Category Archives: Entries with Audio

A New Generation Coming On

Dr. Tom Sine is a journalist, theologian and Christian futurist who challenged Wheaton College in Edman Chapel on April 12, 1996 with a message entitled “A New Generation Coming On.” While on campus he also promoted his book Cease Fire: Searching for Sanity in America’s Culture Wars as highlighted in the Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE) newsletter, Discernment.

Sine and his wife, Christine, founded Mustard Seed Associates (MSA) as “a community of Jesus’ followers all over the world striving to create the future one mustard seed at a time. MSA provides resources and a network for committed followers of Jesus to anticipate the future, decode the culture, convey the Kingdom of God, and create new ways of being a difference and make a difference.” They are also adjunct professors at Fuller Theological Seminary. Some of Sine’s other books include Mustard Seed vs. McWorld (1999), Living on Purpose (2004) and The New Conspirators (2008). Correspondence from Sine and a June-July 1984 article about end times eschatology entitled “Bringing Down the Final Curtain” from Sojourners Magazine is also located in the Sojourners Records of the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections.

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Jeremiah Wrigh’s “Invisible Giant”

Jeremiah Wright has become a volatile political figure in recent years. Though recently retired from pastoral ministry, Rev. Dr. Wright has described himself as “toxic” to the Obama administration after his comments about the history of race and race-relations in America from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago were scrutinized in the press. Obama had been a member of Wright’s South Side Trinity Church.Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

Despite his recent tangles, in 1996 Wright’s expertise on African-American church history was recognized and he was invited to give Wheaton’s African-American Church History Lecture. He followed the previous appearances of Dr. Larry Murphy (Professor of the History of Christianity, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) and Ms. Sherry Sherrod DuPree. The lecture series began in 1994 to introduce “interesting themes from a Black American religious experience and history to the Wheaton student body.”

Over 250 people gathered to hear Rev. Wright’s lecture “The Black Church Since World War II: The Invisible Giant.” He addressed the growth and development of the Black church and the impact on society in terms of facilitating the Black middle class, particularly highlighting the social transformation of the church and the way gospel music illustrates those changes, and the African heritage which continues to express itself in the church and community.

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A Mammoth Undertaking

Excavation Of Perry MastodonOn October 16, 1963 on the property of Judge Joseph Sam Perry of Glen Ellyn, the remains of an over-11,000-year-old mastodon were found during digging for a man-made lake. Upon hearing this news Judge Perry called for help from Wheaton College, and Dr. Douglas Block of the geology department was soon put in charge of the excavation of the bones. More than 55% of the mastodon’s bones were found, and the basement of Breyer Building was used as temporary storage space for the skeleton for the restoration process. It was Dr. Donald C. Boardman, then chair of the geology department, who was placed in charge of the restoration, which eventually took over 11 years to complete. During this time Dr. Boardman visited every Mastodon exhibit in North America and Europe so as to see how best to display Wheaton’s skeleton. It was decided in the late 1960’s that the mastodon’s remains would be displayed in a special wing of the new science building that was being planned at that time; the wing was named the Edwin F. Deicke Exhibit Hall after one of the generous financial donors who made the Perry Mastodon project possible. Local Glen Ellyn artist, Richard Rush, designed the display that the skeleton now stands in. The Perry Mastodon Exhibit was officially dedicated on January 18, 1975. The Perry Mastodon is the second mastodon skeleton to be found in DuPage County, the first being found in 1869 by Ned Jayne.

One of the better student pranks in Wheaton’s history involved the Perry Mastodon not long after its dedication on the 22nd of November 1975. A phony recording was found to have replaced the original exhibit narration. This prank, since called the Mastodon tape prank, was the work of Larry Shackley (’77) who recorded the fake tape in the WETN studios. The tape told a reworked and fanciful history of Perry Mastodon that included being frozen in a giant ice cube for thousands of years, being tranquilized by Judge Perry after reawakening, Parade for Perryhaving half of its body removed for use in the cafeteria, and knowing how to talk and dance among other things.

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“Perry,” as the Mastodon is often affectionately called, was recently moved from is long-time home in the Deicke Exhibit Hall to a new home in the soon-to-be completed Science Center. Stealing their title for this blog, the Naperville Sun, along with many other news outlets, covered the event. With over a thousand people in attendance, “Perry” was carted by flat-bed truck to great fanfare and excitement. The fun can also be seen on Youtube. You can also view an online album of images from Perry’s discovery.

Principles on a Collision Course

In recent months, former Indiana Senator and Congressman Dan Coats, announced his intentions to challenge the senate seat of Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh in the November 2010 mid-term elections. Coats is a 1965 graduate of Wheaton College and currently serves on the institution’s Board of Trustees. [Updated: Dan Coats was elected to the U.S. Senate in January 2011].

Below is a transcript of the May 17, 1992 undergraduate commencement address given at his alma mater on moral conflict and the limits to compromise. It was first published in Wheaton Alumni magazine (Fall 1992). An audio recording is available here.

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Moral principles, in our tradition, are generally clear and unavoidable. We knock our heads against them with regularity. They are hard to follow, yet not hard to define. But some of the greatest agony I’ve known as a member of Congress has come when those clear, commanding moral precepts collide in conflict.

How do you make a decision between a better environment and the jobs it will cost? The dignity of employment and our stewardship over creation both demand moral attention. Is a cleaner river worth regulations that eliminate 30 jobs, 300 jobs, 3000 jobs? How do you weigh cleaner air against the broken spirit of the unemployed? How do you choose between fighting poverty and fighting dependency? How do you pursue generous compassion when it risks the slow destruction of the soul and spirit we see in generation after generation of a welfare underclass? How do you choose between a reverence for life, and the use of fetal tissue from existing abortions to treat the victims of Parkinson’s Disease? How do you provide hope to those who suffer, when it risks covering the horror of abortion with a veneer of scientific progress and public service?

This is not the politics of triumph and trumpets. It is the occupation of restless nights and troubled days. Sometimes every option is tainted by suffering and sin. Sometimes each alternative is made uncomfortable by a hybrid of good and evil. Sometimes we are left with the murky battle between bad and worse. This is not relativism. The principles themselves are clear and immutable. But in a fallen world, one is often set against the other. Stewardship against compassion. Generosity against independence. Respect for life against the suffering of the sick. It means something very personal for those who participate in these choices. No matter what decision is made, the outcome will cause doubt. It means loss of certainty and peace. It means mistakes, self-reproach, and guilt. It means scar tissue and calluses. You find that character sometimes consists of how you act on the second or third try. You find that integrity is a voyage, not a harbor. This, as they say, is the real world–with its fogs of morning and evening, and its sudden storms.

Sometimes the greatest enemy is paralysis. An odd courage is needed to choose when a choice is torn by moral conflict–to walk in an unfamiliar land without landmarks. After the facts are collected, after the principles are defined, after the prayers are offered, a decision is required. Those who make them carefully are left drained of self- righteousness. Moral choice begins with surrender. It completes itself in humility. You begin to understand, with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “It is not Christian men who shape the world with their ideas, but it is Christ who shapes men in conformity with Himself.” The response of some is to withdraw and separate. They have my respect, but not my agreement. Men and women were not made for safety. It has been said that the fullness of life is in the hazards of life. And, even in our worst failure, we experience the powerful alchemy of the resurrection, which turns defeat into victory.

I am not a theologian. But I sometimes suspect that this is what Martin Luther meant when he urged, “Sin boldly.” We must have the courage to act in uncertainty–even with tainted options. It is the unavoidable burden of freedom in a fallen world. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel…If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” So far, much of the world would nod in agreement about conflicted moral choices. Many already use the fact as an excuse for self-serving compromise. Many don’t really want a struggle, they want an alibi. But there is something more to say. When we strip away the years of uncertain decisions; when we peel away the regrets and mistakes and scars, layer by layer; hopefully, we finally discover a core where we keep ourselves. Everything we eventually become is a shadow cast by its shape.

Thomas More is a hero of mine. We like to remember More as a man of unshakeable principle–even unto death. But as a politician and churchman under Henry VIII, he was a model of realism. He maneuvered effectively within the hounds of his principles. He possessed no trait of the fanatic. He was prudent and careful and subtle. But when the King required him to break his oath to his Church and forfeit a portion of his soul, the place where he kept himself was exposed. And it was harder than iron. In Robert Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons, More says, “When a man takes an oath, he’s holding his own self in his own hands, like water, and if he opens his fingers then he needn’t hope to find himself again.” The silent veto of conscience allowed him no more room for maneuver. And he lost his head on the scaffold–cheerfully, we are told by history. He died to prove he was not already dead. Bolt explains, “He knew where he left off, what area of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies … but at length he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located himself. And then this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person set like metal, was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more he budged than a cliff.” Like More…

  • We are called to an obedience that is easily misunderstood.
  • We are asked to be hard where the world is soft.
  • We are soft where the world is hard.
  • We call homosexuality, for example, by its proper name: sin. But we must comfort AIDS patients with our love and our touch.
  • We speak for moral absolutes: unchanging, eternal–but we have a particular call to accept and care for the morally spent.
  • Where the world wants velvet, there is steel.
  • Where it expects thunder, there is unspeakable peace.

