Category Archives: Collection-related Publications

Rediscovering Our Christian Heritage

Clipboard01Last summer I had the chance of a lifetime—a six-week trip to exotic places, all expenses paid. The catch: take 30 students with me.

Because these were Wheaton students, the job was easy and delightful, but personally challenging nonetheless. I expected physical and intellectual hurdles as we traveled through Israel, Istanbul, Greece, and Rome, but was unprepared for the richness of spiritual enlightenment as I journeyed through places of religious turmoil, encountering Jews and Muslims, as well as Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic Christians.

Often exhausted, sweaty, hot, and dusty after our lengthy hikes, I gained a clearer picture of Jesus’ tired frame slumping by Jacob’s well as he appealed to the Samaritan woman for a drink. Exploring Philippi, I caught whispering echoes of the Apostle Paul proclaiming the gospel to Lydia at the river, the water still flowing over the same rocks that witnessed the gospel’s entrance into Europe. From the magnificent heights of the Parthenon, I looked over the ancient Athenian agora (market) and marveled at the rich extravagance ascribed to the ancient gods and goddesses. (Little wonder many scoffed at Paul’s claims about a simple Jew being the Savior of the world.) In Rome, the still impressive Forum and Coliseum are now a crumbling reminder of the empire’s former strength and cruelty.

The physical stresses and intellectual challenges prepared me for the most trying contest-delving deeply into questions surrounding Christian unity and charity. For the first time, I engaged with Orthodox Christians and their worship. The holy sites in Bethlehem and Jerusalem are perfumed with the incense of centuries of devotion—a piety totally unfamiliar to my Evangelical Free Church upbringing.

In Istanbul, our group was granted rare privileges: an audience both with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, and with the Armenian Patriarch, Mesrob II. The latter was a jovial conversationalist who entertained our direct questions for an hour. Having studied in the United States, he contrasted the American situation with that of his flock, for whom simply confessing oneself a Christian in public was bold indeed. He added that serving both Muslims and Christians in their church-operated hospital spoke volumes to the wider public. His All Holiness Bartholomew I granted a formal audience where he stressed his unity-building work with Muslims in Turkey as well as his concerted efforts to protect the environment.

Perhaps nothing so poignantly symbolizes the tensions and aspirations for peace between faiths as the Hagia Sophia, built as the grandest church in Christendom, and later converted to a mosque. Currently Christian frescos and Islamic medallions compete for a visitor’s attention. Scaffolding rising from the center, 20-stories high, epitomizes the rebuilding hopes of Christians seeking peace with their Muslim neighbors.

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Dr. Lynn Cohick, Associate Professor of New Testament, is interested in how average Jews and Christians lived out their faith in the ancient setting of Hellenism and the Roman Empire. Prior to coming to Wheaton, she taught overseas at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology in Kenya for three years. She enjoys riding horses, reading mysteries, and jogging with her husband, Jim. (The above statement was included at the time of publication — Wheaton Magazine, Autumn 2008)

100 Years

CairnsDr. Earle Cairns, professor of history and chairman of the department of history at Wheaton College, was commissioned in 1960 to write a book, Saints and Society, about the social impact of evangelical compassion. Cairns profiles reformers such as John Wesley, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftsbury, chronicling their contributions to the sweeping revivals that shook England and beyond. The book served a dual purpose, also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wheaton College, founded in 1860. Published by Moody Press in Chicago, the book’s dust jacket sports the college logo (below). Records, documents, photos and memorabilia pertaining to the Wheaton College Centennial are maintained in the Wheaton College Archives (RG 10.4).

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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.

 

 

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).

Charles Blanchard on the Bible

BlanchardThe life of Dr. Charles Blanchard (1848-1925), second president of Wheaton College, was nearing its end just when the Modernist/Fundamentalist controversey was heating up. These hotly divisive years presented stiff challenges to conservative Christians as traditional assumptions were routinely overthrown or mocked. Is the Bible flawed? Is evolution true? Is scripture merely a collection of fictional morality tales? These questions, then as now, plagued educational institutions across the nation. Eventually the battle lines were drawn – and Dr. Blanchard made it very clear where he stood, as evidenced by these words from the Preface of his book, Visions and Voices: Or Who Wrote the Bible (1917):

It is not strange that such a book should be assailed. We do not wonder when we read that its translators, teachers and followers have been strangled, beheaded, burned, drowned and by thousands have died for this wonderful book on bloody fields. It is, however, strange that today men who profess to believe the Bible and are paid for teaching it should join hands with the Paines, Voltaires and Ingersolls of our race to destroy the faith of the people in this book. I do not understand their motives, but I do know the deadly work they are doing, and I entreat all men who honor God or wish well to humanity to resist their desperately evil assaults on this the only hope of the human race.

