Monthly Archives: April 2011

What Wheaton College Did for Me: M. Douglas Hursh, M.D.

M. Douglas HurshThis edition of “What Wheaton College Did for Me” appeared in the October, 1966, Wheaton Alumni magazine.

When I came to Wheaton College in 1929 I was surprised to find such a friendly, closely-knit group of students and faculty. We seemed like one big family to which everybody belonged. Perhaps it really wasn’t so big (only 600 students then) but nearly twice the size of my high school; and the town was twice as big (although only 8000). But I was the first from my family, or area, to go to Wheaton and it hadn’t been my choice but that of my parents who saw it advertised in a Christian periodical.

The next thing that impressed me was the dedicated lives of the faculty and most of the students. During the fall evangelistic services I realized for the first time that I wasn’t saved, but has succeeded in fooling a lot of people, including my parents.

When about to make the step I was deferred by my definitely non-Christian roommate, and for the next year and a half was influenced by him and a small group of similarly-minded students. In today’s terminology we made up the “rebels,” but there was no element of liberalism – political, economic or theological – just plain anti-“pledge.”

Toward the end of my sophomore year some of the gang who were still around began to tire of living a lie. The consistent daily testimony of real men of God on the faculty and in the administration, as well as the example set by all of our campus leaders, made a definite impact. Several of us accepted Christ, including my roommate and myself. The last two years, by contrast, were happy ones of Christian growth and development. Without them I would have been unprepared for the onslaught against God and His Son that came from every angle in a big state university. Having changed to pre-med in the middle of my junior year, there were some requirements that couldn’t be met before graduation. That meant a semester of undergrad work before medical school. In both place Darwinian evolutions was taught as a fact – and that was 33 years ago.

Evangelical Christians were in such a minority that they scarcely could be heard. There was not Christian Medical Society, but we did have a League of Evangelical Students with an average weekly attendance of 30 on campus of more than 20,000. The Communist front groups had hundreds in them and were given every liberty, while we were restricted. But Wheaton College had given me a reason for the hope that was within, and made me courageous enough to express it to fellow students. Also I was given a vision of a needy world, lost without Christ. Missionary speakers were almost a weekly occurrence in chapel, and were welcomed by those who were seeking God’s will for their lives. As a result, many of us found our places of service and witness – mine to the Moslems of West Africa through the Kano Eye Hospital.

Special Collections researcher publishes “Scandalous Women”

Scandalous Women: the lives and loves of history's most notorious womenWayward wives and warrior queens alongside wild women of the west and amorous artists and amazing adventuresses are the fodder for this book of “herstory.” Elizabeth Mahon took her notable blog and put it into book-form. In this book, “Scandalous Women: the lives and loves of history’s most notorious women,” she writes in an accessible manner that tells the stories of Anne Boleyn to Anna Leonowens. Publisher’s Weekly calls this volume a “Feminist History for Dummies” as it covers the lives of well-known women and generally lesser-known females like Carry Nation who was president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1900 and busted bars to bits with an axe and called others to do the same. As mentioned, a chapter in Mahon’s book retells the story of Anna Leonowens. Some of Leonowens’ writings are housed in the Kenneth and Margaret Landon Papers at Wheaton College.

On My Mind – Terry Perciante

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of Mathematics Terry Perciante was featured in the February/March 1992 issue.

Terry PercianteThe Washington Monument stands outside my hotel room window. To the right, I can see the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, shining in the setting Sunday evening sun. This morning I attended the church where Abraham Lincoln worshiped during his presidency and where Scottish immigrant Peter Marshall ministered to multitudes of World War II servicemen.

But sightseeing is not the reason for my visit to Washington. I am part of a three-person team representing the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. With representatives from seven other Department of Energy national labs, we will seek to formulate and implement strategies for increasing the effectiveness of mathematics and science education in our nation’s schools. The National Academy of Science, the Mathematical Sciences Education Board, the Department of Energy, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and other agencies are uniting to provide funds for an extensive and long-term effort to stimulate American mathematics and science education.

The tranquility of the monuments and government buildings outside my window is not shared by the schools in our nation. Tomorrow morning they will fill with young people and then deliver education that is measurably inferior to that which is provided by schools in most other industrialized countries.

What can we do to help our students, individuals who will populate this capital city as leaders and citizens in the years ahead? They will certainly need a profound understanding of many scientific and deeply technical issues. Old ways of knowing will not adequately serve citizens during our age of subatomic particle physics, space exploration and astrophysics, fractal geometry and dynamical systems, biological engineering, and the chemistry of superconducting materials.

