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Calvin Miller and the Unfinished Business of Earth

Calvin Miller, author, pastor and professor, died on August 19, 2012. He was 75. His first book, The Singer, published by IVP in 1975, is a poetic, colorful retelling of the life of Christ, flavored with dashes of Milton and Tolkien. In the following years he produced a nonstop flow of novels, non-fiction, apologetics and a memoir, Life is Mostly Edges. His final book, Letters to Heaven, is a series of letters written by Miller, a late-life nod to the now-deceased men and women who positively touched his life, some of whom he’d met, others complete strangers. He begins with this bit of verse:

How shall I finish up the unfinished business of earth?

Letters, I think.

Each of you who will receive these letters is dead

at least in this realm

and I am counting on some courier

whose form of delivery I do not know

to get these words through to you.

Composing 26 entries, he cites individuals from personal and professional spheres, including members from his former pastorate, Westside Baptist in Omaha. He recalls Sophie Smithson, whom he “never much liked” because of her scowling aspect and relentlessly critical spirit. Nonetheless, she provided a beautiful foil to her husband, John, whose patience and abundant kindness demonstrate to Miller the binding strength of the marriage vow: For better, for worse, ’til death do us part.

He expresses appreciation for better-known Christians such as Norman Vincent Peale who “taught me effective pulpit communication,” and C.S. Lewis, whose struggle with doubt in A Grief Observed leaves a somewhat sour taste in his mouth. “Maybe [in Heaven],” writes Miller, “in better light, you will display the customary optimism about God that so marked your life.”

A particularly interesting and somewhat surprising entry is actress Farrah Fawcett, at whose home Miller and his family enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner in 1969, just before she became famous. He recognizes her career-long understanding that “beauty is more than skin deep; it is soul deep.”

Sprinkled throughout Letters to Heaven are several names associated with Wheaton College, whether alumni or donors. For example, he thanks missionary martyr Jim Elliot, the “crisis man” whose dedication forced men to “turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” Miller writes, “My whole life was redeemed by your counsel.” Miller thanks 911 hero Todd Beamer. “The hero you never meant to be became a legend in the world you had to leave.” Again discussing the matter of matrimony, Miller thanks author Madeleine L’Engle, with whom he was a member of the Chrysostom Society, for her strong, long marriage to Hugh Franklin – and her steady continuation with life after his death to cancer. He thanks publisher Harold Shaw, meeting him but once for dinner in 1975 with Luci, “…your dear wife and my only important poetic fan in the beginning…” The Shaws encouraged Miller to continue writing after the publication of The Singer, pushing ever forward.

Now that Calvin Miller has joined the subjects profiled in this book, readers may consider his generous writing, ripe with humor, hard-won wisdom and sanctified imagination, as letters from Heaven addressed to those yet confined to Earth, awaiting passage.

The papers of Calvin Miller (SC-24), Luci Shaw (SC-46) and Madeleine L’Engle (SC-03) are archived in the Wheaton College Special Collections.

The Museum of Lost Wonder

The field of archival science is abundant with manuals, academic courses and web seminars. Though most educational materials deal with the technical specifics of processing and preserving historical items, whether it be manuscript, media or artifact, few books address the more intangible aspect of the researcher’s personal response. How does this item effect my life? What feelings or thoughts does it stir? A notable exception to this is The Museum of Lost Wonder (2006) by Jeff Hoke, previously a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago, now the Senior Exhibit Designer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. Hoke’s book is not Evangelical, but it is deeply spiritual, utilizing alchemical motifs as it explores the analogy between the imaginary Museum of Lost Wonder, with its seven enigmatic exhibit halls, and the development of the human soul. One reviewer says that Hoke’s Museum is “…a metaphysical architectural model of the mind, a kind of cornucopia of hermetic knowledge.” Another calls it “…a soulful delight – an alchemical workbook designed to remap the connections between science and poetry, matter and psyche, philosophy and comic books.”

The grand tour begins with this exhortation:

I created the Museum of Lost Wonder as a storehouse for weathered memories so the wonder they engender doesn’t get lost. It’s a place to collect all the nagging, hard-to-answer questions we’ve had since childhood. The Museum of Lost Wonder isn’t a place of answers – like wonder, answers are always personal…The Museum of Lost Wonder is not a collection of objects, but rather a place to collect ideas and explore the meaning of your own experiences. We take inspiration from the original museums and curiosity cabinets of of the 1600s. Unlike modern museums that try to separate fact from fancy, the Museum of Lost Wonder encourages you to join these seemingly disparate ways of looking at things so you can decide what’s meaningful.

Incorporating a few of these intriguing concepts, the Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections also desires that visitors and researchers to its various holdings and exhibits will discover similar stirrings in their hearts, hopefully aspiring to greater heights of Christian faithfulness and consecration.

Willis Hugh Cork, 1896-1918

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, it is appropriate to pause and remember our fallen soldiers, not only those of the present, but also those of the past. A statue of a doughboy, representing U.S. troops killed during WW I, stands in Memorial Park in downtown Wheaton. Other memorials situated in public spaces around the city commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of our Armed Forces.

The first resident of the City of Wheaton to die during WW I was Norman James Tweedie, but the first Wheaton College students to perish were Russell R. Brooks and Willis Hugh Cork.

A memorial to Cork in the Wheaton College Record declares:

It is not task to bring a rich and sincere tribute to the memory of Willis Cork, who passed away the morning of Oct 2, for memory brings a richer and fuller tribute than mere words can ever express. The past year had been hard for Willis who since the first of last summer had been patiently and persistently trying to get into some branch of the service, so we man feel sure that the last two weeks held a deep happiness for him in the realization that he was at last an active part of that cause for which he was to make the ultimate sacrifice. As a student he was thorough, in business reliable, and with all he was one of those lovable people who win and hold the affection of all who come into contact with them. It seems hard to realize that the charm of his sunny smile and rare good will are gone from us, but for Willis Cork, athlete, student, soldier and Christian, the change is a glorious one and in his own words, “God’s will is best.”

Judge Frank Herrick, Wheaton’s official poet laureate, composed this verse honoring Cork:

We loved him for his sunny soul,
His clean life day by day,
His zeal that would not brook control
To join the worldwide fray!

The sunlight hidden in his heart
Shone in his genial face
Revealing an unconscious art
His wealth of inward grace.

We saw him don the khaki suit
That soon became his shroud
And wear it brave and resolute
With happy heart and proud!

Death has paled the shining star
And dimmed the eager glance
That with longing saw afar
The flaming fields of France!

Farewell, hero-heart that beat
Sweet music strong and brave.
Thine is the sacrifice complete
That Freedom’s flag may wave!

A Tale of Two Clocks

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. Professor of German Emerita Carol Joyce Kraft (who taught at Wheaton from 1960-1996) was featured in the Autumn 1995 issue.

There are two clocks in my office. One hangs on my wall and is powered by a battery. The other stands on my desk and needs winding every day.

Even though I sit between the two, when my mind is on course work, that mound of detailed mental activity calling loudly for attention, I hear the small clock. Ticktickticktick.

During those times when someone has come to the office to speak of personal matters, the pace is slower and more relaxed. We listen to each other, and somewhere in the midst of that discussion I have noticed that I always hear the slower clock. Tick…tick…tick…tick…. The other clock, the one that suggests a frantic pace, seems to have disappeared.

Two clocks. Why do I mention them? For the past few years in our twentieth century German literature course we have read and discussed some themes in the recent work, Momo, by Michael Ende. This is a modern fairy tail for adults, one which remained on Germany’s best-seller list for many months in 1983.

What was it that drew so many readers? Could it be that they saw themselves in that skillfully drawn reflection of modern life?

Momo is the story of a young orphan girl who listens to people. She is one who gives all who will come that valuable gift of rapt attention.

We soon notice, however, that there are gray figures who have appeared in the city. They are everywhere and they all look alike: gray coats, gray hats, gray briefcases, gray cars, ashen gray faces, As we listen in on one, we discover that he is trying to persuade a barber that it would really be to his advantage to save more time. He begins to list all the things that Herr Fusi, the barber, does when he is away from his shop. He eats, he sleeps, he visits his deaf mother daily, he cleans his house, he reads, he spends time with friends, he sings in a choir, he visits a crippled young girl, and he even spends 15 minutes at the end of his day meditating over what has transpired since the morning began.

All this time is lost, misspent, useless, says der Graue. Why it’s about half of your life, Herr Fusi! The solution? Zeitsparen. You have to save time. How do you do that? Work faster, Herr Fusi! Omit the “extras.” The time that you save, we’ll put in the savings bank, with interest. The amount you save will double every five years! We don’t force anyone, mind you, but it’s really to your advantage. Think about it. Time is money.

Herr Fusi thinks about it. He decides. It is as though he is compelled to speed up his work. And we watch him very gradually become less than a Mensch, less than a human being. He becomes a machine. And so do his friends. And most everyone else in the city. They become hardly recognizable anymore. They have no time to think. No time to listen. No time for the heart. No time for the family. No time to be. Robots are what they have become. The tragedy is that they don’t know it; they don’t recognize what they have become; or if they begin to realize what has happened, they see no way out. They find themselves trapped in their frenzy. The more time they save, the less they have. They have been trapped by a lie.

What an image!

It is the children in the story who see clearly that something is amiss in the world of grown-ups. It is the children, through Momo, who bring sanity back to the city. It is the children who restore a healthy sense of time. They recognize that time is not money. They know that time is a matter of the heart. (The remainder of the story I will leave for your reading.)

Although I don’t agree with one of the main thoughts, that time is everything, I do agree with the author’s main thrust, that time cannot be “saved” for later. Time is for now. It is precious and it is only used once. The more time we save, the less we really have.

So, ours also is a world of clocks. Which one is it that we hear? The one with the frantic pace or the one that allows us pauses to live?

I chose this topic of time because there are moments in the classroom when I am reminded that James (3:1) was right when he reminds us that not many should become teachers. It is an overwhelmingly humbling experience when you sense that someone has acted on the suggestions you have made. So what is it that we are reflecting, by our words, by our lives, by the way we make use of our time?

———-
The following statement was included at the time of publication: Carol J. Kraft ’57 received the B. A. from Wheaton, an M A. in the Teaching of Foreign Languages front Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and an M .A. in Germanic Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. She took additional graduate study at Middlebury College and has participated in several summer programs in the Goethe Institute in Germany. She has served as a member of the Foreign Language Department since 1960. Another strong area of interest is that of Spiritual Direction, which is a part of her responsibilities as ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Chicago, serving at St. Barnabas’ in Glen Ellyn.

Lunch with Leedy

John W. Leedy, professor of botany, joined the faculty of Wheaton College in 1937. His father, John W., had joined in 1929. In 1932 father and son journeyed to the Black Hills of South Dakota, discovering a beautiful spot which they would later recommend to the head of the chemistry department as an excellent location for an off-site lab and camp. Since 1935 the Black Hills Science Station has offered facilities for courses in astronomy, biology, zoology and ecology.

Dr. John W. Leedy was also known for his excellent, hands-on instructional skills, receiving the Teacher of the Year Aware for 1970. He supervised student crews, planting flowers beside walks and drives. Leedy also presented exotic foods to his classes and guided a well-attended tour through the campus, exposing his students to edible plants growing on or near the Wheaton College property. Under his expert tutelage the noon hour was known as “Lunch with Leedy.” He died in 2005.

Learning as Integration

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. Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus, Donald Max Lake (who taught at Wheaton from 1970-2000) was featured in the Autumn 1994 issue.

After having taught at Wheaton for almost 25 years, I almost always have students in my classes who are children of some of my former students from the early 1970s. I’m never sure what reaction I’ll get from these young people. The fact that their parents did not warn them against taking my classes is encouraging.

As I personally look back over almost 30 years of being at Wheaton, both as a student and now as a faculty member, I sometimes ask myself, What did I remember from my classes? From our days as students, we often remember some irrelevant point like the prof wasn’t very good at spelling on the blackboard, or she never wore blue, or he overused the expression, “It is a well- established fact.”

Few of my professors, either from undergrad or grad school, truly stand out. And as I reflect upon the courses I took as a student, the content is a blur. So then, what is teaching? And what is learning?

One answer to these questions has to do with an over-used word: integration! For many years now, we’ve repeatedly emphasized the “integration of faith and learning.” There is, however, a much more powerful and pertinent use of this term: learning as integration. Although I’m only a novice at the discipline of psychology, I’m convinced that one of the major functions of the brain and the mind, or the self, is the ability to integrate all we see and hear. I rarely know what is going on the the minds of my students as I lecture or have them view a video. But for those who are awake, I know that a process is taking place in which ideas, facts, and perspectives are being integrated. (I often tell my students that one of the most profound things Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha, ever said was, “I am awake!”) Like the dairy process of homogenizing milk, learning is a also a process of homogenizing the style and personality of a professor as well as the content of the course and the subject matter with the student’s being.

That students may not recall a single lecture or a specific text or even a key idea from a course should not surprise us. Forgetting is one of the most troubling but most valuable dimensions of our selves. One can only carry so much baggage! On the other hand, a powerful process has occurred: the mind, the self, has integrated each new course into what is becoming a person or a new being. Parents notice these changes in dramatic and subtle ways. And as a parent, part of me wants my children to ever remain the same, and yet I know that change is the heartbeat of life. And so coupled with integration is the vital result of all learning: change.

So now as I approach each new year and each new class, I keep asking myself, How do I want to change these students? And I keep challenging them to ask themselves, What am I becoming? How have I changed as a result of this course? Facts and ideas are vital to this changing process; however, it is possible to look at learning as only the recall (a kind of Platonic view of education) of information and for the sake of the test, a regurgitation.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the educational process as being not only change but also character-formation. I am concerned that those of us who work in Christian higher education have allowed the world, the educational world, to set the agenda for us. Accreditation associations have a way of forcing all institutions into a rather conformist mold. But the call of Jesus to make disciples, and the Biblical teaching that “we shall all be conformed to the image of Christ” challenges me to think of my teaching more as forming character than in teaching a subject or better yet “teaching students.” Those who have studied Jesus’ message and methods are convinced that he was a master Teacher, but Jesus was very much a nonconformist and he often dared to challenge the status quo.

This December, as I complete 25 years teaching at Wheaton, I am grateful to God. I cannot think of any place on this planet where I would have rather spent the past 25 years. I never dreamed, as a green Missouri farm boy, when I first stepped foot on Wheaton’s campus in September 1955, that someday I’d be on the faculty. Professors including Gerry Hawthorne, Ed Hollatz, and Kenneth Kantzer made a lasting impression on me–they changed me!

How did your years at Wheaton change you?

———-
Dr. Lake graduated from Wheaton in 1959 as a Bible major, took his M.A. in 1960 in New Testament theology and earned his Ph.D. in historical theology at the University of Iowa (1967). Don and his wife, Kristen, have three sons and one daughter. At the time of publication, Dr. Lake contributed several articles to encyclopedias and books, and was a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, as well as the American Academy of Religion. In addition to his teaching, he served pastorates in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois and also directed a unique Christian housing program knows as King’s Partners International.

Charles Finney and Wheaton College

Billy Graham, ’43 graduate of Wheaton College, emerges from an honorable heritage of “crusade” evangelists like D.L. Moody, Wilbur Chapman and Billy Sunday, preachers renowned for conducting massive citywide campaigns. Laying the groundwork for all such ministries, however, was Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875), the first great evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, who established such familiar patterns as offering the public invitation (now known as the “alter call”) to sinners to accept Christ’s free gift of grace, encouraging them to walk forward and deal with God at an “anxious bench;” and praying extemporaneously from the pulpit, rather than reading from a book. Finney’s innovations, now common practice, were groundbreaking for American Protestantism. As such his influence deeply colored the spirit of Wheaton College, though he never visited its campus.

Initially practicing law in New York, Finney dramatically converted to Christ through the counsels of Presbyterian theologian George Washington Gale. Studying for the ministry under Gale, Finney acquired his preaching license and served as pastor for several years in New York City before commencing his extraordinarily successful itinerant preaching. Eventually he served from 1851-65 as professor and president of Oberlin College in Ohio. Finney, an ex-Mason, was fiercely anti-Lodge and unshakably abolitionist. These qualities were most appealing to a young pastor named Jonathan Blanchard, visiting the Oberlin campus to deliver a speech, in addition to investigating the work of the Holy Spirit among the students and staff. Blanchard would serve as president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, a work community named after the man who converted Finney, George W. Gale. In the late 1860s, after Blanchard had assumed the presidency of Wheaton College, Finney fully supported his efforts in founding The Christian Cynosure, the printing agency of the National Christian Association, dedicated to thwarting the Masonic Lodge.

Jonathan’s son, Charles Blanchard, second president of Wheaton College, remembers Finney from a visit to Oberlin:

President Finney of Oberlin was another of the great souls whom God permitted me to meet in my early public life. Lecturing in his city he invited me to dinner and gave me the privilege of an hour or so of delightful conversation. Among other things he said: “You frequently meet with opposition, do you not, in your work against the lodges?” I replied that this was true. He said: “That is always true when you are doing good. It used to be true of us here in Oberlin. When I came to this place there was not a church between Boston and Buffalo which wanted to see me. Associations, conferences and presbyteries refused to ordain our young men because they had studied here. Now,” he said, “We are really too popular. The world does not hate us anymore. Our great danger is our popularity.” He continued, “You need not be worried while you find that the world hates you, but if ever the world should come to love you and speak well of you and make your path easy, then,” he said, “you must beware for you are in mortal danger.”

Blanchard paints a vivid word picture of the magisterial preacher:

He was the most remarkable man to look at. Perhaps all great men are…His eyes were deep set, his brows beetling over them. His eyebrows were gray and large, intensifying the effect of the brows themselves. His eyes glowed under excitement and inspiration. He seemed like an old prophet. It was easy to imagine that he resembled Ezekiel. I think in the temper of his mind he did resemble him. Not so much a mourning prophet as Jeremiah, not so much a prophet of the court as Isaiah, rather like Ezekiel who saw visions of eternal things and who saw all temporal things in things in the light of the eternal….President Finney was another of those men who did not confer with flesh and blood. He took his orders from Heaven and I do not think it would have made the slightest difference to him if the rich and wise and powerful of the world could have been gathered in one company to denounce and threaten him. God was so real that the voices of men sounded dim and uncertain in his ears.

Finney’s abiding influence on Wheaton College is also evidenced in the ministry of its fourth president, V. Raymond Edman, who was deeply concerned about revival. In 1951 Edman published Finney Lives On: The Secret of Revival in Our Time, of which Billy Graham remarks, “To read, study and pray over this book is an imperative for every Christian worker in such an hour as this.” Edman summarizes his subject in the epilogue:

Thus was Charles Grandison Finney, the lad who grew up in the backwoods of America without any knowledge of the gospel, the young lawyer who met the Lord Jesus in true penitence and prayer, the man who was devoted to the Scriptures and the Savior, the revivalist whose tireless labors shook America and Britain in decades that were dark with human greed and godlessness, the pastor and college president whose ministry led multitudes to the Master and sent them to the ends of the earth in His glad service, the servent of Christ who still lives in Christian hearts the world over as he thunders to us in his Memoirs, Lectures on Revivals of Religion, and Lectures to Professing Christians. Finney lives on in hearts that need revival. Pray for revival, and learn from him the open secrets of revival.

That Book

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. Professor of Bible Emeritus James Julius Scott, Jr. (who taught at the Wheaton Graduate School from 1977-2000) was featured in the Summer 1994 issue.

He was already in his forties when first we met. It was only years later that I, his first born, became increasingly aware of his person, manner, and habits which by then were well set. There was one custom, discipline call it what you will–which remains my earliest conscious memory of him, Every morning he was somewhere in the house reading from that black, leather-covered Book.

He was not a “reader” of a wide range of literature. His business and his farm, but especially his family and church, occupied virtually all of his time. His personal time was spent with that Book. He had not finished college, he had no special training in his particular field, and certainly never had a formal academic course in Bible or theology. But he knew that Book, from Genesis to Revelation.

Although somewhat quiet and unassuming, he was recognized as a leader in his profession, community, and Christian circles. I came to realize, probably often subconsciously, that he approached all of life under the influence of that Book. Underlying principles had seeped into his life and thought from that Book with which he had saturated himself. He ran his home, business, and all other affairs on those principles. It was the basis of his life and a major reason for his success.

The old man gave the “Charge to the Minister” when his eldest son was ordained to the ministry. As far as I know, it was his one formal statement about that Book.

I charge you to preach the Word, to preach the written Word…From my observations as a layman, it seems to me that an alarming number of false prophets have arisen today in our churches and institutions of learning…Beware of false prophets who are teaching and preaching only those things which suit themselves. Guard carefully your relationship to the Scriptures. They are your authority…Remember, Jesus never questioned any…portion of the Scripture, and you can trust his judgment.

I further charge you never to fail to declare the whole counsel of God which is contained in the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments, and to avoid the pitfall into which many have fallen, thinking that there are some portions of the Scriptures that are no longer relevant.

There it is, his attitude toward the Bible. It is the Christian’s authority because it was Jesus’ authority. It is the whole Bible to which the Christian is to be committed, and it has continuing relevance. There was something else, between the lines, both written and lived. He loved the Bible because through it he had come to a knowledge of and a life-long, life-controlling commitment to and love for the God of the Bible.

Not long after my ordination, I came to realize that in spite of extensive training, I simply did not know my Bible, at least not in the way Daddy did. Something was missing. Perhaps without being aware of his influence, I set myself upon an intensive program. In spite of the demands of a full-time pastorate, I read through the Bible, consecutively, seven times in the space of two years. Something changed; I began to get the “big picture”; long-familiar parts began to fit into the whole. Saturation and a new foundation for life began. Ideas, teachings, and attitudes became susceptible to reevaluation of a growing familiarity with “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). To this day the discipline of “reading in big chunks” continues to be an essential, necessary part of my daily training and devotion.

The Bible and the areas of technical study and interpretation of it are the focus of my day-to-day responsibilities at Wheaton. My training focuses on the academic study of the text, languages, literary features, historical world of the Bible, and the development of Christian thought and history which are related to it. I must deal also with controversies, both old and new, which relate to this material. I am thoroughly convinced of the importance and relevance of this study, not only for the specialist, but also for the knowledgeable Christian who must live in the modern world.

I must frankly acknowledge that the irresponsible use of my discipline has too often subverted the spiritual realities which I know lie behind the Bible and Christian experience. Academic biblical and theological studies can easily degenerate into catalysts for skepticism and cynicism. The ill-informed or malicious use the academic study of the Bible to create stumbling blocks, to dampen zeal, quench the Spirit, or destroy faith for the naive, immature believer.

This, I am convinced, is not inevitable. On the contrary, the comprehensive, systematic, evaluative study of the Bible and the Christian faith can and should result in increasing knowledge, maturing faith, strengthening commitment, and developing spiritual discernment. It is an important component of that teaching which trains in righteousness, reproves and disciplines in order that one may be “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). It is the basis for that type of Bible-centered world-and-life view that Wheaton sees as essential for consistent Christian work in each academic discipline and for balanced Christian living.

I keep asking myself, what do I really want for my students? Three things. First, that they will come to know the Bible itself, its content and approach, and especially its “big picture.” I can only help them by pointing out the general overview, the events, people, and major teachings of the Bible. I can then encourage them to seek to fill in that outline with the type of disciplined, consistent reading and study exemplified in my father’s life. Through that, I am convinced, can come the type of life-controlling saturation which was his throughout his pilgrimage.

Secondly, I want my students to love the Bible. Again, I can’t make them do this; but I try to share my love of it with them. We must keep all things in proper perspective; Bible study is not an end in itself. And so, third, more than anything, I want and pray that my students will have a growing knowledge of, commit to, and to be lost in love for the Once of whom the Bible speaks.

———-

The following statement was included at the time of publication: Since 1977, Dr. J. Julius Scott, has taught at the Wheaton College Graduate School. He received a B.A. from Wheaton College in 1956, a B.D. (the equivalent of the M.Div.) from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1959, and a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in 1969. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to teaching at Wheaton, Dr. Scott was a professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University from 1970 to 1977, and professor of Bible at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, from 1963 to 1970. Dr. Scott has authored numerous articles, and he is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Chicago Society for Biblical Research. In the summers of 1984 and 1989 he taught the Wheaton in Israel (Holy Lands) program, and last year (1993) he received the Senior Teacher of the Year award. He has been on sabbatical for the 1993-94 academic year in North Carolina, reading and writing about New Testament theology. Dr. Scott and his wife, Florence, live in Wheaton and have three grown children.

Ray Bradbury: Prophet of Joy

Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, stirred deep wells of wonder among his readers for over seventy years, writing poetry, novels and short stories. Titles such as Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451 continue to inspire and provoke. His influence is enormous, extending from literature to film and television, as he occasionally functioned as creative consultant to such entertainment pioneers as Walt Disney and Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. From time to time Bradbury’s cosmic reach extended to the world of Evangelicalism, Wheaton College in particular.

