Monthly Archives: January 2009

Josh McDowell

Josh McDowellIn 1960 a young man named Joslin “Josh” David McDowell transferred to Wheaton College from Kellogg, a community college in Michigan. His pastor had recommended the move. “Wheaton?” asked Josh. “Where’s that, Maryland?” Josh adjusted to Wheaton with some difficulty, his time fully occupied with studies or his house painting job. Advised by his pastor to gravitate toward the more pious students for fellowship, Josh did so, developing solid friendships with godly classmates, all eager to seek God’s face. One day as he waited at a crossing gate near campus, he noticed a car speeding up behind him. To his horror, the car – driven by a drunk – did not stop and barreled into him, pushing Josh’s vehicle onto the tracks at 45 mph. Fortunately Josh missed the path of the train. Though there was no visible injury, a sore neck indicated internal damage. Admitted to the college infirmary where he was confined to a cast and traction, he received a friendly visit from V. Raymond Edman, who stayed for two hours, praying with Josh. He later received a visit from Rev. Torrey Johnson, then-pastor of First Evangelical Free Church and founder (with Billy Graham) of Youth for Christ, who encouraged him in his desire to preach. After recovering, Josh and two friends met a visiting speaker named Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Joining the famous evangelist for coffee in the Stupe, Bright drew for them three circles with three thrones, each representing the kinds of people in the world, and who sits on their thrones: 1) the self-controlled unbeliever 2) the Christ-controlled Christian and 3) the carnal Christian. Josh then realized that he must endeavor to place Christ on the throne of his life. At that instant he entered a reinvigorated phase of evangelistic zeal, though he was still resistant to fully surrendering his life for service. Challenged by a “Spiritual Emphasis Week” message from Dr. Richard Halverson, Josh moved yet further toward yielding his will to Christ. That night, after late-night coffee at the Round the Clock cafe in downtown Wheaton, he walked Union Street in the cool, early hours of the morning, prayerfully struggling with the undeniable fact that God was beckoning, overwhelming Josh’s ambitions, calling him to a higher plane. Evidence that demand a verdictBut it was not until he discovered Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws” among his notebooks that he discerned a distinct purpose and direction for his ministry; and so he finally committed to the Spirit-filled life. This provided the basis for his public ministry, wherein he would engage unbelievers through apologetic debates and exhort weak or undecided believers to pursue the same dynamic empowerment that had revolutionized his own life.

After Wheaton Josh attended Talbot Theological Seminary, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree. In 1964 he joined the staff of Campus Crusade, preaching to thousands of students the world over; and in 1991 he founded Operation Carelift (now called Global Aid Network), one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations in the U.S. Among the 108 books he has authored or co-authored are Evidence that Demands a Verdict (1979), More than a Carpenter (1977) and The Last Christian Generation (2006). Still lecturing, he currently serves as president of Josh McDowell Ministries. His story, up to 1981, is told in Joe Musser’s Josh: The Excitement of the Unexpected.

A Deserved Niche

Born into a musical family and the daughter of a prominent music merchant, Vida Chenoweth and her twin sister Vera gained a wide knowledge of musical instruments early in life. Vida ChenowethTheir musical talent manifested itself in twin performances of two — piano works, clarinet and later, marimba duos. Along with their two brothers, all four children were literate in music before attending school. Public school, attended in Enid, Oklahoma, was supplemented by batteries of teachers and lessons in dance, acrobatics, music, painting and drawing and sports.
Undergraduate studies were at William Woods, then a liberal arts junior college for women, and at Northwestern University’s School of Music. It was during her senior year at Northwestern that Vida suffered the loss of her twin sister. Heart surgery, then in its infancy, was performed on both girls. Vera died in surgery and Vida, after 6 months of painful deliberation, underwent the same surgery in Boston. In her case, it was a complete success. A year later she was touring the Midwest giving solo recitals under auspices of the University of Wisconsin.
A short biographical sketch tends to minimize the struggle to attain, but Chenoweth’s struggle was not in competing with other marimbists. Her competition was with the performers on traditional instruments, and worst of all, she was fighting a blind prejudice against her instrument because of its non-European ancestry. It was a shock to the musical world to hear Chenoweth play the marimba as a classical instrument. It was in the marimba’s favor that Andres Segovia had earned a respected place for the guitar on the concert stage. Audiences were learning that it is the artist, not the instrument, which creates music.
PerformingDuring Chenoweth’s fledgling years in Chicago one goal was foremost, to find a deserved niche for the marimba in serious music circles. Older musicians recognized her talent and the marimba’s potential, but there was no management, no subsidization, no publicity except by word of mouth, and not one musical competition open to her as a marimbist. Even the American Conservatory where she was a graduate student did not permit her to audition for her class’s graduation concert. She made a living by giving marimba lessons in the north shore suburbs and taking part-time jobs in the Loop. Rather than compromise her artistic standards, she earned money outside of music as a typist, census-taker, switchboard operator, waitress and so on. She worked for two years to save enough to hire the Chicago Art Institute’s Fullerton Hall where she gave in 1956 the first public recital of works composed for the marimba. At this recital her original technique for playing polyphonic music was first heard publicly. Chicago’s leading music critic Felix Borowski wrote for the Sun Times:

“…remarkable. Moreover, the performer is blessed with fine musical taste. The nuances obtained were of moving beauty.”

