hope and pray that the Lord works in each and every member of the Veritas community.
My recent experiences have led me to want to share the true value of my education at Veritas with the Veritas community. As I’m sure you know, some students and parents may not understand fully what classical education is and why it is so valuable. Furthermore, they may not understand how Christ and the “Christian” aspect of a classical, Christian education influence what is being taught at Veritas. I know that I myself couldn’t explain those ideas when I was new to Veritas, and I don’t think that many of Veritas’ students can, either. So, I think it would be worthwhile to have every parent and student really internalize the ideas of classical, Christian education by watching the following videos that were helpful to me. They must understand and so utilize the privileges of classical, Christian education.
Memoria Press’ Definition of Classical Education.
The Dark Side of Public Schools.
Andrew Kern’s Definition of Classical, Christian Education.
I love Andrew Kern’s definition of Christian, classical education:
Christian, classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on the true, good, and beautiful [by means of the seven liberal arts] so that in Christ, the student is better able to know, glorify, and enjoy God.
Dr. David Kim | December 3, 2021
Teaching Our Children About Marriage & Sexuality | November 26, 2021
One of the three hottest issues of our times is that of marriage & sexuality. The other two are social justice and Covid. A common problem in all three of these issues is the government. It’s the government that thinks it can define the marriage, it’s the government that thinks it can bring economic equity (by force, sometimes), and it’s the government that thinks it can mandate covid restrictions without qualifications. In all these areas, the long-term solution is to teach the truth (veritas) to our children. The best antidote against falsehood is more truth. So, in this article, I would like to provide a few key principles and book recommendations on teaching our children on marriage & sexuality.
First, God calls primarily upon parents to provide sex education to their children. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God calls upon the parents to provide specific instruction and training (e.g. Joshua 8:35, Eph 6:4) about godly way of living, of which marriage and sexuality is central. God calls upon parents because teaching about marriage and sexuality involves modeling and training (discipleship), as well as instruction.
Second, marriage and sexuality is not just a private “ethical” issue. It has everything to do with our relationship with God (theological issue), moral education of our children (educational issue), and the welfare of our society (social issue). This is why parents must teach marriage and sexuality to their children early and throughout their childhood. Marriage and sexuality, as taught in the Bible, is at the heart of how we can truly enjoy God as a family, and as a society. If people are redefining marriage and sexuality that is different than what God revealed in the Bible, they are redefining the goals of life, and there is nothing more foolish than that.
Third, if parents do not teach their children a biblical perspective on marriage and sexuality, then children will learn an unbiblical view of these topics from the world (usually via social media) by default. Parents cannot naively think that their children will learn the proper views on their own. Church and Christian schools like Veritas play important roles on providing the biblical framework as well as an ethical/cultural standard, but it is the parents that play the most important role.
Fourth, final goals of teaching our children on marriage & sexuality are not only that they embrace the biblical vision on these topics with deep understanding and joy, but also that they be able to articulate them to the world in a winsome manner. Since marriage & sexuality is at the heart of a culture, training our children in the biblical view of marriage & sexuality is one of the most effective ways of equipping them to reach out to those who do not know Christ.
With that in mind, here are top two recommended books for parents to use in teaching their children on the topic of marriage & sexuality.
Preparing Children for Marriage. By Josh Mulvihill A great single-volume introductory book on teaching biblical view of marriage & sexuality for children of all ages.
How & When to Tell Your Kids about Sex. By Stan & Brenna Jones. A bestselling 5-volume books, one for the parents, and four age-appropriate books, on a biblical view of marriage & sexuality in the home.
Dr. David Kim | November 26, 2021
How to Foster Wonder in Your Children | November 19, 2021
One of the greatest dangers in today’s education is the loss of wonder in education. Kids of our generation in general are not curious about the universe they live in, about the way things work in nature. They are so preoccupied with the latest thing man has made—latest app, latest Tik Tok clip, latest Instagram message, that they rarely take a moment to enjoy the blessings of God in nature, in history, or in stories-real or fictional. The real danger is not that these latest social media are just taking up a royal amount of our children’s time, but that these trends rob our children of wonder, which are God awakened sense of the richness of his truth, goodness, and beauty.
Wonder is more than just a way to get a child motivated to study. First, wonder is the beginning of wisdom. Aristotle and Plato, the two fountainheads of western philosophical heritage, agree that wonder is the beginning of wisdom. Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Wonder is also the way to fight against evil. C. S. Lewis, in his The Screwtape Letters, writes, “the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry—the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon—are always blowing evils whole structure away.” These days, when I am bogged down with work and feel a bit overwhelmed, I pick up my guitar and strum a few lines of songs. I noticed that it not only calms me down, but everybody else in the house as well. Evil is dispelled.
Finally, wonder is the gateway into a deeper understanding of the world. According to Clement of Alexandria, one of the early Church Fathers, faith, is the beginning point of understanding and knowledge about the universe we live in. For Clement, faith is that simple appreciate acceptance and wonder of God’s revelation. And that faith, coupled with reason, allows us to gain a deeper understanding of every aspect of the nature and the providence of God in history.
How, then, do we restore such wonder in our children? Here are three recommendations based on the three functions of the wonder outlined above. First, read to children books which will open their eyes to the “immensity of the sea” of God’s world. Second, teach children to sing, draw, write poetry, spend time together in nature. Third, engage in conversations and discussions which draw the connection between heavenly things and earthly things, between the revelation of God in the Bible and what God reveals in nature. Practice these things, and you will change the future of your children.
Dr. David Kim | November 19, 2021
Reflections on the C. S. Lewis Movie, The Most Reluctant Convert | November 12, 2021
Last Wednesday (11/3), The Most Reluctant Convert, the movie version of the stage production of C. S. Lewis’ autobiography Surprised by Joy played in theaters across the country. It was supposed to show only one day, but due to popular demand, it is playing in select theaters until Nov 18th. Of course, you can wait until it comes out in video on demand, but I recommend our families to watch it in theaters for the full effect.
The significance of this movie has to do with the significance of who C. S. Lewis is. He is arguably the most influential Christian in the 20th century. He was influential because his non-fictions like Screwtape Letters and Great Divorce, and his fictions like the Chronicles of Narnia made Christianity believable to many non-believers and believers around the world. And Lewis’s books are so believable because in all his books, he is writing about what he himself experienced.
What Lewis experienced is believable because he is brutally honest about his struggle to believe. He was a reluctant believer. His struggles were authentic. An example of Lewis’ realism in faith is his struggle with the death of his mother when Lewis was nine. Lewis wrote that all forms of settled peace left his world when his mother died. Lewis grew up wondering why if there was a good God, he would not heal a wonderful person as his mother, or not hear the prayers of a lonely son. But little by little, Lewis realized that his sufferings compelled him toward God, even as he was trying to run away from Him. Like the great Augustine in his autobiography Confessions, Lewis realized that suffering was a major clue toward the existence of a moral God.
But a deeper clue to believing in God lay with what Lewis calls the reality of “Joy.” That’s what Lewis calls God. This is a story of how Lewis comes to know God as the Joy of his life. Of all the arguments for the existence of God throughout history, the reality of eternal joy in our hearts as an evidence of the true God is perhaps the most profound one. His first encounter with this Joy was when his brother presented to him with a toy garden made from a biscuit tin cover decorated with flowers and shrubbery. The next was when he read the story of Balder and the Norse mythology. Another was when he picked up George MacDonald’s Phantastes in a bookstand while waiting for a train. Yet another was when he was taking a walk in a garden with J. R. R. Tolkien, who told Lewis that all the myths in the world about a god taking up human body are reflections of a real story. What is so remarkable about these specific stories are how realistic they are, and how they are in-breaking of Heavenly realities, and how God comes to find us.
Finally, the story of Lewis’ conversion is a story of an intellectual journey toward God. Lewis received a mediocre education, until ironically, he met an atheist tutor, William Kirkpatrick (“The Great Knock”), under whom Lewis learned Latin, Greek, his love of the classic books, and most importantly, how to think clearly. From Kirkpatrick, Lewis learned that if he could not find a proper logical objection to a proposition, he needs to accept it as truth. For Lewis, that was the truth that Christ is the Son of God, and that he is our Savior and Lord. Once he was convinced of this truth, Lewis knew that he had to accept the logical conclusion that he had been rebelling against God all along. He was “forced” by a loving God to accept defeat. Lewis concludes in a typically Lewisian insight: “The hardness of God was softer than the softness of man.” When Lewis began to face the truth that he is wrong and the Bible is right, he writes, “A young man who wishes to remain an atheist cannot be too careful.” Watch out. If you are a doubter of the God of Jesus Christ, you cannot be too careful of reading or watching this movie on C. S. Lewis.
Dr. David Kim | November 12, 2021
Recommended Books on Bible Studies for Children | November 4, 2021
One of the most critical educational problems of our times is that, strangely, we do not read books—good, enduring books. We read much, especially on screen, regarding information on the internet. But we do not read the kind of books that could truly heal our wounded hearts, and that could satisfy our deepest longings and intellectual hunger.
The source of all this problem is that we do not read the Scriptures, the Bible. Perhaps you read them, at church, maybe even in your Bible studies. But, in our times when our way of thinking is so molded by the trends around us through social media, it is easy for us to interpret the Bible according to our cultural biases, and not the other way around.
The Bible is a versatile book. It is designed to do so many things. It instructs, rebukes, reproves, and trains us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Clement of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers, says that the Word of God comprehensively meets our needs by persuading our hearts to be receptive, healing and encouraging us, and instructing us with the truth.
This past Wednesday night, many Christians across the country watched the much-anticipated movie, The Most Reluctant Convert, the story of the conversion of C. S. Lewis. I was encouraged and challenged in so many ways (another article on this forthcoming), but one was how ultimately it is the truth of God in His Word that set C. S. Lewis free from his “zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds.” It took a while for C. S. Lewis, and several good Christian friends along the way. But it was the Word of God working through them. In sum, since a right use of the vast resources of the Scripture is all important, here are my recommendations for Bible Studies in three categories and various grade levels (A list of specific topics from a biblical perspective or devotional studies is for another time).
Systematic (Topical) Study of Scripture
Everything a Child Should Know about God (ages 2–5)
The Ology (grade level 1–6)
10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask About Christianity (grade level 7–12)
Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide (grade level 7–12)
Westminster Shorter Catechisms (*Veritas is already studying this at 3–6th grade levels)
Study of the Gospel
The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith (grade level 3–7)
The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing (grade level 7–9)
The Gospel-Centered Life for Teens Participant’s Guide (grade level 7–12)
Christ-centered Exposition of the Bible Stories
The Read-Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 1 (ages 2–5)
The Big Picture Story Bible (grade level preschool–2)
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden (grade level 3–7)
The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and the New Testaments (grade level 3–7)
Dr. David Kim | November 4, 2021
Reclaiming Parental Authority | October 29, 2021
In raising our children, parents are often frustrated because their children do not listen to them. We want to exercise our parental authority, but we often end up blaming the children for their disrespect and disobedience, which begins a vicious cycle of making it even more difficult for children to listen to their parents. We often ask ourselves: What use is all the blessings I have, if my children do not listen to me? So, how can parents reclaim their parental authority?
To begin, take time to think about what parental authority is from a biblical perspective. Parental authority is only as effective as we are 1) properly representing God to our children, 2) and leading our children to trust and obey God. I know. Most of us might look at this and become discouraged. We might say, “I fail at both.” But take courage. Here are some suggestions on how you can reclaim your parental authority.