Muriel Fuller, author, prominent editor and 1925 Wheaton grad, corresponded with Bradbury in 1950. In his reply, archived at Wheaton College Special Collections (SC-87), Bradbury thanks Fuller for her positive feedback regarding his short stories and encouragement that he should consider collecting them, which he had already recently done with The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.

A notable Christian commentator on Bradbury’s themes is Calvin Miller (SC-24), former pastor, current Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Beeson Divinity School, poet and author of several fantasy novels, whose papers are archived at Wheaton College. Miller argues that Bradbury, claiming no specific beliefs, nonetheless stimulates intuitive feelings that allow for the development of a rich, expansive faith. The following excerpts are derived from Miller’s essay, “Ray Bradbury: Hope in a Doubtful Age,” included in Reality and the Vision: 18 Contemporary Writers Tell Who They Read and Why (1990):

Sometime in seminary Bradbury first fell into my world (or perhaps I fell into his). The scholarly tedium of learning how to be “truly spiritual” can coat all things bright and beautiful with dullness, and somewhere between hermeneutics and apologetics I needed something to wake my imagination to wonder…And Bradbury, while not often explicit about the content of his faith, professes a glorious, self-declaring confidence in God. I have scarcely heard Pentecostals be more rapturous than was Bradbury’s exuberant declaration on that tenth anniversary of the Apollo landing…My own concept of God can never remain static after coming into contact with the fictional output of a man driven by such near-spiritual forces, a writer with such a dynamic view of the God who leads man toward scientific maturity. Bradbury, at his best, is not only a prophet for a depressed people; he is a kind of deliverer, awakening our sensibilities…But hope is the real stuff of Bradbury. A Christian positivism pervades his works and that quality, more than anything, marks his work as distinctively Christian in tone. In the glorious finale to Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jim Nightshade is brought back to life by a father and son dancing and singing “Camptown Races.” Joy is the only cure for every monstrous evil work…We never “get to” the future — it beckons us, never to receive us. But it is always there and it is a place of hope! Such is the insight we need in order to get up in the morning. This insight, which I sucked from the very marrow of Bradbury’s bones, is also the ultimate promise of Christ. Christ is alive — His Living Being is the transforming Easter news! But Jerusalem — made new — is descending: this living vision is the hope that guarantees our future.

In 2007, staff from Wheaton College conducted a phone interview with Bradbury from his home in Los Angeles, inquiring about a possible connection between him and C. S. Lewis, whose papers are archived at the Wade Center. Both men wrote about the planet Mars, publishing in American pulp magazines of the 1940s and ’50s. In one book and two unpublished letters, Lewis commends Bradbury as “the real thing” as opposed to less gifted pulp hacks, speaking highly of his “poetic” style. However, Bradbury, stating that he “took Lewis’s Screwtape Letters everywhere I go,” had not read any of the Oxford professor’s other books, nor had he met or corresponded with him.

The papers of Calvin Miller and Muriel Fuller, located in the Special Collections on the third floor of the Billy Graham Center, are available to researchers.

The president meets the presidents

Charles Blanchard, second president of Wheaton College, recalls in his autobiography (1915) crossing paths with two Presidents of the United States and other notables.

I have never known any of them in an intimate way. They were either before my time or had homes in distant parts of our country, but I have had the privilege of seeing a number of them and I count this also among the privileges of my life. The great Lincoln I saw when I was a boy of ten years. I heard him at that time in the Lincoln-Douglas debate. It has never passed from my mind. I do not suppose it ever will. The tall, angular loose-jointed, benevolent man, rather inexpensively clothed, the short, well-dressed, polished-looking opponent, the seething crowds, the bands of music and the storm of flags! As I remember there were twenty music organizations in the procession that day at Galesburg. The number may have been greater or less, I do not pretend to know. Twenty is the number which remains within my mind. The evident appeal to conscience and humanity in the speeches of the great President and the deft, cunning, clever twisting and turning of his opponent, these came to me even as a child and remained. After he had passed away I met in the White House at a reception General President Grant, who also was a great man of totally different type but one of the real men of our nation and time. I have always thought better of him since I read the story of his own life. He was injured by his friends. He was too loyal to his friends, that is, his loyalty made him true to them when he ought to have placed the country before them. In purpose no doubt he did; he was of Scotch parentage and it is hard for a Scotchman to give up his friend.