Category Archives: Collection-related Publications

Seeing through the eye

Anyone who has read Malcolm Muggeridge extensively will be familiar with the recurring themes which he tended to call on, either in articles, speeches or books. The clear favorite was the rather overused quote from Blake, making the distinction between seeing with and seeing through the eye. Another was describing himself as a vendor of words, just as St. Augustine had done. But of course, another recurring theme was gargoyles and steeples.

Let’s think of the steeple and the gargoyle. The steeple is this beautiful thing reaching up into the sky admitting as it were, its own inadequacy–attempting something utterly impossible–to climb to heaven through a steeple. The gargoyle is this little man grinning and laughing at the absurd behaviour of men on earth, and those two things both built into this building to the glory of God… [The gargoyle] is laughing at the inadequacy of man, the pretensions of man, the absolute preposterous gap–disparity–between his aspirations and his performance, which is the eternal comedy of human life. It will be so until the end of time you see…Mystical ecstasy and laughter are the two great delights of living, and saints and clowns their purveyors, the only two categories of human being who can be relied on to tell the truth; hence, steeples and gargoyles side by side on the great cathedrals. ………. (Interview with William F. Buckley “Firing Line” television show, 1978)

One of the results of the Muggeridge Rediscovered conference in 2003 was the inception of the Malcolm Muggeridge Society. Formed on the 100th anniversary of Malcolm Muggeridge’s birth, the Society seeks to provide a focus for all worldwide who have a continuing interest in his life as journalist, author, broadcaster, soldier-spy and Christian apologist. The many mentions of Gargoyles, either by Muggeridge himself or in the writing of others about him, explain the aptness of the title for the mouthpiece of the Society, The Gargoyle.

Gargoyles have been around for thousands of years, some of the earliest known forms of gargoyle have been found in ancient Roman and Greek ruins. Originally fabricated in terra-cotta, later figures were carved of wood, yet a complete shift to stone took place by the 13th century. The term gargoyle is a contraction from the Latin gurgulio and the Old French gargouille, sharing an obvious root with the English word gargle, and means “throat”. Gargoyles were originally intended as waterspouts and drains to keep rain water from running down the walls of buildings and damaging the foundations. Projecting out from the roof or parapet, they served to throw the water from the gutter clear.

Malcolm MuggeridgeThe adoption of Muggeridge as a modern gargoyle was not in stone, the work of a skilled stonemason, but in caricature, the work of the famous cartoonist, Wally Fawkes, better known as Trog. It is extraordinary that the depiction of Malcolm Muggeridge as a gargoyle in ink reached a vastly larger audience than would ever be achieved by one of stone. The depiction was very apt and appropriate given Muggeridge’s fascination with gargoyles and his desire to identify himself with them so frequently in his writing and broadcasts.

It remains to be seen whether a more permanent Muggeridge gargoyle is ever commissioned, carved in stone and affixed to a building for future generations to gaze at in awe and wonder. A Muggeridgean gargoyle could perhaps make an interesting addition to Broadcasting House, London, home of the BBC. He could look down with amusement and “told you so” resignation at the fine mess broadcasters get themselves into.

Perhaps his presence there is needed as a constant reminder of his prophesies and dire predictions. In “Christ and the Media”, now republished, he lamented the falling standards of taste and the departure of the BBC from maintaining and expounding Christian moral values.

Excerpted from David Williams’ “Les Gargouilles de Dijon” and “Gargoyles — a chip off the old block” editor of The Gargoyle publication of the Malcolm Muggeridge Society.

The Malcolm Muggeridge Papers are available to researchers at the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections.

It’s a beautiful day in Chicago!

Though, as of the writing of this blog, it is not a beautiful day in Chicago with its heat index in the 100+ degree mark for several days running, the radio career of Everett Mitchell was signified by his recognizable phrase.

Everett Mitchell, born March 15, 1898, grew up on a small farm near Chicago in Oak Park, IL, just eight months after radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897. Growing up impoverished, Mitchell once had to wear his sister’s hand-me-down shoes to school. Of Quaker lineage, he learned dozens of hymns at an early age and often sang as he performed his chores. Soon his melodious voice attracted the attention of local churches seeking musicians and revivalists. One of the nation’s prominent evangelists, Gypsy Smith, noticed young Everett and hired him as a soloist for Smith’s revival services at Pacific Garden Mission in downtown Chicago. Smith later convinced Billy Sunday to utilize Mitchell’s talent for summer revival services at Winona Lake, IN. There he sang hymns during Sunday’s invitation plea, imploring hundreds of seekers to accept Christ as savior.

