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☀️The Sun Is Fine
Friday, November 4, 2022 - Vol. 01 No. 24
It’s been cold and rainy all winter long for the last two weeks. (Really, it was 80’ degrees, sunny, and super smokey before that.) Anyway, the Sun is here to brighten your beginning of November.
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Too frequently over the last few years we've heard how many things have been unprecedented. I think even more than that we've seen how many of our leaders have been unprincipled. Or perhaps, if they are acting by principles, they have chosen self-destructive ones.
Cities and nations, institutions and civilizations, need some measure of shared principles to get off the ground. History is full of empty land becoming fruitful with families and worship and commerce. History is almost as full of the same fruitful fields being set on fire by selfish men who would rather watch the whole thing burn than share the goods. Or, following the metaphor, they'll keep it from burning, as long as they get to determine how fat their salary as fire chief will be.
We are in the "field is on fire" stage. Not everything has been blackened, but the Democrats seem hell bent on trying to get it that way.
One of my favorite memes is the dog, sitting in a burning room, drinking his coffee and making the comment, "This is fine."
For the meme challenged, that actually is riffing on how it is NOT fine. To Keep Calm and Carry On here would be absurd. But let's be positive and take a longer view. There is a sense in which all of this is fine.
It's fine because in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the unprincipled, at least a remnant might start saying, "How did this get so messed up?"
That gives us an opportunity to return not just to principles, but to first principles. One generation is always supposed to be passing these on to the next generation anyway, but we get to ask some basic questions. And there are answers.
Education isn't the only sphere where we would really be benefited from a recovery of principles, but it is a crucial one. Here in Marysville, our government school system has one of the highest per-student spending numbers in Snohomish County and some of the worst performance percentages in Washington State. This isn't partisan punditry (though it is inescapably connected to politics), it's just an observation of public budgets and standardized test scores. It's not fine. So below in today's issue we'll start what is hopefully a regular series on some principles of education.
I'm fond of the tag #MMGA: Make Marysville Great Again. Google Maps can show anyone how to get here, but what principles are going to get us to great?
☀️Philosophy of Christian Education Applied: A Methodology for Marysville Considered
[Editor’s note: The Sun welcomes back Mr. Mark Callender who wrote a review of The Terminal List. Mr. Callender is a Marysville resident, a father of eight, and the Fellow of Literature and History at Comeford College where he teaches students to analyze the theology, philosophy, and history of influential writers.]
by Mark Callender
Let’s build a school! Not just any school, a school for Marysville for our time for our community – A school to be modeled – A school that can scale – A school that can adapt and change with the needs of the community – Let’s build a school that is… perfect or… at the very least… adequate.
I suppose we must begin with some definitions – after all, we’re presupposing a lot already and the process of defining will peel back and uncover additional presuppositions no doubt.
What is this place? In the south we are bordered by the Ebey Slough – part of the Snohomish River delta – once used by rough and stout men to move timber to local mills, and to the North, around 172 street NE, the city of Arlington – a sad, servile land whose people are held in bondage to their wealthier neighbors. To the West we are hemmed in by the Tulalip Indian Reservation – a land where many come from near and far to win and lose their fortunes, engage in exotic commerce, and seek out forbidden herbs. The East would have no natural border till one reached the Cascade mountains – but long-ago giants came over those mountains and cut a road through the forest from North to South to aid pioneers and timbermen alike. They numbered this the ninth of their roads and so today it serves as both a mode of travel and a border fencing Marysville in from the East.
While we are on the topic of roads – one cannot overlook a large blight of concrete separating Marysville from the Tulalip Indian Reservation – Interstate 5. Few are alive today who remember its construction, but I’m told that long-ago powerful kings from the East came to this land with the purpose to better defend their shared kingdom through a network of roads – much like the Romans in ancient times. And much like the Romans, that road has done much to unify, shape, and enculturate Marysville into their kingdom – we lost some of our local identity but gained a wider knowledge of the faraway kingdom and our place in it – such exchanges are bittersweet and so is Interstate 5 itself. It is a gift and a terrible burden.
