Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Orange and the Blue

Like any campus, Wheaton College proudly displays its colors. Orange and blue. Visiting, you will encounter orange and blue t-shirts, pennants, banners, posters, jackets, flags, blankets; and, during athletic events, energetic, noisy fans displaying bright orange and blue facepaint. Why these colors? The origin dates to Jonathan Blanchard, the founder of the school. Historian W. Wyeth Willard writes in Fire on the Prairie – The Story of Wheaton College:

Like his parents and all true New Englanders [Charles Blanchard] was proud of his ancestry. “My father and mother were Vermonters. There can be no better blood; it seems to me, than that of the English Pilgrims and Puritans.” In many of the Blanchards’ published addresses this note comes out time and again, along with mention of Plymouth Rock. But that did not prevent the Blanchards from admiring people of other ancestries. Jonathan wrote concerning the Swedes, “the merging of northern steel with Anglo-Saxon iron.” And he suggested that the College colors be orange and blue — orange after that great Dutch patriot, William of Orange, and blue for loyalty.


Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies Nancy L. Calvert (who taught at Wheaton from 1990-1997) was featured in the Spring 1996 issue.

Come late June, I’ll be getting married. It’s a big step, and I’m taking it later in life than most. David, my fiance, and I are glad to have found each other. We sense God’s timing in bringing us together in the midst of our busy lives and careers.

Yet each of us finds that we harbor some fearfulness about joining our lives. We have each established personal and professional identities. Getting married will involve sacrifice–but how much of our respective identities are at stake?

My approaching marriage has prompted me to examine the source of my identity more closely. I imagine that I am not alone when I admit that the person I have become is partially a result of my seeking the approval of others.

By taking on characteristics, however, that are deemed important by another person, or by performing according to someone else’s perceived standard, it is as if you and I believe that we are valued only if we can somehow earn another’s respect and love.

If this approval-based mindset is central to our identity, it can render us oblivious to the wonder of how God created us and to his purpose for our lives. It allows others to gain control of our lives–a control that ultimately belongs to God. In his book, A Pretty Good Person, Lewis Smedes wisely states, “One way to get in control of one’s life is surrender to unconditional love…I have to get back to that surrender now and then or I lose control again to the demon of other people’s approval” (p. 110). If our identity depends on others’ approval and not on God’s unconditional love, chances are that we will never fully discover what makes us able to serve God in our unique way.

Another source of self-identity is our life experiences. Yet at times, our experiences can become like prisons. It may be too threatening to actually discern what in our past shackled us to a certain perception of our world, ourselves, or God. But unless we are willing to name, evaluate, and revise the ways we perceive the world, we cannot freely embrace the life God has so graciously granted us.

In recent years, many scholars have examined the apostle Paul’s call to preach to Gentiles (one example is Krister Stendahl’s Paul Among Jews and Gentiles). In his providence, God gave Paul the background to succeed in his ministry to Gentiles. Paul was familiar with Hellenistic ways and philosophies, and Jewish culture and theology. He was also fortunate enough to be a Roman citizen, But in that dramatic encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul was blinded and his whole world turned upside down. He discovered that the very man whose followers he had been persecuting was actually the Messiah.

Once the Lord broke through his prison of misconceptions, Paul found his identity in Christ and his life’s focus in fulfilling God’s new purposes for him. He neither sought to gain the approval of devout Jews who knew him in the years before his calling, nor of those who believed that Gentile believers must take on the Mosaic law.

God may not use visions and blindness to bring us to a better understanding of his purpose for our lives. But he often uses events or people to get our attention, to help us better understand who we are and how we can serve God in our own unique way.

As David and I enter marriage, we must remember that our identities are ultimately rooted in Christ–though the counsel of others may be important. Together we must work in such a way that God can best fulfill his own unique purposes for us in the arenas of our professional and married lives. Doing so won’t be easy; we may have to expose one another’s shackling misperceptions from time to tune. Our identities will probably be remolded to some degree. But it would seem that only in this way can we even begin to find the joy of living together according to God’s loving guidance.

The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Dr. Calvert is assistant professor of New Testament studies. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, England, her M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and her B.A. from Wheaton. She is an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and serves as parish associate at the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn. In her spare time she likes to listen to classical music, read, watch “Frasier” and films remakes of Jane Austen novels. But mostly she corresponds with her fiance via e-mail.

What Does Our Speech Reveal?

by Dr. Edwin A. Hollatz G.S. ’55

The Bible has much to say about human speech, about the way we use this wonderful gift that God has given us. This investment of creative expression through language is perhaps one dimension of the image of God imbued in the very nature of human beings, spoken of in Genesis 1-2.

It is this which lifts us from the level of the dumb brute and enables us to express not only what we think and feel, but who we really are. We can conceive of anything in words and images, with limitless possibilities of fact and fantasy. The panoply of literature throughout human history gives evidence of that which is most exalted as well as most debased.

During this past Christmas season we were reminded again of God’s supreme communication to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John, in Chapter 1 of his Gospel, speaks of Jesus Christ as the Word of God, which became flesh–a veritable transmutation of the eternal, divine, creative Word, now come in human form. That Word, full of grace and truth, has the power to redeem us, bringing light and life so that we might receive Him and become children of God.

As new creations in Christ, what about our words? How true and clear are their statements in revealing the character of the life of a follower of Jesus Christ? Are our words an adornment to the power of the gospel of Christ?

