When You Reach Me

Miranda, the saavy sixth-grade protagonist of Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me (2009), continually references her all-time favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, as she faces her own baffling — and potentially deadly — time-travel conundrum in 1979 New York City. When You Reach Me is the 2010 winner of the Newbery Medal for Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for ChildrenStead. Stead writes in the Acknowledgments:

Every writer stands on the shoulders of many other writers, and it isn’t practical to thank of them. However, I would like to express my special admiration for the astonishing imagination and hard work of Madeleine L’Engle, whose books captivated me when I was young (they still do), and made me want in on the secrets of the universe (ditto).

Further commenting on the influence of L’Engle, Rebecca Stead says in an interview with Amazon.com:

I loved A Wrinkle in Time as a child. I didn’t know why I loved it, and I didn’t want to know why. I remember meeting Madeleine L’Engle once at a bookstore and just staring at her as if she were a magical person. What I love about L’Engle’s book now is how it deals with so much fragile inner-human stuff at the same time that it takes on life’s big questions. There’s something fearless about this book.

It started out as a small detail in Miranda’s story, a sort of talisman, and one I thought I would eventually jettison, because you can’t just toss A Wrinkle in Time in there casually. But as my story went deeper, I saw that I didn’t want to let the book go. I talked about it with my editor, Wendy Lamb, and to others close to the story. And what we decided was that if we were going to bring L’Engle’s story in, we needed to make the book’s relationship to Miranda’s story stronger. So I went back to A Wrinkle in Time and read it again and again, trying to see it as different characters in my own story might (sounds crazy, but it’s possible!). And those readings led to new connections.

The papers of Madeleine L’Engle are housed at the Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, Illinois.

 

The Power of Self Command

Today it is common for public speakers to adopt informal methods of delivery. Contemporary audiences  might see the speaker slouching before them wearing bleached blue jeans with a loose, untucked Hawaiian shirt. In some instances, the speaker might even sit cross-legged on the stage, attempting to establish a friendly bond with his hearers.  Straw4However, the notion of excessively easygoing oratory delivered before an expectant auditorium was unfathomable when Dr. Darien Straw (1857-1950), Professor of Rhetoric and Logic and Principal of the Preparatory Department of Wheaton College, published Lessons in Expression and Physical Drill (1892), a consolidation of his classroom wisdom.

He emphasizes that proper posture, efficient gesticulation and precise elocution contribute immeasurably to the intellectual development and future success of the sensibly educated young man or woman. Outward order merely reflects inward stability. “Helping young people to discover ill temper in the voice, carelessness in the walk, selfishness in the bearing and laziness in the words,” writes Straw, “and giving them facility to avoid these, avails more than business proverbs and social precepts.” Throughout the book Straw offers helpful examples.

Straw2This gentleman stands in the drill position. “Heels together,” writes Straw, “toes turned out from 45 to 90 degrees apart, knees straight, body erect, head well back, chin slightly curbed, chest expanded, arms down at the side with the edge of the hand forward. A good test of erect positon is to stand with the back against a door or other vertical plane so that you can touch it in four places — with the heels, the hips, the shoulders and the head. If you find it difficult to do this there is the more reason for perservering in an erect position.  Once the drill position is properly maintained, the student can practice his vocals. Avoid any attempt at loudness,” warns Straw, “but listen to the tone to see if it is correct.”

Straw3Straw later discusses the calculated use of the prone hand and the supine hand. “The primary meaning of the Prone Hand is repression or covering. It is the reverse of the Supine hand, the palm is turned down. It has a great variety of uses, but all related to this primary meaning. The idea of the snow spread upon the earth contains also the idea of a covering. The idea of peace, quiet or stillness contains at the same time suppression of noise or movement and may be expressed by the Prone Hand. There is a gradual shading of this position to that of Averse hand, as we would repress an action or thought disagreeable. As our emotions shade into one another, so our action combines different expressions.”

 

“This, then,” writes Straw, “is an effort to help teachers in giving to pupils the power of self command.”

