Disturbing the Lives of Others

The following are the notes from Mr. Higgins’ talk at the 2024 Information Night.


As we’ve been preparing for this evening, our thirteenth Information Night, Mr. Sarr has tongue-in-cheek penciled me in to speak something “mind-blowing.” I’m not prepared to deliver that, but I am prepared to tell you something disturbing. In fact have no reluctance in trying to disturb you.

ECS has been disturbing my life since before the school even had a name. My schedule, my wife’s schedule, my kids’ schedules, my reading plans, my comfort zone, my understanding of what matters, my vision for the next twenty years, my bank account, my summer breaks, my sleeping, my coffee consumption, my level of laughter have all been disturbed. ECS has been, and keeps on, messing with how I previously had arranged all my stuff. And I love it.

Not only that, I keep trying to disturb the lives of people I care about. Some of the people I love the most are more tired than they’ve ever been, feel more overwhelmed now than before, have had a bunch of their stuff interrupted or interfered with, and I think they would say that they absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I say disturbing, I mean disturbing like we are living in a barn with a metal roof and the BLESSINGS keep falling like jumbo, Honeycrisp apples; bang, bang, bang! Imagine blessings falling not like our typical lazy Western Washington sprinkles, but a Midwest sky-dump. We can’t walk outside comfortably in all the raining blessings; we need kevlar umbrellas.

Blessings are good, but often disrupting. If you got an unanticipated ten-million dollar inheritance (after taxes), it would disturb your week. God gives first time parents nine-months of low-level disruption before the major blessing of the kid’s birth, and BANG. Then we eventually get to the point where we realize we’ve got to educate this little blessing. That’s going to require rearranging whatever you had on the calendar.

And without trying to be dramatic, a good education will barge in on anyone trying to make sure their blessings never spill over their easy-to-carry mini-basket. There are a LOT of things to learn. If Jesus cares about it, we can care about it.

  • If He created it, He cares. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3 ESV).
  • If He controls it, He cares. “[H]e upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV).
  • If He commands it, duh. Among the commands, we can go all the way back to the mandate for divine image-bearers: with His blessing, men are to fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion on it (Genesis 1:28).

Christ’s interests are comprehensive, which more than permits our increase of interests, it ought to provoke our increase (incrementally even though finitely) as we pursue Christlikeness. Our mission as a school is to commend all the works of the Lord to the next generation, educating them and laughing and laboring in order to carry and advance Christ-honoring culture.

And we are most certainly not living in broader culture that has any interest in honoring Christ. At best they are willfully negligent about honoring Jesus as Lord, and more so these days they express open rebellion against His exclusive preeminence and righteous standards. The nations rage and rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His anointed. As much as it’s ever been in our lifetimes, the division between two ways of life glares at us. It’s not a Red and Blue thing, but a God is God or men are wannabe-God thing.

Humanism has gotten us to the point where we think being a human being is a harmful-privilege that requires self-condemnation for how all us people are The Problem™️ on the planet. Humanism has gotten us to the point where we sacrifice the most vulnerable, unborn humans by redefining what it means to be a human; “Sorry, you must be on a different side of that muscle wall.” Humanism has gotten us to the point where our doctors won’t dare to identify male or female, our politicians create days and fly flags to celebrate perversity, and our government school (so-called) “teachers” teach students fictions as feasible (changing genders would just be one example).

Friends, that’s not only crazy, it’s disturbing. And that really points out that we’re in a battle for disturbing. Either Jesus is Lord and living for Him is worth having our lives disrupted by His blessings, or Jesus is not Lord and we can go about fiddling with distractions and trying to survive the insanity.

One of my favorite talks of all time was given by Abraham Kuyper in 1880 at the inauguration of the Free University in Amsterdam, “Sphere Sovereignty.” There will be Sovereignty, either of God or of man. If we recognize that God is sovereign, then our life is built on truth, our convictions resonate with truth. If we act like men are sovereign, whether represented by intellectuals or bureaucrats, then our lives are built on a “denial of the facts of life.”

“[T]he only two mighty antagonists that plumb life down to the root [are God’s sovereignty or man’s sovereignty]. And so they are worth people risking their own lives for and disturbing the lives of others.”

This is it. Our faith is in the living God or in fake news. And note that those living in their fantasy will risk their lives and make no apologies for disturbing the lives of others. What energy and endurance and dollars they devote to their cause! But those who live by faith in the Messiah, who are surrendered to Christ the King, will most certainly risk their own lives and make no apologies for disturbing the lives of others. Only one can be, only one is, the place of disruptive blessings.

Blessings are in the basics — phonograms and reading drills and math facts and Bible history — emphasized in the GRAMMAR stage. Blessings are in categories and distinguishing — practiced in the LOGIC stage. Blessings are in adornment — speeches and singing — embodied in the RHETORIC stage. The Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) are some of the tools of classical education. Blessings at ECS also come in laughter, especially when we laugh while trying to fix things rather than only laugh when the project/challenge is finished. Blessings most certainly come in sacrifices, offered out of love, for the life of others.

With Kuyper we say:

“To put it mildly, our undertaking bears a protest against the present environment and suggests that something better is possible.” (“Sphere Sovereignty”, 463)

The blessings are better at ECS, and they are too big for a reluctant person to pick up. The blessings here are disturbing like walking over a dune in the desert to find an orchard of fruit trees, planted by a stream of water, where leaves don’t wither, and blessings prosper. These blessings are worth your life, and lives of those you love, being disturbed.

How Would Your Grandkids Vote?

“I’m not doing this for you; I’m doing this for your grandkids.”  

When he’s speaking with his school’s parents, this remark commonly issues from the mouth of Brent Harken, headmaster at Spokane Classical Christian School.  It is intended to offer more perspective than defense.

I appreciate this perspective.  As it turns out, doing our work for the benefit of our students’ children is very orienting.

It keeps us from compromise or the allure of temporary success.  In a school context, there are quick-fixes everywhere. Do you constantly repair a printer, or do you invest in a new one?  Do you make the splashy hire of the teacher with impressive credentials but the questionable testimony, or do you hire the sort of person you want your students to become?  Do you tweak the curriculum to pursue the impressive standardized test scores, or do you use the curriculum as a tool to shape souls, knowing that real education is more than (though not less than) academics?  Most of these questions answer themselves if we are thinking long-term.  