In Matthew’s Gospel, Peter twice denied being one of Jesus’ followers, even using and oath. But others standing by said, “Surely you are one of them; for your speech betrayeth you” (Matt. 26:73 KJV).

The Book of Judges relates another incident in which one is betrayed by one’s speech. The Gileadites could distinguish an Ephraimite if he mispronounced the word “Shibboleth.” If he said “Sibboleth,” he would be seized and killed (Judg. 12:5-6).

These two episodes from Scripture vividly portray how one’s speech accent may have unfortunate consequences. But at a more significant level, the “accent” provided by our manner of living can be crucial. Around 40 B.C. the Roman Publius Syrius said, “Speech is the mirror of the soul. As a man speaks so is he.”

Some 70 years later Christ said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:34-37, NRSV).

The Apostle Paul warns us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up accordmg to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29, 31-32, NIV).

May the eloquent words of the old Anglican hymn be true of us as gifted human beings, created in the image of God:

God be in my heart,
and in my thinking;
God be in my head,
and in my understanding;

God be in my mouth,
and in my speaking.


Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Professor of Communications Emeritus, Edwin A. Hollatz ’55 (who taught at Wheaton from 1954-2000) was featured in the Winter 1998 issue.

Having worked at the College since 1955, Dr. Edwin A. Hollatz has taught speech, coached award-winning debate teams, served as faculty advisor to WETN radio, and helped establish the theater program. He has held offices in professional organizations, authored numerous journal articles, and been chosen for membership in several honorary societies. Dr. Hollatz is a frequent speaker at Wheaton Club meetings and received the Alumni Association’s 1993 Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award. He and his wife, Joanne Simon Hollatz ’55, whom he met when Joanne joined Wheaton’s faculty, held their wedding reception in the Memorial Student Center. They are the parents of Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely ’85 and Celia Hollatz Bergman ’87.

Wheaton College and Global Warming

Oak Park, Illinois, located eight miles west of the Chicago Loop, is the home of notable contributors to national and world culture. For example, here lived novelist Ernest Hemingway, as did Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed several of his famous structures at his Oak Park studio; and James Dewar, inventor of the late, lamented Twinkie, resided amid the solace of its tree-lined avenues. Oak Park is also the childhood home of Dr. Wallace Broecker, who coined the now-ubiquitous phrase “global warming” in a 1975 essay titled “Climate Change: Are we on the brink of a pronounced global warming?”

As a child, Broecker attended Harrison Street church in Oak Park with his parents. The small assembly was led by T. Leonard Lewis, who would later serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, before serving as president of Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Masschussetts until his death in 1959.

Broecker, encouraged to attend Wheaton College because his neighborhood friend, “Ernie” Sandeen, enrolled, recalls campus mischief in Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat – And How to Counter It (2008), written with Robert Kunzig:

It has a reputation as the Harvard of evangelical colleges, an ambitious but also a godly place, where students signed a pledge to adhere to the same set of rules that applied to Harrison Street…It was a serious place…and it seemed to force into full flower the most profoundly unserious aspect of Broecker’s character, one that can still be startling today to the uninitiated…At Wheaton the pranks got more elaborate. In his junior year he was business manager of the yearbook, which position of influence allowed him to sign excuses that got him and his friends out of daily chapel. It also got him a key to the attic of Blanchard Hall, where college memorabilia was stored. That October, Broecker discovered an unused door leading from the attic into the bell tower, which was off-limits to students; the custodian kept the main entrance carefully padlocked. At midnight on Halloween night Broecker, Sandeen and their roommates woke the campus with a loud tolling. When the custodian came racing into the bell tower, they exited through the attic and locked him in. He was forced to ring the bells again to summon the police. By the time the law arrived the Broecker gang had retreated to a ground-floor classroom. Broecker remembers vividly the flashlight beams coming through the windows and playing along the walls as he and his friends hugged the floor, out of sight.

Broecker offers an interesting perspective on the 1951 revival…and his subsequent drift from Evangelical Christianity:

In addition to going to chapel every day, Wheaton students were required to spend a week every year rededicating themselves to Christ under the guidance of a visiting preacher. That year the event took an extraordinary turn – it became a mass public confession. For three days and nights students lined up in the choir loft and behind the pulpit, waiting for their chance to proclaim their sins. The pressure to participate was intense. Broecker sat there in turmoil, brooding more seriously than he had ever brooded over anything. He certainly had sins – violations of the Wheaton pledge, for instance, that went beyond dancing. (He has never liked dancing.) But he knew some of of the people who were confessing, and he knew they weren’t being honest. They were holding back on the juicy stuff. The hypocrisy of the whole spectacle revolted him – people were pretending to believe in rules they couldn’t really live by, and then pretending to confess their violations of those rules. Hypocrisy and dishonesty, Broecker realized, were the sins he could least abide. That day in chapel, he slipped the fragile line that had tied him to the Rock.

Moving into the field of scientific research, Broecker found a substitute:

[Science] is the belief that if we observe the world carefully, test our ideas skeptically, and communicate honestly, we can figure things out. That summer of 1952, Broecker was converted to science. In time he would come to think of it as something sacred.

Wallace S. Broecker attended Wheaton College for three years before transferring to Columbia where he graduated. He is the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. In 2006 he received the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences.