All posts by Keith Call

The Process Church of the Final Judgment

It is not uncommon for Wheaton College students to explore various denominations, investigating differences in ecclesiastical polity and practice. But, those who journeyed from the comfortable suburbs to the Near North Side of Chicago to attend the Process Church of the Final Judgement were surely surprised to hear from its black-robed ministers that God is composed of three gods, Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan.

The Process, splintered from L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, was founded in London in the early 1960s by Mary Ann and Robert de Grimston, who soon established chapters in major U.S. and U.K. cities. Charles Manson was allegedly a member of the California chapter, but this assertion was never proven.

A Processan minister inducts two acolytes into the Church, at which time they become initiates of the Covenant of Christ and Satan.

Wheaton College student writer Sinclair Hollberg chronicles his visit in “Record Investigates Process Church in Chicago,” published on November 5, 1971. Hollberg visited as an attempt to learn more about one of the cults that were increasing in number at that time, and challenging the church.

During the service Hollberg approached “Mother Mercedes,” director of the Open Chapter, who explained the unique Processan doctrine:

“God is within us, his stature and character are inherent in our lives. But there exists also the part of man which is anti-god, it is contrary to God’s character and is responsible for the conflicts and tensions of life, the uncertainties, fears and shortcomings that rob man of happiness. The way we can resolve this tension is by uniting ourselves through knowledge of him. But the problem comes because we cannot describe God; if we could describe God then we could define him and to define him would be to limit him to the level of the finite and mortal. We can only describe the parts of God. God is composed of three gods — Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan. Jehovah is the wrathful god of vengeance and retribution, demanding discipline and ruthlessness. Lucifer is the light-bearer who urges us to enjoy life to the fullest, to be kind and loving and live in peace and harmony. Satan, the receiver of transcendent souls and corrupted bodies, represents two opposites. First, to rise above all  human and physical needs to become all soul and spirit; and, secondly, to sink beneath all human values and standards of morality to wallow in depravity.”

Hollberg writes, “Salvation, under Process Church perspectives, comes by resolving the conflicts, tensions and frustrations of life through knowledge of that part of God within us that applies to the problem. So one may have Jehovian tendencies of harshness and willfulness, or Luciferian characteristics of agreeableness or Satanic leadings of idealism or depravity. All are in one god, all are unified through Christ. So man may have freedom from the dilemmas of human life by realizing that his behavior is reconcilable with god.”

According to Occult Chicago, the Process founded the Chicago chapter in 1970, locating variously in buildings on Wells, Deming and Burling streets, its black-caped Messengers of the Unity distributing literature throughout the neighborhoods. The Process eventually departed Chicago and other cities, breaking into less colorful organizations.

George W. Griebenow, Nazi Hunter

Students on the campus of Wheaton College during the 1940s had grown up in largely sheltered environments, free from bombings or foreign invasions, worshiping  safely amid families and churches. It was surely enlightening, if not jarring, for these young men and women to interact with veterans like George W. Griebenow, who returned from WW II not only a decorated combat survivor but a key figure in apprehending a top ranking Nazi general. Seasoned at the age of 20, he had a few stories to tell.

George W. Griebenow, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his 1943 college application photo.

A freshman at Wheaton College when inducted into the Army on July 10, 1944, Griebenow returned to campus after the war to pursue ministerial studies. For a few months during his Wheaton College career, he dated Elizabeth Howard, later well-known author and wife of missionary Jim Elliot. Griebenow’s roommate was Ed McCully, who would later die with Jim and four comrades in Ecuador at the hands of the Waodani Indians.

While serving in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, eighteen-year-old Sgt. Griebenow was assigned leadership of a squadron tasked with capturing General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of Hitler’s Gestapo. Under cover of darkness, the young infantryman’s patrol moved quietly into the Tyrol mountains of Central Austria, still held by strong bands of dedicated Nazis. Using acquired intelligence gathered from sources, Griebenow and his patrol suddenly seized Kaltenbrunner and his colleagues at a remote cabin on the last day of the war in Europe. “We had expected to find Kaltenbrunner’s subordinates but not the S.S. leader himself,” recalled Griebenow. “We surrounded the hideout — 14 of us — after having marched all night. However, we did not have much trouble as he had only a light bodyguard of four Nazis.” He added, “We captured him in a ski hut. He had more than $250,000 and American $20 gold pieces, but we got him and got the poison out of his mouth before he could commit suicide. It was cyanide.”