This is often resented by a world that burns the wheat and gathers the chaff. An individual with a core of belief is strange by its standards–particularly a belief that someone will willingly die for. In every age, this kind of witness has broken the back of predictable human history. And it raises questions that you will need to answer.

Where do you locate that core of the self which cannot he moved? What wouldn’t you trade in a world of barter? What are you sure enough to live for? What would you cheerfully die for? In what cause are you willing to make war against the whole world?

Convictions like these may lead you into conflict, even suffering. You may know a season of darkness. But it’s said that integrity is perishable in the hot, summer months of success. And it’s said that character, like a photograph, develops in darkness. Without an uncompromising core of the self, introspection is endless and useless. Men and women become captive to their own doubts. Confusion is their native land, And finally, they lose the ability to believe in anything–even in their courage. Our identity is something that can be squandered–when compromise reaches that area where we locate ourselves.

Finally, at the center, we are empty. And the echoes of lost integrity no longer even disturb our dreams. Men and women come to the core of the self by different paths. For some that path is easy–like a gift. For others it is hard–like a trial. But those who have abandoned the journey have already reached their destination. And it is despair. Our promise is not a life free from mistakes, doubt, and moral conflict. A fallen world means fallen choices. But there are limits to compromise, set at the boundaries of the soul. And there are times when even subtle men, careful men, practical men, must turn to unyielding iron.

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Horse of a Different Color

Tower of TiresIn her “Echoes of the Past” article in the November-December 1934 issue of the Wheaton Alumni News Julia Blanchard recounted the story of one of the earliest pranks played at Wheaton College. It was the favorite story of Albert L. Miller, an early student of the College. Miller’s daughters recounted the story to Blanchard of how in the spring of 1863 some “fellows painted grandfather’s [Jonathan Blanchard’s] white horse in their class colors and then parked him up in the Tower.”

Another early prank at Wheaton College that involved Jonathan Blanchard and retold by Clyde Kilby in his biography A Minority of One occurred one April Fool’s Day when students placed a goose on the lectern prior to Blanchard’s arrival. Upon entering Blanchard assessed the current situation and left the classroom after exclaiming, “well, students, I see you have chosen a new leader. Since he must be more to your liking, I will take the only course open to me. I will withdraw.”

April Fool’s Day often presents the opportune moment for high-jinks. In 1974 large cut-outs of President Armerding and Mickey Mouse replaced the faces on the Edman Chapel clock.

Perry MastodonA well-known prank from the mid-1970s involved the Perry Mastodon not long after its dedication on the 22nd of November 1975. The original exhibit narration recording was replaced with fanciful history of Perry Mastodon that included being frozen in a giant ice cube for thousands of years, being tranquilized by Judge Joseph Perry, and, after reawakening, having half of its body removed for use in the cafeteria, and knowing how to talk and dance among other things. This was purported to be the work of Larry Shackley (’77) using the WETN studios.

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The rest of the story…

Paul HarveyOn Saturday, February 28 2009, at 90 years of age, the life-narrative of noted radio personality Paul Harvey came to a end. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Harvey began his radio career while still in high school in 1933 in Tulsa, Oklahoma at KVOO-AM. In June 1944 Harvey moved to Chicago and began broadcasting from the ABC affiliate WENR-AM. He quickly became the most listened-to newscaster in Chicago. In 1951 his “News and Comment” show was taken nationally.

Harvey delivered the 1961 commencement address, titled “All men are not created equal.” He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.

Joe Cosgrove (’54) had many interactions throughout his career in radio and public relations. Having been first “introduced” to Harvey when he first came to college, Cosgrove valued Harvey’s reputation and skill. Cosgrove often served as a “stringer” for Harvey sending along news stories that he though might interest Harvey. He recounted, recently, that he “will never forget the day [he] was in the car with the head of an Orange County advertising agency headed toward a luncheon meeting in the city with one of her major accounts. The car radio was tuned to KABC; and, when Paul Harvey opened his daily 15-minute midday newscast with ‘Joe Cosgrove of Irvine, California reports that ….’ My associate took a double-take and said, ‘You know Paul Harvey?'” It immediately established his credibility with his new client.

Paul Harvey, “Good day.”