Take some time to study the biblical perspective on parenting. A top recommendation is Douglas Wilson’s Standing on the Promises. A core conviction of this book is the power of God’s promises toward believing parents. Take a promise like Gen 18:19. “For I have chosen him that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he promised him.” The implications of parenting and reclaiming parental authority are all here.
First. The authority of parents lies first and foremost in their faith in God’s promises. If our children see that we truly believe in God’s promises, even parents do not set a perfect example, children will follow our example in trusting in God and come to trust in God themselves.
Second, if parents truly believe in God’s promises, they will “command his children to keep the ways of the Lord.” That means, the parents will set clear practice of keeping the ways of the Lord to their children. This includes worshipping God on a weekly basis, keeping God’s specific commandments, regularly reading God’s Word, and training them “to do righteousness and justice.” In other words, parental authority comes from setting God’s standard over their children’s lives. Parental authority comes from being committed to training our children in God’s ways. Our children are made in the image of God, so they long and thirst to know God and his ways. If parents are committed to providing this, they already have a great authority over their children.
Third, if parents’ authority lies in their faith and obedience to God’s promises, gradually the primary authority figure in our children will become God himself. God’s authority is the goal. Parental authority is the means. Don’t confuse the two. The more parents are aware of this distinction, the more our children will respect our parental authority, because our children know that it is only a means of learning to embrace God’s authority. The way this transfer of authority is taught to our children is illustrated in Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham understood that God wanted to not only teach Abraham to trust him, but also his son Isaac to learn to trust in the God of his father. If parents keep this distinction in mind, they will neither abuse their parental authority, nor neglect it.
Fourth and finally, parents’ authority lies in our ability to enjoy God as parents. God asked Abraham to trust him and train his children in order to lead them to a new life of enjoying God. It’s this promise of life in Christ that should motivate parents to both provide a clear boundary for our children, and a clear vision of life. In other words, the joy that parents experience in the Lord is the authority. Authority is not so much a right, but our ability to share the weight of God’s glory.
This type of biblical authority can and should be reclaimed because everything is at stake. The future of our children. The quality of relationship with our children now. The glory of God in our generation. May the Lord bless you in your endeavors to reclaim your biblical parental authority.
Dr. David Kim | October 29, 2021
Wisdom and Virtue Grows by Re-reading Classics | October 22, 2021
“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.” C. S. Lewis
How does a person really grow in wisdom and virtue by reading a classic? The answer to this question determines our motivation to read classics. In a generation that is motivated primarily by the practical utility of education, the answer to this question becomes paramount. For most people, the reason for reading classics goes something like this: By reading classics, we know more about the world, and we speak and write better. And because we communicate better and become more influential, we become more successful people in the world.
That is honestly what many well-meaning, even Christian parents believe. For their children. And even for themselves. But whether this reason is sufficient is altogether questionable. In reality, it fails miserably. Just ask parents who have this reason for reading classics if they read classics on a regular basis. I don’t know a single parent who reads classics because they think it makes them better communicators and more successful people in the world.
Not that being a better communicator and being successful will not happen when we read classics. But as reasons for reading, they are not powerful enough motivators. Reading classics feeds our soul, stirs our imagination, provides us with a new vision of a good life, and even transforms us into the great characters that we read about.
And that is why it is worth reading classics over and over again, by ourselves, and with our children. Because we grow, in a most meaningful and lasting way. We become more human. More humbled.
Typically, great classics provide us with a window into a whole new way of looking at life, thinking about the same mundane things from a fresh new perspective. When we read some great lines in a book, we should wonder, “What perspective in life motivates this author to write this way?” Ultimately, explicitly or implicitly, these authors are motivated by the truth, goodness, and beauty of God. It is God’s redemptive power that motivates their hopeful perspective in life.
So, we ought to be transformed by the eternal perspective of the author. But that transformative experience cannot be separated from the particular turn of phrases with which authors express their thoughts. As Christians, we believe that words are a unique gift of God to mankind. As limited as we might think a human language is, words have the capacity to convey heavenly realities, in a fleshly form, just as Christ as God himself took on our weak human flesh.
As an example, here is a paragraph from a great children’s classic, The Wind in the Willow, by Kenneth Grahame. He describes a scene of a Mole discovering a river for the first time in his life.
He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
Have you ever imagined experiencing a river like this? Perhaps when God made rivers, with all its fertility, life-giving power, and grace, we are supposed to experience it this way. What is keeping us from experiencing God’s truth, goodness, and beauty in a river like this? By re-reading The Wind in the Willow, by chewing on these delicious words and meditating upon them, we might inherit the eternal perspective of the author.
Dr. David Kim | October 22, 2021
Importance of Family Reading of History | October 8, 2021
In the Book of Joshua Chapter 4, God commands Joshua to place twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan river and then in Gilgal after the Israelites crossed the river, as a teaching tool to the children of Israelites to remember the great works of God’s salvation in the past. “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know . . . “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever” (Josh 4:21-24). History is important because it helps us to remember God’s mighty acts of salvation. The stones in Gilgal functioned like a history book. It is interesting to note that God considers learning the history of what God did an important thing. Why does God want us to keep a record of what he did? And how about what we did in history? Is a record of what man did not important? The simple answer is that history is His Story. Man’s story, our story, does not have a good ending, unless it is intentionally seen as a part of the larger story of what God is doing. Because God is writing out an amazing story throughout history which reveals God’s wisdom and his goodness to those who trust in Him. So, we need to learn history first and foremost to know our God in a deeply personal way. But there is a more specific reason. God is preparing us for a mighty spiritual battle. In Joshua chapter 6, Israelites face the “mighty men of valor” (6:2) in Jericho. Learning history is not simply to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It is much more than that. It is to bring our hearts and minds to wholly depend on God. Since God is our strength, in spiritual battle, we need to wholly depend on God. In a physical battle, the outcome of the battle depends on individual courage and the unity of the army, not the number of the soldiers. Courage and unity comes from depending on God. The most significant part of this passage is that God is telling the parents to teach history to their children. It’s not that the children cannot learn history on their own. It’s because the history of our relationship with God is best taught from parents to children. It’s not so much the textbooks. Those are only reminders. It’s our parents’ experience of God’s powerful acts of salvation and goodness in their own lives that needs to be transmitted faithfully to their children. That’s how our children come to know God deeply personally. The God that I know now is mostly from what my own dad taught me since I was a wee little child. If God can transform a young aspiring man, even with his own flaws, into a humble life of blessing so many people’s lives, that God is good enough for me. Here are a few top recommendations for history books for families to read together at home. I pray that God will transmit his glory from you as parents to your children and then to their children, through faithful remembrance of God’s mighty acts. God’s Timeline: The Big Book of Church History For ages 6-12. Single book. Illustrated. Pullout timelines. Learn about the Early, Medieval and Missionary church, passing through key events such as the Council of Nicea and the Reformation – right through to the present day. Find out about the people God used and the impact they had on those around them – including us today! History Lives For ages 7-12. A set of books. Can be purchased separately. Not illustrated. Short chapters. The History Lives series covers the history of the Christian church through its people. This is history without the wooliness- and with all the wonder. A beautifully packaged box set of the highly recommended series containing all 5 volumes at a special price. Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series For ages 7-12. Series of at least 25 books. Sold separately. One book focuses on one figure in history. Beautifully illustrated. This series introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and schoolteachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character. Christian Heroines Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. These women made sacrifices for their faith. They endured pain and suffering in order to give glory to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and they have given us a legacy. With these twenty-one heronies you can go through history and see how these women made a difference in their world and in the church. From the slave girl Blandina through to the young mother Betty Stam, we discover the women from the early church to modern missionaries who face their struggles with the strength of God. Nothing could separate them, or us, from the love of God. Christian Heroes Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. We all have heroes – people we admire, look up to, and want to be like. Here are twenty-one heroes who stood up for their faith. We remember them because they did great and brave things for their God. Learn about them, and find that you can be a Christian Hero too! ________ Dr. David Kim | October 8, 2021
In the Book of Joshua Chapter 4, God commands Joshua to place twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan river and then in Gilgal after the Israelites crossed the river, as a teaching tool to the children of Israelites to remember the great works of God’s salvation in the past. “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know . . . “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever” (Josh 4:21-24).
History is important because it helps us to remember God’s mighty acts of salvation. The stones in Gilgal functioned like a history book. It is interesting to note that God considers learning the history of what God did an important thing. Why does God want us to keep a record of what he did? And how about what we did in history? Is a record of what man did not important? The simple answer is that history is His Story. Man’s story, our story, does not have a good ending, unless it is intentionally seen as a part of the larger story of what God is doing. Because God is writing out an amazing story throughout history which reveals God’s wisdom and his goodness to those who trust in Him. So, we need to learn history first and foremost to know our God in a deeply personal way.
But there is a more specific reason. God is preparing us for a mighty spiritual battle. In Joshua chapter 6, Israelites face the “mighty men of valor” (6:2) in Jericho. Learning history is not simply to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It is much more than that. It is to bring our hearts and minds to wholly depend on God. Since God is our strength, in spiritual battle, we need to wholly depend on God. In a physical battle, the outcome of the battle depends on individual courage and the unity of the army, not the number of the soldiers. Courage and unity comes from depending on God.
The most significant part of this passage is that God is telling the parents to teach history to their children. It’s not that the children cannot learn history on their own. It’s because the history of our relationship with God is best taught from parents to children. It’s not so much the textbooks. Those are only reminders. It’s our parents’ experience of God’s powerful acts of salvation and goodness in their own lives that needs to be transmitted faithfully to their children. That’s how our children come to know God deeply personally. The God that I know now is mostly from what my own dad taught me since I was a wee little child. If God can transform a young aspiring man, even with his own flaws, into a humble life of blessing so many people’s lives, that God is good enough for me.
Here are a few top recommendations for history books for families to read together at home. I pray that God will transmit his glory from you as parents to your children and then to their children, through faithful remembrance of God’s mighty acts.
God’s Timeline: The Big Book of Church History For ages 6-12. Single book. Illustrated. Pullout timelines. Learn about the Early, Medieval and Missionary church, passing through key events such as the Council of Nicea and the Reformation – right through to the present day. Find out about the people God used and the impact they had on those around them – including us today!
History Lives For ages 7-12. A set of books. Can be purchased separately. Not illustrated. Short chapters. The History Lives series covers the history of the Christian church through its people. This is history without the wooliness- and with all the wonder. A beautifully packaged box set of the highly recommended series containing all 5 volumes at a special price.
Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series For ages 7-12. Series of at least 25 books. Sold separately. One book focuses on one figure in history. Beautifully illustrated. This series introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and schoolteachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character.
Christian Heroines Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. These women made sacrifices for their faith. They endured pain and suffering in order to give glory to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and they have given us a legacy. With these twenty-one heronies you can go through history and see how these women made a difference in their world and in the church. From the slave girl Blandina through to the young mother Betty Stam, we discover the women from the early church to modern missionaries who face their struggles with the strength of God. Nothing could separate them, or us, from the love of God.
Christian Heroes Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. We all have heroes – people we admire, look up to, and want to be like. Here are twenty-one heroes who stood up for their faith. We remember them because they did great and brave things for their God. Learn about them, and find that you can be a Christian Hero too!
