Category Archives: Books

Wheaton Academy

AcademyDawn Earl, Director of Alumni Relations at Wheaton Academy, has published Celebrating God’s Unfolding Story: 160 Years and Beyond (2014), relating the history of the school.

Covering its inception in 1853 to the present, Earl’s captivating narrative chronicles the various personalities and historical events which have shaped the development of Wheaton Academy. Researching widely, Earl used many photos and other materials from the Wheaton College (IL) Archives.

 

Ellul Research

Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), sociologist, author and professor, frequently addresses the intersection of technology, morality and faith. EllulHis influential books include The Technological Society and The Ethics of Freedom. As social media advances and pervades entertainment, business and politics, Ellul’s predictions become ever more relevant. Several new books examine his prescient theories and research.

Vleet, Jacob E. Van. Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul An Introductory Exposition. Lanham: Fortress Press, 2014​. http://www.amazon.com/Dialectical-Theology-Jacques-Ellul-Introductory/dp/1451470398/

Shaw, Jeffrey M. Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/Illusions-Freedom-Jacques-Technology-Condition/dp/1625640587

Ellul, Jacques, Samir Younes, David Lovekin, and Michael Johnson. The Empire of Non-Sense: Art in the Technological Society. Winterbourne: Papadakis, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/The-Empire-Non-Sense-TecHnological-Society/dp/190650640X

The papers of Jacques Ellul (SC-16) are archived at Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.

 

 

Through Winding Ways

BirdThe following text, describing Wheaton College founder, Jonathan Blanchard, and his son, Charles, is excerpted from the prologue to Through Winding Ways (1939) by Zenobia Bird (Laura LeFevre). This is one of at least three novels, including The Tower, The Mask and the Grave (2000) by Betty Smartt Carter and The Silver Trumpet (1930) by John Wesley Inglis, featuring Wheaton College as its setting.

A man stood looking at a lone college building, small, plain, but sturdily built — his citadel, and then he turned and gazed long and far into the distant future. The wide prairie, flat and treeless, stretched out before him. That huddle of houses was the nearby village, while here and there an occasional farmhouse with young orchard and freshly planted shade trees gladdened the view and broke the monotony of the miles.

He was not given to dreaming, this pioneer from rock-ribbed Vermont, but a mighty vision gripped his soul. He was a born educator and an evangelist. The low hill upon which he stood was consecrated ground, dedicated in prayer to the cause of Christian education. Others had chosen the spot and launched the venture, but God had called him to captain the enterprise and lead on to vaster endeavor. As he looked with kindling eyes down the vista of the years, in vision he saw them, a troop of young men and women trained in the college that was to be, and going out as laborers in the Master’s vineyard to win souls for Christ and His Kingdom.

A quarter of a century rolled by, and in his place stood another Valiant-for-Truth, his son. Part of the dream of father and son has been fulfilled. On the hill now rose a stately white stone edifice of noble proportions, not supplanting, but surrounding and embodying in itself that which first had been. In the forefront of the building a Norman tower of simple beauty and dignity overlooked all the landscape. The bell in the turret was cast for its own noble purpose and bore in Latin the motto of the college, “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

This man for long years labored indefatigably to build a great college that would honor and glorify the Savior of the world (by rhonda). With painstaking care he laid the foundation solidly on the Rock, Christ Jesus himself the chief cornerstone. Into the spiritual structure, as real to the builder as the college walls of cut stone, there was built with purpose sure the sincere teaching of the Word of God.

 

Michener on Buechner

James A. Michener authored more than 40 books, mostly massive historical sagas set in a particular geographic location, such as Hawaii, Poland and Texas. He published his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific, at 40 and continued writing until his death at 90 in 1997. His literary career is  noted for constant worldwide traveling and meticulous research, often incorporating history into his fictional narratives. MichenerIn his memoir, The World is My Home (1992), he reflects on certain novelists he admires and supports, including, somewhat surprisingly, Frederick Buechner.