I coach the students to consider the input their grandkids would offer if they got to chime on on weighty decisions.  “What will your grandkids wish you would have done?”  The chances are high that they will wish you’d done the right/hard/obvious thing instead of taking the easy path. 

Further, working for the benefit of the next generation’s next generation requires us to pursue sustainability.  We want to make decisions that we can live with thirty years from now, whether fiscal, personnel, curricular, facilities, or something else.  Bandaids are fine, but sometimes a new diet or even surgery are in order.  Deciding what to do is made easier by considering our children’s children.

Evangel Classical School is working to shape a generation that will effect cultural change and the good of the world as it lives under the lordship of Christ.  The idea is this: Fully-trained Raggants will go into their spheres of responsibility and live out their worldview and utilize their education. It will be compelling to the world and bring them blessing (whether they finally trust Christ or not).  They may even ask us to explain our hope.  But that is not something that happens overnight. 

This long view keeps us going.  We know that God blesses acts of obedience carried out in faith by fallen people.   

Thinking generationally is really healthy, and working for the benefit of future generations is the best way to serve the current one. 

—The U.H. 

Image-Bearers Require Maskless Education

The last few years have blessed us with many reasons to sharpen our thinking. Not only have we learned more, we’ve clarified more of our convictions, and the following is just one example. The ECS Board has drafted this position on the theological basis for maskless education that we plan to adopt into our by-laws at our next meeting. As usual, your feedback is welcome.


Human beings—male and female—are made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Men/boys and women/girls are divine image-bearers. Adam was the first man to reflect his Creator, and every other generation after Adam and Eve have the same privilege, to live together and work together. Throughout church history Man has been celebrated as imago Dei, “the image of God.”

This recognition of human identity is fundamental to “Our Vision” for why our school exists:  

“We aim to educate in the classical model and from the Christian worldview so that, by God’s grace, every student may mature as a faithful bearer of God’s image and a living sacrifice of worship”

“We believe that God purposed for men to bear His image in every relationship and in all their responsibilities….”

Because of our particular worldview, we educate students so that they would be “seeing every subject as the Lord’s and studying in order to be more faithful image-bearers and worshippers of Him.” Our first non-academic requirement for students to graduate from our school is that they be “stout image-bearers.” 

That “image of God” means more than having opposable thumbs. On a broad level it means having the capacity for relationships (hence why it was not good for Adam to be alone and why God made Eve as a helper-companion, Genesis 2:18, 20) as well as the capacity for responsibility (so the original mandate to fill the earth and subdue it, Genesis 1:28). One of the inherent implications of these capacities is the faculty of communication and language (which was demonstrated on Adam’s first day when he named all the animals and then gave a name to his wife, Genesis 2:19-20). It was the abuse of the gift of communication that resulted in God confusing mankind’s language when they sought to make a name for themselves rather than work as reflections of the Lord (Genesis 11:4, 7).

As we all know, communication comes not only from our mouths, but from the faces that our mouths are on, as well as from our bodily movements and postures. Facial expressions are crucial non-verbal means of conveying social information between people, including nose-twitches and dropped-jaws and raised-eyebrows. Masks inhibit these normal signals, and increase unnatural messages (see the following paragraph). Masks muffle the clarity of phonics coming from the hard work done by tongue and teeth and throat, and prohibit extra helps the listener gets from looking at the lips. This is the opposite of a positive/supportive learning environment for image-bearers. 

Worse than the practical problem is the relational problem of suspicion toward, and fear of, one’s fellow image-bearer. Masks increase anxiety in the group, not acceptance among the group. When the wearer thinks about herself, she thinks of herself as a threat to others, as if her latent germs can’t help but harm another. And if she does feel better about herself for covering up, it’s a false virtue, and false virtues have destroyed more societies than respiratory viruses. Then when we look at our neighbors (or classmates), masking practices teach us to think of our neighbor as a problem. If he’s not wearing a mask: problem. If he is wearing a mask: well at least he knows he’s a problem. Masks teach a false and damaging lesson (as do face shields and social distancing).

Our school’s internal governance requires obedience to God’s Word, especially in the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). But isn’t it unloving to start with assumptions about my neighbor that are so hesitant, if not resentful and scared?  

God gave us faces. Face to face communication is a gift. Facetime is a more advanced technology than voice transmission by itself. Our faces are part of our identity, they reflect our hearts (Proverbs 14:13), as God intended it to be.

Of course, soldiers facing chemical warfare should wear gas masks, and masks worn by surgeons in the operating room are appropriately on purpose. So masks may serve a role in specific and limited situations. But we are against the wearing of masks in normal, day to day school settings. This position is strengthened by the scientific studies on the uselessness of masks to stop coronaviruses. But our position is based on the central vision of our school to educate image-bearers, and that requires conduct and communication that is maskless. 

The Year of the Raggant

Welcome back to another school year, Raggants.

We think it is an extraordinary thing to be a raggant; we are the only school in the world with the raggant as mascot. The raggant is more than uniform embroidery, acting like a raggant is part of our vocabulary. I want to remind you of what it means. We include the characteristics on our grade cards, they are part of our other graduation requirements (and there are a few other uses). At least some have wondered why we make such a big deal about it; aren’t we supposed to be Christians? And of course following Christ what we’re about, but I hope to show that being a raggant is a particular and playful way to pursue being a Christian. I’m ready to say that this should be The Year of the Raggant.

Mr. Sarr is the one who first noted how the raggant perfectly embodies the center of classical and Christian education. Before ECS started we were reading The Case for Classical Christian Education in which Doug Wilson wrote:

Classical Christian academies teach all subjects as an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center.

Christ is Lord of all He made (and “by Him all things were created” Colossians 1:16), and Christ’s Word is the special revelation for our worship and our worldview. We are to “let the word of Christ dwell in (us) richly” (Colossians 3:16). There is no other book like the Bible; the Bible gives us the standard by which we evaluate every other book, subject, class, conversation, and claim. The Bible teaches us about Christ and what it means to follow Christ.

Mr. Sarr was also reading through the 100 Cupboards trilogy by Doug’s son, Nate Wilson. And in the second book, Dandelion Fire, Nate describes the raggant:

The raggant didn’t have any extra senses. He only had one, and it interfaced everything into an amazingly complicated but entirely accurate caricature of whatever worlds were within his range.