Dr. David Kim | October 8, 2021
Reading for Wisdom and Virtue | September 30, 2021
With all the emphasis these days on reading, let’s make one thing clear: as wonderful as the activity of reading is, reading without purpose or method does not help much. How we read and for what purpose we read is all important. In my recent Faith & Culture seminar, I talked about how God designed our brain to read, and its implications for how we ought to read. We need to train our brain and our children’s brain to read systematically, with decoding skills, on the one hand, and contextually, within the context of a rich reading culture, on the other. This dual approach maximizes our reading brain, and develops what is known as the “deep reading” which enables the reader to think critically, empathize with others, and gain new insights. In addition to how we ought to read, I also touched upon the purpose of reading. The purpose of reading is the same as the goal of classical education: to cultivate wisdom and virtue. Or to use John Milton’s language, the goal is to know God and to become more like him. How do we gain wisdom from reading? Wisdom has to do with understanding, understanding who God is, who we are, and what a good life is. According to great philosophers, wisdom is defined as “an examined life,” or a “discernment of good and evil,” or “a rational inquiry into fundamental questions of life.” These are all helpful, but according to Augustine, the pursuit of wisdom is the same as the pursuit of God. Wisdom is first and foremost a person, Jesus Christ, and then it is how God reveals his wise and perfect plan of salvation in Christ. So, the first aim of reading is to discover how God reveals his truth, goodness, and beauty in his salvation/redemption. It does not necessarily take a “Christian” book to fulfill this. But they cannot just be any book. Every Thursday morning, I read one or two pages from the Great Tradition, which is a collection of essays by the greatest educators throughout history, both Christian and non-Christians. Through these readings, we gain great insights, i.e., wisdom, into God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. How do we gain virtue from reading? Virtue, as well as wisdom, is gained from reading stories, real or fiction, where virtue triumphs over vice, good over evil. Children in our generation have a hard time discerning the difference between good and evil, partly because they are living in a very confused time, where evil is called good and good is called evil, but mainly because they have not read enough stories where virtue triumphs over evil. But you may say, don’t all stories have virtue and vice? Maybe, but it is increasingly difficult to find stories in which virtues triumph over vice through the grace of God. Virtues in stories these days are so man-centered that they could easily mislead a child away from God, and create more vice in them than virtue. There is a reason why stories like Divine Comedy, Les Miserable, Pride and Prejudice, Brother Karamazov, Moby Dick and children’s stories like Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings stand the test of time and stir the imagination and lift up the hopes of people everywhere. It is because they draw us nearer to God. In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5), a prideful selfish boy named Eustace is introduced. Later, he is redeemed by Aslan, but for a while he has no clue as to how obnoxious he is to everyone, and the author explains that it is because “Eustace hasn’t read ‘the right sort of books’ as far as magic and mythical creatures are concerned, as he prefers to read books about science and how things work.” In contrast, when Pevensie children find themselves in unfamiliar or undaunting situation, the first thing they think about is, “What would someone in this kind of story do?” ________ Dr. David Kim | September 17, 2021
With all the emphasis these days on reading, let’s make one thing clear: as wonderful as the activity of reading is, reading without purpose or method does not help much. How we read and for what purpose we read is all important. In my recent Faith & Culture seminar, I talked about how God designed our brain to read, and its implications for how we ought to read. We need to train our brain and our children’s brain to read systematically, with decoding skills, on the one hand, and contextually, within the context of a rich reading culture, on the other. This dual approach maximizes our reading brain, and develops what is known as the “deep reading” which enables the reader to think critically, empathize with others, and gain new insights.
In addition to how we ought to read, I also touched upon the purpose of reading. The purpose of reading is the same as the goal of classical education: to cultivate wisdom and virtue. Or to use John Milton’s language, the goal is to know God and to become more like him.
How do we gain wisdom from reading? Wisdom has to do with understanding, understanding who God is, who we are, and what a good life is. According to great philosophers, wisdom is defined as “an examined life,” or a “discernment of good and evil,” or “a rational inquiry into fundamental questions of life.” These are all helpful, but according to Augustine, the pursuit of wisdom is the same as the pursuit of God. Wisdom is first and foremost a person, Jesus Christ, and then it is how God reveals his wise and perfect plan of salvation in Christ. So, the first aim of reading is to discover how God reveals his truth, goodness, and beauty in his salvation/redemption. It does not necessarily take a “Christian” book to fulfill this. But they cannot just be any book. Every Thursday morning, I read one or two pages from the Great Tradition, which is a collection of essays by the greatest educators throughout history, both Christian and non-Christians. Through these readings, we gain great insights, i.e., wisdom, into God’s truth, goodness, and beauty.
How do we gain virtue from reading? Virtue, as well as wisdom, is gained from reading stories, real or fiction, where virtue triumphs over vice, good over evil. Children in our generation have a hard time discerning the difference between good and evil, partly because they are living in a very confused time, where evil is called good and good is called evil, but mainly because they have not read enough stories where virtue triumphs over evil. But you may say, don’t all stories have virtue and vice? Maybe, but it is increasingly difficult to find stories in which virtues triumph over vice through the grace of God. Virtues in stories these days are so man-centered that they could easily mislead a child away from God, and create more vice in them than virtue. There is a reason why stories like Divine Comedy, Les Miserable, Pride and Prejudice, Brother Karamazov, Moby Dick and children’s stories like Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings stand the test of time and stir the imagination and lift up the hopes of people everywhere. It is because they draw us nearer to God.
In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5), a prideful selfish boy named Eustace is introduced. Later, he is redeemed by Aslan, but for a while he has no clue as to how obnoxious he is to everyone, and the author explains that it is because “Eustace hasn’t read ‘the right sort of books’ as far as magic and mythical creatures are concerned, as he prefers to read books about science and how things work.” In contrast, when Pevensie children find themselves in unfamiliar or undaunting situation, the first thing they think about is, “What would someone in this kind of story do?”
Dr. David Kim | September 17, 2021
What I Learned Reading Frankenstien | September 17, 2021
This past summer, I began to read for the first time Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As one of the recommended books by several members of our community, and after watching Rosario Butterfield’s seminar on the reflection of her own journey in light of Frankenstein at the Society of Classical Learning’s summer conference, I chose the book as our faculty and staff summer literature selection. Like most people, growing up watching movies related to Frankenstein, I did not make much of the figure of Frankenstein or the movies. But reading Frankenstein not only changed my perception about Frankenstein, but in a real sense, changed me. On the surface, Frankenstein may be off-putting for conservative Christians like me. It is written by a liberal atheist, Mary Shelly, who comes from a liberal family with all kinds of family and ethical problems. But the first thing that attracted me to this book was the expressiveness of the author’s style of writing, especially in expressing the beauty of nature. “Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has traveled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour.” From the start to finish, this book is full of these descriptions of nature and its effect on us. It is like touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Although there are probably hidden secular assumptions behind this expressiveness, Christians have much to learn from this kind of literature on how we can delight, discern, and display the glory of God in nature. A second great feature of this book is the theme of loneliness and friendship. “But it was all a dream; no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone. I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But where was mine? He had abandoned me, and in the bitterness of my heart I cursed him. I have never empathized so much with a fictional criminal. Not for all his evil deeds. But for his loneliness, his helplessness, for all the injustice committed unto him. I shed not a few tears for the creature, because in many ways, he is a reflection of me. Finally, the book taught me about the powers and the responsibilities of our gift as creators. Although the idea of Dr. Frankenstein making a live human being is a fiction, it is a parable about the fundamental problem of the modern man: He ends up creating a monster, who destroys everyone and who seeks to destroy its creator. What’s so moving about this book is that it reads like an honest confession of an author, one who is longing and searching for God’s love. Many nights I found myself reaching for this book and guarding my book corner, free from the distraction of the media, free to search my hearts, free to cry, free to empathize, and free to long for God. ________ Dr. David Kim | September 17, 2021
This past summer, I began to read for the first time Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As one of the recommended books by several members of our community, and after watching Rosario Butterfield’s seminar on the reflection of her own journey in light of Frankenstein at the Society of Classical Learning’s summer conference, I chose the book as our faculty and staff summer literature selection. Like most people, growing up watching movies related to Frankenstein, I did not make much of the figure of Frankenstein or the movies. But reading Frankenstein not only changed my perception about Frankenstein, but in a real sense, changed me.
On the surface, Frankenstein may be off-putting for conservative Christians like me. It is written by a liberal atheist, Mary Shelly, who comes from a liberal family with all kinds of family and ethical problems.
But the first thing that attracted me to this book was the expressiveness of the author’s style of writing, especially in expressing the beauty of nature.
“Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has traveled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour.”
From the start to finish, this book is full of these descriptions of nature and its effect on us. It is like touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Although there are probably hidden secular assumptions behind this expressiveness, Christians have much to learn from this kind of literature on how we can delight, discern, and display the glory of God in nature.
A second great feature of this book is the theme of loneliness and friendship.
“But it was all a dream; no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone. I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But where was mine? He had abandoned me, and in the bitterness of my heart I cursed him.
I have never empathized so much with a fictional criminal. Not for all his evil deeds. But for his loneliness, his helplessness, for all the injustice committed unto him. I shed not a few tears for the creature, because in many ways, he is a reflection of me.
Finally, the book taught me about the powers and the responsibilities of our gift as creators. Although the idea of Dr. Frankenstein making a live human being is a fiction, it is a parable about the fundamental problem of the modern man: He ends up creating a monster, who destroys everyone and who seeks to destroy its creator. What’s so moving about this book is that it reads like an honest confession of an author, one who is longing and searching for God’s love.
Many nights I found myself reaching for this book and guarding my book corner, free from the distraction of the media, free to search my hearts, free to cry, free to empathize, and free to long for God.
Dr. David Kim | September 17, 2021
Developing a Reading Culture in the Age of Digital Revolution | September 7, 2021
According to Daniel Willingham in Reading After the Digital Revolution, one of the chief reading problems we have in the digital revolution, is the problem of boredom. There is a paradox to the problem: Even though we read more on the screen, we are more easily bored. Four seconds on a screen is too long. On the surface, we are very busy, but deep inside we are bored, as victims of the digital revolution. We are not only intellectually bored, but existentially bored. The cure to this insidious problem is reading. But reading is not a simple task. It is a complex science, and it requires a reading strategy, and a reading culture. According to the latest research on the science of reading, people who read well and people who love to read 1) have good training in the building blocks of reading and 2) embrace a culture of reading. The former is the formal, systematic instruction in reading that includes phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary development, and language comprehension. This is the kind of training that students in a school like ours receives—an Orton-Gillingham, phonics-based approach to learning reading. The latter, a culture of reading, is something that we, as a community of teachers and parents, have to create for the children. It includes creating an atmosphere where good books are valued and enjoyed, developing regular habit of reading, limiting the use of screen and social media, cultivating a deeper purpose and joy of reading, and forming reading groups that foster the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. The first step is creating an atmosphere where books are valued and enjoyed. Do you enjoy reading as parents? Do your children know your favorite books? Are good books readily accessible at home? Do you have quiet reading space at home? At Veritas, in addition to a rigorous reading program, most classes have bookshelves filled with good books and reading corners. At home, parents should create a “library” (even one row of books) for each of their children. Creating a regular habit of reading must begin with parents because reading is contagious. When I was in Israel, I was challenged by the Jewish practice of reading the Scriptures before every meal. We can apply this discipline with any good book. In creating the discipline of reading, begin with a 20-minutes of reading without stopping, and then building up to an hour of uninterrupted reading. On the importance of limiting the use of screen and social media, read Maryanne Wolf’s Reader Come Home. In this research-based book, Wolf argues cogently that in order to cultivate in our students “slower” and essential cognitive processes such as critical thinking, reflection, and empathy, all of which are aspects of deeper reading, we need to understand the negative impact of digital medium and develop a strategy for deeper reading. But reading to what end? Reading is valuable for everything in life, but reading should have a deeper and higher purpose. In classical education, we call that cultivation of wisdom and virtue, but we must discern what wisdom and virtue means from a Christian perspective. How and what we read is important. That is why children need guidance and modeling in reading, and training in how to read well. Finally, to cultivate a culture of reading, we need to form on-going reading groups that can share their reflections, so that the result is not only that everybody enjoys reading more and become better readers, but also so that more meaningful, dynamic relationships are formed, ones that honor and enjoy God. This results in a thriving community where there is no room for boredom, only for leisure, liveliness, and love. ________ Dr. David Kim | September 7, 2021
According to Daniel Willingham in Reading After the Digital Revolution, one of the chief reading problems we have in the digital revolution, is the problem of boredom. There is a paradox to the problem: Even though we read more on the screen, we are more easily bored. Four seconds on a screen is too long. On the surface, we are very busy, but deep inside we are bored, as victims of the digital revolution. We are not only intellectually bored, but existentially bored. The cure to this insidious problem is reading. But reading is not a simple task. It is a complex science, and it requires a reading strategy, and a reading culture.
According to the latest research on the science of reading, people who read well and people who love to read 1) have good training in the building blocks of reading and 2) embrace a culture of reading. The former is the formal, systematic instruction in reading that includes phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary development, and language comprehension. This is the kind of training that students in a school like ours receives—an Orton-Gillingham, phonics-based approach to learning reading.
The latter, a culture of reading, is something that we, as a community of teachers and parents, have to create for the children. It includes creating an atmosphere where good books are valued and enjoyed, developing regular habit of reading, limiting the use of screen and social media, cultivating a deeper purpose and joy of reading, and forming reading groups that foster the cultivation of wisdom and virtue.
The first step is creating an atmosphere where books are valued and enjoyed. Do you enjoy reading as parents? Do your children know your favorite books? Are good books readily accessible at home? Do you have quiet reading space at home? At Veritas, in addition to a rigorous reading program, most classes have bookshelves filled with good books and reading corners. At home, parents should create a “library” (even one row of books) for each of their children.
Creating a regular habit of reading must begin with parents because reading is contagious. When I was in Israel, I was challenged by the Jewish practice of reading the Scriptures before every meal. We can apply this discipline with any good book. In creating the discipline of reading, begin with a 20-minutes of reading without stopping, and then building up to an hour of uninterrupted reading.
On the importance of limiting the use of screen and social media, read Maryanne Wolf’s Reader Come Home. In this research-based book, Wolf argues cogently that in order to cultivate in our students “slower” and essential cognitive processes such as critical thinking, reflection, and empathy, all of which are aspects of deeper reading, we need to understand the negative impact of digital medium and develop a strategy for deeper reading.
But reading to what end? Reading is valuable for everything in life, but reading should have a deeper and higher purpose. In classical education, we call that cultivation of wisdom and virtue, but we must discern what wisdom and virtue means from a Christian perspective. How and what we read is important. That is why children need guidance and modeling in reading, and training in how to read well.
Finally, to cultivate a culture of reading, we need to form on-going reading groups that can share their reflections, so that the result is not only that everybody enjoys reading more and become better readers, but also so that more meaningful, dynamic relationships are formed, ones that honor and enjoy God. This results in a thriving community where there is no room for boredom, only for leisure, liveliness, and love.
Dr. David Kim | September 7, 2021
Enjoying God in Every Aspect of Our Culture | August 27, 2021
Dear Veritas Families, We are thankful to God for a great start of a new academic year! This year, we are particularly excited about the theme of “creating a Paideia culture.” Paideia is the word “discipline” or “training” in the verse “Fathers, train up your children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). A complete education begins with instruction (a Christ-centered knowledge) and ends with training or disciplining the student to live out a Christ-honoring and Christ-enjoying life in every aspect of his or her culture. It is this theme that we meditated on at the Secondary Spiritual Retreat this past weekend at the Oak Glen Christian Conference Center. We found out we were only the second group to use this beautiful, fully renovated retreat center after the covid period. We had the whole place to ourselves, the food was amazing, the camp staff was so kind, and our students and teachers really bonded with one another and with God. I shared about how God created culture, and instituted every aspect of culture, such as family, children, work, rest, language, worship, all of it before Adam and Eve sinned. In other words, God expects us to enjoy God more fully through these various aspects of culture. Yes, Adam sinned, and sin affects every aspect of our culture. But in Christ, every aspect of culture can be restored, or become even better than Eden. In particular, I talked about the restoration of our families, restoration of rest, and restoration of building the city. Regarding the restoration of rest, I talked about how in Christ, we can redeem time, space, and matter, since God created all of them (cf. Gen. 1:1). Regarding time, we need to take time off to enjoy God, particularly together with other loved ones. Regarding space, we need to visit places and travel to places to experience God more fully. Regarding matter, we need to balance contemplative life with active life, and working with our hands with working with our minds. So, we are looking forward to an academic year where we are more intentional about enjoying God in every aspect of our culture. And what better way to start that year than at a beautiful retreat center with friends and teachers! ________ Dr. David Kim | August 27, 2021
Dear Veritas Families,
We are thankful to God for a great start of a new academic year! This year, we are particularly excited about the theme of “creating a Paideia culture.” Paideia is the word “discipline” or “training” in the verse “Fathers, train up your children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). A complete education begins with instruction (a Christ-centered knowledge) and ends with training or disciplining the student to live out a Christ-honoring and Christ-enjoying life in every aspect of his or her culture.
It is this theme that we meditated on at the Secondary Spiritual Retreat this past weekend at the Oak Glen Christian Conference Center. We found out we were only the second group to use this beautiful, fully renovated retreat center after the covid period. We had the whole place to ourselves, the food was amazing, the camp staff was so kind, and our students and teachers really bonded with one another and with God.
I shared about how God created culture, and instituted every aspect of culture, such as family, children, work, rest, language, worship, all of it before Adam and Eve sinned. In other words, God expects us to enjoy God more fully through these various aspects of culture. Yes, Adam sinned, and sin affects every aspect of our culture. But in Christ, every aspect of culture can be restored, or become even better than Eden.
In particular, I talked about the restoration of our families, restoration of rest, and restoration of building the city. Regarding the restoration of rest, I talked about how in Christ, we can redeem time, space, and matter, since God created all of them (cf. Gen. 1:1). Regarding time, we need to take time off to enjoy God, particularly together with other loved ones. Regarding space, we need to visit places and travel to places to experience God more fully. Regarding matter, we need to balance contemplative life with active life, and working with our hands with working with our minds. So, we are looking forward to an academic year where we are more intentional about enjoying God in every aspect of our culture. And what better way to start that year than at a beautiful retreat center with friends and teachers!
Dr. David Kim | August 27, 2021
Creating a Paideia Culture | August 13, 2021
Dear Veritas Families,
Peace and grace in Christ! I hope you were able to spend some meaningful times with your children over the summer. Alas, it is coming to an end. But it is not too bad, because we are looking forward to an exciting new year of school! As our teachers spent the last two weeks training and preparing for the school, we could all feel the energy in the air.
For the grammar school, new teachers with new energies, fueled with wisdom of the old teachers and special trainings, all under the leadership of a new grammar school principal are creating new hopes and a new era of grammar school development. For the secondary, we feel a sense of deepening of the collected wisdom, as the existing teachers collaborate with one another more than ever before and expanding part-time teachers to either full-time or almost full-time positions. Added to this growth on the academic side is our fine arts program. For the first time in our school, we will have two music teachers, one for the primary, and another for upper primary and the secondary, and two music classes every week. And we will continue to build our art program with Mrs. Maria Hemmerling. Teachers have also worked hard to make their rooms more aesthetically more pleasing. Finally, we will be launching a capital campaign to find a bigger, better, and a more beautiful campus.
All these efforts are part of Veritas’ goal to Create a Paideia Culture, this year and beyond. This is essentially Veritas’ vision to create a Comprehensively Christ-Centered Community and Culture. There are specifically three impetus behind this. 1) recovery from covid cancel culture, 2) veritas’ vision statement, 3) a study of the latest book on classical education, Liberal Arts Tradition, which lays out the comprehensive vision behind classical, Christian education. You can either read the book yourself or join Dr. Kim’s coffee for a detailed explanation. But most importantly, we know that God is behind this movement to restore the Paideia of the Lord!
Dr. David Kim | August 13, 2021
Life Lessons from Mojave Desert | July 30, 2021
Dear Veritas Families,
I hope you are enjoying your summer with your family. It is a summer where everybody is trying to return to the norm. But what is the norm? From the ancient past, one way of thinking about a normal life is to ask if there is a balance between the active life and the contemplative life, of course all directed toward God. For example, we can ask ourselves: Am I serving God, and am I enjoying God? Yes, you might recall the difference between Martha, who loved to serve the Lord, and Mary, who loved to sit and listen to the Lord. We need both, with a priority on enjoying God.
Realizing the need to counter the busyness of my school life, I found a good excuse to engage in some contemplation and enjoyment of God in teaching 9th grade Reading/Writing class over the summer. The age level of these 9th graders was perfect for me to read three books on becoming a godly man, Future Men, Death by Living, and a great classic adventure story: The King Solomon’s Mines. We read and discussed about what various aspects of what a godly man looks like. Students were trained to dig deep, not only within each book, but to cross reference them, and to reflect biblically on the meaning of manliness. Students learned many dimensions of biblical manliness, but one definition captured it well: “the collection of all those characteristics which flow from delighting in and sacrificing bodily strength for goodness.”
And since masculinity has to do with bodily strength, we could not just discuss about it. So, we went on an adventure—an overnight camping at Mojave Desert, during the hottest part of the year. 6 boys and 3 fathers. It was 3rd time for me, but every time I go, Mojave Desert has a way of calling me back, even though half of me always says, no.
On the way up, we stopped over to get some wood under a large tent from an old Korean grandmother, whose cheeks were flushed. I checked the thermometer: 119 degrees! Once at the park, we took the Teutonia Peak trail. On the trail, we were welcomed by a small owl sitting on a branch of a Joshua tree in an area where most Joshua trees burned out a couple of years ago. The trail seemed endless, but we made it to the top. And what a view! It’s as if we could see half of the world. The giant boulders with its dug-outs were strangely comforting to our bodies and souls. Gazing out into the valley from this mountain top seemed to somehow clean out all the gunk from the crevices of our souls.
We came down and found a most perfect camp site, with plenty of shade and about 50 feet from another grand viewpoint. Although the temperature were in the 80s at night, many of us did not sleep well, since it was hotter in the tent. But we ate well! Korean bulgogi and samgyupsal for dinner, and pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. For morning devotion, we read from Ps 18, about a time when David was running away from Saul, and he found refuge in wilderness. David learned to trust in God, a God who has control over even the physical nature. We needed God, as we were faced with climbing the Kelso Dune in this sweltering weather.
With a backup plan, we still went to the Kelso Dune. There was a roadblock to the trailhead and a sign that read: “Warning, temperature will be up to 120 degrees. We recommend you hike before 10 AM.” It was 9:20 AM. I was hesitant, but several voices urged us on. At that time, the temperature was actually about 100. And there was a large cloud hanging above the Kelso Dune peaks. I cannot but help feeling that God is helping us (By the way, there was nobody else there except us). The Kelso Dune is quite steep, so much so that many go around the side to walk to the top. I told the boys there is only one way we are doing this: climbing it straight up. Even as I said those words, my heart is in prayers. To my amazement, these boys trekked up to the top, quietly and steadily. Watching them from behind, I can almost see them struggle to overcome their fears. Once we reached the top, we gave thanks to God and enjoyed the unparalleled vista on both sides of the dune. A couple of days later, as we ended the class, one of the students wrote me a card saying, “Dr. Kim, I learned so much through this class. That trip to the Mojave Desert was the one of the hardest things I ever did, but I learned many things through it.” Of course, I learned the lesson of the need to balance active and contemplative life—even in the same activity.