The notorious general stood six feet tall, sporting a network of scars across his face. Initially denying his identity to his captors, a search for official papers in drawers, mattresses and rafters clearly revealed his rank.

SS General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Chief of the Gestapo, Criminal Police and Intelligence Services

Griebenow and his patrol with their prisoner re-traced the journey  through the rugged countryside, risking potential ambush, to the U.S. camp station. “He was tough,” said Griebenow. “He kept up with us.” Sent to Nuremburg for trial, General Ernst Kaltenbrunner was sentenced with other leading Nazis and hanged for war crimes and crimes against humanity on October 16, 1946.

Sgt. Griebenow received the Army Commendation for the successful mission. He also received the Bronze Star for dragging a comrade out of enemy fire during the machine gun attack on Erfurt, Germany, and the Purple Heart for wounds received during the crossing of the Rhine at Frankfurt, March 28, 1945.

George W. Griebenow, ordained in 1955, later served as district director of the Small Business Administration in Minneapolis. He died at age 60 in 1987.

He Found the Secret

What are the possibilities of the Christian life? To what bold frontiers might our faith aspire? Are a few believers destined for magnificent ministries, while others languish in mediocrity?

Dr. V. Raymond Edman, fourth President of Wheaton College, pondered these questions in his book, They Found the Secret: Twenty Transformed Lives That Reveal a Touch of Eternity (1960). He studied the lives of twenty prominent Christians to reveal a commonly shared “secret” that empowered each of these women and men for service.

Among the 20 figures featured in the book, Edman profiled: 1) John Bunyan, the unchained life; 2) Oswald Chambers, the highest life; 3) Amy Carmichael, the radiant life; 4) Andrew Murray, the abiding life; 5) Eugenia Price, the bouyant life;  6) Major W. Ian Thomas, the adventurous life; and 7) D.L. Moody, the dynamic life.

The secret (which is not really secret) is available to all who claim the name of Christ, not merely a select few.  It is a matter of exchange.

“What is the exchanged life?” asked Edman. “Really, it is not some thing; it is some One. It is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit…It is new life for old. It is rejoicing for weariness, and radiance for dreariness. It is strength for weakness, and steadiness for uncertainty…It is lowliness of spirit instead of self-exaltation, and loveliness of life because of the presence of the altogether Lovely One.”

 

 

 

 

Ghost in the Machine

As the Wheaton College community bids farewell to WETN, perhaps this is an appropriate moment to commemorate W9ZXR, the “other” ham radio station. Since its inception in 1937 until about 1980, ham radio station W9ZXR was located in the base of the Tower of Blanchard Hall. Students were responsible for scheduling and programming,  learning many of the skills of broadcasting. However, as various media expanded, interest in ham radio gradually diminished, and many of those involved with its operation simply shifted their activities to WETN, then located in the basement of the newly-constructed Billy Graham Center.

In the late 1970s, Col. Warren Schilling, assistant director of the Physical Plant, was tasked with locating and shutting down campus energy drains. Consequently electrician Gary Beeman was sent up the Tower to investigate. Entering the rooms at the base of the Tower, he was amazed to discover that the studio, dusty and forlorn, had been abandoned for some time, perhaps years. Even more amazing, he discovered that the transceivers and generator were still fully operational and, in fact, currently activated, humming quietly to silent airwaves. Indeed, he had discovered an enormous energy drain. According to Beeman, it was as though the last announcer simply stood up from the console and walked away, locking the door behind without a thought of returning. Beeman shut down the controls, snipped the necessary wiring and began the process of dismantling the equipment.

Off campus, the tradition continues locally with the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs, who meet to promote the advancement of the hobby and science of amateur radio.

1939 postcard advertising ham radio station W9ZXR, broadcast from Blanchard Tower

WETN Signing Off

Ed McCully (left) speaks with Dick Gerig (right), WHON station manager, 1948

Operation of WHON, the Wheaton College radio station, commenced on October 2, 1947, after students advocated for approval from the administration. Located in a closet beneath the Pierce Chapel pipe organ, WHON 640 AM was the second radio station to air in DuPage County. Alerted by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System in Washington, DC, that the call letters, WHON, had been assigned to a commercial station, the staff changed the official designation to WETN on April 8, 1948. “Actually, WETN comes closer to spelling Wheaton than any other set of call letters,” Dick Gerig, station manager, remarked at the time.