Unfortunately, most college faculty (even those who view themselves as liberally educated) remain so mathematically and scientifically illiterate that they cannot comprehend books and articles from those disciplines, which so profoundly shape modern life and decision making. What educational hope can there be for our young people?

Indictment of the causes for malaise in American education and culture is altogether too easy. The loss of a national consensus relative to the nature of education, the effects of urban congestion, the decline of social structures such as the family, and other factors could offer excuses for a lack of personal response to the problems.

If believers abdicate their influence in society to people who are not grounded in the love of God and the light of his revelation, then who will act? Lincoln’s action in the midst of a national social crisis and Marshall’s ministry to those in spiritual crisis both provide examples of the kind of commitment that our current educational problems require.

In our meetings, the Fermilab team will seek to join strategies and resources in order to achieve the maximum effect on our young people’s mathematical and scientific growth. And right now, as I return to the laptop computer on my desk, I’ll write another page in a series of books aimed at improving the teaching of mathematics at the secondary and college level.

In April, and again in July, I’ll join with my German and American coauthors to present seminars in Nashville and Chicago that detail wonderful advances in mathematics, but explain them at a level appropriate for secondary school mathematics teachers. By God’s grace, I want others to see me as an individual who loves his discipline and who wants others to become quantitatively enabled so that they can render more effective service than I can.

Would that we could all become people who are not conformed to standards of educational mediocrity, but are instead transformed and made capable of communicating with people who need to know his mercy and grace. The task involves serving Christ well while also serving young people within an educational system that needs reform.

Together, the multitude of Christian mathematics and science educators in our nation can provide living monuments to Christ’s transforming power in the face of overwhelming odds. If God has given special analytical abilities, considerable mathematical and scientific preparation, and opportunities to teach others, then surely by offering these special abilities to the Lordship of the Christ of creation, opportunities will be given by him to apply these gifts in ministries to people and to the educational infrastructure of our nation.

May God enable all of us to become humble agents of change and conveyors of new life in our disciplines, professions, and communities.

Terry Perciante received the bachelor of science degree from Wheaton in 1967 and the Ed.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1972, when he began teaching at Wheaton. He was named Wheaton’s Junior Teacher of the Year in 1977 and Senior Teacher of the Year in 1994. In 1990, he was one of 700 educators from private colleges across the nation who was recognized by The Sears-Roebuck Foundation for resourcefulness and leadership. He is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and is an organizing force behind Project Teacher, a program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Since 1988 Terry has increasingly worked in fractal geometry and chaos theory with a small international team of writers and researchers headquartered at the University of Bremen in northern Germany. His professional involvement with this team has resulted in his presenting frequent keynote talks at NSF institutes, symposia, and professional meetings especially relating to aspects of dynamical systems.

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.

The Crafty Mr. Ulricson

Throughout his teaching career at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, Dr. R. Lance Factor, George Appleton Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy, had noticed several odd flourishes adorning the interior and exterior of Old Main, the historic central campus hall where Lincoln debated Douglas in 1858. Investigating its history, Factor unearthed fascinating secrets permeating the very foundation of the building.

Charles UlricsonKnox College, founded by rock-ribbed Presbyterian pioneers who despised both slavery and oath-bound fraternities, had existed for nearly twenty years when its crosstown competitor, Lombard College, founded by Unitarian Universalists, erected in 1855 an attractive central building. Anxious to equal or exceed this accomplishment, then-president Jonathan Blanchard and the Knox trustees concentrated on raising funds and locating an architect. Rejecting plans presented by a Calvinist firm in Chicago, Blanchard sought Mr. Charles Ulricson, the project’s contractor who had also designed churches, mansions and offices in Galesburg and other midwestern locations. A Swedish immigrant, Ulricson’s cool, competent demeanor appealed to Blanchard and the board, who nicknamed him “the urbane Mr. Ulricson.” Working quickly and efficiently, Ulricson presented an agreeable plan to the administration and construction commenced. Completed in 1857, the three-storey hall, topped by a temple-like belltower, commanded a magnificent view of the prairie, a benefit which the Lombard building did not offer, much to the delight of Knox constituents.