In the lecture on the literary scene I reviewed the work of some half dozen writers but with special emphasis on two who had captured my imagination and for whom I had great hopes. I sold a lot of books for these two young men. The first had attended Princeton University and was either contemplating or beginning a career in the Presbyterian ministry in which he would later excel. Frederick Buechner had a style of great elegance, so highly polished that he reminded me of Wharton at her best. He liked long sentences dealing with, for example, the sensibilities of urbane parents who sent their sons to places like Princeton, and I used to read aloud with great effect several passages from his novel A Long Day’s Dying, in which single sentences ran on for half a page. At the end of each segment I would tell my audience: “I could not in a hundred years write like Mr. Buechner, nor would I want to, but I esteem him as one of the best young writers today and feel sure he will maintain that reputation in the decades ahead.”

Michener adds a footnote, “He has. From his industrious pen has continued to flow a unique mix of intelligent novels and masterfully argued religious essays. His reputation is solid.”

The papers of Frederick Buechner (SC-05) are archives at Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.

 

Full Circle

FullCircleThe 1960s were years of dizzying upheaval for the United States. Its citizens wearied of the complex, seemingly endless war in Viet Nam. University students experimented with radical philosophies and mind-altering drugs. Racial tensions tightened in the inner city, often exploding. Popular music, particularly rock and roll, assumed an edgier attitude, reflecting the spirit of protest. As culture-shattering challenges shook the American psyche, the church did not remain unscathed. Amid the turmoil, David Mains, formerly assistant pastor at Moody Church in Chicago, with his wife, Karen, determined that the moment was right to implement a “creative” congregation on the edge of the ghetto, using all the gifts of its membership while aggressively reaching the socially disenfranchised and those disillusioned by local churches. Under Mains’ leadership, Circle Church began in 1967 with 28 people. Four years later Circle Church’s membership climbed to 500 congregants,  comprising students, high-rise apartment dwellers and ghetto inhabitants. Mains tells the story in Full Circle (1971). As the years progressed, however, Circle Church began to slowly unravel. Mains picks up the story in a 2004 Christianity Today essay called “Presumption at Circle Church.” He writes, “Today I am embarrassed about some of the attitudes expressed in Full Circle. I still have the same principles, but my comments seem cocky and presumptuous. I saw Circle Church as the tip of a new wave that would sweep across evangelical churches. That didn’t happen. Circle Church still exists, but in a smaller form and with more specialized emphasis.” Mains cites several reasons for the failure of Circle Church, expounding on each point. 1) I often allowed myself to fixate on issues. 2) I was naive about social problems. 3) In encouraging others’ gifts, I minimized my leadership role. 4) I held onto the church too tightly.

“The best thing that happened to me in leaving Circle Church was the breaking of my pride,” Mains writes. “During the breaking time, I felt rejected by the church that I had poured my life and soul into for ten years. For a brief time I questioned my faith in God. I wondered if I could trust him again.” He concludes,”More than a year passed after I left Circle Church before I began to feel like a man again. I have since sensed a new filling of the Holy Spirit, which was the result of a complete surrender to God. The process taught me to put confidence not in myself but in the Lord. As never before I identify with Paul’s words, ‘His strength is made perfect in my weakness.'”

Though Mains expresses a measure of remorse, his experiment in the Chicago ghetto, using liturgy, art and lively worship, waved a banner of salvation and hope for many, while providing a template for later generations of churches employing similar principles.

In 1977 Mains assumed the position of director for the Chapel of the Air, with Karen acting as co-host of the syndicated radio broadcast. Both have authored several books. Their papers (SC-118) are housed at Wheaton College Special Collections at Wheaton College (IL).

Masked: The Life of Anna Leonowens by Al Habegger

A brave British widow goes to Siam and—by dint of her principled and indomitable character—inspires that despotic nation to abolish slavery and absolute rule: this appealing legend first took shape after the Civil War when Anna Leonowens came to America from Bangkok and succeeded in becoming a celebrity author and lecturer. Three decades after her death, in the 1940s and 1950s, the story would be transformed into a powerful Western myth by Margaret Landon’s best-selling book Anna and the King of Siam and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The King and I.

