J. Northcote Deck, born in England in 1875, pursued his education in Australia at the University of Sydney, where he felt a call to ministry. Thereafter he allowed nothing to compete with his single-minded dedication to Christ. Receiving the degree of Master of Surgery, Dr. Deck established a practice in Sydney; but soon he moved to the Solomon Islands as a full-time missionary and engineer, participating in a fruitful work that began in 1882 among South Sea islanders. In 1910 Dr. Deck was the first white man to cross Guadalcanal, then largely unexplored. He led the first exploration of the coral island of Rennell. He then embarked upon the first crossing of mountainous Malaita, a cannibal island; and on his second visit he discovered a lake and primitive civilization unknown to the outside world. As a result of these exploratory adventures, he was honored by the Royal Geographical Society and made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Encountering disease, weather, poison arrows and innumerable disappointments, Dr. Deck prevailed in his efforts among the natives until retirement in 1927. On the mission field his life of sacrificial service yielded many conversions. But this was true in his latter years, as well, as he traveled around the world, preaching in churches, summer schools, colleges and conferences, including the Keswick Convention in England, which attracted internationally renowned pulpit orators. In addition to speaking, Dr. Deck wrote devotional books, conveying through the written word a consecrated spirituality. This gift was passed to his daughter, Luci Shaw, who has written perceptively in both poetry and prose about faith and art and other issues of the Christian life. In private Dr. Deck was a man of deep prayer, systematic and definite as he daily remembered missionaries positioned around the globe. As he lay on his deathbed, he joyfully, confidently exclaimed to Wilber Sutherland, director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Canada, “Wilber, this is the most wonderful experience of my life!”
Attempting to hearken back to the town meetings of yore, America’s Town Meeting of the Air was a public affairs radio broadcast and one of radio’s first talk shows. Beginning as an experiment by the National Broadcasting Company, the program had a discussion format that tried to interest the public in current events and ran from 1935 to 1956. Providing a venue for opposing viewpoints, the program’s goal was to create a new kind of educational program that was entertaining and intellectually stimulating. It’s well-known guests were experts on the topic of the broadcast and the audience was encouraged to participate, especially to submit brief question without rudeness or insults, though sarcasm easily seeped in. The success of the program was the audience participation and their challenging questions, though some audience members became belligerent or expressed patently racist views. The program became so popular that a monthly column was written for Current History magazine and a synopsis of the weekly program’s content was disseminated to public school civics teachers. Among the topics of discussions were “Which way America: Fascism, Communism, Socialism or Democracy,” “Does America have freedom of the press,” “Is censorship sometimes necessary,” “Should The U.S. enter World War II?” Due to changes at NBC and the times the program was aired the show went through a long period of steady decline. The moderator, George V. Denny Jr., was replaced in 1952 and the show ended in mid-1956.
In 1952 America’s Town Meeting of the Air made its way to Wheaton College. The topic of the broadcast was “What is the answer for Korea” and Dr. Orville Hitchcock of the University of Iowa served as the moderator for the meeting. Dr. You Chan Yang, South Korean Ambassador to United States, Mr. Walter O’Hearn and Congressman Orland K. Armstrong of Missouri represented the various positions. Mr. O’Hearn was executive editor of the Montreal Star and represented the “left” position, while Armstrong, who also served on the editorial board of Reader’s Digest, represented the “right.”
The National Archives houses dozens and dozens of recordings from the broadcast, including the Wheaton-hosted event in the New York University Collection, 1935 – 1954.
It is very important when one has a real aim. Sometimes this aim is more important than life. –Irina Ratushinskaya
In April 1987, Russian poet and human rights advocate Irina Ratushinskaya spoke at Wheaton College while she and her husband, Igor Gerashchenko, were guests of Northwestern University in nearby Evanston, Illinois. Irina was sentenced to seven years in a labor camp in 1983 followed by five years of internal exile. The main pieces of evidence presented at her trial were six poems rich in Christian imagery. According to her husband the poems were as remote from politics as the Lord’s Prayer, yet Irina was charged with subverting and weakening the Soviet regime. At the time Irina stated “our people take literature very seriously. It is our Russian tradition. No wonder when our government take literature very seriously, too. It moves people.”.
