Category Archives: Special Collections

Two Freds, One Faith

One could hardly imagine two more disparate Presbyterian ministers than Fred Rogers, best known as beloved children’s show host “Mister Rogers,” and Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist Frederick Buechner. One man, wearing a zippered cardigan, sings “Won’t you be my neighbor?” before placidly discoursing on themes such as courtesy, personal hygiene or regular school attendance; the other writes decidedly “grown-up” fiction and non-fiction, frankly discussing the crippling tensions he has felt between faith and doubt. One man’s pulpit is television; the other’s pulpit is his desk. Both are influential in vastly different spheres.

Nonetheless, the two Freds interacted during the early 1980s. Among the papers of Frederick Buechner (SC-05) are three notes from Mr. Rogers. For the first two, dated July 14, 1981, Rogers thanks Buechner for a phoned chat, and for “…what you called out of me.” Rogers then invites Buechner to visit him during August if he is near Pittsburgh or his summer home in Nantucket. On the other note he writes his address. On the third, dated August 27, 1981, Rogers thanks Buechner for sending a gracious letter which welcomed his return to Nantucket. He also thanks Buechner “…for you and your superb work.”

(Researchers desiring access to those portions of the collection classified as Private Materials or Special Private Materials must obtain written permission from the Buechner Literary Trust.)

Malcolm Muggeridge and the Iron Lady

As English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge aged, he embraced increasingly conservative principles. Moving from atheism to theism to Catholicism, he adjusted his views, publishing books and articles reflecting his ideology. Enjoying an extraordinary network of friends and acquaintances, Muggeridge interacted with the prominent voices of his day, including authors, films stars and politicians like U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with whom he shared a contempt for abortion.

Malcolm Muggeridge connected with other conservative politicians, as well. In 1978, he evidently encouraged Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain (who died at 87 on April 8, 2013) to accept an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University. At this time, Thatcher was still a Member of Parliament. Unable to attend due to prior commitments, she sent gracious responses to both H.A. White, president of Pepperdine, and Muggeridge.

If Mugg Were Pope…

Evidently, no one asked Malcolm Muggeridge what he would do were he suddenly elevated to the papal throne; nonetheless, the indomitable journalist, not even Catholic at the time, offers his fantasies on the prospect. “If I Were Pope…” appeared in The National Review, June 9, 1978, the so-called “year of three popes,” during which Pope Paul VI died, Pope John Paul I was elected and reigned for one month before dying, and Pope John Paul II was elected to an influential 27-year papacy. As Pope Francis begins his pontificate after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps it is appropriate to revive Muggeridge’s conservative ruminations on a few ecclesiastical matters.

Summarizing his points:

1) Locating a private, quiet retreat, perhaps Castel Gondolfo, Pope Malcolm would “…meditate upon the Church’s extraordinary survival through the twenty centuries of Christendom despite every sort of abomination committed by, or under the auspices of, my predecessors…”

2) Considering the ramifications of Vatican II, he would “…meditate upon the Church’s present circumstances, so full of confusion, strife and lunacy following Pope John’s Vatican Council and the amazing decision resulting therefrom to have another Reformation, just when the former one – Luther’s – seemed finally to have run into the sand.”

3) Not embracing complete isolation, he would “…have Mother Teresa and some of her Sisters of Charity with me at my retreat, her cooperation having been a precondition of my accepting the pontifical appointment in the first place…Her extraordinary influence and clarification are conveyed, not so much by words or exhortation, as by the love she radiates, shining out from her visibly, like light.”

4) Leaving the serenity of his retreat to address a troubled society, he would “…reissue Humanae Vitae in a greatly simplified form, reinforcing its essential point than any form of artificial contraception is inimical to the Christian life.”

5) Next, “…I should suspend the prohibition of the Tridentine Mass and the traditional Latin liturgy, which would henceforth be permissible whenever and wherever there was an appreciable demand for it. The disco-style vernacular worship, with its sadly banal words, which has come to take the place of the traditional liturgy would be allowed to go on, but I should secretly hope that, as fashions changed, it might wither away.”

6) Muggeridge would tighten the noose in other ways, as well. “Imagining myself sitting in the Vatican, or strolling up and down the Vatican garden, I feel sure I should be assailed by the temptation to do a bit of excommunication and anathema on my own account as and when the opportunity presented itself. Freedom-fighting prelates, liberated nuns, Marxist-dialoguing Jesuits, and other such ribald clerical phenomena of our time, along with the accompanying literature, would be, for me, tempting targets.”

7) Thus empowered, he would also “….prepare the way for an underground Church to go on functioning when the open one has been either forcibly disbanded, or so corrupted and disoriented from within that it can no longer fulfill its traditional role…What I have in mind would be a Christian maquis or clandestine Catacombs Order, whose superior and members would be chosen with the utmost care for their abiding faith, mystical insight and love for the Church and its orthodoxy.”

“That would be a papacy indeed!” he concludes. “Perhaps – who can tell? – some unexpected papabile is even now being divinely groomed to take it on.”

Muggeridge joined the Catholic Church in 1982. He died in 1990. His papers (SC-04), comprising manuscripts, correspondence, videos and memorabilia, are archived at Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.

Dr. C. Everett Koop and Wheaton College

Dr. Charles Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, died on February 25, 2013, at age 96. Sporting a crisp, double-breasted military uniform, Amish beard and stern aspect, he was an instantly recognizable father-figure during the 1980s, his expert eye continually examining the health trends of the nation. President Ronald Reagan, recognizing Koop’s extraordinary accomplishments in the field of pediatric medicine, appointed him as Surgeon General in 1982. Koop was affiliated with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

An outspoken Christian, Koop relates the circumstances of his 1948 conversion under the ministry of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia:

The next Sunday…I finished grand rounds early, and found my feet taking me to Tenth Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks north of the hospital. I entered a back door and quietly slipped up to the balcony. I was just going to observe. I liked what I saw, and I was fascinated by what I heard….I heard teaching from one of the most learned men I ever knew, a true scholar who also possessed a gift of illustrating the complexity – and simplicity – of Christian doctrine by remarkable and incisive stories and similes….I understood that we are all sinners, unable to satisfy God’s standard of righteousness and justice, no matter how hard we try….The preaching from the pulpit made it all clear: that the essence of Christianity was not what we did, but what Christ had done for us. I understood the meaning of the crucifixion, I understood the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, I understood the meaning of divine forgiveness…Most of all, I understood the love of God….This spiritual awakening had a profound effect on my life and influenced everything that happened thereafter.

Interestingly, Tenth Presbyterian was later pastored by Dr. Philip Ryken, who resigned from its pulpit in 2010 to assume the presidency of Wheaton College, an institution with which Koop enjoyed friendly relations.

As a prominent evangelical engaged in societal issues, Koop, staunchly pro-life, was invited to deliver the address for the 1973 Wheaton College Commencement, during which his daughter, Betsy, graduated. He warned his audience about the disastrous consequences of Roe vs. Wade, predicting that laws will be ridiculous. Soon, he said, teens requiring permission for ear piercing would not need permission for abortions, which will become increasingly common. Also, this legislation will accelerate moral laxity; of course, unknown at the time, it paved the way for the onslaught of AIDS in the 1980s.

Returning to Edman Chapel at Wheaton College for a public forum in 1990, Koop spoke on “Ethical Issues Arising from the AIDS Epidemic.” Discussing challenges and opportunities, he asked, “What better evangelical target than the sick, the homeless, the abandoned and the despised?” As always, he advocated abstinence and monogamy. Throughout the 1990s Koop occasionally appeared on the Wheaton campus, usually in conjunction with events sponsored by the Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE).

During a 1989 interview, Christianity Today asked Koop about his famous beard. He replied: “…I grew the beard as a lark when I went with my son Norman to Israel for two weeks. The night before we came home he shaved off his beard and kept his moustache; I shaved off my moustache and kept my beard. We did it just to shock our families. A few days later, when I looked at a picture of myself taken…before I started growing a beard, I realized I had three chins! And I didn’t have them with a beard.”

In 2002 he visited campus for “An Evening with C. Everett Koop,” conducted by Wendy Murray Zoba, heard here.

The papers of Dr. C. Everett Koop (SC-58), comprising manuscripts and correspondence, are housed at Wheaton College Special Collections, available to researchers.

“His Poems are a Power” ~ Robert Siegel, 1939-2012

Robert Siegel, poet, professor and novelist, died on December 20, 2012. He was 73. Prolific and versatile, he received awards and prizes from Poetry magazine, Prairie Schooner, Bread Loaf, America and the National Endowments for the Arts. Born and raised in Chicago, Siegel attended Wheaton College, receiving his M.A. from Johns Hopkins, his Ph.D from Harvard and taught for seven years at Dartmouth. He lived with his wife, Ann, near the cost of Maine. He wrote young adult novels, such as Alpha Centauri (1980) and The Kingdom of Wundle (1982). He published several collections of poetry, such as In a Pig’s Eye (1985), The Waters Under the Earth (2005), and A Pentecost of Finches (2006). Siegel was also renowned for his environmental fantasy trilogy comprising Whalesong, White Whale and The Ice at the End of the World, about Hralenkena, a humpback whale confronting the dangers, mysteries and incomparable wonders of the ocean. “I want people to identify with the mystery and intelligence of the whale, the spirituality of the ocean,” he said, “as well as have a sense of what it’s like to be a marine animal facing oil spills.”

Siegel was a student and close friend of Dr. Clyde Kilby, Wheaton College professor of English who founded the Marion E. Wade Center, containing the manuscripts of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and five other British writers. At Harvard, Siegel studied under poet Robert Lowell, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Aside from the world of letters, Siegel was also a naturalist, laboring for land preservation. In 1989 he published an article in the Atlantic Monthly, drawing attention to the imminent razing of Henry Thoreau’s property for a housing development. His effort was successful.

Siegel’s poetry and fiction garners praise from diverse quarters:

Of Robert Siegel’s talents there can be no doubt. “Brilliant” is a term too casually applied today, and it does not begin to define the remarkable range of subjects delineated and the technical mastery demonstrated…His poems are a power. ~ Joseph Parisi, Poetry magazine

The poet’s extraordinary gift for metaphor allows him to reveal a range of emotions and attitudes that is rare among contemporary poets. ~ Booklist

Siegel’s imagination is excited by the nonhuman world, and he writes about plants and animals with surprising immediacy…A compassionate observer…he looks at them as mysterious and wonderful signs of a greater order. ~ Dana Gioia, in Poetry magazine

Whalesong is one of those rare and wondrous things, a book which is born a classic. ~ Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time

A masterful work combining mythology, philosophy and poetry in a story that is exciting and convincing. ~ Richard Eberhart on the Whalesong trilogy

It is all here — everything your imagination longs for when it travels back beyond our sad and gritty history to the high and noble ages of which we mortals get only fleeting and heartbreaking glimpses in the tales we now call myths. Siegel is a bard, and that is a genius almost as rare nowadays as the centaurs. ~ Thomas Howard on Alpha Centauri

Robert Siegel composed and read the inaugural poem, “In My Beginning is My End,” at the 2010 installation ceremony of Dr. Philip Ryken, eighth president of Wheaton College. His papers (SC-11), comprising correspondence and manuscripts, are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections, are available to researchers.

New Book on Evangelical Left Published

A newly released book by Wheaton College graduate, David Swartz is receiving favorable reviews by scholars and critics alike. Significant research was conducted in the Sojourners Records and other archival resources of the Archives & Special Collections prior to publication of Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (University of Pennsylvania Press). Dr. David R. Swartz is an assistant professor of history at Asbury University. He earned his Ph.D. in American history at the University of Notre Dame under the direction of George Marsden and Mark Noll. Areas of expertise and teaching interest include American religious history, twentieth-century American politics, global religion, and issues of war and peace.

According to the book’s website, “Moral Minority charts the rise and fall of a forgotten movement: the evangelical left. Emerging in an era when it was unclear where the majority of evangelicals might emerge politically, the evangelical left held great potential. The convergence of civil rights and antiwar activism, intentional communities, and third-world evangelicals in the early 1970s prompted the Washington Post to suggest that the new movement might ‘launch a movement that could shake both political and religious life in America.’

In the end, it did not. Moral Minority charts how identity politics roiled the evangelical left–and how the Democratic Party in the 1970s and the religious right in the 1980s left progressive evangelicals behind. The failure of the evangelical left, thus, was the product of a particular political moment more than a reflection of evangelicalism’s inherent conservatism. As a new century dawns, Swartz suggests that this marginalized movement could rise again, particularly if the Democratic Party reaches out to evangelicals and if Christian immigrants from the Global South are able to reshape American evangelicalism.”

According to the New York Times:

“Moral Majority is a vivid topography of a little-understood corner of evangelical thought. It is not an account of a political movement–because there was no movement to speak of. This is a story of failures and might-have-beens, but it is just as illuminating as a history of political success.”

Dr. William Leslie and LaSalle Street Church

Located halfway on the mile between Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute and Moody Memorial Church stands LaSalle Street Church, its 130-year old spire tucked snugly amid a row of upscale condominiums, only two blocks from Lake Michigan. But when William Leslie left his position in 1961 as assistant pastor of Moody Church, serving under Dr. Alan Redpath, to lead the struggling assembly, the district was severely blighted, collapsing beneath the weight of decrepitude, poverty and racial tensions. Leslie, a graduate of Wheaton College, realized that he must not only preach to touch the spirit, but he must also address the material welfare of his parish.

And so, operating under the motto, “The Whole Gospel for the Whole Person,” LaSalle Street Church instituted a tutoring program, eventually gathering over 300 students. Soon other ministries blossomed. LaSalle Street Young Life recruited men from gangs, providing alternatives in Bible studies, sports and summer camp. LaSalle Street Senior Center provided meals, counseling and exercise for the Northside elderly. The Cabrini-Green Legal Aid Counsel sought justice for the ill-served, offering legal aid. Bridging was established to assist single pregnant women, offering an alternative to abortion. These programs not only fulfilled Leslie’s desire to mobilize his strategically-placed church, rather than allowing the members to sit passively, but strengthened LaSalle Street’s purpose to holistically worship, educate and evangelize. Another vital component was the incorporation of the arts, drawing heavily from the talents of gifted members. Plays, banners, slide shows and dance were all used to enhance worship and brighten the sanctuary. As a result of these innovations, Leslie was known to his congregation as “the resident dreamer.” Busloads of students from Wheaton College arrived weekly to assist with the various ministries.