After completing high school, Mitchell worked as a clerk at First Trust and Savings Bank and in the evening he moonlighted as a part-time announcer for station WENR. The bank supervisor noticed Mitchell’s often bedraggled appearance after his radio gigs presented him with an ultimatum: leave radio or be fired. Mitchell quit with little deliberation. As he departed, his supervisor fumed: “Radio is nothing but a passing fad!” Mitchell entered full-time at WENR where he soon developed a consistent programming format, allowing a convenient predictability for both the performer and the listener. Now he could schedule jazz, gospel or classical music ahead of time and advertise, thus hooking the audience. For Mitchell, this was a definitive first in a long career of firsts.

Mitchell later departed WENR for NBC, assuming responsibilities as announcer for the “National Farm and Home Hour,” a program dedicated to presenting livestock reports and light entertainment. As host, he was posed with two dominant tasks: 1) be friendly with the audience; and 2) be accurate with the reports. Mitchell got the job because he was the only person in the 26 applicants who could describe the difference between a strawstack and a haystack. Soon after, the Great Depression devastated the country, hurling thousands of Americans into financial ruin. On May 14th, 1932, riding the train to work, he wondered how he might relieve their distress. Ironically, the same day’s papers carried news of the Lindbergh baby’s murder.

Mitchell recalled that “It was raining and misting. It was in the depths of the Depression,” and “a fellow on the train was complaining about the weather and hard times. He said, ‘As far as this nation is concerned, we’re doomed. God has forsaken us.’ And I said, ‘No, we’ve forsaken God to worship the almighty dollar.'” That morning, Mitchell, not discussing his intent with the station management, stepped to the microphone to introduce the show, stating confidently: “It’s a beautiful day in Chicago! It’s a great day to be alive, and I hope it’s even more beautiful wherever you are.” He hit the “beautiful” really hard. The impromptu greeting upset the management, but created a sensation among an audience desperately hungry for good cheer. The station received 13,000 calls and letters and as a result, the phrase became his signature for the remainder of his career.

An extensive traveler, Mitchell did half of his shows from farm locations. He traveled over 2 million miles and visited over 50 countries, reporting on agriculture in Europe, Central and South America, Russia and Asia. He served as a war correspondent in Korea, investigating famine.

Mitchell died November 12th, 1990, in Wheaton, Illinois where he and his wife lived on Beautiful Day Farm.

Movie Madness

William “Willy” Kuntze, former Dean of the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College, was a man of tremendous musical gifts, enjoying an international reputation for his compositions and solo performances. Graduating in 1891 from Kullak Conservatory in Berlin, studying under Kullak and L.E. Bach, he served as Conductor of the Chicago Teachers’ Union from 1898 to 1906, during which time he also served as Instructor in the Piano Department of Balatka Musical College. From 1906 to 1909 he was in Concert and Lyceum Work. During the early 1920s, Kuntze acted as Director of the School of Music at the University of New York, as well as Instructor of Pipe Organ and Piano at Wheaton College.

Kuntze in 1904 married a former student, Mary O’Neil Morrison, granddaughter of Jesse Wheaton, one of the city’s founders. Mary taught piano, serving with her husband at Wheaton College, and attended the Methodist Church. She died in 1964, collapsing beside the piano while living with Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Bundy at 310 W. Evergreen, the home built by Jesse in 1838.

To supplement a rather meagre income, Kuntze lent his extraordinary talent to various local gigs, not all evangelical. For instance, he served as organist and choirmaster for Temple Beth-El in Chicago. On a more secular note, he played for the cinema in downtown Wheaton, employed part-time as the accompanying organist, providing stirring background music as dramatic black and white images flashed over the screen. Unfortunately for him, film attendance for staff, faculty and students was forbidden by the college, which viewed this activity as injurious to the soul and unworthy of consecrated Christians. Learning of Kuntze’s moonlighting, Dr. Charles Blanchard, after some administrative deliberation, sent this June 1st, 1925, note to the renowned musician:

My Dear Dr. Kuntze:

Professor Green has notified me of your decision respecting the movies. I was hoping that you might decide to stay with the college rather than with them. But he tells me that your decision is to remain with them. Of course, you are the party that has to make the decision. I found no difference of opinion in our Executive Committee. All of them felt that it would not do for the college to be tied up with things like the movies. If you can see your way clear to do that, that is a matter for you to decide.