Dr. David Kim | July 30, 2021
How to Read Well | July 6, 2021
Dear Veritas Families and Friends,
I hope your summer is going well. I hope you are getting a good rest, and I hope your children are reading good books. Everybody knows reading is good for them. And many people know that classical education emphasizes reading. But not many people know how to read well, which is related to why we should read. So, here are some principles to guide you in how you should read well, and how you should guide your children to read.
First, it is not enough to read widely. One must read virtuously, meaning that the act of reading produces other virtues. Reading cultivates focus, patience, and prudence. In the digital world that we are swimming in now, reading books (printed book especially) brings healing to our much distracted and divided mind. So, to read well, one must set aside intentional quiet time in a quiet space.
Second, reading should be pleasurable. It is like eating. As with a delicious food, one should set the mood, set one’s heart, and savor everything. If possible, the book should be owned and marked. Memorable passages should be copied onto a “Commonplace Journal” (a journal where you collect memorable passages from your readings). You should “talk” to the author or the characters and write comments or questions to them in the margin.
Third, great books should teach you how to think, not just what to think. Stories are windows through which we can peer into a different way of thinking about life. In An Experiment in Criticism, C. S. Lewis argues that we should not read a literary work to use it merely for self-improvement, but that we should receive it, as in a new friend that can change our lives forever. In reading great books, we need to think about what and why the author is writing, above and beyond the theme of the book.
Fourth, we should read redemptively. A great writer once wrote that “the culmination of education is when we leave the wisdom of a great book, and reach the wisdom that God gives us in our own life.” Great literatures are reflections of God’s redemption. They tell stories of God’s grace shining through the darkest of dark times. And that should include the dark times we are going through. The reader should search for that light with prayer.
Dr. David Kim | July 6, 2021
How to Use the Summer after the Pandemic | June 15, 2021
Veritas Families and Friends,
I hope you are enjoying the beginning of your summer with your children. I hope your children had a little bit of good break from school. But as always, this summer is a double-edged sword. After a year and a half of pandemic, this summer is going to be crucial in transitioning back into a normal rhythm of life for our children, as well as for adults. Students, and teachers, are generally tired, especially from online education. Our school was fortunate to have most of our education in person. But all the masking, plexglassing, and social distancing has taken a toll on all of us. We need rest. Yet at the same time, we cannot languish. Children these days are especially addicted to games, social media, and other proliferating forms of media. So, we need a strategy to use this summer well.
To make a good transition, I would like to recommend some general principles, and a couple of specific suggestions.
First and foremost, children need to get their wiggles out. We all need to just get out more. Not to shopping malls, but to parks, beaches, and mountains.
Second, we need to build community. Isolation breeds division and doubt. We need to get together as much as possible, in small groups to restore fellowship, vision, accountability, and love.
Third, we need to foster genuine leisure, which is a dedicated time of contemplating and enjoying the truth, goodness, and beauty of God, especially with our family members or small groups.
Fourth, it is a high time for family discipleship. More than ever before, truth is under attack in America. Critical Race Theory along with gender identity politics is invading every level of our society. Ultimately, our very identity and goal in life as Christians are at stake. And nothing is more effective than parents taking the time to disciple their children with the truth of God’s Word.
On a practical level, I have several suggestions.
Watch 20-30 minutes of The Chosen (available for purchase on Amazon or stream on Youtube), the series on the life of Jesus, and have a 10 minute discussion with your family, daily or a few times a week.
Read with your children the school recommended (for primary) or required (for secondary) book for your children. At least have your children summarize to your what they are learning, and have a dinner discussion on it.
Get together with your church small group, or form small groups within Veritas community for meaningful discussions around a book, to share and develop accountability. I and the Grammar School Principal will be available throughout the summer to facilitate meetings, upon request.
Connect with other Veritas families to take your children out to parks, museums, movies, or just to hang out. Kids are starving for connection and God’s presence.
Also, don’t forget to attend the free (for the first time) portion of the ACCS conference for parents this Thursday from 11 AM-7 PM. You will be inspired, informed, and encouraged by great speakers! If you really want to know the heart and soul of classical, Christian education, you will want to not miss this opportunity.
Have a great summer!
Dr. David Kim | June 15, 2021
Aiming at Heaven | June 6, 2021
As I reflect upon this extraordinary year, I am humbled again at how God is radically transforming our children. Obviously, the level of transformation is different from student to student, but our teachers and I are noticing how little by little, these students are being radically transformed over the years. Everything changes. Their interests, their way of thinking about life, their joys, which include reading great books. And their understanding of Christian faith.
I believe that is in the nature of Classical, Christian Education. Because of its focus on Christ, everything changes in a student’s life. The most clear and concise way of summarizing this radical transformation that a Christ-centered life brings is a line that our teachers read last summer from C. S. Lewis’ Great Divorce.
This radical transformation is clearly taking place, little by little, year by year, among our students. Gradually, the students realize that
1. Heaven, both in the end and with Christ’s present reign over the world, is the goal of their lives. As with Augustine, students realize that their hearts are restless until they find rest in Christ.
2. When Christ’s reign is prioritized, students begin to find the radiance of God’s mercy and wisdom in everything they do on this earth. Everything ordinary suddenly becomes strange and delightful.
3. Desires for earthly achievements and accolades are their shackles. Students receive them because they are excellent in what they do, but they gradually realize the spiritual and mental bondage that worldliness brings, and long to be free from it.
4. As with those living in Heaven in the Great Divorce, students learn that what they thought about life in Heaven and Earth is backwards: They thought that life on earth is more “real” and “solid” than life in Heaven, but in reality, Heaven, or life under Christ’s reign, is more “real” and “solid” than earthly life. Glories of this world strangely grow dim.
Every year I hear similar testimonies from our graduates. It goes something like this. “Veritas is nothing like what I was looking for. It was hard. But in the end it was what I needed, because I found Christ and a new purpose in life.” It sounds like these students lost everything except Christ. But what is clear to everyone is that these students look happier, brighter, and more confident about life than ever before. The truth is, they gained everything.
Dr. David Kim | June 6, 2021
Thesis Presentation and Classical Christian Education | May 23, 2021
Every year, for the last 6 years, Veritas Junior and Senior presented their thesis, and every year I am amazed at the transformation that occurs in the student through the process writing the thesis. Everyone who hears the presentation is usually surprised at the caliber of the content and the delivery of the speech. But as one of the advisors throughout the entire process of writing every year, I have the privilege of witnessing the process of the transformation of beautiful human beings.
First, thesis-writing is transformative because in the process of selecting the thesis topic, the students set out to face the deepest problems of our generation. Topics like “Rest in a Restless Society,” “Social Media: The Beginnings of Modern Totalitarianism,” “Fact Became Myth: The Mythology of Modern Science” deal with pervasive problems of our generation. These are giant, dragon-problems, and these students are like the little Bilbo Baggins that took a giant step of faith to squarely face these problems.
Second, thesis writing is transformative because the students struggle with issues that are deeply personal, while being universal at the same time. Year after year, many students choose a topic that we are all so prone to fall prey to: social media, secular music, loneliness, self-centeredness, and fears of various kinds. Many times, the solution to our demons is to name them. These are no ordinary speeches. What is remarkable about these speeches is the courage with which these students face their own fears. But we also know where this courage comes from: a taste of God’s love and grace.
Third, thesis writing is transformative because they grow as thinkers in the process. Every thesis paper describes a problem on the practical level (personal, social, historical) and its underlying theoretical level (philosophical, theological levels), and offer a clear theoretical solution as well as a practical solution. Thinking through these issues at all these different levels is intense. And no student can think through any of these properly without years of reading deeply in the classics, training in Christian worldview, and learning to think clearly.
Fourth, thesis writing is transformative because it is a culmination of a student’s training in rhetoric, the art of communication and persuasion. By all account, both Christians and non-Christian experts, those who are well trained in the art of critical thinking and the art of persuasion will be the leaders of every field of profession. One thing I notice every year is that there is a perceptible difference in the student’s confidence in life (not just speaking) before and after the thesis presentation.
Fifth and finally, thesis writing is transformative because a new vision of hope and life is wrought through the cauldron of thesis-writing. Thesis writing takes an entire year. From the conception of an idea, the student’s ideas are tested, revised, and refined with the guidance of several advisors throughout the year, and peer-reviewed, all with the desire to strengthen and stretch the student to the fullness of God’s wisdom. The result is a refined gold, not just the paper, but the student—full of God’s grace and power.
Dr. David Kim | May 23, 2021
How Christian Faith Matters to Parents | May 14, 2021
During the enrollment season, I have the privilege of observing how visiting parents think of the role of faith in their child’s education.
When parents come to my office with the possibility of enrolling their children, it is nearly impossible to “hide” their Christian faith because I ask about it in various ways.
Most parents say that they are withdrawing their children from public school out of their concern for various forms of immorality, including same-sex marriage and LGBTQ. Most parents also ask about what kind of colleges our graduates go to. Most parents also ask about the programs we have, whether they are rigorous enough for their children.
However, when I talk about how our students grow in wisdom and virtue, they all agree that it is a good thing, but they rarely keep asking what that entails. The same with Christian worldview. When I share stories about how students are growing in their personal faith in Christ and in their ability to understand and articulate their faith to others, they get impressed, but rarely pursue the line of question. When I talk about how amazing our Juniors and Seniors are in their Junior/Senior Thesis presentations, how they speak with grace, wit, and power to a live audience of parents and peers, they nod their heads, but rarely ask more questions.
All this experience confirms a trend that we see in the larger society: More and more, our society is becoming secularized, and parents genuinely do not really understand the goals of classical, Christian education. They have their own goals, most of which rarely require genuine faith in Christ.
In contrast to this trend, I see a clear trend among our Veritas students and parents that they are growing in applying their faith in the education of their children. Increasingly, they believe it is their responsibility to provide a Christian education (cf. Eph 6:4). They understand the covenantal principle in the Bible that God will bless their children based on parents’ faith and obedience to God to raise their children in the Lord (cf. Gen 18:19). Increasingly, they realize that we cannot have it both ways: the worldly goals and God’s goals for our children, and that God’s goals for our children are far greater in every way than what the world can offer (cf. see Cardus study here). Parents also grow in their realization that genuinely happy, brilliant, and effective leaders of our society are formed only when their children are deeply rooted in their Christian faith. And lastly, Veritas parents slowly realize that their faith is also growing, and their vision of education is changing to more align with God’s vision. May the Lord continue to open the eyes of faith of all the parents to see the great blessings God has in store for our children!
Dr. David Kim | May 14, 2021
Wisdom and Eloquence | May 7, 2021
Most recently, I conducted a quick interview with the five graduating seniors at Veritas. One of the questions I asked was, “How long have you been at Veritas? And how have you grown during that time?” I was sweetly impressed by their answers. A composite answer goes something like this: “I learned how to think. I grew in reading comprehension, because we read the classics like Dante’s Inferno and G. K. Chesterton, philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Descartes, and Christian thinkers like Augustine and C. S. Lewis. I learned the reasons behind the Christian faith.” The students spoke eloquently, with conviction and grace, in response to questions they had virtually no time to prepare for.
These short interviews (click here) confirmed several things about wisdom and eloquence as goals of classical, Christian education.
1. Wisdom is the Foundation of Eloquence. These students could not have spoken so gracefully and eloquently, if they did not have all that wisdom accumulated in them over the years, reading all those classics. According to Cicero, “eloquence without wisdom is harmful.”
