Blog: Spiritual Democracy and Our Schools

Independent school psychologist and consultant Rob Evans recently noted how well our schools do at taking care of young people, and how poorly our schools do at adult politics. As committed and responsible adults, we may have gotten passionately involved in partisan politics this election season. As educators and visionarles, though, we have to keep our eyes on a horizon of meaning beyond current political debates. No party, no platform, and no politician can ever command our deepest loyalty. Jesus didn’t campaign to become King of Judea, but led with a natural, God-given commission. Confucius gave up on securing political office when he realized he would have to abandon his principles, but he never stopped teaching.

This is not to suggest a withdrawal from politics, but rather an engagement with the issues of the day that transcends party and ideology and thereby keeps both in check. I am talking about building what Campbell Hall calls a community of inquiry. What’s the best way to manage inflation? Let’s talk. Was there a vision at the heart of the American experiment from the beginning that may yet shine through despite setbacks? Let’s teach and debate U.S. history honestly and courageously. To mandate masks or not? Let’s discuss the data respectfully as they emerge. What fellow Americans can I partner with in my civic engagements, and who is just beyond the pale? Everyone has to make that decision personally, but the answer is clearly not Republicans or Democrats. I can be in community with anyone of good will who will debate and dialogue honestly and non-violently, think critically, honor the dignity of every human being, and care genuinely about the greater good, including the planet’s ecological integrity. And if the current political systems don’t prioritize authentic inquiry, let’s work to change them.

What about those who question democracy itself? A 38-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that in all countries, pro-democracy attitudes now coexist, to varying degrees, with openness to nondemocratic forms of governance, including rule by experts, a strong leader, or the military. But I don’t see how the nondemocratic models safeguard the conditions for the community of inquiry to operate effectively. “The wind blows where it wishes” and not just through the dictates of oligarchs and experts. Without freedom of speech and real accountability to stakeholders, America - and Campbell Hall - lose their very foundation.
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  • Head of School Julian Bull

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    The Rev. Canon Julian P. Bull is the third head of school of Campbell Hall (est. 1944), an Episcopal school in Los Angeles, California with 1130 students in grades K-12. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, his Master’s in Philosophy from Boston College, and his Master’s in Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. Canon Bull is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.

    Prior to coming to Campbell Hall in 2003, Rev. Bull served as Head of Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans and as the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Chair of the Diversity Committee, and Director of the Senior Humanities Program at Albuquerque Academy. He has served on the Boards of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the Independent School Association of the Southwest, St. James’ Episcopal School, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Steering Committee for the Los Angeles School Heads, the Studio City Neighborhood Council, and has chaired the last two search committees for bishops of Los Angeles. He currently serves as the Chair of the Commission on Schools of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and is on the Advisory Board of the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education. He and his wife Katie have enjoyed raising their two sons as 13-year Campbell Hall students. Rev. Bull enjoys tennis, hiking, and playing bridge in his spare time.
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Campbell Hall is an independent, Episcopal, K-12 all gender day school. We are a community of inquiry committed to academic excellence and to the nurturing of decent, loving, and responsible human beings.
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