Broadcasting initially to the campus and the local community for two or three hours per day, WETN eventually broadened, connecting for a time with WMBI, the radio station of Moody Bible Institute, to relay music, evangelistic preaching and other programming to a wider audience.

WETN announcer, late 1960s

One of the signature WMBI programs was “Songs in the Night,” originating from Village Church in Western Springs, Illinois. In 1958, WETN relocated to the basement of Breyer Hall, the chemistry building. But even with its impressive new facility, the station reached less than 1/4 of the campus community, earning the nickname “the weak squeak.”

Four years later the FCC granted WETN permission to switch to FM. After that the station covered athletic games, presidential campaigns, concerts, chapels and other significant events. In 1980, WETN again relocated, this time to the basement of the newly-constructed Billy Graham Center, boasting a modernized control board and sophisticated computer system, operated by students and faculty, airing its programming schedule 24 hours a day.

In the late 1990s, WETN moved to the internet, reaching a worldwide audience, including far-flung missionaries. However, because of shifting markets and the dizzying array of informational resources available in the years following, the Wheaton College administration recently decided to cease broadcasting its campus radio station. After 70 years of on-air service, WETN FM 88 will shut down in January, 2017.

J.R. Smith, former director of media resources, astutely observed in a 1996 interview that there are two WETNs. “One is on the air today in DuPage County,” he said. “The second exists in the memories of alumni and others.” Indeed, as WETN discontinues operation, it will hereon broadcast solely — and affectionately — on the airwaves of memory.

WETN staff, late 1970s

Prexy says, “Merry Christmas and fear not!”

President and Mrs. Edman decorate the tree, 1954.
President and Mrs. Edman decorate a tree, 1954.

Dr. V. Raymond Edman, fourth president of Wheaton College, wrote a brief devotional called “Prexy Says” for the Wheaton Alumni magazine. Here is his confident exhortation for December, 1959:

Of course we believe in angels – but do we?

The Christmas story abounds in references to angels who spoke to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. The scriptures assure us that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

They are our unseen but very real helpers; and we should believe in them Christmas Day and every day.

And here is his entry for December, 1960:

There is no need to be afraid! The Christmas story abounds in assurance for the apprehensive. The word to Zacharias was, “Fear not…” (Luke 1:13). To Mary it was, “Fear not…” (Luke 1:30) To Joseph it was, “…Fear not” (Luke 2:10). And to all of us it is, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10).

Afraid of something or somebody?

Fear not!

Project Evangel

The Evangel 4500, constructed by pilot-mechanic Carl Mortenson of Wycliffe Bible Translators, was the first twin-engine airplane specially designed for missionary use in the most remote, rugged areas of the world. Before Mortenson’s innovative engineering on the craft, small planes were limited to single-engine capability, susceptible to power failure during takeoff and landing on short jungle runways.

EvangelReceiving funding from several Chicago laymen, the Evangel 4500 was ready for its first major mission in 1969. Passengers for thetwo-month voyage to South America were pilot Mortenson, Dr. Paul Wright, chairman of the chemistry department  at Wheaton College, and nine other board members of Project Evangel.

Explaining the need for the plane, Wright remarked, “We don’t feel it’s right to expose missionaries to the hazards of a single engine plane. The Evangel 4500 can carry two passengers in addition to its 4 x 4 x 9 storage area, or the entire space can be used for passengers. It can take off with a full load in 498 feet. Its maximum altitude is 22,500 feet, but one with engine gone it can still fly at 7100 feet.” After the successful flight, Wright often lectured at local churches, telling the story of the unique airplane and its mission.

The Drum and I

This exotic object might resemble the genie’s bottle from the 1960s TV comedy, I Dream of Jeannie, but it is actually a drum. In 1946 diplomat Kenneth Landon traveled frequently to Thailand, attempting to define how that country might integrate into the United Nations. One trip involved attending the cremation of the newly deceased king and the coronation of his brother. During the immediate post-war years many Thai experienced tremendousdrum difficulties after surviving the Japanese invasion of their land. Attempting to re-establish their influence, the Thai often exercised hard decisions, such as offering artifacts to visitors they trusted. One family claimed that their lizard skin drum with its abalone mosaics was authentic to the monarchy of either King Mongut or his son, Prince Chulalongkorn, both featured in Margaret Landon’s classic novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which was later reworked by Rodgers and Hammerstein into the popular Broadway musical The King and I.