2. Eloquence is an Important Virtue. According to Cicero, “wisdom without eloquence is of little use.” What good is it if you have a lot of wisdom, but cannot communicate it persuasively and gracefully?
3. True Wisdom is Christian faith with Reason. Fides quarens intellectum. Faith seeking understanding. According to G. K. Chesterton, those who try to simply understand everything will go crazy. Only those who know how to understand through faith and wonder will not only enjoy life and God more, but understand everything better.
4. Wisdom arises when the truth of the gospel shines on pagan classics. It is hard to find good Christian thinkers, until those who are trained to read the great pagan classical in light of Christian worldview. Those who just read pagan literature understand the questions of life, but not the answers; those who just read Christian literature know the answers, but not the questions. Those who read both, understand the questions and answers.
5. Wisdom is knowing how to think, not just what to think. Students who have read many classics and spent many hours discussing and debating on truth come away not smug about what they believe, but more hungry to dive the depths of truth.
Dr. David Kim | May 7, 2021
The Sin of Mediocrity | April 30, 2021
A few years ago, I heard one of the classical educators mention that one of the sins that our generation commits easily is the “sin of mediocrity.” That phrase was new to me, so it drew my attention to read more about it. The claim is that in general our generation has lowered the standards for our children and that parents and students are easily satisfied with those lower standards. My immediate gut reaction is: “really? I know a lot of people who are really educationally ambitious.” But then, as I read more, I found out what the educator is talking about. His claim is that what many parents think of as high standards are really low standards by biblical standards.
Here are two of those biblical standards:
1. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Dt 6:5).
2. Fathers, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
That is a very high standard. The word “discipline” (paideia) refers to a comprehensively Christ-centered enculturation. When people think of these biblical goals of education, many think of them as either 1) unrealistic goals, or 2) goals that have very little to do with academic training, goals that can co-exist with high levels of secular education. This is where parents tend to compromise, for several reasons. They will either not pursue the biblical standards, or compromise them with worldly standards, and come up with some kind of justification. That’s what that educator means by the “sin of mediocrity.” Intentional compromise of biblical standards, while clearly knowing what God requires.
God’s standards are impossible to reach by our own strength. That’s what God expects because he expects education to be one of learning to depend on God’s grace and God’s strength every step of the way. That has vast implications for the way we do education. Education is about discipleship. Education is about integration of personal faith in Jesus with every area of academics. Education is not about merely about personal achievements, but sanctification. Education is about learning to being molded into the image of Jesus Christ. It is one thing to fall short of God’s standards, but it is another to substitute worldly educational goals with God’s own.
Dr. David Kim | April 30, 2021
A Well-Balanced Classical, Christian Education | April 21, 2021
Another lesson I have learned from taking a graduate class on History of Classical Education is that educational models can often be unbalanced. Education is like eating a healthy meal that is balanced. From reading and studying about various models of education in history, I learned that each model fits the needs of its historical context. But we can learn from these various models about what an ideal school should look like. I will summarize strengths and weaknesses of several models and offer what traits a well-balanced education/school should have.
1. Cicero—(1st century BC)—Cicero is easily the most influential non-Christian educator. His influence throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is vast. His educational model is that of “wisdom and eloquence.” His educational goal can be summarized as: “wisdom without eloquence is of little use; eloquence without wisdom is harmful.” His obvious weakness is that a personal relationship with the living God is missing.
2. Augustine (5th century)—Augustine is the most influential Christian educator. He set a model of education that can be summarized as “faith seeking understanding.” He believed a cautious selective use of secular learning is helpful in understanding the Scriptures, through which we can experience union with Christ, the Wisdom of God. His slight weakness would be that he was
a little too cautious of secular studies.
3. Cassiodorus (6th century)—Cassiodorus laid out an encyclopedic organization of both the “divine learnings” and “secular learnings,” and provided a much more positive grounds for studying the Seven Liberal Arts (Trivium and Quadrivium), for knowing God better. A weakness is that it was limited to the academic training.
4. Hugh of St Victor (12th century)—Perhaps the second most influential Christian educator. He expanded the Augustinian educational vision to include theoretical, practical, mechanical, and logical arts, or commonly known as the “Head, Heart, and Hand” vision of education. Training included academic, spiritual, and vocational aspects. Overall, fairly well balanced.
5. Humanists of Renaissance (15th century)—Renewal of the ancient Ciceronian model of education with an emphasis on reading great classics, in view of producing virtuous servant-leaders in the society. They emphasized poetry, history, and rhetoric. Two chief weaknesses are very little training on logic/critical thinking and weak integration with Christian worldview.
6. John Comenius (17th century)—Known as the “Father of modern education,” Comenius advanced universal education for all boys and girls, a feat made nearly possible because of the use of the printing press and the Reformational doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers.” He developed the first school textbook, and first children’s illustrated books, and first textbook on classroom teaching pedagogy. Two chief weaknesses are not enough reading of the great classics, and Christian worldview is not well integrated.
From this sample of the most influential educators, we can learn that a well-balanced, ideal educational model is the one that has the following elements:
1. Comprehensively Christ-centered. (Augustine)
2. Strong liberal arts program. (Cassiodorus and Hugh of St. Victor)
3. Training of the whole person: intellectual, ethical, practical skills. (Hugh of St. Victor)
4. Reading the great classics to gain their wisdom and eloquence. (Cicero, Humanists)
5. Well-trained teachers who mentor & disciple their students. (Augustine, Medieval and Renaissance Humanists)
6. Excellent curriculum and pedagogy—Comenius
Dr. David Kim | April 21, 2021
Augustine’s Educational Vision: Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom | April 7, 2021
After taking a year-long graduate course called “History of Classical Education” and reading some of the greatest works on Christian education throughout history, I have been able to confirm that Augustine is considered the Father of Christian education. Even though some of his basic insights have been developed further by others, some of his core educational insights still stand as the source of Christian education and continue to inspire Christian educators. One of those key insights is Augustine’s understanding of a student’s Seven Steps to Wisdom. He expands the biblical truth that the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” (Prov 9:10) into seven steps.
1. Fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord is like what Jesus said about the first quality of a true Christian: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” A student needs to humbly acknowledge that he is broken before God, spiritually, morally, and intellectually, and that without God’s mercy, we cannot expect to grow.
2. Piety. For Augustine, piety means utter trust and submission to the authority of God, specifically to God’s Word. Education is first and foremost a matter of authority. Whose authority am I going to trust and follow?
3. Knowledge. This is what most people understand as education: pursuit of knowledge. But Augustine is saying that we cannot know things properly and rightly, if it is not founded upon fear of the Lord and piety. Regarding what to learn, Augustine calls us to “plunder the Egyptians” and recover God’s wisdom in secular learning (the “arts”), but only to the extent that it helps us understand Scripture better, and to order our loves toward God.
4. Fortitude. Proper relationship with God and knowledge must lead to a hunger for right action, to order our loves. “One turns away from deadly delight in passing things and turns instead to love of eternal things.” Students will be trained to love God with their “strength,” not just their heart and mind.
5. Mercy. When a student gets to this point, they can easily become proud and think they are better than others. But this is when they begin to realize that God was training them to love and serve others, and to show others God’s mercy.
6. Purity of Vision. At this stage, a student will be presented with many temptations of the world, such as prestige and power. He or she will be restless and be tempted to gain appetite for inferior things. But the only way to overcome these base appetites is to find the true appetite in the truth, goodness, and beauty of Christ. So, the educational training involves strengthening our deep delight in God, intellectually, morally, and culturally.
7. Wisdom. As a result of all the previous stages, the student will encounter in a deeply personal way Christ, who is the Wisdom of God. They will experience Christ in a quiet but unshakeable way, even amid the storms of life, and filled with understanding and unspeakable joy.
Dr. David Kim | April 7, 2021
Character Formation at Veritas | March 20, 2021
Most parents agree that character or virtue formation is important, but it is rare to see parents who really understand God’s vision behind character formation. Usually, parents want their children to have a good character because they do not want their children to become bad, or harmful to other people. Which is not a bad thing. And others want their children to be good so they will have a good social standing. But why should they be good toward other people? And what does it mean to be good toward others? And how should we train them?
The seventh and the last goal of the “Portrait of a Graduate” at Veritas is that the student “honor their friends, humble themselves before others, and speak the truth in love.”
Honoring one another—Honoring, from a biblical perspective, is not merely a matter of giving due respect. It is a matter of acknowledging one another’s value so that we may enjoy God together more. In Ephesians 6:2, God commands that children honor our father and mother. But why? So that it may go well with you and that we may live long in the land. Honoring is acknowledging the value that the other person has within the body of Christ, so that ultimately we can be a blessings to one another, and enjoy God together as a body of Christ, as a team, as a community. So, at Veritas, when we train our boys to open doors for girls, or respond to adults with “yes, sir or ma’am,” we are training them to recognize their values in the body of Christ.
Humbling ourselves—In the process of building relationship, we inevitably become prideful at some point. Pride comes in a variety of forms. In his classic counseling book, When God is Small and People are Big, Ed Welch names different forms of “fear” or pride that people have, and these fears are often expressed as opposites. For example, inferiority complex and superiority complex are different forms of fear. They both ultimately stem from pride. Think of the older and the younger brothers in the parable of the Prodigal Son in Lk 15. So, a chief virtue that God calls us to bear as a result of receiving the grace of Christ is humility, to remember that we are not better than others, or worse than others. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We are called to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2). We ought not to measure ourselves against others. This attitude is requisite to solving any kind of problem we have with one another.
Speak the truth in Love—Finally, to grow in character, we need to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Truth speaking is essential to reconciliation and love because our unity ultimately is forged by a common commitment to the truth. Speaking the truth in love first means being able to say truth about my own shortcoming: “I’m sorry.” Second, it means guiding others with God’s word so they are not tossed to and from by worldly way of thinking (Eph 4:14). Third, it means speaking to one another in a way that edifies them, build them up (Eph 4:29). At Veritas, in all situations where fellowship is broken or is at risk of being broken, we encourage all parties to humble themselves and speak the truth in love to restore the fellowship in the body of Christ.
In sum, the goal of character formation is enjoying God together, and the method is humbling ourselves and relying on God’s truth to reconcile us and bring us together closer to God. It is radically a God-centered and community-centered approach to character formation. As the story of the rich young man in Mt 19:16-22 teaches us, character or virtue is not formed by simply doing good deeds.
Dr. David Kim | March 20, 2021
Honeyed Twisties and Classical Christian Education | March 5, 2021
What does honeyed twisties (a Korean snack) have to do with classical Christian education? Nothing. But to me there was a strong connection when I made them a couple of days ago. My wife asked me to help out, and I started to help perfunctorily. But I was sweetly surprised how fun it was. Rolling the dough out to make it consistently flat took some skill and focus. And then, I had to cut them into band-aid size strips, with a slit in the middle, so I can put one end through the slit to make the twisty shape. I thought for a moment, why go through the trouble of making them into these twisty shapes, when it is not going to change the way it tastes? The obvious answer was that the way a food looks matters. People like pretzels partly because of its shape. It affects the aesthetics, but it also changes the way it is enjoyed in the mouth. Finally, it is fried and dipped in a honey-like sauce and sprinkled with sesame. It was so good that they were consumed as soon as they were made.
I did not attempt to even think about classical education while making this delicious snack. But the process of making was so enjoyable and therapeutic that I could not but help acknowledge that I am enjoying God’s truth, goodness, and beauty in making this snack. It was not just that I was just enjoying the snack. And it was not just that I was proud of my little accomplishment. It had something to do with the fact that I was using my hands. And that it had to do with making basic things in life. It had to do with enjoying God with every aspect of my being—head, heart, and hands.