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.

Why She Stayed

In 2006, Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church, author and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, shocked America when he confessed to drug abuse and an illicit affair with a male prostitute in Denver. GayleConsequently, Haggard quit his numerous leadership positions and sought pastoral counseling. Not only was Haggard publicly humiliated, but so was his wife, Gayle. Inundated with a persistent question, she responds in her memoir, Why I Stayed (2010). She recounts her marriage to Haggard, from their meeting as students at Oral Roberts University to the present. Gayle Haggard summarizes her conclusions in the final pages:

Why did I stay married to Ted Haggard? I think the more pertinent question — the one I had to settle in my heart — was, Why should I go? My reasons for staying with Ted were far more compelling than any that would have propelled me toward divorce. I stayed with Ted because to me he’s worth the struggle…But even in the midst of my pain, I believed Ted loved me…I decided that he was worth fighting for, our marriage was worth fighting for, and our family was worth fighting for. I stayed with Ted because commitment means something to me. I’ve committed my life to God, which means that I’ve chosen his ways and I follow his example of love and forgiveness. I’m committed to our marriage, to stay in this journey till death do us part. I am committed to our children, and I want to restore honor and dignity to their lives.

The papers of the National Association of Evangelicals (SC-113), from its inception in 1941 until the mid-1990s, are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections, available to researchers. The NAE is currently headed by Dr. Leith Anderson.

Ageless Wrinkle

WrinkleThe editors of Amazon released in 2014 their selections for “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Placing sixth is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. The Newberry Award Winning classic celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012.

Other choices include 1984 by George Orwell, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Shining by Stephen King.

The original manuscript for A Wrinkle in Time is housed at the De Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at Hattiesburg, Mississippi; but L’Engle’s remaining correspondence, artwork and manuscripts (SC-03), including the remaining titles of the The Time Quartet, is housed at Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.

Doing & Being

I have always enjoyed being outside—as a little girl swaying in the tops of evergreens while hiding from my siblings, or lying in sweet-smelling grass looking for shapes in the summer clouds. I visit past moments often in my heart—times when I walked near the ocean that my soul became closely attuned to hearing myself think and God speak.

Some folks believe they have to be “earthy” to deeply appreciate Creation. Not so. We all desperately need the healing balm of nature—a display that can calm and simplify our lives while drawing us nearer to our Creator.

Henri Nouwen suggests in his books The Way of the Heart and Out of Solitude, that we are often motivated by the compulsions of society to measure our self-worth by the many things we can accomplish—some of which are not as necessary as we might think.

I struggle with this compulsion. Yet God’s Creation teaches me about the tension between “being” and “doing.” All things created by God display his glory by simply being what God created them to be. And so, I find myself longing for times of solitude—times of throwing pottery, walking in a park, visiting the ocean bottom, admiring the trees outside my office window, or watching spiders jump along my windowsill.

Nouwen points out that when we let society define us, we take on “false selves.” We get caught up by selfish ambition, doing things that are prestigious and pleasing to our peers, and—so we think—to God. Sometimes in our Christian duty we get the doing part confused with the being part. We think of the things we are to do that will bring him glory more so than what we are to be.

The relationship between being and doing became clearer to me as I related to my sister, Rob, throughout her battle with cancer. Before her illness, I was much better at doing the work of my career than in being there for those who needed me, So, naturally Rob found it difficult to believe that I really cared deeply for her because my work took up so much of my life.

After I turned down two permanent job offers so I could live near her and later took a job in Minnesota near her home, she was finally able to fully realize my love for her.

But more importantly, God began to communicate his love for her through me. Rob eventually moved to Virginia to live with my older sister, Sandy, and I later chose to go there to be with Rob during her last months of life.

During my sister’s battle with cancer, God taught me a lot about the difference between being and doing. I learned what it meant to be myself, to be what God had intended me to be—a channel of his love and grace for Rob. This may not seem like a profound revelation, but it is important for all of us to be reminded that it is not what we do that is most important, but rather what we end up being or becoming.

There is a balance, of course. But God calls us to be his people, to be people who are in close communion with him, and to be our true selves, human beings created in his image to bring glory to him.

The following statement was included at the time of publication (Wheaton Magazine, Summer 1997)

Dr. Nadine Folino, Assistant Professor of Biology earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Cincinnati, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in zoology from the University of New Hampshire. She is an enthusiastic marine biologist specializing in invertebrate zoology. Her hobbies include pottety, sports of all kinds biking, skiing, and running-cooking, and camping. Dr. Folino enjoys Creation greatly seeing God’s creativeness expressed in all of earth’s many and varied “critters.”