Soon the advice to go to New York was unanimous. Disassembling the marimba and packing it into five 50-pound cases, young Chenoweth departed alone for New York. Her only letter of introduction was written by Rudolph Ganz to the Steinways.
CurbsideIt was not hard to obtain an opportunity to audition at Steinway Hall, but it was hard to find any accommodation in the city which allowed one to practice. The taxi fare to the “Y” was more than anticipated. They refused her instrument, so leaving her 250-pounds of marimba lined along the curb, she began phoning every conceivable listing that might take a musician, all to no avail. There wasn’t enough money for a hotel, and she had no bank account, no affiliations, no relatives. The more hopeless the situation became, the more her tears flowed. One last call to a music student she had known in Chicago at last offered a roof.

In later years the personnel at Steinway Hall and Chenoweth chuckled together over her audition there for management. All the leading concert managers had offices in Steinway Hall, and the way to be heard was to play for them in the recital hall. In grey knee-sox, sandals and drndl skirt, she pushed her marimba cases one by one across the sidewalk from a Checker cab and tied up pedestrian traffic for 10 minutes when one of the cases got stuck in the revolving door. In the recital hall, the managers exhibited their caution by sending their secretaries downstairs to hear the audition. Leaping into a virtuosic Bach number so astonished and excited the secretaries that Chenoweth then sat and waited while they fled to get their bosses to listen. From this moment, audiences demanded Bach of her though she preferred to base her career on new music for the marimba. Her respect for the perfection of Bach’s work is reflected in her refusal to arrange his works; she performed his music note-for-note as he wrote it.

With the premiere of Robert Kurka’s concerto for marimba and orchestra in Carnegie Hall, Hew York, in 1959, the critics of every New York newspaper, every music magazine and of Time magazine as well, wrote rave reviews. It was that event which led to invitations to play throughout the world.

Vida Chenoweth has played on every continent. She made the first recording of marimba music in 1962, for Epic Records. At that time, every major work for marimba (20 in all) was composed for her with the exception of Paul Creston’s Concertino For Marimba and Orchestra, composed before Chenoweth played the marimba. At that time, she was the only career marimbist to have been guest soloist with major orchestras and in major concert halls. In Europe, as it had been earlier in New York, the critics’ preconceived ideas of the marimba dissolved, and praise swung from reverence to ecstasy.

The calendar events that most people recall in their own lives are all but forgotten in Chenoweth’s collage of accomplishments. She seldom remembers her own birthday. The influence of great minds and artists, the times when death was close, grief, an awakening to new spiritual depths, the ability to transfer from one contrastive culture to another, these are the shaping forces of her biography. She is today equally at home in the town of Enid where she was born, a grass-hut village in New Guinea; Chicago where she worked for years in bible translation work, Paris, New York, Guatemala, New Zealand or on the sea.

Jesus Freaks

Jesus PeopleThe late 1960s and early 70s were years of tremendous ideological upheaval in the United States, not only in secular culture but also within the church. Christian youth, frustrated with staid worship and lifeless routine, longed for energetic, artistic expression. The Jesus Freaks were not seeking new content for their faith, but instead desired a re-packaging of traditional messages with brighter, hipper wrappings. An example is Larry Norman’s widely-popular song, I Wish We’d All Been Ready, its lyrics lamenting the absence of the unsaved in Heaven after the Rapture of 1 Thess. 4:16-17, the instantaneous “catching away” of Earth’s Christian population immediately preceding the worldwide Tribulation. Norman sets to music doctrines advanced in Hal Lindsey’s best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), which attempts to succinctly outline biblical end-time events from a premillennial perspective. Another influential text of this time-period is Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible, a paraphrasing of the scriptures in modern idiom. Jesus PeopleIn his autobiography, My Life: A Guided Tour, Taylor expresses satisfaction that his work spoke to this audience: “These were the early days of the Jesus People Movement and, concurrently, the charismatic movement. One leader of the charismatics gave me his opinion that Living Psalms was one of the chief sources of nurture within the movement…This youth rebellion took some destructive and damaging forms, but at the same time it produced a sort of counterrevolution…Suddenly great numbers of young people in their late teens and twenties were turning to Christ for the answers they were so sincerely seeking…[They] were a receptive target for the fresh, up-to-date vocabulary and contemporary style of the Living version of the Bible.”