With best regards, I am sincerely yours, Charles A. Blanchard (dictated by President Blanchard, signed in his absence)

Since Dr. Kuntze is not listed among the faculty after 1925, it is assumed that he presented his decision to President Blanchard. He died in the mid 1930s. The William Kuntze collection (SC-70), comprising his collection of music, opera histories and composer biographies is housed at Wheaton College Special Collections.

The inefficient gospel in an age of efficiency.

The Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections house the papers of noted sociologist and theologian Jacques Ellul. Though not all recognize the totality of Ellul’s ethics and writings, as the more secular fail to see the significance or importance of his theological writings, Ellul’s Christian works are key to understanding all of his other writings.

Jacques EllulEllul, born January 6, 1912 in Bordeaux, France, and grew up in a non-religious home. His mother was a devout Christian but in deference to Ellul’s father never discussed her faith with Ellul until after his own conversion. By his own description, his conversion was a violent one followed by years of struggling with his faith. After coming to peace with his faith and its call upon his life Ellul associated with the French Reformed Church, which he chose because it was weak and unorganized. Ellul always sought to side with the poor (in spirit, wealth, or other resources). Though he read Calvin it was Barth who appealed to Ellul. Another early influence upon Ellul’s Christianity was the Personalist Movement, which he helped found in France with Emmanuel Mounier. This movement stressed the reality, value and free will of persons. In conjunction with personalism, Immanuel Kant formed Ellul’s thoughts on the movement and Ellul claimed to have read the entire corpuses of Kant and Barth. Beside the poverty of his childhood, caused by his father’s unemployment, another influence upon Ellul was Karl Marx. Ellul believed that Marx accurately described the system under which Ellul’s world operated, but due to the influence of the Bible, and Jesus Christ as the hermeneutical key, he did not believe that Marx provided a suitable solution to the world’s ills.

Ellul’s most important work is considered to be The Technological Society (in French: La Technique, 1954). Other important writings are Propaganda (Propagandes, 1962) and The Political Illusion (L’Illusion politique, 1964). His works sought to provide readers with the ability to critique how they engage the modern world. One of the most significant critiques of our time, especially from a Christian perspective, would be upon the “cult of efficiency” that permeates our culture. It is Ellul’s more explicitly theological writings, the ones that round out the pictures provided in the more sociological titles listed above, such as The Meaning of the City, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man and The Presence of the Kingdom, which challenge the practices of our culture. We live in a culture that emphasizes efficiency and demands it from every task. However the Gospel is inefficient.

Our culture is concerned with its technological advances and our lives are measured by what we possess. The accessories of our lives speak volumes about what we and others find important as they speak to our wealth, freedom and ability to acquire resources easily. The history of civilizations tells of their wealth and might, even of the strength of its armies and the technology of warfare. However the history of God’s dealings with humanity — his acts of grace and mercy towards his creation — tell of a bulrush baby being rescued and furnace-cast followers being saved. God has a heavenly host at his command, yet he seeks and uses the weak and powerless. We see this in the story of Gideon who was from the smallest family in the weakest clan (Judges 6). Solomon extolled the Lord for his care for the weak and needy (Psalm 72). Ezekiel records the words of the Lord and tells us that God retrieves the strays, strengthens the weak and destroys the strong (Ezekiel 34). The Gospel is intertwined with these principles to the point that Paul revels in his own weaknesses (II Corinthians 12) as they serve as conduits of God’s grace.

Decades ago the writings of Jacques Ellul ominously reveal the problems of our efficient age. In his Technological Society Ellul clearly outlines the trajectory of society and what is so portentous is that he penned these words more than fifty years ago and we are still on that same trajectory and seeing the terminus out in front of us; the outcome that Ellul portrays is not inviting. In very rational fashion he articulates the logical conclusions of the choices humanity has made. He calls his readers to ask questions, like “what will this create?” prior to embarking upon a course of action or implementing a new process/technology.