What a great parallel: Classical Christian schools where everything is integrated by Scripture and the raggant interfacing with all the world by one sense. So Mr. Sarr proposed the raggant as our mascot. On our school webpage he wrote:

That is a picture of how we want for our students to perceive Christ’s domain academically. We want their perceptions of the world to be less compartmentalized (like human senses) and more academically integrated like the blended, combined senses of the mighty raggant.

A few years later, in the spring of 2016, I needed something to talk about for an assembly. I came up with a list of characteristics for our students, showed it to my wife, and she wondered if I was okay. Ha. My first draft wasn’t impressive. I went back to the brainstorming, and ended up with six things. That talk got a good response, and later that summer the school board approved these characteristics as things to for ECS to emphasize.

At the time I didn’t use a lot of Scripture proof-texts. But all these virtues are driven by the Bible. When we talk about being raggants, it’s not really about taking on the shape of a small rhino with wings, we’re talking about integrated learning and living according to Scripture.

Stout Image Bearers

God made man in His image, blessed him, and told him to be fruitful and take dominion (Genesis 1:26, 28). In order to know who we are as human beings, we have to know in whose likeness we were created, and that comes from God’s Word.

As reflections of God we’re responsible to fulfill God’s mandate. Taking dominion is not for wimps, it requires stout/sturdy/strong image-bearers. So we take heart in what the Lord told Joshua at the edge of the promised land,

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7–9 ESV)

So “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Generous Disciples of Christ

Every Christian is a disciple, a word we got from the Latin word discipulus meaning “student/learner/follower.” Making disciples is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). That requires learning and observing all that Jesus commanded, which we get from Scripture.

And disciples give, first of themselves following the pattern of Christ, then of their resources. They die to bring life (2 Corinthians 4:7-12), they contribute to those who need it and show hospitality (Romans 12:13). Liberal education, education that makes free-men, includes giving freely as we’ve received (Matthew 10:8 KJV). Wisdom teaches that “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer” (Proverbs 11:24).

Copious Producers

Copious means plentiful, overflowing. Raggants/Christians aren’t just consumers, they are big-time producers.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
(Psalm 1:1–4 ESV)

Fruitfulness is not like that of a machine, but of a living tree. This fruitfulness, like courage, comes through God’s Word.

Remember the sower and the seed (an illustration of the gospel Word), that which fell on good soil “produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8, 20). When the soil is right the Word grows into a field full of good works.

Prodigious Learners

As copious means abundance, prodigious means enormous, vast. Christ is interested in a lot, so to be like Him we have a lot we can learn.

That includes about Christ Himself: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That’s a command, and we start with Scripture. So also, when we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, we are “bearing fruit in every good work (copious) and increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthen with all power (stout)” (Colossians 1:10).

Thankful Stewards

Thankfulness is how we learn, not just the end of our learning. We give thanks before and during our work, not only after it. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16–17 ESV, see also Ephesians 5:20)

If Scripture integrates all our learning, then thankfulness is like glue that holds together our attitude about it all. To whom much is given, much (gratitude) is required (see Luke 12:48).

Jovial Warriors

Since Genesis 3:15 humanity as been in a battle; there is enmity between two seeds, that of the serpent and that of the woman. That promised seed we now know is Christ Himself. Christians are enlisted as soldiers in a spiritual war (2 Corinthians 10:4) along with Him.

The good fight should be fought in a good way, so our motto is: laughter is war. It comes from Psalm 52.

The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
God his refuge, (Psalm 52:6–7 ESV)

See, fear, laugh, all of which come from faith in what God’s Word says. The Word is our sword (Ephesians 6:17), and we wield it with joy.

Of course there are other great characteristics in Scripture. The Greatest Commandment is to love God, then we’re to love our neighbors. The Great Commission is, again, to make disciples not to make raggants. We’re not saying that these six qualities are an alt-fruit of the Spirit, another six onto the inspired seven. But in a school context, with the Bible at the center, with the goal of Christ-honoring education culture, these characteristics seemed playful and potent.

So put it all together. Raggants are high discipline, low drama students who see all the world Scripture. May the Lord bless this 2023-24 school year at ECS as The Year of the Raggant.

Too Loved to Be Bored

The following are notes from Mr. Higgins charge to the 2023 graduates.


Good evening, graduates, their parents and families, school board and faculty, and guests. It is actually a blessing to me to have both the opportunity and the delight to speak to you tonight. There is no place I would rather be than right here, right now, with you.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t great places to go, other great places we could be. The post graduation get-togethers will be fun and your summers full and your falls and farther futures will take you to various and valuable fields for good work. But it’s not only appropriate to look back and thank God for what He has done, it is appropriate to look around and enjoy where God has you even in this moment.

It would be very easy to ruin our time by looking at the time, by counting down the minutes on the clock until we can get out. The minutes will pass, but we are filling the minutes with meaning on their way by.

Take a moment and mediate with me on the Aristotelian (probably) truism that you always are where you are, or more often phrased: wherever you go there you are. This is not sophomore dialectic, it is senior rhetoric. It’s life rhetoric. While it’s obviously true when the FBI is tracking the location services signal on your phone (unless your phone isn’t on you), the cliche is more about your character than your address. The cliche is so obvious that it’s a temptation to forget its force.

I asked ChatGPT to tell me about the phrase, “wherever you go there you are,” and the artificial intelligence explained it as being about “inner self awareness.” Really? Is that it?

Among the first few books I read about classical education is The Seven Laws of Teaching. I’ve read it a few times over the years, and it’s John Milton Gregory’s first rule that has left a deep groove in my mind. Gregory says,

“A highly effective teacher will love God, love life, love the students, and love the subject he teaches.”

A teacher thinking about what he teaches must start by thinking about loves. As C.S. Lewis put it, * docere et delectare, docere delectando*: “to teach and to delight, to teach by delighting.”

The great commandment is about love: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, then love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said these two commandments summarize all the law. Our character is seen in our loves.

These are not about internal awareness but about affections expressed. These are not loves of self-reflection or self-fulfillment. They are loves that light up our current location, our present situation.

Our loves are to be present tense, we are loving, not future (we will love) or subjunctive (we might love). We love now, we love this neighbor/classmate/customer, and extended, we love them in this minute and in this place. We are not always grasping for the intangible “later” or “elsewhere.” If a teacher can’t bring his loves into his work and into the room, it creates boredom, if not abhorrence in the students.

“The teacher, feeling no fresh interest in his work, seeks to compel the attention he is unable to attract, and awakens disgust by his dullness and dryness where he ought to inspire delight by his intelligence and active sympathy.”

Because we can disobey, we can actually get around the cliche. It is possible to not be where you are, to go through the motions with little or no heart in them. It’s possible for a teacher, it’s possible for a student. It is possible to put one’s attention on a future time or a different place; “Senioritis” is a diagnosis of division: the parts aren’t all together.

This doesn’t mean you can’t pursue goals; goals are great. This doesn’t mean everything must stay the same forever; it won’t and it can’t. But it does mean that the impact you make as you walk toward your future and your goals will be different.

One of my top-five favorite books, all time and any genre, is The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Capon. There is no other book I’ve highlighted more than this so-called “cookbook.” You all read it just a couple months ago in your Capstone class. Though I haven’t talked to any of you seniors about it directly, I have been directly impacted by your reading of it, and not only in the presentation feast you all hosted last night. The whole school has smelled different.

Capon is the kind of cook (and author) who makes you wish you could sit down at his table because he loves what he sets on it for the sake of those sitting around it. We can’t fellowship over bread and cheese and puff pastries and lamb, but we do imagine ourselves settled in his kitchen and seeing his wry smile and asking for another glass of whatever he’s pouring. We want to be there because he wants to be there. He has loved the food so that we want to love it.

Whatever the ingredients were, something started simmering among you seniors in a way that lifted the aroma of the whole school campus. You were like butter and cream that thickened the laughter. You were like a splash of wine that made Matins more bright. You were like onions, not making others cry, but revealing more layers of what raggants can do.

In some ways you’ve saved the best for last. You are leaving ECS better, not because you’re leaving, but because you spent your last days not trying to be somewhere else.

Allow me to commend this mindset, this way of loving where you are, and recommend it to you as a strategic and potent lesson as you go on to other “Wheres.”

Young people are tempted to think they are wasting their lives if they aren’t where they think they could be. But it is more likely to waste your life that way, consumed with constantly thinking about where you’re not. Young people are tempted to think that their parents, and sometimes their teachers/school, are holding them back from something better. It is more likely that they are trying to give you beloved resources so that you can have something better. Those days of preparation aren’t wasted any more than the third inning of a nine-inning game, no more keeping you back from the “important” than dinner ruins dessert.

“There are more important things to do than hurry.” (Capon, Location 922)

It’s true with smoking meat and with some meals. You must not be chintzy with your proteins, or your presence. This is a kind of unreasonable hospitality, unreasonable because being a great host is about the heart, not the venue.

You are the class with the most years under their ECS belt, some of you for as long as ECS has existed, so 11 of your 13 years of school. Now you are done. You can get out and finally do what you want. And you will find that wherever you go, you will take some of here with you.

During your senior presentations one line was quoted from Capon more than any other. I love it as well.

“boredom is the fertilizing principle of unloveliness.” (Capon, Location 83)

So with that in mind, here is my charge to you. Last year I urged the seniors that they were too blessed to be stupid. To you, class of 2023, you are too loved to be bored. And not being bored is the same as loving where you’re at, which is the same as being where you are. Wherever you go, you know the the fertilizing principle of not trying to be somewhere else before it’s time. You have made ECS more lovely, and yourselves as a class, by being here. That is a potent, and delightful, lesson to love.

Raggants Aren’t Normies

The following are notes from Mr. Higgins’ talk at the Fundraising Fiesta.


A principle is a first thing (derived from the Latin word princips which means “first, chief”) that serves as a foundation; you build on a principle, a (good) chain of reasons starts with a (good) principle. I learned a principle that started snowballing for me around the time that ECS started: thanksgiving is not something we fight for, thanksgiving is something we fight with. Thanksgiving isn’t the win, thanksgiving is a weapon in the war. It’s true with feasting as an expression of joyful gratitude. We share bread and wine, or tacos and cerveza, not because we’re finished, but as part of the fight. Laughter is not for when the battle is over; it’s not risus post bellum but risus est bellum.

So here’s the principle that we should keep in mind tonight: ECS is not something we fight for as much as something we fight with. We’re not simply trying to preserve the institution, we’re trying to spend it.

Of course I don’t mean that we are trying to go bankrupt and get out of the education business. Our fiesta tonight is a party to increase our resources, more locked arms and a more stocked arsenal/bank account. But we do need to know what we’re doing enough so that we never forget what we’re doing: commending the works of the Lord to another generation so that they will carry and advance Christ-honoring culture.

A couple significant things have happened in the life of our school since the last time we feasted in this room. The Lord has provided us with owned space, our own classrooms and a not-closet-office where the headmaster can sit down with interested families or double check-marked students without banging kneecaps. We also found out that sprinklers would be almost twice as much as the quote we raised money toward, but there are still holes in our ceilings that give evidence of progress.

The second thing is that we arrived on the State’s radar, provoked by a pressing plea to the city council to deny our facility use permit. As word got around, the State Board of Education was not impressed that we had not secured their approval. As our school board agreed to help purchase a place that needed loving into more loveliness, so we agreed to submit to a over-reaching and bureaucratic process for sake of playing a longer game.

We know where we’re going to have classes next year, we know what immunization records are required and where to keep chemicals in the closest, and these a helpful because we have a lot of fighting left to do.

There are afflictions at every turn, antagonists without and apathy within. We haven’t come this far to put our feet up on the desk, we’re putting them down on the gas pedal, both of them.

One of our temptations as an institution is to get complacent and comfy because little kids in their mostly put-together uniforms are so darned cute. They are cute. It’s a hoot to hear Kindergarten sound-offs (and almost as much of a hoot to watch the army of proud parents in the back with phones out taking video of said sound-offs), to watch penmanship improve, to see their red-faces near the end of the Liden Mile run during first recess. And when they earn their marble party pajama read-in day, we smile widely and say, Well done. But this doesn’t mean we’re done. The age-appropriate reading speed and comprehension skills equip them for reading new WA state legislation 35 years later. You remember how it goes: “See Jay run. See Jay ignore science and data.”

There’s a derogatory term I’ve seen thrown around, at least on my Twitter timeline, about the “normies.” Normies are those who want to go back to the how it used to be when (it seemed like) everyone got along, when “boys will be boys” meant that they got their pants dirty not that they were groomed into buying tampons. But what so many so-called “normies” don’t seem to see as clearly, which we need to fix for sake of the following generation, is that “normal” is a theological category. Normal and natural depend on God who created nature and defines what is normal; if we don’t give Him credit He will give us up to folly and dishonor.

I do believe in what’s called common grace; God sends rain and sun on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Non-Christians can (and do) get married, have kids, go on vacation, play sports, build bridges because they know 2+2=4. But they can only have those things and enjoy them if God is kind to them, and they will be judged by the Lord if they don’t thank Him. They are accountable for every good thing He gives.

But it was Christians who got all kinds of good and squandered their blessings as Christians. Christians received good without acknowledging Christ’s kindnesses or kingship in public. Christians acted indifferent about education, whether or not Jesus—as the One who made and who sustains it all—was named. Christians got complacent, we got fat in our feasting rather than using our feasting as fighting. The crazy all around us is because we didn’t honor Christ.

So ECS continues to press forward to the glory of Christ. The young kids are cute, but we’re not teaching raggants to be normies. They are not NPCs (non playable characters in the game). Each raggant is being equipped for his or her vocation/calling. We educate them so that when they are grown they can stand with their fathers, shoulder to shoulder, against enemies in the city gates. It’s why we have arrows on the ECS seal, not just because the headmaster likes archery.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!”
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127:4-5).

Mrs. Hall’s husband, Ryan, recommended a book at the beginning of the year, a book that our board chairman, Chuck, then read multiple times, and then Jonathan and Jim read it. Providentially most of our upperclassmen visited Canlis, a fine dining restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood, run by brothers, one of whom is mentioned in the book, Ureasonable Hospitality. Anyway, among many, this line stood out to me as a conscious concentration of our mission:

”the legacy we had charged ourselves with defending and extending.” (Location 1676)

We’re trying to do something unreasonable, not as in irrational, but as in exorbitantly special, which does include enjoying normal things giving explicit thanks to the Lord. We are not trying to be Christian normies, if that means being satisfied with cozy and covert rather than carrying and advancing Christ’s name.

We need more funds to do it. Playground equipment is fun, as it is a reset for memorizing science facts. We don’t want any student to mix up XX and XY because they didn’t get their wiggles out. It’s not so we can have our own little isolated safe-space to play, but for play and laughter as war. We’re all paying our taxes and tuition to try to pay teachers better, among a multitude of other costs.

Invest with us in the culture that honors Christ, everything else is crazy. We cherish the blessings of God to ECS, and may God bless ECS even more, not just by preserving her (as we fight for), but by making her formidable and potent in the fight (as we fight with).

Mission Critical

These are the notes from Mr. Higgins’ talk at our recent Information Night.

I’ve had a couple conversations recently, one with my wife, about how close it came to ECS never existing. If there had been other resources available to us or even another classical school closer than 45 minutes away, and certainly if there hadn’t been anyone else interested in jumpin’ Geronimo, it’s hard to say that ECS would have been born.

Which has also gotten me thinking, what about ECS is crucial? The question of what is mission critical came up during covid lockdowns and then again last summer as our school board considered how to navigate state requirements for private schools. What is not just preference, but nonnegotiable for sake of educating our kids, and even as we think about our children’s children? (I’m now closer to when my grandson will start Kindergarten than when my son started.) There are a lot of things that are important for life and for quality of life; bones and muscles, eyes and ears and fingertips and feet. But if there is no heartbeat, the body is dead.

The heartbeat of ECS is our belief that Jesus is Lord. The evangel in Evangel Classical School is the gospel, the good news, which is of “first importance,” “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And so “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Jesus is the Messiah, He is also the Maker. “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3; see also Colossians 1:16). He is the one in whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), and “He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).

And while this may be obvious, it is delightfully inescapable for us. ECS is from Him and through Him and to Him; we are built on the foundation of His existence and glory (He is and He is great!), we are energized by our faith and hope and love for Him, and we are resolved to carry and advance a culture that honors Christ. We want to be explicit and emphatic that Jesus is Lord.

That confession is mission critical to educating/discipling the next generation. There’s a timely book titled Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation that was just published in June of 2022. It’s easy to read, and everyone should read it, and track the cultural damage happening not just to, but through, our public schools. Our board chairman got on a kick last summer and was handing out copies by the box. One of the co-authors is the president of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (David Goodwin). The other is a current Fox News “Fox and Friends Weekend” host (Pete Hegseth).

The book is really good, but there is a kind of irony to some of the responses to the book. More than education, schooling is about enculturation. Pedagogy—one’s method and practice of teaching—is “the act of formulating a culture in children.” It’s about defining and triggering affections for the true, good, and beautiful. It’s identifying what is lovely and then learning to order our loves correctly (per Augustine, ordo amoris). It’s having, and then sharing, a common vision of the good life (per Aristotle).

In Western Civilization, wherever the gospel has taken root it has grown a distinct set of loves and understanding of that good life, a #blessed life, which only comes by fearing the Lord. But it’s also observable in many places that after a while, some tried to keep the good life without the good news. They held on to some traditions and cultural practices without having the transcendent Giver. And what’s happened in the U.S. in the last century, and certainly at broadband speed in the last decade since ECS started, is an attempt to attack objective reality, as if reality is what keeps us from the good (sound familiar? Genesis 3:1-5).

Hegseth and Goodwin argue for a return to a model of education that acknowledges up and down, right and wrong, male and female, black and white. They especially look to the model of classical education which isn’t embarrassed about facts (Grammar), uses reason (Logic), and promotes what is lovely and appealing (Rhetoric).

There is a kind of Fox News viewer, a kind of political conservative, who is fed up with 78 gender choices and 13 Pride Months a year and Critical Climate Race Change Theory curriculum and then gets excited when hearing about the classical model. But the “Western Christian Paideia” depends on the Christ. “Jesus Christ has to be at the center of all of it” (Hegseth and Goodin, Location 3344). Reviving the model without the Master is just rewinding the video, but we already know how it ends.