Professor Factor, continuing his careful perusal of ledgers, journals, correspondence and other documents, discovered that Ulricson had studied under renowned architectural masters in New York City, learning the principles of sacred geometry and alchemical engineering. A loyal disciple, he departed their tutelage a member of “the sacred priesthood of architecture” and eventually settled in Peoria, Illinois, happily applying his vast knowledge of mystic ratios and sacred numbers to his projects – chiefly Knox College. In brief, Old Main is a purely Masonic talisman. Its existence as a beloved landmark is particularly ironic considering that Jonathan Blanchard, later president of Wheaton College, founded in 1868 the National Christian Association as an instrument dedicated to eradicating the influence of Freemasonry from American church life. Undoubtedly he and the trustees were entirely unaware of the hidden esoteric meanings and sacred symbology woven into every tile, window and doorway. According to Factor, Ulricson likely believed that his building might capture the positive energies of the “the Great Geometer,” sanctifying and edifying its occupants. Through the influence of occultic design Ulricson might have sought to mystically unify the opposing, aggressive forces of Jonathan Blanchard and George Gale, founder of the college and the city. Both were strong-willed and often locked horns, fomenting division among the Galesburg citizenry. If Charles Ulricson was “urbane,” he was also surely crafty as he advanced the “craft” of Freemasonry through means both brazen and surreptitious.

“Hopelessness can be overcome” said Jimmy Carter in 1992 Pfund lecture

Nearly twenty years ago, President Jimmy Carter delivered the LeRoy H. Pfund Lecture on February 24, 1992. The following article “President Carter urges Christians to compassion and action on behalf of others” by Margaret Irish documented the event and was featured in the April/May 1992 issue of the Wheaton Alumni magazine.

As a young person, Jimmy Carter had two ambitions. The first he accomplished he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, becoming an officer in the Navy.

The second was to teach at a college or university. “Thanks to Ronald Reagan, I reached that ambition four years earlier than I’d anticipated,” Carter quipped, speaking to the packed house gathered in Edman Memorial Chapel for the LeRoy H. Pfund Lecture. His defeat in the 1980 election spelled the end of his presidency, but it gave him opportunities to serve that he would never have had if he had remained in office. And service, for Jimmy Carter, is more significant than his job title.

“The essence of Christianity, as described by Christ himself, is not preaching which is important hut is action on behalf of others,” Carter said. “Jesus reached out to the outcast, the despised, the people who were different. How do we translate that compassion into our own culture?” Carter emphasized that Christians must serve others and minister to their needs, rather than associating only with people like themselves.

He emphasized that much of the nation’s and the world’s suffering could be alleviated if its affluent citizens would more willingly share with those who had little or nothing. “The greatest discrimination today is that of rich people against poor people.”

The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta is one example of an institution whose purpose is to address the needs of the poor, the homeless, the illiterate, the sick, and the outcast both in the United States and abroad. Carter challenged his audience to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others, one at a time. He cited the Atlanta Project, which is coordinating efforts between private enterprise, businesses, churches and government agencies in the city of Atlanta to react to disadvantaged people. Individuals can make a difference, “adopting” those in need, getting to know them, taking them to the doctor, teaching them to read, or taking time to be available for a child at risk.

Carter also expressed his conviction that the United States, in its role as a superpower, should he addressing problems such as hunger, disease, war, and human rights abuses in the world, “Our country should he totally committed to peace, not war … we have a direct responsibility to use our influence, whatever it might he.” He mentioned the Carter Center’s work in these areas, monitoring world conflict, working to improve the health of children in the Third World, finding ways to alleviate hunger. He warned, “When we think we’ve got it made, and that we are particularly blessed because we deserve to be blessed, then we have abandoned a major part of the faith in Christ that we claim is a driving force in our lives.”

At a press conference preceding the lecture, President Carter responded to questions from both journalists and students. He said he is encouraged that the United States is urging new Middle East peace talks, but felt that final settlement at this time is unlikely. Carter considers the Democratic presidential candidates to be capable leaders who should not be characterized as political “lightweights.” He had no strong preference among them, he said, “but once we choose one, I will give him my support.” He also felt that the contenders are “fair game” for the press, which “has an obligation and a right to scrutinize their past actions and let the American people make a judgment.”

The key theme of this year’s Pfund Lecture became Carter’s message of action on behalf of others. Listeners heard it stressed repeatedly by a man intent on meeting the challenges of a needy world with hope, enthusiasm, and Christian commitment.

“Something can be done,” Carter said. “We can prove that hopelessness can be overcome. We can do it with justice, humility, service, compassion, love, and peace.”

The Leroy H. Pfund Lectureship was established in 1987 by Mr. Fred Bostrom, Sr., in memory of his wife, Ragnhild; it was named for Coach Lee Pfund ’49, who served the College for more than 38 years, first as a coach and then as director of the alumni association. The lectureship brings to Wheaton College’s campus leaders of American political and public life to enhance the students’ awareness of public Policies, issues, and views, and offer them a broad range of perspectives. The 1992 Pfund Lecture brought former President Jimmy Carter to Wheaton.

