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On the Urgency of Re-Enchantment of Education

Dear Veritas Families,

I hope you are enjoying your summer break with your children. As busy as I have been with training the teachers and preparing for the next academic year, for the first time, I have taken my two-week summer break, to rest, spend time with family, and to reflect on the meaning of life, and the meaning of education. During that time, my family took a trip to Yosemite and to New York. And during that time, I had a chance to reflect on the gaping gap between the current state of education and life in America, and the blessed education and life that Christian families can enjoy in Christ. And yes, the only way to have a blessed life is through a proper, Christ-centered education.

Providentially, my experience during these trips was aided by the reading of Beauty for Truth’s Sake (Stratford Caldecott), which is one of the summer reading for all our staff and faculty. This is in preparation for an emphasis for the upcoming academic year on recovering science and the arts back to its original role of revealing the glory of God. I have never read a book which integrates science and the arts so well with Christian faith and worldview. Just about every page moved me, sometimes to tears.

A simple way to define the problem of our times, and especially the problem of education of our times, is that it is disenchanted, or desacralized, meaning that we stopped believing that God reveals his truth, goodness, and beauty through the ordinary things and activities of our life—trees, conversations with others, music, art, reading a book, etc. Everything we think about and do, and lead our children to do, tends toward some practical purpose—such as learning a skill, a piece of knowledge, going to a “good” college, and achieving something “great.” But unless we (as parents and teachers) intentionally focus on re-enchanting education so that our children see and experience God’s truth, goodness, and especially BEAUTY, the results down the road will be nothing short of a disaster.

I was reminded of this visually in my trip to Yosemite and New York. In the book Beauty for Truth’s Sake, the author talked about the effect of desacralized, disenchanted modern education in architecture, and pointed to two sets of buildings in Manhattan as examples for contrast. The author pointed to the World Trade Center, especially the original ones, as a good example of modern architecture that is concerned only about practical utility, so they are just same-looking floors stacked on top of each other. Their concern is only “horizontal.” In contrast, there is the Empire States Building and the Chrysler Building, which have clearly a more concern for vertical beauty, symbolically pointing to something higher than ourselves. Even more clearly, I was able to visit two stunning cathedrals in Manhattan—St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Trinity Church, and sitting inside of those cathedrals, I was transported to heaven. I realized more than ever before, these beautifully constructed cathedrals are not simply great works of man. They reflect God’s beauty, constructed by people who understood deeply about beauty and how to construct beautiful things to point us to God’s beauty. This experience of God’s grandeur could not have been stranger in Manhattan where majority of the people are running around, much ado about making money or building a resume for their career. Spending an entire day in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts was another wakeup call—how have we lost in our times a sense of God’s beauty throughout history displayed in this amazing museum? Of course, I knew the answer: the hammer of cultural Marxism that wants to smash everything that reminds us of God—Bible, church, family, objective truth, order and beauty.

I came back from my trip refreshed and recharged because I have seen with my eyes the beauty of the Lord in nature (in Yosemite!) in history (particularly in MET and New York Historical Society Museum), in architecture, and in people. I am also more hopeful and resolved than ever before that this task of re-enchanting education with the beauty of God is urgent and necessary to save the future of our children.

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