The family offered to sell Kenneth the drum which they assured him was a prized possession.  He was able to ship the drum to Washington, DC in the diplomatic pouch, thus avoiding the complications of a private sale. Kenneth and Margaret’s son, Will, received the drum as an inheritance from their estate.

The papers of Kenneth and Margaret Landon are available for research in Special Collections, Buswell Library. Thanks to Will Landon for providing the artifact and information.

Some useful plan or book

b51252016 marks the final year in which the hard copy of Wheaton College yearbook, The Tower, is published. Due to budgetary restraints and relative lack of interest among students, the administration decided to cease publication.  From this point forward information will be collected digitally. Collectively, the yearbooks cover approximately 2/3 of the college’s 156-year life, capturing for posterity priceless moments and pertinent personal information.

It was 30 years after the college’s founding in 1863 before students published  the first iteration of the yearbook, Wheaton College Echoes, ’93. An editorial excitedly anticipates a bright future, observing with comic pomposity, “And then, don’t you know, exuberant genius is best developed by at least an annual overflow.” The editors wistfully quote:

That I for dear auld Wheaton’s sake,

Some useful plan or book could make,

Or sing a song at least?

Echoespublishing advertisements, student and faculty directories and silly anecdotes, continued until 1900 when it ceased publication for reasons now forgotten. After a lengthy absence the yearbook resurfaced in 1922 as The Tower, adopting the traditional format of profiling students of each class and faculty through photos and chatty text, along with chapters dedicated to sports, music, literary societies and various clubs. The editors write:

In presenting the first edition of The Tower, the Junior Class has attempted to concentrate the events of the college year in such form that they will be kept and treasured by the students in years to come….If this book affords the graduate pleasant reminiscences and inspires the undergraduate with a greater devotion to Alma Mater, the Juniors will feel they have accomplished their plan.

Indeed, The Tower, initially printed by Schulkins Printing Co. of Chicago, appeared annually, maintaining traditional packaging with a few notable variations. For instance, the 1941 Tower, edited by artist Phil Saint, is liberally peppered with his own gently humorous caricatures of faculty and campus life. In fact, Saint includes on the final page a cartoon of himself as a stuffed head, Flippius Santus, “now extinct.” Saint2Years later Saint’s brother, Nate, would die with Jim Elliott and four other missionaries at the hands of Waorani tribesmen in Ecuador.

In 1945 a saddle-stitched paperback supplement, The Armed Forces Tower, exhibiting several galleries of Wheaton College active duty soldiers and deceased Gold Star Veterans, was distributed with The TowerThe Armed Forces Tower also exhibits an illustration for the proposed Memorial Student Building, eventually built in 1950 after a fundraising campaign. The structure now serves as the political science department. The supplemental edition also contains Dr. V. Raymond Edman’s famous tribute to the young men and women populating his beloved campus, the “brave sons and daughters true” who carry the gospel of Christ to far countries.

The most innovative packaging of The Tower appeared in 1972, when it was divided into three paperbacks, each profiling an aspect of campus life with artistic photos and scattered poetry. The package includes a cassette tape recording of philosophy professor Dr. Stuart Hackett’s band in concert.

Like any journal, The Tower faithfully records the moods, milestones and fancies of the hour. The College Archives, Buswell Library, where a complete set of The Tower is maintained, bids a fond adieu to this perennially useful historical document.

 

Thumbprints in the Clay

Luci Shaw, in her newly released book, Thumbprints in the Clay: Divine Marks of Beauty, Roder and Grace (2016), traces the “thumbprints” of an endlessly creative, ever-creating God. ShawInterspersing poetry with autobiographical essays, Shaw writes, “I knew I had to make this writing the centerpiece, the birth announcement of my spiritual liberation and purpose in God.”

In addition to her reflections, Shaw includes moving reminiscences of her friendships with novelist Madeleine L’Engle, with whom she wrote several books, and mentor Clyde Kilby, her beloved and highly influential English professor at Wheaton College.

Thumbprints in the Clay is published by InterVarsity Press. The papers of Luci Shaw, Madeleine L’Engle and Clyde Kilby are archived at Wheaton College.