Ellul died May 19, 1994 leaving a theological legacy that can be found in more than fifty books in French that were translated into English and eight other languages.

Emily Gardiner Neal

Agnostic journalist Emily Gardiner Neal did not intend to attend the Episcopal church that evening. Though Christianity offered a fine ethical code, she really had other things to do. But a friend needed a ride, so she stayed for the service. That night she observed congregants who seemed to be expecting something from God, whether an answer to prayer or a physical healing. In fact, the reality of the healings prompted her to investigate further. Studying case after case of Christians who received a recuperative touch from God, Neal was finally persuaded of its reality – though she had not yet converted to the faith. However, she observed a distinct inner luminosity flooding the faces of these humble believers. “It was my noting of this phenomena, again and again,” she writes, “which was to lead me to believe.” In other words, charismatic healings were a direct manifestation of the Holy Spirit. To her logical mind this was simply the evidence of a living God. Her move to faith was a gradual acceptance rather than a sudden, impulsive decision. With all her intellectual convictions satisfied, “I was ready at last to confess a living God and his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who was sent to redeem the world.”

Now her career entered a new phase. She functioned not only as a reporter, but she occasionally taught in churches, addressing matters involving the healing ministry. Eventually Neal documented her experiences and reflections, penning such titles as A Reporter Finds God and God Can Heal You Now. Frequently invited to speak, she soon found herself on the other side of the rail, ministering God’s healing power through the laying on of hands. Her third title, The Lord is Our Healer, addresses questions sent by her readers. Her fourth book, In the Midst of Life, discusses the death of her husband and the meaning of death for Christian people. Her fifth, Where There’s Smoke, chronicles her experiences as a missioner during the troubled ’60s. Continuing her wide traveling, writing and speaking, Neal encouraged Christians of all denominations to regularly attend sacramental and healing opportunities through liturgical services. Not wanting to place undo emphasis on the miraculous, Neal urges, “…that the primary purpose and ultimate goal of these missions is not simply to achieve physical well-being, but to bring individuals to a closer relationship with God.”

In 1987 the Episcopal Healing Ministry was established, with Neal serving as its first president, declaring “…that the healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ may be taught, proclaimed and practiced under authority of the church universal throughout the world.” Emily Gardiner Neal died in 1989. Her papers (SC-197), are housed at Wheaton College Special Collections.

Judgment Day

Evidence from Scripture / William MillerIt is said that tomorrow, May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day. Billboards around America have declared that the end is near and that Christ will return. Over the course of the subsequent five months the earth will be destroyed. In the history of American religion this is not a new tale or theology. It has been here before, even for the contemporary prognosticator (who once before predicted the end to happen in September 1994).

In the middle of the nineteenth-century William Miller also believed that the return of Christ would occur. He announced that through his study of the bible he determined that the Second Coming of Christ would occur “about the year 1843” — give or take a year or two. He eventually stated more clearly that “Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.”

A farmer, Miller was also a lay leader in the Baptist church in New York, near what was known as the “burned-over” district that produced other religious movements like Mormonism. Miller began publicly announcing his views in the early 1830s. He published “Evidence from Scripture and history of the second coming of Christ about the year 1843 : exhibited in a course of lectures” and by the early 1840s it began to gain national attention as others took hold of his ideas and publicized them. One such figure was Joshua Vaughan Himes, pastor of Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, who published a newspaper, Signs of the Times. “Millerite” papers began to spring up around the country in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland. In the early months of 1843 over a half million publications had been printed and distributed.

Miller’s day passed with great disappointment. It is quite likely that on May 22, 2011 the sun will rise as it had the day before reinforcing that no one knows the day or the hour, except the Father.