But who was Leonowens and why did her story take hold? Although it has been known for some time that she was of Anglo-Indian parentage and that her tales about the Siamese court are unreliable, not until now, with the publication of Masked, has there been a deeply researched account of her extraordinary life. Alfred Habegger, an award-winning biographer, draws on the archives of five continents and recent Thai-language scholarship to disclose the complex person behind the mask and the troubling facts behind the myth. He also ponders the curious fit between Leonowens’s compelling fabrications and the New World’s innocent dreams—in particular the dream that democracy can be spread through quick and easy interventions.

Exploring the full historic complexity of what it once meant to pass as white, Masked (published by University of Wisconsin Press, 560 pages) pays close attention to Leonowens’s midlevel origins in British India, her education at a Bombay charity school for Eurasian children, her material and social milieu in Australia and Singapore, the stresses she endured in Bangkok as a working widow, the latent melancholy that often afflicted her, the problematic aspects of her self-invention, and the welcome she found in America, where a circle of elite New England abolitionists who knew nothing about Southeast Asia gave her their uncritical support (by rhonda). Her embellished story would again capture America’s imagination as World War II ended and a newly interventionist United States looked toward Asia.

The Kenneth & Margaret Landon Papers (SC-38) are cited as primary source materials and are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections, available to researchers.

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Alfred Habegger is professor emeritus of English at the University of Kansas. His previous biographies are The Father: A Life of Henry James, Sr. and the highly acclaimed My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson. He lives in northeast Oregon.

Apostles of Reason

WorthenMolly Worthen, Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, using the combined resources of Wheaton College’s Archives & Special Collections, Billy Graham Center Archives and the Wade Center, has released Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (2014). Navigating the paradoxes and ideological clashes of the Christian Right with American culture, she examines the often fierce struggle between faith and reason.

Historian Mark Noll, formerly of Wheaton College, remarks: “Apostles of Reason brings a new level of sophistication, as well as sparking prose, to the study of modern American evangelicals. A combination of empathetic understanding and critical acumen makes this an unusually humane, as well as unusually insightful, book.”

From “For Christ and His Kingdom” to the Magic Kingdom

CosgroveNo common book cites among its Acknowledgements celebrities such as Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Jack LaLanne along with theologian E.J. Carnell and evangelist Charles E. Fuller, but Joseph Patrick Cosgrove (’54), producer, director and broadcaster, happily thanks  these and others in his memoir, Walt Dreamers Me (2013), for contributing to the rich diversity of his life.

Originally from Boston, Cosgrove includes a few entries about his days at Wheaton College. A sampling:

Arrival – Wheaton College. With a letter of recommendation from Dr. Ockenga, I am off to Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. I am the only one from my neighborhood seeking higher education. I am now on my journey of life and closer to my goal of going to California.

Overwhelmed College Daze. Taking a full load of classes and working full time to pay tuition overwhelms me and I withdraw from Wheaton at the end of six weeks and return to Boston. As I meet with my pastor, Dr. Harold Ockenga, I am convinced to return to Wheaton after only one missing week. Dr. Ockenga personally pays for my first semester and arranges with the college Dean for my return to college life. Dr. Ockenga has become a father figure to me. There is no going back to Boston. I am off and running and work long hours through each summer and spring break to pay my living expenses as well as my tuition and books.

The Learned Campus Lessons. Living in a college dormitory and attending college class is a challenge for me. Daily chapel is mandatory at Wheaton College in 1950. Wheaton is a well-known and conservative evangelical institution with a reputation for high scholarship. I learn as much working in factories and doing construction work as I do in the classroom. Students at Wheaton must sign a pledge not to dance, play cards, smoke, gamble or attend the theater, opera or stage plays. I sign because I do not have the time or money to do these things anyway. Because I saw firsthand what alcohol did to my father, I do not drink or smoke.

Christmas Comes in October. As Head Cheerleader I decide to celebrate Christmas in October. The City of Wheaton decides to let me borrow city Christmas decorations. Overnight the Wheaton College campus is decorated with Santa Claus and his reindeer. Music of the season, from “White Christmas” to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” as recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters, rocks the campus the next day. I am called to the Dean’s office to explain myself. The Dean is a bit rattled by my antics but the campus cheers me.

California: Here Comes Joe! In the fall of 1954, I began classes at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Founded in 1947 by media pioneer Charles E. Fuller and Dr. Harold John Ockenga, Fuller Seminary is an innovative and inclusive graduate school situated in the heart of downtown Pasadena. Dr. Ockenga is featured speaker at my graduation at Wheaton College and afterward he enrolls me for the Fall Semester at Fuller Seminary. I find graduate school a real challenge compared to college.

Settling in California, he begins his career as a broadcaster and occasional employee of Disney, while also campaigning for Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. He also directs and produces fitness guru Jack LaLanne’s first media kit and “Jack’s Big Swim for Fitness.”

Summing up his life lessons, Cosgrove writes: 1) Follow your dreams. 2) Keep focused doing it. 3) Use your imagination and fantasy to create your vision. 4) Be optimistic. 5) Keep learning something new. 6) Be open minded. 7) Team up with talented people of like minds and attitudes. 8) Engage and entertain others through storytelling and music.

 

The Geography of Memory

JMWJeanne Murray Walker, poet and teacher, tells the tale of her mother’s slow, agonizing descent into the depths of dementia and eventual death in The Geography of Memory (2013). As her mother recedes increasingly into the past, Walker sees her own childhood illuminated. Better understanding their relationship, mother and daughter bind ever tighter as the days darken.

“Provides us with fresh glimpses into hidden joys and startling surprises.” — Richard J. Foster, author of A Celebration of Discipline

“I read it, mesmerized, wondering my way through this deeply moving portrait.” — Luci Shaw, poet

“A powerful tale of loss but also renewal, pain but also love. A treasure.” — Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian

“This deeply humane memoir is at once a memorial to a mother whose memory failed before her body gave way, a poignant reflection on the sister who lived close by while the author flew in repeatedly from afar, and an insightful exposition on memory itself. With a poet’s eye for the apt image, The Geography of Memory is also a case book of spiritual disciplines taught by what Jeanne Murray Walker calls “the ugly twins, aging and death.”   — Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

The papers of Jeanne Murray Walker (SC-72) are archived in the Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.

Tradiquette

tradiquette1950 was a very good year for courtesy at Wheaton College. Concerned about campus decorum in daily routines, the Intersociety Council compiled a handy booklet for instructing the average clueless Wheaton student on the correct social behavior involved in such matters as successful interaction with the opposite sex, polite chitchat, appealing dress and proper dinnertime comportment. This instructional is titled “Tradiquette,” smashing together the words “tradition” and “etiquette.” The editors state:

No one wants to feel odd, awkward or ill-at-ease. To be known as a person of poise is very much to be desired. In order that this be true of one, he must know the answers — what the inhabitants of his particular little world considers important — “how to do what, when.” So in your hand you have, for that very purpose, a little guide book compiled by Wheatonites for Wheatonites.

The advice is sensible. For instance, “…be free with the toothbrush. After all, water doesn’t bite, and being friendly with it can take a lot of the sting out of life.” The entry called “Don’t be an iceberg” encourages smiling and friendly conversation with students, staff and campus visitors. The entry called “Don’t be a clinging vine” warns the young lady about excessive arm-in-arm strolling with her guy because “…maybe he doesn’t want the extra load.” She must be reasonable. “But very seldom,” it adds, “does a girl grab a wing without a reason.”

The entry called “Class in class” cautions students against disrespectful behavior like 1) coming in late 2) writings letters 3) looking out the window 4) chewing gum 5) combing hair 6) whispering 7) filing fingernails 8) sleeping. “If you’re guilty of this — to the doghouse, please.”

What would the editors think of cell phones and instant texting?