Recently an individual wrote to the Special Collections with appreciation for the influence of the Living Bible: “As a high schooler from 1970 to 1974, [Ken Taylor’s] Reach Out version of the Living Bible made a big difference in a lot of the young people of that era, me included. [H]is dedication to having the Bible in an easy to read format was so novel, so new, that it seems hard to believe now in the 21st century! So praise be to our Lord for using Mr. Taylor to bring the Good News to so many young, impressionable people who are now aging ‘young adults’!”

From Five Cents to Fifty Thousand Dollars…

When Jonathan Blanchard came to Wheaton he was brought to the Illinois Institute to resurrect the failing school. He was known for his connections and his fund-raising–having saved Knox College from financial despair and leaving it with hearty reserves.

Thaddeus StevensIn February 1868 Blanchard wrote to Thaddeus Stevens, the radical Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, “…I am building a college building as a breakwater against secret societies and all like abominations, for which I want fifty thousand dollars more than are provided: and if, after providing for those who have been faithful to you and your principles, you have any sum from five cents to fifty thousand dollars to leave for the erection of the main building of Wheaton College Ill. and I survive you, I will see every cent you give sacredly devoted to that object and if you leave and (sic) considerable sum the building will bear your name.”

Under Jonathan Blanchard’s plan the completed limestone building atop the hill of center-campus would have been called Stevens Hall and would not have borne his own name. A newspaper report indicates that the completion of the tower was marked by shouting, cheers, a “comparatively feeble” ringing of the bell, and a raising of “the glorious old stars and stripes.” Jonathan Blanchard’s office was “elegantly fitted up” the same day as a surprise for the president.

When Jonathan Blanchard retired as president in 1882, the building remained asymmetrical–built out mainly to the west. In 1890 the east side of the building was flanked with an addition with a full wing, to complement the west wing, being added in 1927. The 1890 addition included a museum, laboratories, and the first library. Other portions of the building contained the above mentioned president’s office, a prayer room, laundry, apartments and classrooms.

So Send I You

So Send I You

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

So send I you — to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known;
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you — to know my love alone.

So send I you — to leave your life’s ambitions,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long and love where men revile you,

So send I you — to lose your life in mine.

Margeret ClarksonThis hymn, So Send I You, has been called the greatest missionary hymn of the twentieth century. A lonely and scared young teacher wrote it as she contemplated her isolation — a loneliness that pervaded her heart and soul. Margaret Clarkson experienced loneliness of every kind — mental, cultural, and spiritual — as she began teaching at a logging camp during the depths of The Great Depression in northern Ontario, Canada. She wrote these words of pain and suffering.

However years later she would see the “one-sidedness” of this hymn and compose a newer version — one that reflected her growth and rest in Christ.

So send I you — by grace made strong
To triumph o’er hosts of hell,
O’er darkness, death and sin
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer
So send I you, my victory to win

Lawson Field

Victor LawsonThe tract of land called Lawson Field was the gift of Victor Fremont Lawson (1850-1925), friend of Wheaton College and proprietor of the Chicago Daily News — known as a publisher with a conscience. In 1900 when the field was dedicated, acreage, fencing and stands cost about $1500. For the following 90 years Lawson Field was the on-campus home of Wheaton baseball; it now functions as training grounds for various intramural sports programs. Another landmark named after the philanthropic publisher is the Lawson YMCA, a 25-storey art deco structure located at 30 W. Chicago Ave, erected in the early 1930s. The elegant River North edifice, once the flagship for the Metropolitan Chicago Y, was utilized from time to time as additional off-campus housing for Moody Bible Institute students. On the Southside, the University of Chicago’s Divinity School boasts Victor Lawson Tower, designed as a compromise between the classic church-style spire and traditional square-style educational architecture. The chapel’s windows are patterned after the stained-glass in Chartres Cathedral in France; and its cloisters display stones from Christian sites the world over. Lawson met his wife, Jessie, an aggressive real estate developer, in a church choir at Green Lake, WI. After honeymooning there in 1888, they purchased for their summer home 10 acres of land once occupied by Winnebago Indians and settlers. Initially calling it Lone Tree Farm, the Lawsons gradually added more properties until their vast estate, now called “Lawsonia,” comprised 1,100 acres. After the death of its owners, Lawsonia fell into various hands until the General Baptist Convention bought it in 1943 for $300,000. The GBC currently manages the grounds, known as Green Lake Conference Center. As a youngster Lawson attended Chicago’s first Norwegian Evangelical Church; as an adult he took active membership in The New England Church. During his career he was a generous contributor to the Congregational Missionary and Extension Society. A civic and ecclesiastical benefactor, Lawson’s kindness extended to the workplace as well. Historian John J. McPhaul writes in Deadlines & Monkeyshines: The Fabled World of Chicago Journalism, that the pious, fair-minded Lawson “…gave his staffers turkeys [at] Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Victor Lawson’s grave, located in Chicago’s famed Graceland Cemetery, is marked with a granite crusader bearing sword and shield, symbolizing his sacrificial, militant spirit. It was sculpted by Lorado Taft, who oversaw all stonework for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Lawson’s papers are housed at the Newberry Library.