Clouds of Witnesses published from the Evangelism & Missions Collection

Clouds of Witnesses by Mark Noll and Carolyn NystromThrough nearly a dozen and a half biographical sketches Nystrom and Noll take the reader to Africa and Asia to see the lives of Christian believers in other lands and in other times. These stories span a century from the 1880s to the 1980s as the variety of Christian faith and practice are displayed in the lives of these inspiring individuals. Historian Philip Jenkins has clearly articulated in The Next Christendom: the rise of global Christianity the growth of Christianity in regions like Africa and Asia, but Clouds of Witnesses puts names and faces on that rise and growth. These are stories of the individuals, like Bernard Mizeki, Byang Koto, Wang Mingdao and Song Shangjie, who have lived their faith and sacrificed to spread the good news of Christ’s gospel. It is for this purpose — to encourage missions and evangelism and to document the lives of those involved in these activities — that the Evangelism & Missions Collection exists. This collection was useful in the research of this volume. This book can also serve as a companion to Mark Noll’s award-winning book The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith. Noll’s papers are also a part of the Archives & Special Collections at Wheaton College. All of the titles mention herein will help you understand how the Christian faith has been spread, fostered and grown as a result of the Great Commission.

“From Bible Belt to Sunbelt” published

From Bible Belt to SunbeltIn this new book Darren Dochuk, from Purdue University, argues that Great Depression-era religious tenant farmers, “plain-folk” migrants, from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas are key to understanding the contemporary interchange between American religion and politics. These migrants, with their Southern steely persistence and Western rugged impatience and pragmatism helped shape the character of politics in Southern California through the development of a political machine that influenced politics in the second half of the twentieth century in the careers of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The research in this book received the 2006 Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians. By utilizing the records of the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Association of Christian Schools Dochuk’s book has been well-reviewed and serves as a helpful guide as it tells the story of the rise of the New Right and modern conservatism.

“Sports and Faith: stories of the devoted and the devout” published

stories of the devoted and the devout.The Apostle Paul used athletic allusions to communicate the role of the Christian in the world. He used athletic metaphors to describe the Christian life. In his new book, Sports and Faith (Sporting Chance Press, 2011), Pat McCaskey, Senior Director of the Chicago Bears, through a personal memoir looks at the lives of numerous individuals he encountered who had sought to be faithful and to make a difference in the lives of others. McCaskey looks at his grandfather, George Halas, “Red” Grange, Brian Piccolo, the Nancy Swider-Peltzs, Wayne Gordon and John Perkins. Some of the names may more readily pop into one’s mind and memory, but the individuals represented are examples worthy of attention with lessons to tell. Mr. McCaskey’s wife, Gretchen, and son, Edward, are graduates of Wheaton College (1974 and 2009 respectively).

A Revolutionary Bible…

The early history of publishing English bibles in America was not one of success as a monopoly existed in England and that control extended to her colonies. The “crown” would not allow that monopoly to be breached by giving permission for bibles to be printed in the colonies. In the colonial period bibles were shipped from Holland and England. However, when the war for independence began embargoes began and bibles were one commodity that fell into short supply.

In 1777 the chaplain of the Continental Congress, Patrick Allison, asked its leadership to address this great shortage. In response Congress passed a resolution to import bibles from wherever they could be obtained, “from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere,” however nothing was ever done.

Aitken BibleThis failure of action spurred on the work Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken. This Quaker native of Scotland had only been in the colonies since 1769. He was the publisher of the Philadelphia Magazine along with Benjamin Franklin’s son-in-law Richard Bache. It was Aitken that the newly formed Congress engaged to publish its journals and proceedings. During the war resources were scarce, but Aitken took it upon himself to gather the resources necessary to produce a small “duodecimo” New Testament. Due to the great demand the 1777 volume was reprinted in 1778, 1779 and 1781. Seeing the desire the people had for copies of the bible Aitken sought the support of Congress to produce a complete bible.

Rev. John Witherspoon, president of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), spearheaded a review of Aitken’s ability to produce a bible and recommended to Congress that in the “interest of religion, as well as…the progress of arts” Aitken be approved and employed to produce a bible. So, Aitken’s 1782 Bible was the first, and only, bible to be printed with the approval of Congress.

Though other translations of the bible into other languages had been printed in North America, this was the first English bible to be printed. 10,000 copies of Aitken’s bible were printed and it was small enough to fit into the coat pocket of the Revolutionary War soldiers. Today, few copies remain and these are some of the rarest bibles with a single page selling in the hundreds of dollars. Wheaton College’s copy can be viewed on display in the Museum of the Billy Graham Center.