Moreover, within the city itself is a wide thoroughfare – State Avenue – lined with a numerous eclectic mix of shops and businesses that seemed to have sprung from the very soil at random intervals. The city itself seems rather… random. There is no apparent center with which to draw in her citizens to city hall, courthouse, or library. No grand hotel or classic theater - nothing that catches the eye (unless one counts the five storied water tower). No series of streets lined with numerous quaint shops, no neighborhood full of grand houses, not even an attractive bridge to awe and inspire! It is just a series of wide North/South roads all encouraging traveler and resident alike to pass on through and keep going – it would seem that an intrinsic part of Marysville culture is roads… to get in… and more importantly… to get out.
There are approximately 75,000 souls that lock themselves behind their doors every night here in Marysville. Who are they? Do they share any distinctives? Who makes up this shifting, on-the-move, restless community? Who lives here or perhaps better stated – stops here for a season of life? The largest employer by far is the Marysville School District – that offers a clue. The sprawling suburbs full of tightly packed developments offers another – when an old house is torn from a lot it is quickly replaced with four new ones on the same bit of earth.
There are a broad range of non-denominational, fundamentalist, dispensational, Baptist-style churches to choose from – all full of the same one hundred or so friendly folks and their children. Indeed, in many ways the only distinctive thing that separates them is the sign in front of the church and whether they use a hymnal or not. There are also a few mainline denominations that maintain largely empty buildings while they wait for the nice old ladies knitting inside to exit this mortal plain. These groups together make up only a small fraction of the total population. And one cannot help but notice the town is just as active and restless on a Sunday as any other – perhaps more so. It would seem that this community is not very pious - not very God-fearing or religious as we used to say.
When I first moved here a few years ago every other home had a blue and green flag hanging out front – I thought that perhaps that was a symbol of a shared community distinctive – but I see fewer flags now. Perhaps it was just a fad?
I have heard rumors of an automotive society that gathers in retail lots from time to time to pop their hoods and compare motors. I’ve never seen this society, but perhaps the signs along State Avenue reminding them that they are forbidden to “cruise” discourages their meeting openly and often. If these rumors are true, they must be an industrious lot committed to their craft.
I was told there is something involving strawberries in Marysville – as a dutiful member of the community I hastened to plant and cultivate a bit of my property for just such a purpose – but I seem to be alone in this endeavor. I’m sure it is my fault for not understanding and educating myself regarding the nuance of how this activity aligns with the community spirit, but I can report that growing and maintaining these plants has been one of my greatest joys. The plants flourish here in the soil and have provided a seemingly endless harvest from April into October. Cultivating them has given me many hours of reflection regarding their nature and application to the Marysville community.
At first defining a school can seem an easy task – the place you go to learn the thing! A moments consideration reveals how complex defining the “you” and the “thing” can be. Who goes to this school – everyone? Even the stupid – the distressed? What are their prospective ages? Which of the seventeen genders do we accommodate? What of the sheep? What of the goats? Wait! This is titled “Philosophy of Christian Education Applied” – That means we must consider even more definitions that will trickle down to who is in and who is out potentially. We’re going to have to consider questions of epistemology, ontology, and soteriology right? – hoo boy. This is getting horribly complex. Does it really have to be so hard? Can’t we just do what Logos is doing over in Moscow, Idaho? – Well… no, you see… this is Marysville.
A school is a mechanism for transmitting a community’s collective knowledge from one generation to the next. That’s fairly broad – perhaps too broad as we’ve already uncovered in attempting to fix Marysville’s boundaries and identifying the community within those boundaries. No… I’m afraid we will need to scope our definition of school considerably – and that will create its own problems that will need further analysis and discussion.
The task ahead of us is daunting. With regards to building the perfect school – the good news is that many of us are already engaged in this enterprise – that is also the bad news. It means that we will bring much baggage, much hindsight, much emotion attached to broken or imperfect systems. And perhaps that is where we should begin our discussion next time… to evaluate if engaging such an enterprise is even worth it… or perhaps better stated… even possible – I’m SURE it will be brief!
Next Article: Philosophy of Christian Education Applied: A Methodology for Marysville Considered – Reforming our Methodology
The City of Marysville is seeking applicants to fill two vacancies on the city Planning Commission. A letter of interest and resume are due by November 15.
Corrections: In last week’s issue we falsely calculated the reader participation percentage in the previous poll about Halloween by a factor of ten, which for those reverse engineering, would suggest that that Sun has a higher readership by a factor of ten. The entirety of the Sun’s Math Department has been sacked.
Initially disturbing but actually cool: