A Spark Dropped from the Sun

Springtime dandelions sprouting across suburban Chicago yards or vast corporate lawns stand little chance for survival. Usually herbicides have been diligently sprayed to eradicate this annoyance long before the first yellow dandelion heads burst sunward on the green grass. This was certainly not the case one hundred years ago at Wheaton College. In fact, the little flower (technically a weed) was celebrated. An article from the March, 1911 Record describes a unique tradition.

…A custom peculiar to Wheaton College is that of planting dandelions. Every spring when the dandelions begin to show, the students watch eagerly for the small yellow flowers, and then still more anxiously for them to go to seed. This is the time for the popular dandelion contest. The students go out by classes and gather the spherical white blossoms, and, bringing them to campus, flow the seeds over the grass so that in future years the dormitory and Wayside Inn be blessed with dandelion greens from our own campus. A banner is awarded to the most successful class.

These days the Wheaton College campus is carefully landscaped and meticulously manicured, allowing not a single dandelion. However, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, a visionary friend of Wheaton College, writes from quite another perspective, “It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.”

Wheaton at the Edgewater

For fifty years the Edgewater Beach Hotel stood as a beacon for luxury, recreation and hospitality in a city renowned for its magnificent lodging. Famous as Chicago’s “Metropolitan Hotel with the Country Club Atmosphere,” the Edgewater boasted 1000 rooms, several cocktail lounges and five large dining rooms, in addition to nightly ballroom dancing. The grounds included an outdoor swimming pool, cabanas and tennis and shuffleboard courts.

EdgewaterSituated on the North Shore a few hundred feet from Lake Michigan, the massive pink stucco complex served a variety of visitors, vacationers and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Tallulah Bankhead. Band leaders Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey broadcast from the hotel’s radio station. In addition to an array of dignitaries, the Edgewater even hosted the Wheaton College Washington Banquet on February 21, 1958. The cost was $11 per couple. The ceremony was emceed by Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, and the speaker for the evening was Dr. Edward Elsen, pastor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

Nearly 300 students and faculty attended, with Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Nelson portraying George and Martha Washington. The menu included fruit cocktail, baked sugar-cured ham with raisin sauce, salad, julienne string beans panache and frozen torte with chocolate sauce. Undoubtedly this was a thrilling, noisy night in the big city for the small Christian college from the western suburbs.

Sadly, because of urban renewal and a steady decline in business, the Edgewater Beach Hotel closed its doors in 1967. The buildings were razed in 1970 except for one, now refurbished as residential apartments with landmark status. The structures were so solidly constructed that it took nearly a year to demolish. That happy 1958 Washington Banquet, along with the grand old hotel, belong to fond memory.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Howarth Lemmel, born in England but raised in the United States, taught music at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Gifted with words as well as music, she wrote columns for a newspaper and directed choral groups for the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns. In 1918 at age 55 she acquired a gospel booklet called “Focussed” written by Lilias Trotter, missionary to Algeria. “Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus,” wrote Trotter, “and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him…”

Trotter’s exhortation forcibly struck the weary Lemmel. She writes, “Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and, singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody…These verses were written…the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.” The hymn, initially called “The Heavenly Vision,” appeared in Glad Songs. It was sung at the 1922 Keswick Convention in England and eventually became known by its refrain, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” This familiar hymn is now sung in churches throughout the world. Helen Lemmel died in Seattle, Washington, in 1961.

The Keswick Collection (SC-30), comprising books and pamphlets, the Lilias Trotter Collection (SC-225), comprising illustrated journals, and the Hymnal Collection (SC-15) are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections.

Lemmel

What’s cookin’ at Wheaton College

Need a recipe for spinach balls? Pear salad? Ham souffle? Rhubarb crumble? Just thumb through Wheaton College Women’s Cooking, compiled sometime in the late 1970s by the Women’s Club. ClubThe Wheaton College Women’s Club is open to the wives of any administrators, faculty or staff. Officially organized in 1929 under Mrs. J. Oliver Buswell, wife of the third president of Wheaton College, the club was known as the Faculty Wives of Wheaton College. Today the organization seeks to serve the college community through various programs, continuing the heritage of deep concern for friendship, sharing and service shown by Mary Blanchard, wife of founder Jonathan Blanchard.