Dr. William Leslie died of a heart attack at age 61 in 1993. Writer Philip Yancey, longtime member of LaSalle Street Church, wrote a memorial published in Christianity Today:

Bill Leslie was a most unlikely pioneer. He was disheveled, disorganized (several times I waited in vain for Bill, who had forgotten our appointment or gone to the wrong restaurant), and hardly a promising candidate for racial reconciliation. (He had attended the strictly segregated Bob Jones University, and his father-in-law had worked in racist Lester Maddox’s gubernatorial campaign.) Yet he, as much as anyone, was responsible for pointing the evangelical church back to the city and for reminding us that Jesus came to redeem communities as well as individual souls.

The story of LaSalle Street Church is related in The Church That Takes on Trouble (1976), by James and Marti Hefley; it is also the subject of the film, “The Heart Cannot Run.” In 1992 the City of Chicago cited Leslie in the 1993 “Who’s Who in Religion,” commending to him its “deepest and most sincere gratitude for all [he] has done to improve the community, and to better the lives of the citizens of the City of Chicago.”

Leslie’s papers (SC-75), comprising correspondence, photographs and cassettes, are archived at Wheaton College Special Collections, available to researchers.

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.

An everpresent journey of re-discovery

In a recent posting on, Suzanne Fischer, notes that many “discoveries” that emerge from archives and libraries are not true discoveries but the result of good cataloging and description. She was referencing Charles Leale’s medical report written the morning after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Fischer rhetorically asked her reader if the document had been uncovered in an old attic or beneath a set of stairs. No, she replied. The document was “right where it was supposed to be,” (emphasis by Fischer). The work of archivists and librarians is to describe things so that they may be found and this is exactly what is being done with a significant backlog with Wheaton’s Missions and Evangelism Collection.

Over the years the former Billy Graham Center Library accumulated volumes of interest that lay beyond the staffing resources to fully catalog. Simple bits of descriptive information was added to the library catalog awaiting the day when the records could be expanded and rounded out to include all the pertinent information necessary to help individuals find and use specific volumes. During the summer of 2012 efforts have been underway to sort through the thousands upon thousands of volumes to locate the items of most interest to missions and evangelism for fuller cataloging. Materials not added may be diverted to other suitable collections, such as the Hymnal Collection, the library’s general collection, or elsewhere.

Upon reviewing volumes that had been separated and taking a second pass to be sure that no missions or evangelism titles were missed, two copies of College Students at Northfield were found sitting side-by-side.

College Students at NorthfieldNorthfield was the birthplace of D. L. Moody and was the location of one of his three schools that he helped found: Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies (1879), Mount Hermon School for Boys (1881), and Moody Bible Institute (1886). In 1880 Moody began his Northfield Conferences that drew the likes of George Pentecost, A. J. Gordon, Jonathan Blanchard, and Hudson Taylor, among others. Several years later Moody realized the value of drawing college students into service for missions. With the help of Mr. L. D. Wishard, then college secretary of the International Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States and Canada, the Student Volunteer movement got its start.

Now, back to the two volumes. The first and the second were the same. They had been set aside and were not to be included, yet upon this secondary review, the content had direct relevance to missions and evangelism. While flipping open the second volume the fly-leaf jumped forth. On this page was the signature of Dwight Lyman Moody with an inscription to “my dear friends, Mr. & Mrs. Eccles.” At the bottom of the page was a note written severals years later that noted Moody’s death and his being carried to his grave by the students of the Mount Hermon school.

Dr. F. R. EcclesEccles supported the work of Moody’s ministry. Born in 1843 near Sarnia, Dr. Friend Richard Eccles attended the University of Toronto’s School of Medicine and received an M.B. in 1867 and an M.D. in 1868. Opening a practice in Arkona, Dr. Eccles practiced for nine years before completing studies at St. Thomas Hospital in 1876. He was appointed Professor of Physiology where he instructed students for six years before becoming a Professor of Gynecology. Eccles also served as Dean. As well as being an educator, Eccles was a scholar as he researched, delivered papers, and published his findings. Furthering the work of medical education, he delivered the opening lecture of the Medical Department of the Western University in London, Ontario in 1894. After his retirement he was acknowledged for his work with an honorary LL.D. degree in 1916. Dr. Eccles died in 1924. The entry for Eccles in the Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography notes that he was heavily involved in religious work and served as the president of the YMCA in London, Ontario for three years (1880-1883).

To be sure, this volume will no longer be overlooked, nor will the Christian testimony of Dr. and Mrs. Eccles.