During her imprisonment, Irina endured beatings, forced feedings, and long periods of solitary confinement. She continued to write poetry, despite being instructed otherwise, and scratched lines on a bar of soap and committed them to memory before washing them away. The women in the labor camp helped her to pass completed poems to Igor, who in turn smuggled them via underground couriers to the West for publication. Irina and her fellow prisoners, most of whom were also believers, appealed to the West for help in a similar fashion. Irina attests that Western pressure was the cause of her release: “The KGB knew that if they killed us, there would be too much noise in the West. So they decided to release us.” She was freed, along with 108 other political prisoners, two days before the U.S. | U.S.S.R. Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in October 1986.
During her appearance at Wheaton, sponsored by the Slavic Gospel Association and the (former) Institute for the Study of Christianity & Marxism, and World Christian Fellowship at Wheaton College, Irina read three poems she had written while imprisoned. She also fielded questions about the Soviet Union, especially Soviet Christians. When asked about glasnost, the new Soviet policy of openness, Irina simply stated that there was no openness in the prison camps; Russian people generally do not believe the changes exist “because those changes are more in newspapers and TV sets than in the lives of Soviet people.”
Nearly twenty-five years later Irina’s life has taken her full-circle back to the land which once held her captive. In December 1998 she and her husband moved with their twin boys from London back to Russia in the former Soviet Union. She chose to educate her two sons in Russian school after years of procedures to restore her Russian citizenship and currently lives in Moscow.
Wheaton College has graduated several students who’ve eventually assumed the presidencies of schools and agencies. Less common is the fact that one Wheaton College teacher, Dr. C. Raymond Ludwigson, serving on staff as Associate Professor of Bible and Philosophy, departed its faculty to accept a college presidency; then, after a six year stint, returned to Wheaton College, resuming his teaching position. An alumnus of Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, Ludwigson earned his graduate degree from Chicago Lutheran Seminary and his doctorate from the University of Iowa. Dr. Ludwigson taught at Wheaton College until his appointment in 1949 to the presidency of Trinity College and Seminary in Chicago (now Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL). However, he returned to Wheaton College in September 1955. Throughout his teaching career and after he served as interim pastor at various churches, including Westminster Presbyterian Church in Elgin, IL. Ludwigson was known for a warm, devotional teaching style. He retired from Wheaton College in 1969 and in 1973 published A Survey of Bible Prophecy for Zondervan.
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.
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.
One of the earliest endowed scholarships was made in the name of Elihu B. Washburne by his wife. Washburne was born in Livermore, Maine on September 23, 1816. He had attended the local common school and later become a printer’s apprentice, eventually becoming assistant editor of the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, Maine. He also studied law at Kents’ Hill Seminary and Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1840 and moved to Galena, Illinois to practice law. A member of the House of Representative from Illinois, Washburne was also a delegate to the Whig National Conventions in 1844 and 1852. He served in Congress from 1853 to 1869, where he had been chairman of Committee on Commerce. A strong opponent of slavery, Washburne became a leading figure in the group that became known as the Radical Republicans (1854-1877). He was appointed, quite briefly (less than two weeks), Secretary of State under President Ulysses S. Grant, resigning a few days afterward to accept a diplomatic mission to France. He was the only foreign minister who remained at his post during the days of the Paris Commune in 1871, protecting Germans and other foreigners left behind by their delegations. In 1877 he returned to Illinois, settling in Chicago where he served as president of the Chicago Historical Society from 1884 until his death on October 23, 1887. Three of Washburne’s brothers (Cadwallader C. Washburn, William D. Washburn, and Israel Washburn, Jr.) were politicians and Washburne’s son, Hempstead Washburne, was mayor of Chicago from 1891 to 1893.
On 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, having half of its body removed for use in the cafeteria, and knowing how to talk and dance among other things.
“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.
In recent weeks Dr. John Ortberg addressed the Wheaton College graduates of both the undergraduate College and the Graduate School in the May 2010 Commencement ceremonies. In the following excerpts, he exhorts the Class of 2010 to embrace Wheaton’s mission, “For Christ and His Kingdom.”