Papers relating to the Wheaton College Women’s Club (RG 9.14) are housed in the Wheaton College Archives.

Jean Vanier and the Templeton Prize

The Templeton Prize is annually awarded to a living man or woman who, in the estimation of the judges, “has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” Recipients include Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Brother Roger, Dr. Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.

VanierThe 2015 recipient of the Templeton Prize is Jean Vanier, awarded “for his innovative discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just, inclusive and humane society.” Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, a community where people with intellectual disabilities and those who accompany them share a daily life rich in mutual relationships, offering an innovative way of living. L’Arche is a Federation of 147 communities in 35 countries and on 5 continents. Jean is the son of Georges Vanier (1888-1967), the celebrated Governor General of Canada.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Roman Catholic British commentator, deeply interested in faith based initiatives, communicated in 1974 with Vanier and his mother, Pauline, about filming the L’Arche story for Canadian television.

Vanier was interviewed by the Chicago Sunday Evening Club in 1995, discussing loneliness, disabilities and belonging. “To hold people tenderly,” he said, “is to reveal to them that they are precious and that they are important and they have value.”

The papers of Malcolm Muggeridge (SC-04) and The Chicago Sunday Evening Club (SC-47) are maintained in the Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.

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)

The Art of Seeing

When Wheaton College custodian Dwight Ellefsen suddenly died on the job in 2006, few staff or students realized that, years earlier, he had enjoyed a professional career of considerable renown. EllefsenAs a young man, Ellefsen studied photography at the Brooks Institute in Santa Clara, California, before working for the Associated Press. Eventually Ellefsen worked with famed photographers Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith. His clients included Lamborghini, Standard Oil, Time Life Books, National Geographic and celebrity shoots, including Mohammed Ali. Ellefsen was the first photographer ever to have been nominated by the Chicago Artist Guild. In 1971 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a photograph taken of three Chicago firemen. Living for a year in Alaska, Ellefsen worked on a film about Inuits, which received an Academy Award Nomination in 1972.

His film photography also received awards from the Cannes Film Festival and the Midwest Film Festival. Ellefsen’s ability to observe and record a moment established his reputation as a first-rate artist. From 1975 to 1985 he was a professional photographer at Argonne National Lab in Darien, Illinois, until he was laid off during a bad economy. Soon hired at Wheaton College, he settled into a new career as a custodian assigned to Edman Chapel, Smith-Traber, McManis-Evans and Fischer Halls. A strong Christian, Ellefsen performed well as photographer or custodian.

It has been remarked that photography is the art of seeing. Ironically, after his death, one colleague remarked, “He was the kind of guy people could pass every day in the halls without appreciating him or noticing him.” Aside from an outstanding portfolio, perhaps Ellefsen’s greatest legacy is an invitation to the living, especially Christians, to open our eyes to those who stand beside us and behold the glory, however insignificant they might seem.

The Curious Case of the Absentee Actor

According to the November 19, 1959 issue of The Record, actor Basil Rathbone, famous for his recurring film role as the definitive Sherlock Holmes, was scheduled to perform a one-man show in Pierce Chapel under the auspices of the Lyceum. RathboneHowever, due to a contractual obligation to his role in Archibald MacLeish’s play, J.B., he cancelled. Rathbone the Episcopalian, writing in his autobiography, In and Out of Character (1962) describes the play as “…anti-fundamentalist, but most certainly not anti-Christian.” Though Wheaton College might have regretted Rathbone’s non-appearance, the feelings were likely not reciprocated, as he was quite anxious to pull away from the grueling demands of stock gigs. “You play eight performances a week,” he complains, “and then every Sunday you travel most of the day to your next date….To live through this…one must have considerable endurance and a stimulating objective….” This objective was provided by J.B., rescuing the aging Rathbone from the rigors of cross-country journeying.

Taking over for the British actor in Pierce Chapel was Ilka Chase, writer, actress and television personality. A familiar face in the entertainment industry, she wrote for magazines and often hosted such television shows as “Glamour-Go-Round” and “Fashion Magic.”

Inspiration

Derek-McNeil

How does “paying it forward” play out in academia?

