Here are my notes from our ECS Fundraising Fiesta last Friday.
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.
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).