This comprehensive vision of education—enjoying God with our head, heart and hands—was not new to me. I have been thinking, reading, and telling others about a concept called the “Common Arts Education.” It was originally developed by Hugh of Saint Victor in the 12th century, to refer to a third branch of education, the other two being the “liberal arts” and the “fine arts.” Common Arts consisted of working with hands, developing basic life skills such as cooking, cultivating a garden, making furniture, making fabric, selling & buying things, performing simple medical procedures, and even learning how to act and enjoy God together with others. Hugh of Saint Victor describes this vision in his influential book Didaskalicon, and his vision is being revived through books like the recently published Common Arts Education: Renewing the Classical Tradition of Training Hands, Head, and Heart. It is no small wonder that Hugh’s school in Saint Victor drew some of the most influential Christian leaders in that generation, including Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Beckett. It is also no small wonder that from this comprehensively classical and Christian model of education sprung forth the modern university systems, which has now mostly lost the sight of that original vision.
But this vision is making a comeback. And Veritas will be part of that comeback. We want to restore and develop Hugh’s comprehensive Christian vision that includes our students fully enjoying God with their hands as well as their heads and hearts. Please join me in developing this vision together for our children.
Dr. David Kim | March 5, 2021
Significance of Biblical Vision of Family for Our Times (Eph 5:22-33) | March 3, 2021
One of the greatest challenges we are facing in our times is the disappearance of the nuclear family. With the rise of the social justice movement and the LGBTQ+ movement, we are witnessing the disintegration of the nuclear family, as well as a Christ-centered community. I want to share with you the significance of the family for our times from God’s Word: Eph 5:22-33.
1. Family is at the Core of a Christ-centered Community and culture.
Because it is where the perfect love between Christ and the Church is best reflected
Because it is where a Paideia, a Christ-centered culture, is passed down from parents to children. Family is where heaven and earth meets, where God’s love is reflected, both horizontally in husband and wife, and vertically and chronologically in parent-children relationship.
2. Family is where men learn biblical manhood (sacrificial love), and women learn biblical womanhood (nurturing support). What does a woman need? Women desire to be loved. Prov 30:21: “Under three things the earth trembles…and one of those is, “an unloved woman when she gets a husband…” What does a man need? The entire Proverbs ends with this: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” A woman who can nourishingly support him.
3. Family is where children are truly discipled. So the parents disciple their children, so goes the spiritual, social, moral, intellectual, and physical formation of the children, and so goes the fate of a civilization. A nation where family is centered in faithful discipleship of children by the parents has a strong future. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French diplomat in the early 1800’s, noted in Democracy in America, that the strength of American democracy comes from its families, where parents read the Bible to their children every day.
4. Family is where a beautiful Christ-centered tradition is formed. Where wisdom and virtue is both transferred and shared in a way God’s truth, goodness, and beauty is shared not only in real time, but in our memory.
Dr. David Kim | March 3, 2021
Veritas Education for the Flourishing of Human Being | February 25, 2021
Recently, one of the parents thanked me, saying that their child is flourishing at Veritas, and then asked what it is about the education at Veritas that results in the flourishing of their child. I figured other parents would also be interested in knowing my response to that question.
1. Fear of the Lord leads to True Wisdom—When Saint Augustine wrote On Christian Doctrine, a foundational blueprint for Christian education, he mapped out the educational journey that goes from the fear of the Lord to wisdom. At Veritas, students are discipled to know Christ and to follow him personally. Year after year, parents and students express how they have come to develop relationship with Christ and to have a clear vision of what it means to follow Christ. As a result, I have seen how Veritas students develop true wisdom—a life full of joy, conviction, and purpose.
2. Faculty that Embodies Wisdom and Virtue—At Veritas, we strongly believe that education is the transfer of a way of life, and that way of life is not simply taught, but caught by students from the way teachers live out their lives. Daily, teachers begin the day with reading of God’s Word, sharing our thoughts on how God is guiding us through the passage of the day, and praying for a few specific students and faculty. At faculty meetings and trainings, in various forms, we are always discussing how to be better at discipling our students to delight, discern, and display the glory of God.
3. Equipping the Students with the Tools of Learning—Another distinctive of Veritas is that it equips the students with the tools of learning, and not just the content, so that students learn how to learn themselves, and thus develop a love of learning. It is commonly known as “critical thinking skills,” but it is called Trivium–grammar, logic, rhetoric. Grammar teaches students to master the parts and functions of a subject, logic teaches students to analyze and synthesize the relationship of those parts, and rhetoric teaches students to express the truth they have learned with conviction, grace, and power.
4. Cultivation of Wisdom—At Veritas, students read the greatest classics in the world, works like Virgil’s Aeneid, Augustine’s Confessions, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth, Dostoyevsky’s Brother Karamazov, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. They take 2 years of philosophy and 1 year of natural philosophy. For history, they read Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, Plutarch, Caesar, and many other original sources. For Christian Studies, they read the works of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, among others. The reason is simple. Students are shaped by what they read. And they deserve to be shaped by the greatest wisdom of the past, filtered from a biblical perspective.
5. Displaying the Glory of God to Transform the Culture—Veritas trains students to transform the world for Christ. It seeks to do this first and foremost by displaying the glory of God in Christ (Mt 5:16, 2 Pet 3:15). Whether it is through art, music, drama, debate, mock trial, thesis presentations, or class presentations, students are trained to display God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. The training includes the training of not only their artistic skills, but more importantly their affections for God, and their compassion for their audience.
These are the distinctive features of Veritas education. We understand that these distinctives are challenging and that they set a high standard for education. But we are merely trying to be faithful to God’s clear blueprint for education in his Word. We are not perfect. But we are committed to them. And we believe these are the key reasons why students at Veritas flourish.
Dr. David Kim | February 25, 2021
Birthday Emails and the Power of Rhetoric Training | February 19, 2021
Last Sunday was my birthday. I was just enjoying my Sabbath-birthday rest when I opened my email and saw that a Rhetoric student had sent me a happy birthday email. But it was not just a “happy birthday.” It was a long letter, detailing the student’s growth at Veritas and what difference I made in his life. It was very genuine, encouraging, and moving. Since I rarely receive a long birthday email, I chewed on the words, marveling at how this student has grown so much, and reminiscing on God’s blessings in my life. And then just as I was thinking how unique that well-wishing email was, another email from another student popped up, equally long, just as genuine, encouraging, and moving. And then I noticed there were many more of these emails.
Soon I realized that this must have been done as a class, at the encouragement of one of the teachers. But what surprised me was how unique and powerful each letter was to me, and how the fact that they did it as a class did not detract anything from the power of their encouragement.
It is for this reason that I had to go back and “study” these birthday emails. What made them so persuasive, so moving? I receive different kinds of encouragements from different people, but these emails were especially powerful. As I re-read them, I realized that it is the power of their rhetoric training that made these emails so moving. 5 Canons of Rhetoric (content, structure, style, memory, delivery), 3 Modes of Appeal (ethos, pathos, logos), stasis theory, and Progymnasmata, which are “preliminary writing-exercises,” about 12 different types of writings, each for a specific purpose, each with a specific format. The encouraging emails I received was one of those Progymnasmata—Encomium, a praise-speech. Each student named three virtues that they saw in me and devoted one paragraph to each with supporting evidence and anecdotes. As it is typical with an Encomium, some students compared me with another great figure. And many of them mentioned that they seek to emulate these virtues in me.
Besides all the uplifting that I received, these emails are a chief evidence of the power of the classical education in rhetoric for three reasons:
1. The Importance of both Wisdom and Eloquence—Cicero remarked, “Wisdom without eloquence can be of little use, and eloquence without wisdom is harmful.” What moved me was that these students were not only growing in wisdom, but that they can express that to me with eloquence.
2. Cultivation of Wisdom and Virtue—These students could have just thanked me, but their encouragement was couched in terms of their desire to emulate certain virtues in me. Although I was encouraged that they commended me for these virtues, I was even more encouraged that they saw these virtues (such as faith, perseverance, prudence, wisdom) as their own educational goals. In writing this piece of Encomium, they were reminding themselves of the true aims of our lives.
3. Education is the Transfer of a Way of Life—In our faculty prayer meeting, we frequently talk about how education is more “caught” than “taught.” It is the transfer of a way of life. These emails were to me some of the clearest evidence that these students were catching the way of life according to Jesus Christ.
Dr. David Kim | February 19, 2021
“Social Justice” and Classical Education | February 11, 2021
Until recently, I have honestly never thought so much about the issue of “social justice.” It is potentially very confusing. Even for mature adult Christians, let alone our children, who are susceptible to a massive flood of information, misinformation, and deceptions about “social justice.” So, I did some research, watched seminars, read books, discussed with others, and would like to bring some clarification on the issue from a biblical perspective, and draw some conclusions for classical education.
First of all, definitions are all important. “Social justice” is defined in Webster Dictionary as “a state or doctrine of egalitarianism.” Oxford Languages Dictionary says, “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” By many proponents of social justice, the “distribution” refers to equal access, and often, equal outcome as well. But this already raises questions: Equal access–no matter what? Who is going to guarantee equal outcome of wealth and privileges for all? For many people now, and throughout history, they are looking to the government. And that is called Socialism—state-controlled distribution of wealth and privileges. This view of the problems and solutions of social injustice in America
has recently been greatly advanced by writers, social activist organizations, and politicians. But as Christians, we need to examine this movement to see if it holds up to biblical standards.
One theory that fuels the current view of social justice is known as Critical Race Theory, which states that institutional economic and racial inequality are results of intentional actions taken by the white people over people of color. Eventually, this CRT was applied to other areas such as gender, religion, and just about every area of life. Out of this formed a concept called “Intersectionality,” which is that if a person is oppressed in more than one area (e.g. race, gender, religion, etc), than this person’s injustice is multiplied greatly where these areas “intersect.” These concepts of CRT and Intersectionality is being applied in acrossall sectors of our society and at a dizzying speed, in many cases with governmental support, that there is practically a revolution taking place right before our eyes—or right behind our eyes.
So, how should we understand this movement of social justice from a biblical perspective, and how should we respond to them? Here are several key problems with this version of social justice, and corresponding biblical perspectives.
1. Distorted Understanding of Injustice—CRT proponents believe that injustice happens chiefly at the level of institutions. Now this may very well be. If so, Christians should respond to injustice at institutional level. However, solid scholarship by the most brilliant scholars is challenging the claim that inequality is chiefly at institutional levels. Thomas Sowell’s Discriminations and Disparities will clear up some fog here. Biblically speaking, injustice arises out of the sinfulness of our hearts. And although it can and does play out institutionally, if we do not deal with injustice with individuals from whom unjust thoughts and actions begin, then we are creating yet another layer of injustice by lumping an entire class of people together as being equally guilty.
2. Equating Injustice with Unequalness. Just because people are in different levels of income or position in society does not mean that they got there by injustice. Biblically speaking, injustice is not the same thing as unequalness. There is something demonic about people’s desire to make all outcomes equal. At least Karl Marx, the originator of socialist philosophy, believed that he has a kindred spirit with Satan himself. Biblically speaking, there is justice in rewarding those who do well. So, calling someone who did well by just means “unjust,” is doing a great injustice to that person.