It is His kingdom that we seek to be for, not ours. And this means a call to humility, because His kingdom is about something so much bigger, and so much more glorious, than our little evangelical subculture and institutions and movements and churches. But it’s also a call for great boldness, because to be ‘For Christ and His Kingdom’ means that we do not have to be nervous about this world. In a world where so much is down…where the economy is down…where employment is down…where consumer confidence is down…where marital stability is down…where, I know, the odds of finding a great job fresh out of college are down; people wonder is anything up? And some things are. The opportunity to serve a hurting world is up…the power of hope is up…the market for faith is up…and this is so because certain truths remain unchanged:
God remains sovereign…the beauty of forgiveness is still greater than the stain of sin…the Bible still pierces the human soul…prayer remains the most remarkable communication known to the human race…love still beats bigotry…joy still trumps despair…the greatest scandal of this sorry, dark world remains the scandal of the cross…God’s mercies are still new every morning…the tomb is still empty…the Spirit is still descending…the kingdom Jesus announced, which we seek to be for, is still expanding.
To be ‘For Christ and His Kingdom’ is to be for the world that God so loved that he gave His only begotten son.
John Carl Ortberg, Jr. was born in 1957 and was raised in Rockford, Illinois. While attending Wheaton College in the late 1970s, Ortberg was a member of the Scholastic Honor Society and graduated summa cum laude in 1979 with a B.A. in psychology. He played men’s tennis all four years, earned the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Most-Valuable Player award, achieved NCAA All-American Honors and reached the quarterfinals in men’s doubles at the NCAA Division III Tennis Championships. During 1978 and 1979 he was the #1 CCIW singles and doubles champion and ranked first in singles and doubles of the Wheaton squad while captain his senior year.
He pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and later earned both an Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he is currently on the Board of Trustees.
He served as senior pastor at Simi Valley Community Church for five years until 1990, and then until 1994 at Horizons Community Church in Diamond Bar, CA. The Ortbergs moved from California to Illinois for John and his wife, Nancy to serve as teaching pastors at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois for the next decade.
Since 2003 he has served as Senior Pastor of the 4,000 member Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California. Ortberg is also an author of such Zondervan titles as the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award winner If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (2001) and the 2008 ECPA Christian Book Award winner When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.
In January 2007 Pastor Ortberg returned to Wheaton and addressed the campus for Spring Special Services in a series of messages entitled “Adventures in Faith.” His pastorate at Menlo Park was also highlighted along with other alumni in the Wheaton Magazine (Winter 2007) issue.
The Ortbergs have three children (Laura, Mallory and John) and live in Menlo Park, CA.
It was the stillness. That’s what they remembered most about the beginning. A stillness that hung like ancient mold in the trees. But who could forget anything about Wind Sunday? The sharp acrylic memories painted themselves on their hearts and refused to dry. And ever after, touching the canvas brought tears…
An airliner crashes into the ocean and only three young people survive. For the Lancaster siblings, the strangest storm in history becomes a portal to an ancient world ruled by seven evil creatures of immense power. As the children descend into the terror and temptation of Boreth, every choice takes them closer to endless night. With dark, glistening strands from Lewis, Lovecraft, and Tolkien, the cloth of Angel Fall has been woven. But the journey it weaves is not just for Alex, Amanda, and Tori…it is for all those who cannot find their way home.
Hollywood screenwriter, executive producer, and Special Collections author, Coleman Luck recently finished the above novel after twenty-five years of labor. Preliminary drafts of his work entitled Wind Sunday are available in the Coleman Luck Papers. “Early in his Hollywood career, Coleman began writing a novel to entertain himself and his family. Over the years whenever he had a few months free he would take it out and work on it. Sadly there were many busy years in which he wasn’t able to work on it at all. Consequently his children grew up with a half-finished story stuck in their memories. The new century arrived and some close friends came to visit. Coleman read the unfinished manuscript to them and their children. The children encouraged him to finish writing it promising that if he didn’t they would grow up, come back and kill him. With his own children and a new set of children goading him on, the novel was finished and became Angel Fall.” *
* Excerpted from Coleman Luck’s biography.