I was recently asking a very talented former student about her experiences as a new instructor. She expressed how much she loved what she was doing, and parenthetically asked how I had known teaching would fit her calling. I couldn’t quite bring myself to tell her how evident her talents and gifts were, or to dispel the mysteries around my powers of observation. However, still enjoying the moment of grandiosity and humor, I was reminded that I had simply lived out a generational legacy.

When I was a junior in college, the head of the psychology department, Dr. Martha Shalitta, said to me, “You are going to teach college students one day:’ It was a remarkable thing to hear as a young African American man-the first generation of his family to attend a four-year college. At that time my highest aspiration was simply to graduate, so becoming a faculty member was not a real consideration. In fact, to this day I’m not sure what compelled her to say this, but it began a dream that God brought to fulfillment. I have been very fortunate throughout my academic career to have people invest themselves in my future, and speak inspiration into my life; moreover to offer dreams beyond my imagination, and wisdom beyond my life experiences.

I am convinced that mentoring is more than scholarly assistance or career coaching; but it is also helping students see their greater potential and then facilitating the possibilities.

This is the most inspiring and renewing aspect of my work. Consequently, of my three most rewarding duties, teaching/training, collaborative scholarship with faculty and students, and mentoring young professionals-mentoring is the most personally satisfying. It means that I sometimes allow students to disturb my scholarship moments, or occupy my research time and linger in conversations that go beyond a particular question to the larger questions of living wisely. I find that this allows me to hear a deeper narrative of their dreams and possible selves, but it also provides a chance to question their perceptions and distortions. Mostly, it gives me a chance to learn who they are and see how God is shaping and inspiring them.

Supporting students as they identify their calling and capacities has become as important to me as helping them determine the future questions that their generation must answer. For them to answer these challenges, they will need to be people of creative intellectual abilities, plus spiritual men and women of maturing qualities. Mentoring can help students avoid the pitfalls of becoming self-absorbed in aggrandizing ventures, or the experience of disillusionment from kindheartedness without discernment. Most importantly, mentoring can inspire them beyond their first dream.

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Dr. J. Derek McNeil, Associate Professor of Psychology, received his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Northwestern and his M.Div. from Fuller. He teaches diversity; clinical interviewing skills; group, marital, and family therapy; and has traveled nationally and internationally presenting workshops and seminars. He has also published four articles and authored chapters in five books. (The above statement was included at the time of publication — Wheaton Magazine, Winter 2008)

 

Leanne Payne (June 26, 1932-February 18, 2015)

Leanne Payne, beloved author and teacher, died on Ash Wednesday, 2015. Honoring herLP worldwide ministry as a wise spiritual counselor and relentless prayer warrior, the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections present this invocation requesting fresh anointing from God for Christian service, used by Payne and her colleagues during Pastoral Care conferences:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Pour the living water in Your presence
on the thirsty ground of my heart.

Make rivers of living water flow
on the barren heights of my soul,
and springs well up within all its valleys.

I would receive power, Lord Jesus Christ, to be your witness
at home and throughout the earth.
Be thou in me the fountain of living water,
springing up unto everlasting life.

You have qualified me, Holy Father, to share in the inheritance
of the saints in the kingdom of light.
You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness
and brought me into the kingdom of Your dear Son
in whom I have redemption
the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1).
You have set Your seal upon me
Your Spirit in my heart as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
In Christ, I stand firm (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
For adoption in You, I give you thanks.
For this I praise your holy, gracious name.

And I praise You as the One who sends forth Your Spirit
upon those who trust in Your name:
“Thou the anointing Spirit art
Who Doest thy sev’nfold gifts impart.”

I ask You now for the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
and a full freedom to move in the power of your Spirit
to the glory of your Name and the advancement of Your kingdom.
I know, Lord, that the day is coming when
“the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory
of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hebrews 2:14).
I rejoice in this, and ask that even now, Your Spirit
will fill me, cover me, and clothe me in this way.
I ask, also, for the grace and strength to so walk before You
that Your Holy Spirit will in no way be grieved or offended,
but will remain upon me; be ever pleased to rest upon me.

Father, for this baptism of Your Spirit,
one that will continue to well up from within me,
I give you thanks in advance.

It is in Jesus’ holy name that I pray and receive this blessing. Amen.

The papers of Leanne Payne (SC-125) are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.