3. Thinking of Justice Chiefly as a Political Solution—Social justice proponents believe that their chief solution is to use political power to change group power dynamic. So, to use a hypothetical example, if we have 30% black in elite universities, they believe we need to have 30% blacks in these elite universities, as a rule. Biblically speaking, whenever we use force to bring solutions to any conflict, it does not bring full resolution to that conflict, but usually more conflict. God’s goal toward mankind is not mere justice. He could have brought perfect justice by condemning all mankind, since we deserve it. He showed us his mercy, which is going beyond justice to bring about true peace and reconciliation in our society. Some problems in our society require political solution, but if we chiefly depend on political solution to cure most of our social problems, it will surely create more injustice. It is a widely known fact that not a single country in the world which has adopted socialism or communism as its philosophy has succeeded.
So, how can we train our students to be equipped to navigate through these issues?
1. Train them to Evaluate these Issues from Biblical Perspective—Social justice proponents usually work from an atheistic and non-biblical worldview. Their goal is to “criticize” (to use one of Marx’s favorite word) everything, meaning destroy everything—including God, family, and marriage. So, first and foremost, we need to train our students with Biblical Worldview so that they can easily detect how others are using their terms.
2. Speak the Truth in Love—Because the proponents of Social Justice are not afraid to use force, even violence, we must train our students to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove, in speaking the truth in love. They cannot remain silent. They must believe in the power of truth to set people free. But they need to do this with gentleness and respect, with Christ in their hearts (1 Pet 3:15).
3. Exercise Mercy and Do Justice—God has called every person to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). These are two sides of the same coin. In Christ, there is true mercy and justice. We need to train our students to show mercy toward one another, and do justice, first and foremost by obeying God’s commandments, and then by helping others in need.
Dr. David Kim | February 11, 2021
Understanding Gen Z | February 5, 2021
Gen Z. That’s what they call our children’s generation. Gen Z is the generation that is born from 1999 to 2015. They are the age group of children who are in our school. To effectively teach them and disciple them as parents and teachers, we need to understand some of the unique challenges that they are going through as a generation.
Gen Z is different than the Millenials (their parent generation) in that they were “born with cellphones in their hands.” As well as other forms of screens, so they are also called “screenagers.” That changes the way their brains are wired, socially, intellectually, and spiritually. Jean Twenge, in her book iGen, demonstrates that Gen Z is significantly less engaged socially than the previous generation, having difficulty relating to one another, postponing adolescence, ultimately retarding their character development.
Cognitive development also suffers. National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning.
Finally, Gen Z lives in a generation where the fastest growing religious faith is “none” (red line below).
As a whole, Gen Z generation tends to be self-centered, lack in critical thinking skills, and lack in conviction. A perfect recipe for creating a social disaster.
But thankfully, we can do something about it. We can turn this around. How?
1. Severely limit the use of screens, all types of screens. Most recent Barna study on Gen Z shows that Gen Z knows that screen time is harmful and that they appreciate the parents who place restrictions on their screen time.
2. Provide students with in-person, teamwork activities. During the covid time, parents and students are learning the actual difference that in-person, on-campus learning makes, especially in a school where much iron-sharpening-iron takes place through Socratic discussions, small group activities, and team presentations.
3. Sharpen thinking skills. Sharpening thinking skills is done best by classical education. Trivium sharpens students verbal thinking skill through grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Quadrivium sharpens mathematical thinking skills in math, geometry, music, and other applied sciences.
4. Read and discuss the Scriptures and great Christian authors together with your children. There is no greater gift that parents can give to their children than their time and their personal knowledge of the Lord.
Dr. David Kim | February 5, 2021
WASC Self-Study Visit Update | January 29, 2021
I want to thank everyone for their prayers for the WASC Self-Study visit that took place this past week, while we began our first school-wide online education. The Visiting Team met with us on Wednesday to give a final report and they expressed how impressed they were at our students, faculty, parents, and leadership. Although we still need to wait for a final decision from the WASC leadership, the Visiting Team wrote up a 27-page report that was overall very positive and full of good comments.
The Visiting Team began last Sunday, meeting separately with the Board, Leadership Team, Faculty, Students, Parents, and Support Staff, and visiting online classes via Zoom throughout Tuesday. The Visiting Team consisted of 3 members, all of whom have or had experience with Christian schools. One of them is currently working at another ACCS school.
What was sweetly surprising to me was how impressed they were at our school. They shared about how impressed they were at how articulately and thoughtfully students spoke about what they were learning. About our faculty, they commented that they were our greatest asset. About our parents, how dedicated and supportive they were. About our staff and leadership, how focused and dedicated they are to the mission and the vision of the school. What was evident in all our meetings was that they really understand and appreciate the integration of faith and Christ in every aspect of our school. Since the team had much experience with education and accreditation, and asked all kinds of questions from all angles, I could not question the genuineness of their joy about our school. We all felt that they were all personally encouraged by their visit, and that they were genuinely cheering us on in all that we were doing.
All in all, the WASC visit ended with what they told us they wanted to accomplish: To hold up a mirror for us to appreciate our strengths and identify areas of growth. The latter was not a surprise, but the former was. They helped us to see the eternal value of what we are doing at Veritas and how Christ is the animating power at Veritas. They were echoing what one of the parents recently pleaded me with: “Please, keep doing what you are doing.”
Dr. David Kim | January 29, 2021
The Paradox of Tolerance and Intolerance | January 21, 2021
What is better for a thriving community, tolerance or intolerance? That depends. In general, liberals are known to be tolerant and the conservatives are known to be intolerant. This is the case in the sense that liberals want to liberate people from the bondage of certain social and religious restrictions, and conservatives want to conserve certain values and beliefs that hold the society together.
The new US administration is a clear demonstration of this kind of toleration. The choice for the new cabinet members places highest premium on the diversity and equality of identity (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status), and on individuals who are committed to ensuring that diversity of identity. This may sound appealing to some people under the rubric of “social justice,” but it is necessary to understand that these people are committed to this diversity of identity at all cost.
At financial cost. The new Congressional Budget Office reports that up to 3.7 million jobs would be lost should a federal $15 minimum wage be enacted. At the cost of security. With the halting of the border walls, travel ban, and a friendly attitude toward communist regimes, America will be more exposed to foreign threat and intervention. At the cost of moral standard. The new administration is set on overthrowing every vestige of Christian moral standards, the latest of which is using gender-neutral language in the Congress, so that a congressman ends his prayer at the opening of the 117th Congress with, “A-man. And A-woman.” At the cost of truth. Most recently, the Director of National Intelligence reported that the fact that there was Chinese intervention in the election was suppressed by the FBI.
But since this kind of radical commitment to diversity of identity comes at a high cost, and will be met with opposition from the right, the new administration resorts to new laws and force—various forms of intolerance. They speak of unity and tolerance, but practice persecution and intolerance.
But what about Christians? How does Christ call us to respond in these times? We are called to be tolerant of people who may disagree with our beliefs and values, but intolerant about our standards of faith and belief. To those who disagree with us, we are called to pray for them, bless them, and respond to evil with good, and live peaceably with all, as much as possible (Rom 12:14-21). But, we are called to “content for the faith that was once for all delivered to all saints” (Jude 3) without compromise, knowing that it is the truth of Jesus Christ that will set us free, and it is the truth of Christ that will ultimately bring true peace in our society.
How does this apply to education? We need to raise up our children to have an open mind, to listen to the opinions of others, and to respect others in the battle of ideas, but in the end, it is our conviction in the deep truths of the Scriptures that is going to liberate us from our sin and ignorance and bring about true peace in our communities. As G. K. Chesterton says in Orthodoxy, open minds have something in common with open mouths—they are meant to close when they receive something solid. It is this kind of firm grasp—a sort of intolerance of conviction based on God’s Word—that leads us to practice truth kind of tolerance. It is the Truth that will set us all free.
Dr. David Kim | January 21, 2021
Censorship & Education | January 15, 2021
Recently, we are witnessing the rise of the Big Techs (Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, etc) and their growing power of censorship. These Big Techs have been granted the privilege of censoring certain types of materials that are harmful to the public. However, it is becoming clear that these Big Techs are abusing this privilege.
Why is this power of censorship so dangerous? What is at stake? And how can we respond? First, censorship can be helpful if it is used in a limited way, to protect a family, a community, or a nation from violence and immorality. However, a broad power of censorship can be extremely dangerous because it leads to manipulation of information, proliferation of evil, and distortion of truth.
So, what is at stake? Censorship not only limits our ability to know the truth, but also our ability to think about the truth. We arrive at truth by our ability to access all available facts regarding an issue, and by weighing their relative merits and arriving at a conclusion that is based on facts and reason. For Christians, the most important factor is the Truth, Christ and his Word, by which we see all things. That does not make facts and the use of reason any less important. In fact, it makes it more important. We see light in the light of God and His Word (Ps 36:9), but a goal of biblical truth is to dispel darkness. So, it is in the interest of Christians to think through all issues, nuts and bolts, in the light of God’s Word, and discover the truth, that will set us free and honor God.
So, censorship has everything to do with education. One of the greatest educators of all times, John Milton, was also known for his fight against censorship. In his work Areopagitica, Milton argued that the practice of moral virtue requires the knowing choice of good and evil. At Veritas, we have secondary students read books like Darwin’s Origin of Species and Nietzche’s Beyond Good and Evil, for the same reason. Milton also argued that censorship has the unintended effect of weakening people’s ability to recognize and affirm truths by using their reason. This argument draws on Milton’s belief that truths must be known by the use of reason rather than by acceptance of authority, or more specifically the use of reason, informed by a biblical worldview.
So, with so much at stake in the education of our children and in the pursuit of truth that sets us free, it is necessary that we advocate against censorship of the Big Techs. But more importantly, we need to train our children to think critically and biblically through “every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5) through dialogues, discussion, and debates at home, at church, and at school. May the Lord equip our children with the full armor of Christ!
Dr. David Kim | January 15, 2021
Learning in a Time of Spiritual Crisis | January 8, 2021
This week, we have all witnessed an eruption of violence in the D.C. Whatever happened there, and however people are viewing them, they are signs of a deeper underlying problem in America—a spiritual problem. Why is America so divided? How did we get here? How can we be healed? These are the questions that we are all raising.
I propose that our approach as Christians, and the way we should teach our children about the current events, is that they are manifestations of a spiritual war, and that we look at the problems not on their surfaces, but in their systemic roots.
In Psalms 11:3, it says “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The answer to this rhetorical question is, “nothing!” The recent events should awaken Christians to see that the Christian foundation of this nation is quickly eroding. The founding fathers of America all agreed that it is our faith in God that allows us to enjoy the freedom we have in this country, and to grow in virtues—justice, courage, wisdom, and temperance. But we are losing the freedom and losing these virtues as a nation, because we are losing our foundations of faith.
One indicator of this erosion is the decline in the spiritual foundation of the leaders of this nation. Rev. Albert Mohler, in his recent Daily Briefing podcast show, provided an analysis of the religious background of the recently formed congress, and explained that there is a growing religious diversity among the congressman, and a shift away from conservative Christianity into a more liberal strains of Christianity.
So, what is the solution? The solution cannot be simply politics or policies, even though they are important as manifestations of faith. The solution is to rebuild the broken foundations. The solution must be in raising a new generation of leaders who are firmly grounded in their faith in God, and trained in thinking and submitting to Christ. In 2 Cor 10:3-5, the apostle Paul reminds us that “for though we walk in flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Notice the last words. We need to take every thought captive, and train our children to take every thought captive, so that we and our children can first learn how to obey Christ. That’s God’s long-term solution to the problems we are facing.
C. S. Lewis, in his essay on “Learning in War-Time,” encourages us that, even in times of war, it is just as important, if not more, to teach and learn the truth, because that’s where the real battle lies, the long-term solution lies.
Dr. David Kim | January 8, 2021