I went to public school. Last year was my 30th anniversary of graduating high school. My teachers weren’t public perverts and my classes were no worse than meh. I would have learned a lot more if I’d have done a bit more of my assigned reading. But the thing I really “learned” was that all the things we did for school didn’t matter to God. At least no one gave any credit to the Lord.

That said, there are other Christian schools, actual institutions in/around Marysville, that acknowledge the Master without taking advantage of the classical model and resources. Actually, they often use the same methods and books as the government schools, but add in a Bible class or a weekly chapel. This isn’t a criticism of those schools, but this is our information night, here’s what we’re trying to do.

We commend the works of the Lord so that the next generation would carry and advance Christ-honoring culture. We are not commending safety, as if all we needed was to escape. Sitting down to read without being surrounded by guns and drugs and guys in the girls’ bathroom is great, but that’s a sign of sanity, not great success. We are not commending smarts, as if there has never been a tyrant or villain with big brains. (Rebekah Merkle writes, “If you graduate [from a classical school] with all of the skills but none of the discernment, then you’re actually turning into a monster.” Classical Me, Classical Thee). We are not commending success, not as the world defines it, as if acceptance into the godless-college system or a higher-paid cog in the machine is winning.

We don’t use Jesus’ name as commas in our prayers, but we do pray our students will learn how to use commas because Jesus is the Word and the giver of language for which we are stewards. Jesus isn’t the answer to every question in science class, but that would be more true than the “Big Bang.” We don’t think the 11th commandment is “Thou shalt follow the Trivium,” but we do think that knowledge of details, understanding in order to distinguish, and wisdom that enables deft/skillful living come from the Lord.

So much so-called schooling is built on a foundation of oatmeal soaked in paint thinner. On its own the United States is not indivisible, without God the Blessings of Liberty promoted in our Constitution are not secure, and apart from grace our American way of life is as shatterproof as glass. The Lord is our only sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16, see also Matthew 7:24-27). When the rain falls and the floods come and the winds blow, It’s mission critical for us to equip the next generation to be like the wise man whose house didn’t fall because it had been founded on the rock, and the rock is Christ.

A Cultural Cathedral

The following are notes from Mr. Higgins’ 2022-23 Convocation message.

I read three books this summer. Hopefully you read even more. These are three that I won’t easily forget and that I think, perhaps strangely enough, easily relate to each other.

The first I’ll mention is a book that has been on my to-read list for many years. It’s not a long book, but it is a book about projects that take a long time. It’s written for 10-11 year-olds, and we have a copy in our 4th grade library. Here is my book report and rally to begin another year.

The book is called Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction. It was published the year before I was born (1973), but it’s a story about the citizens of a small town in France who decided to build the biggest and most beautiful cathedral in their country in the year 1252. It’s actually a fictional story about the people of Chutreaux; there is no city with that name, so there are no remains of this particular project. But the imaginary cathedral takes details from in-real-life construction of Gothic cathedrals built in the 12-14th centuries.

The bishop of the city when they started died before they finished. The master builder of the cathedral himself died more than halfway through and had to be replaced. In the non-fiction preface, the author only gives one qualification about what makes his story less real: the workers didn’t take any long breaks in construction. And still, it took 86 years from the first decision to the final detail.

To build something so grand took a lot of money, obviously a lot of time, and it also took a lot of different people doing their work expertly. There were teams of people, those who cut down trees in a nearby forrest and prepared the wood, those who cut out stones from a quarry and moved them to the site, those who dug deep footers and blacksmiths who made nails and hooks and hinges. There were master craftsmen and apprentices and assistants, masons and mortar makers, carpenters and climbers and cooks. No one person could have done it.

In one way your life as a student is like this. Even though your years in school are a jumpstart, your education is a lifetime project. It will take much time, much care, much effort, and a multitude of people. As the Lord adds to your knowledge and understanding and wisdom, as He knits you together with love for truth and goodness and beauty, your life is a cathedral.

In another way, ECS is a great project. For the first time, after ten years of school, now we even have our own building! Thanks be to the Lord. The classrooms are our classrooms, they have our desks and our chairs. Many of the rooms have been painted, they’ve gotten new lights, the things on the walls are decorative and educational and ours. Though they wouldn’t identify as Michelangelos, the teachers, many of the students, and some friends of the school have painted and furnished and adorned and loved this place into a more lovely place.

This facility is probably not ever going to be cathedral-level beautiful, and that’s fine. We’re actually trying to build something much more difficult than walls, something that will outlast us. We are like so many medieval stonemasons, adding a few more bricks to this generational project. Lord willing, the best years of ECS may be seen our grandchildren.

Another book I read this summer is Battle for the American Mind. It was published just this year. It’s about schools and education, about the trajectory of troubles for many government schools over the last century. The problems that are all around us are worse than new math and unscientific science and willful ignorance of history. The root problem is that people don’t have any real vision of the “good life.” They wouldn’t know beauty if it poked them in the eye-balls. They think the state has more power to make things better than the power of self-control. They have no center, no real reference point other than their feelings. They’re not practicing or pursuing virtues.

What we’re building here at ECS is more than just students who get high scores on tests. We’re not just trying to get you to graduate early so that you can get through college quicker so that you can get a high paying job. Those things are fine, but they are like a cathedral constructed of Popsicle sticks.

We want you to be great-souled. The word magnanimous is just that: manga = great and animus = mind or heart or soul. It’s related to those who are animated, full of life. We want a culture of families, students, and teachers who know and love, who know what is lovely and why they should love the lovely and be abounding in love. Previous generations referred to it as ordo amoris, ordered loves. This is where intellectual and moral virtue comes from. We want you to learn the stock responses of God-fearers, to be unimpressed by what the world says is cool, which never lasts long anyway.

This includes the alphabet and phonograms, this includes reading your assignments, but it also means paying more attention to what’s in your heart than how long a classmate has been talking. It means committing to work hard, and then actually working when it is hard. It means listening to those who know better, it means looking to take responsibilities that make the whole thing better.

We are in a battle for minds and our minds are necessary for the battle. We are trying to battle by building a culture, a paideia, that forms what you like and that you’re like and what you pursue as good.

Which leads me to the third book I read, Good to Great (a book published in between the first two, 2001). The definition of good is a little different; good in this case is about commercial success rather than cultural blessings. It’s a business book, but there’s some valuable overlap.

Want to be great? Be fanatically consistent in the right things. Those things aren’t always big things. One of the greatest dangers is thinking that the right things are other things rather than the ones right in front of you. Do what must be done; do it faithfully. That makes great people, and a bunch of people working together makes a great culture.

We care about raggant virtues. Be generous, be a producer, be a learner, be thankful, be joyful. As we work toward being great, let us be staff and students known for: High discipline, low drama.

I read something else good just yesterday, and I’m thinking maybe I should tape it to mirrors around me. It said: stop whining. An alternative, since we’re on the first day of school: don’t start whining.

Your education is like a cathedral, ECS itself is a different sort of generational project, an educational cathedral, and may the Lord bless this next year of classical education, weaponized laughter, and sacrificial labors so that we will carry and advance Christ-honoring culture.

Too Blessed to Be Stupid

The following are notes from Mr. Higgins’ graduation address last Sunday evening.


Hailey and Autumn, euge, bravo and well done! We praise the Lord for you, and we praise the Lord with you that He has blessed you with strength and endurance to finish this phase of your education. My graduation message to you tonight is simple. I believe it will be helpful and hopefully memorable. The message is this: you are too blessed to be stupid.

There is a categorical cornucopia of those who are dumb, fat, and happy, but I want to argue that your blessedness, your beatus, your happiness, won’t allow you to be stupid.

Stupid is a word your mom probably doesn’t want you to use. Stupid isn’t usually polite, and it’s regularly used to describe someone else’s actions/decisions that we just don’t like. But I have something more specific in mind.

I recently read a 46 year-old book titled, The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by an Italian economist named Carlo Cipolla. It’s short, a little over 80 printed pages, and ought to be on everyone’s summer reading list, including those who have just finished high school. I am going to share the best of the book, but I knew the gist before I read it and lost none of the value.

Cipolla points out that humans are relational creatures. To my knowledge he didn’t claim to be a Christian, but as Christians we know that we are made in the image of one God who has revealed Himself in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means that we were created with the capacity for work and connection, even for cooperation. For some this interaction is a painful necessity, other individuals will put up with other persons they don’t really like so they don’t have to be alone.

Think in economic terms what each person brings, what each person aims for. “From each action or inaction we derive a gain or a loss and at the same time we cause a gain or a loss to someone else.” (Cipolla, Location 202) Those benefits and losses can be plotted on a matrix.

He observes that there are always four types of persons in their interactions: 1) the Helpless, 2) Bandits, 3) the Intelligent, and 4) the Stupid.

The helpless person may contribute a minimal amount to society but is often taken advantage of. It’s not that the helpless person is ignorant per se, it’s that in his interactions he is more impoverished than enriched. The helpless are drained even when they aren’t the worst drain on others.

The bandit likewise is not a dunce, but exerts more energy in causing another’s loss in order to gain for himself. Thieves can be quite creative but they concentrate on what they can get. It’s a win-lose relationship, a bigger piece of the pie for bandit means he’s taking it from someone else’s piece.

The intelligent uses his brains for win-win. He benefits, not just parallel to, but together with, the benefit of others. The pie gets bigger for everyone. Intelligence in Cipolla’s definition is not just mental horsepower or IQ, not just quantitative reasoning on the CLT. It’s applied logic in love, a relational intelligence. Having read Proverbs we’d label it wisdom.

The fourth character in the last quadrant is the stupid, and he is the worst. Cipolla defines it in the third and “golden” basic law of stupidity: “A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.” (Location 245)

“Our daily life is mostly made up of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness, and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm.” (Location 255)

And it’s not just an individual concern.

“This [stupid] group is much more powerful than the Mafia, or the military industrial complex, or international communism—it is an unorganized, unchartered group which has no chief, no president, no by-laws and yet manages to operate in perfect unison, as if guided by an invisible hand, in such a way that the activity of each member powerfully contributes to strengthen and amplify the effectiveness of the activity of all other members.” (Location 101)

It might seem that bandits would be worse: purposefully benefitting themselves at the losses of others. But bandit types can be reasoned with to some degree, or at least we can use reason to understand their decisions. The helpless are also not helpful for a community, but their biggest problem is that they can’t stand up against the stupid.

The stupid person is committed to doing things that benefit no one. They take the perfectly good pie and throw the whole thing in the trash, probably while congratulating themselves since sugar is a drug that causes diabetes. No one wins, and there’s no logic that can move them. They will work hard to make it so that they don’t have to work hard, and that hinders others from working hard. The stupid are “the most powerful dark forces that hinder the growth of human welfare and happiness.” (Location 107)

Cipolla’s categories get close to Solomon’s characters. The helpless is as the naive or the simple. The bandits compare to the scoffers, the sinners whose feet run to evil (Proverbs 1:16). The intelligent are the wise. And the stupid is the fool. It’s more than failing grades and a low Lexile reading level, it’s resistance to knowledge that does good.

  • “a fool flaunts his folly” (Proverbs 13:16)
  • “a babbling fool will come to ruin” (Proverbs 10:8)
  • “the mouth of a fool brings ruin near” (Proverbs 10:14)
  • “doing wrong is like a joke to a fool” (Proverbs 10:23)

“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly” (Proverbs 17:12).

Bertrand Russell once said (ironically): “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Solomon said it a long time ago.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.
(Proverbs 12:15, ESV)

Cipolla asserts that the percentage of stupid = σ is a constant, and “Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.” (Location 121). No matter what group or demographic, there are always those who make decisions detrimental to themselves and others. If Cipolla is right, you can see that now, not just when you “go out into the world.”

Examples in a school context: Students who defend not doing their work and make it hard for others to do theirs, whether mouthing off with each other or blowing off their assignments. Teachers who habitually over-assign work that then we also have to grade. Or broadening the view: Politicians who mandate untested or unnecessary restrictions to the harm of everyone.

Raggant-about-to-be-alumni, you are too blessed to be stupid. The blessings God has given you are abundant and extraordinary. Your parents have blessed you, your teachers have sacrificed to do the same. You’ve read books and had conversations about things that maybe most students, most human beings, never will. These are not blessings that just happen anywhere.