 

The Story of an Old Town, Glen Ellyn

Wheaton College, founded by Methodist abolitionists, was long rumored to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.  However, precise documentation was lacking. At last the rumor was verified in 2009 by historian Dr. David Maas while reading a regimental history noting that freed slaves were, indeed, aided and assisted by friends on the college campus before moving on to the next station. This intriguing entry from Ada Douglas Harmon’s The Story of an Old Town, Glen Ellyn (1928), a history of Glen Ellyn, adds a few details:

1853: Illinois Institute (Wheaton College) founded, first president, Prof. Lucius Matlack. It was one of the underground railway stations for runaway slaves, as well as the old Barnard or Filer home. Also Israel P. Blodgett’s home in Downer’s Grove. Mr. Blodgett would often conceal as many as eleven slaves in his attic, feed and clothe them and send on to the next station, the Illinois Institute. Here they were again hidden in an attic by President Matlack, till it was safe to send them on, perhaps to the Filer house on Crescent, where they were hidden in the barn. From there the slaves were taken to Chicago, one of the stations being the old Tremont House, and from there to Canada and safety. The slaves were transported in farm wagons loaded with produce under which they were concealed. All those local links with the past give a reality to the thrills Uncle Tom’s Cabin used to send quivering through one’s system. 

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Merry Christmas!

These Wheaton College girls, possibly gathered in a Williston Hall dormer, pause during a Christmas celebration to pose for this photo from the early 1900s. A sketch of Abraham Lincoln, wearing Roman robes, glowers down on the somewhat somber party, though the young lady sitting front and center seems a bit more relaxed, if not downright mischievous. The woman in the striped skirt appears to be wearing an elf cap, or perhaps some form of traditional seasonal headdress.

Christmas

The Book of Second Hesitations

Many a youth minister and pastor has used the tried and true jokes of offering up to their congregations the funny, non-existent, names of books of the Bible. Second Hesitations or First Opinions has produced a good laugh or two as has the Book of Hezekiah. For good or ill, the use of these fictitious titles can also be used to differentiate the true believer from the casual one. The joke can at times backfire. Sometimes the joke isn’t a joke at all but reveals the fluidity of the Christian Bible.

ThirdKingsTake, for instance, the recent acquisition of the Book of Third and Fourth Kings in Buswell Library’s Special Collections. Your average Christian may pass over this title but someone a bit more familiar with the full canon of scripture may do a double-take. Third Kings? The songs of Sunday School go from Genesis through the Pentateuch into the historical books from Joshua to First and Second Samuel then on to First and Second Kings. There is no Third Kings in the childhood song, only Kings followed by Chronicles. This is where history helps us out.

Yet, the Book of Third Kings, or The Third Book of Kings, was how these books were known by the early church. The Israelite believers would have known this book as First Book of Malachim, or as the Vulgate presented it in Latin, “Liber Regum tertius; secundum Hebraeos, Liber Malachim.” It was in the Reformation period that the names of the books were modified. It was not the Catholics or Protestants that encouraged this change, but it was Daniel Bomberg (died 1549), an early printer of Hebrew language book, who introduced this change in his principal edition of the Mikraot Gedolot (rabbinic bible) in 1516-1517.

It took many years for this change to filter into the printings of other Bibles. This edition of Third Kings was a part of an edition of the Great Bible printed in 1566. The original printing of the Authorized, or King James, Bible of 1611 also contained the Book of Third Kings.

Jack & Jill Ranch on Big Wildcat Lake

Before Camp Honey Rock (later Honey Rock Camp)  became firmly established as a favorite getaway destination, Wheaton College faculty and students seeking a fresh blast of the great outdoors slipped northward to the Jack & Jill Ranch (“for young people, 19-35 years old”) in Rothbury, Michigan, about 200 miles from campus. The 650-acre lakeside property provided an ideal venue for horseback riding, swimming, boating, canoeing, archery, riflery, meals and lodging.

Ranch1

In addition to these activities, the promotional booklet loudly boasts, “Dance music is provided by our own orchestra. There’s square dancin’, too…we’ll teach you right from scratch.” Abiding by the Wheaton College rules of conduct, students probably quite reluctantly refrained from “dancin'”, especially in the presence of college administration. And when Sunday rolled around, guests were transported to one of “…our little Catholic or Protestant churches in the quaint village of Rothbury.”