Blessings include but are not limited to: learning how to partner for projects (with others who don’t care as much as you), learning how to keep reading good things when your eyes hurt, learning how to learn when the subject is difficult, learning how to sing in harmony, learning how to laugh when it’s hard, learning how to make and defend your case, learning how to change your mind.

You both have finished this part of your course and are more equipped than the majority of your peers who are hurting themselves and others by not taking advantage of the assignments in front of them. You have been blessed, and I charge you to bring blessings to others, for their joy and your own.

Hailey and Autumn, we are glad to celebrate with you as you cross the ECS finish line. Fear the Lord, be wise, get wisdom, remember that you are too blessed to be stupid.

Keep Founding

The following notes were from Mr. Higgins’ talk at last Friday’s Fundraising Feast.


I am one of the founders of ECS. Being a founder is interesting, because founders aren’t the past tense of finders. A founder doesn’t find something that was there, a founder lays down a foundation for something that could become. The only thing that existed about ECS eleven years ago was an idea. But look around. The wine and steak and laughter and songs and relationships are real.

Photo by Mrs. Bowers

This is our ninth fundraising feast, and this is the ninth time that I’ve spoken. Someday there will be another speaker (and the people rejoiced). Debatable statistics say that most people would rather drown than speak in public, but even if the task doesn’t seem fun to you, you can certainly imagine that it is a privilege. Year by year I ask Jonathan if he would like me to speak, and he keeps including me because I’m connected as a founder, a board member, a parent of raggants, a teacher, and now a grandpa to a future raggant!

But as I said, it won’t be me up here forever, and not just when I’m dead. If we fulfill our mission, it definitely won’t be. My comments so far are a personal angle on our institutional vision. I have the perspective of a founder with a purpose to make more of them, and from my perspective it’s working.

Consider how different things are than two years ago, when we didn’t even host a fundraising feast because we were all ordered to stay home. But more than that, think about how different your life, your family, your weekly schedule, your budget, your relationships, your expectations, are now compared to before you got connected to ECS. The influence isn’t only one way, and it’s not always immediately positive I suppose. But all of us are changed (and/or challenged) by one another. Every new teacher and student and family adds to the foundation.

I am one of the first founders, but we are all ongoing founders. This is our school’s mission. We aren’t interested in making graduates as much as we are interested in graduating founders. By that I don’t mean that every young man or woman has to start a brand new school or business, though some will. I mean that every young man or woman will carry and advance the foundation.

That foundation is our confession that Jesus is Lord. He cares about everything He created, and if we are to please Him and grow in likeness to Him, we must grow in our care for everything He created. The works of the Lord are the foundation, and we commend them to another generation (Psalm 145:4). So we are always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58), reading books and translating Latin and laughing at tyrants and stacking chairs again in and for Jesus’ name.

We are doing this so that we’ll be more than a “read-only” culture. If the government keeps down its current path, we’re going to see the increase of a “can’t-read” generation, which I suppose will at least keep them from being as irritated someday when they have to buy gas. Read-only is better than unread-only. But we’re aiming for more than literacy. We’re aiming higher than knowing history. Let’s make history.

A “read-only” people have “the ability to repeat what an ancestor has handed down – but not recreate it from first principles” (Balaji). In the model of classical education that we follow at ECS, the first stage is the Grammar stage, and it necessarily includes learning about and learning to appreciate all that we’ve been given. We repeat vocabulary words and multiplication tables and parts in songs because repetition is a tool in education. But it’s not the telos of education.

Repeating isn’t enough, and neither is knowing more so that we can have more informed complaints. We live in a day, or at least in a streaming news-cycle, where resentment is triumphing over vision. Algorithms are written to engage our attention with anger. We don’t know for sure what’s happening, but we know for sure someone needs to be damned. The cultural foundations around us aren’t just deteriorating on their own, they are being actively destroyed. Did we expect anything different from a system starting with deconstruction?

We have to learn what is better, and then commit to trying to build something better. That is the part we put on repeat, not just parroting what a founder said, but what a founder did. Keep founding.

Tonight will end, but it is not the end, right? When the dishes are done and the donations counted, we have a lot more to do. We will have school on Monday, four more weeks of this school year, graduation for our seniors, and a final assembly, then we start again in the fall. It’s just a little over 16 weeks away from the first day of school. Ha!

You also have only so many weeks have left. I read a book titled Four Thousand Weeks, which is rounded for how many weeks there are in 77 years of life. What are you doing with those? What foundation are you building up (or tearing down) for your family? For your city?

“The world is bursting with wonder, and yet it’s the rare productivity guru who seems to have considered the possibility that the ultimate point of all our frenetic doing might be to experience more of that wonder.” (—Oliver Burkeman, Loc. 55)

The point of tonight is not to raise the most money we’ve ever raised. That’s not the end of the game. The point is to give thanks and raise money for the purpose of continuing the wonder, and the work of helping others see the wonder.

I’m not so starry-eyed as to think everyone gets the wonder in the works of the Lord at the same level. Not all of our current students see what they’re being given. Do any of us? But, wow, how kind the Lord has been to us these last ten years. What fruit has come from so many late nights and caffeinated mornings. It’s totally costly, and yet what a foundation of laughter and feasting do we dance on. Even when God has said “No” to particular prayers, He has worked in ways we can easily commend to one another.

No person has worked harder than our Headmaster to find us a place to root our work. At the direction of the Board he asked a local church if we could rent their space, and we sent him back at least two more times after they said no. As it turns out, had that church, or the other alternatives we pursued said yes, we probably would not have been able to open our doors in the fall of 2020. Not only that, we wouldn’t be in the position that we are now to pursue purchasing the Reclamation Church campus.

For the first time in our history we are about to have our own property on which to build more foundation. We also have the opportunity to honor our city and protect our investment from burning down by installing a sprinkler system. This is not a distraction, this is the spoils of founding something that God has made so fruitful. A number of people have observed that the building isn’t as bright as they’d like. That’s okay, neither are we, and fixing the former is easier than the latter. The same is true for Marysville. Paint is cheap compared to the cost of bringing light to the darkness, and yet it’s exactly the foundation we’ve been working on.

We have joy in a work that we are only starting. We laugh because we can’t finish it. The work is that big, that glorious. We are doing this because an idea turned into 370 people having a feast. Imagine what it could be just ten more years from now?

Keep rejoicing in the works of the Lord and keep founding.