In  May, 1953, the Senior Sneak, comprising the entire graduating class, fled campus and settled for two days at the Jack & Jill Ranch. Ranch2In addition to hearty relaxation, the Senior Sneak organized a worship service with Dr. V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College, conducting the communion table.  The Sneak, probably gathered around a roaring campfire, sang their class song:

We’re on the road to victory,

And we can fight as you will see,

As we throng around,

You’ll hear the sound

Of cheering loud and free, Rah! Rah!

We are the first in all the fun,

Loyal we stand through gloom and sun;

Pressing forward together

In any kind of weather,

We’re the class of ’53.

Today the former Jack & Jill Ranch is the 1000-acre Double JJ Resort, including a golf course, water park and conference center. The Double JJ occasionally hosts the Rothbury Festival, featuring music from such rockers Snoop Doggy Dog and John Mayer.

Keep on Huggin’!

The Evangelism and Missions Collection, located on the third floor of the Billy Graham Center, features an astounding array of books detailing the histories of international mission agencies, institutions, revivals and movements. In addition, the collection contains the biographies and autobiographies of missionaries, pastors, evangelists and other Christian workers, all dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hugs1One of the unique ministries archived among the titles in the Evangelism and Mission Collection is chronicled in Hugs (1988) by Henry and Susan Harrison. Henry Harrison, D.D., served as co-host, (until replaced by Tammy Fay Bakker) and announcer for Jim Bakker’s PTL (“Praise the Lord”) Club, located at the Heritage, USA, campus, in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  In addition to evangelism, “Uncle Henry” and his wife, “Aunt Susan,” as they were widely known, specialized in hugging. This excerpt from an interview reveals their passion:

Interviewer: …To me, the most important feature is your license plate.

Uncle Henry: PTL/PHD. That’s PTL’s Pastor for the Hugging Department.

Interviewer: You had that specially made?

Uncle Henry: Yes, and I also designed one for Susan’s car. Her license plate is SUZ/HEN and when you pronounce it together it comes out “Susan.” But it’s for the two of us together, Susan and Henry.

Interview: That’s unique! Here’s a picture of the Upper Room at Heritage, USA. Are you there often?

Uncle Henry: Susan and I are there every weekday afternoon, Monday through Friday, for an hour of sharing and testimonies and hugging. And…I don’t think it is a sacrilege when I sometimes affectionately refer to it as “The Hugging Room.” I truly believe there is sweet communion in hugging on the part of believers.

Aunt Susan: When God said to Jim Bakker years ago, “Jim, if you’ll build me a place I’ll meet you there,” Jim took some of his people to Jerusalem and measured the Upper Room’s every inch and every column. The one at Heritage as as near a replica of that one as the local building code would permit. The Upper Room in Jerusalem has stone floors, but we do have a nice red carpet to kneel on. And we have the atmosphere — the spiritual atmosphere — that is so conducive to praise and worship and healing and salvation and all of the things people come there crying for in their spirits. They pray and intercede for their friends and family back home.

Hugs appeared one year before Jim Bakker’s devastating sexual scandal brought down the PTL empire. The Heritage property has since been portioned and sold to various developers. Quite poignantly, the Harrisons observe at the end of the book:

Aunt Susan: …I’d like to leave a parting thought on this. When a person is truly hurting to the very depths of their being — as in bereavement at the death of a precious loved one — the ear fails to register the meanings of the words being heard. Hugs2But the warmth and concern conveyed by a sincere, loving hug reaches and soothes the wounded spirit as nothing else can…Through this book our hugging people will continue long after we’re gone from this world.

Uncle Henry: I think of this book as being a kin to the Book of Acts in that it has no “amen,” but lives on in the lives of “hugging” believers! I don’t know who wrote these lines, but we’d like to leave them with you….Keep on huggin’!

Day of the Wolf

Coleman Luck, creator of “The Equalizer” and “Gabriel’s Fire,” pulls  no punches in Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church (2015). Throughout the book, Luck offers personal anecdotes in the spiritual and psychological mechanics of dealing with wolves, whether in Hollywood or the church, or both in partnership.

LuckHe writes, “This book has been written to call us all to account. For spiritual wolves, it is the most serious warning to repent while there is still time. Your soul is at stake. For those who follow and encourage wolves, it is a call to Biblical awareness, repentance and action. For those who have been wounded in wolf attacks, it is a call to forgiveness and healing. For everyone in the Christian Church it is a call to vigilance and, where needed, Biblical, Holy Spirit empowered confrontation, because things are going to get much worse.”

The Coleman Luck Collection includes the working materials of this contemporary novelist, television and screenwriter. His work on various network television series, as well as independent projects, are documented in this collection.

Learn more about Coleman Luck’s papers at Wheaton College.

More to Gain

a120As professor and administrator, Dr. Bob Baptista, who died at 93 on Friday, October 9, demonstrated firm leadership and sound judgment on many levels during his years of service to Wheaton College. However, he most visibly exhibited his stellar character after coaching a 1966 soccer game, Wheaton vs. Lake Forest. The following article from the Chicago Sun-Times tells the story:

The winners made the protest as the aftermath of an unusual soccer game in which Wheaton College beat Lake Forest 1-0, it was learned Wednesday. Wheaton coach Bob Baptista didn’t learn from goalie Bill Bott until after the game two weeks ago that Lake Forest had also scored. The ball, kicked by a wing on a breakaway, went past Bob Bott’s arms and 50 yards beyond the goal. Play had resumed before the surprised goalie realized no official had recognized that the ball went through the net. Baptista and the officials found a torn cord near the bottom of the net through which the ball had zipped. Baptista offered to consider the game a tie if the contest had no bearing on the final standings of the league. He also offered to replay the game if it should become significant in the standings. “Suddenly and unexpectedly faced with the acid test,” Baptista told the student body, “Wheaton has a lot more to gain than to lose.”

Good Grief!

Brown2Charlie Brown, next to Mickey Mouse and Superman, is arguably the most iconic American comic strip character. Created by Charles Schulz, the Peanuts cartoon ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000. Amazingly, the final original strip appeared one day after the death of Schulz.

The April 24, 1958 Wheaton College Record features an odd article, without context, titled “Peanuts Comes to Campus.” Evidently an unnamed Wheaton College student traveled to Minneapolis to hear Schulz lecture about his popular syndicated strip. Schulz offers one or two interesting insights into his creative process.

Charlie Brown, Patty, Pig Pen, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Schroeder and Beethoven were at the University of Minnesota last month, brought by their creator Charles Schulz. Schultz drew as he talked. “Lucy says you can draw Charlie Brown’s head by using a pie plate,” Schulz said as he drew something that looked very much like it could be drawn with  a pie plate, “but this is not necessarily so.” BrownHe put a little sad face on the circle, drew a much-too-small body under it and introduced Charlie Brown. Then he covered the drawing with vertical streaks. “That’s rain,” he explained. Charlie Brown says, “It always rains on the unloved.”

“The strip,” says Schulz, “depicts high-toned sayings jammed down these little people.” He does all the work himself. “After all, there’s not much there — figures and graphs.” He drew Snoopy the dog in a frantic moment trying to find his way out of a patch of grass, “caught in the throes of weed claustrophobia.” Schulz has a hard time thinking up ideas for Pig Pen. “They’re planning  Pig Pen doll, you know,” he told the Minnesotans. “When you set it down, a little cloud of dust rises.” He has trouble, too, with Schroeder, mainly because of the Beethoven bust on his piano. “I have a hard time drawing Beethoven. Sometimes he looks like James Mason and sometimes like Elsa Maxwell.”

Says the Tower, Schulz has some of the emotional problems as the Peanuts clan does. He is motivated by the belief that few people like cartoonists, and he “can’t stand” people who send in suggestions. His wonderment was matched on one occasion by that of little Linus. Clutching his “security blanket,” Linus listened intently to the story of Sambo and the tigers. When the story was over, Linus looked puzzled and asked the question one might expect any normal child to ask: “How in the world could anybody eat that many pancakes after undergoing such an emotional experience?”