The Wesley G. Pippert Papers in the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections also contain a wealth of information about the former president. Wes Pippert came to Washington, D.C. in 1976 in order to cover Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign as the principal UPI reporter. Pippert followed Carter to the White House and was assigned there from 1977 to 1981. He also wrote “The Spiritual Journey of Jimmy Carter: In His Own Words” (1978).

Audio icon LISTEN to President Carter’s 1992 Pfund lecture (mp3 – 01:04:09)


“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.

What Wheaton College Did for Me: Walter M. Dunnett

Walter Dunnett reminisces in the December, 1966, Wheaton Alumni magazine.

Walter DunnettIt was the year 1946, and I was a student in the School of Commerce at Northwestern University. On occasion, seeing my fellow students who were enrolled in the School of Education, preparing for a career in the classroom, I sometimes found myself saying, “What a waste of time!” The next year I transferred to Wheaton, looking now toward a major in history, and undecided as to the future. Vividly I recall the experience – the Lord that year laid a burden upon me and called me to be, yes, a teacher! My whole perspective was changed and I could think of no other career.

I thank the Lord, too, for a number of deep spiritual experiences during my Wheaton years. There were, for example, the meetings with Dr. Harry Hager, and with Mr. Stephen Olford, held in the Chapel during 1947-48; and the impact of the 1950 revival. What wonderful days those were, and they served to cement and clarify that intimate relationship with God which is so essential to any child of His. And then there was, of course, the intellectual stimulation of the classroom. Particularly through my capable instructors in History and Bible the Word of God became clearer, more meaningful and directive. I can only say it became a “new Book” during those days, a Book characterized by unity, by historical relevancy, by authority.

Now as I look back over 13 years in Bible school teaching, particularly in the field of New Testament studies, I voice thanks to God for the privilege of spending six years as a student at Wheaton. (It wasn’t that I was so terribly slow. It just took time to pick up three degrees: the A.B. in 1949; the A.M. in 1950; and the B.D. in 1953.) And a graduate fellowship granted me was, may I add, a wonderful preparation for teaching. When one has had devoted parents, a solid Christ-centered education, and a loving wife and family, what more could he ask? Now finishing up on a Ph.D degree, and teaching this year at Wheaton (1966-67), I am grateful for all this – and more.

On My Mind – Jill Baumgaertner

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner was featured in the Spring 1994 issue.

Jill Pelaez BaumgaertnerIn 1980, after many years of “sanctified cool,” balancing tenuously the professional requirements of my degree program with my faith interests and questions, I found myself teaching at Wheaton in an environment that actually required me to make the connections between faith and learning which had been considered irrelevant in graduate school. Much to my surprise, in those early years at Wheaton, I discovered that in spite of my hard work at attempting to bring these portions of my life and thought together, Athens and Jerusalem did not unite spontaneously. The result was often a defensive posture about the spiritual integrity of my individual discipline.

I taught at Wheaton ten years before I began to integrate faith and learning in a way which was neither reductionistic nor so abstract as finally not to be integration at all. My eyes were opened in a seminar funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities at the University of Chicago. The professor leading the seminar, a Jewish man attracted to the writings of Luther, was the first person outside of the Wheaton community to challenge me to take my doctrinal beliefs seriously enough to allow them to direct my literary questions. What was different about his approach? What I learned from him was that true integration might seem on the surface to be merely the integration of beliefs with biblical, doctrinal, and literary texts, but it is also, for the Christian scholar, a slippery and dislocating spiritual experience, leading often to questions that propositional language cannot answer.

Only when I began to study the complex network of relationships between and within the academic disciplines and the arts did I discover the way to begin to combine my thinking and my believing. To put it simply, the integration of faith and learning is, finally, a profoundly interdisciplinary task. College professors are primarily specialists; few are trained across disciplines. Thus I began to understand my earlier frustrations as symptoms of a problem that plagues the entire academic world, not just Wheaton. We have all been locked into our narrow areas, and we have been living under the illusion that these small spaces are complete microcosms. The fact is that the imagination of the scholar has not been exercised in a wide enough arena.

Many of us who attended college as English majors in the 1960s have spent our literary lives trying to crawl out of the hole into which we were pushed– the hole that separated literary texts from historical, psychological, biographical, political, and theological contexts. Now that I have been freed, I am also wary of being sold into the slavery of current thinking that obliterates texts entirely. But that is another essay and material for future conversation.

My current interests put me in the general vicinity of, if not entirely within, the group of scholars called the New Historicists, primarily literary scholars who have rediscovered history and who are redefining the discipline of English studies. The New Historicists view literature as an arena for the play of political power, and their task is to reconstruct and rediscover the political subtexts of classic literary works and introduce other cultural artifacts as competing texts.

I will never be a true New Historicist because I believe that imaginative literature has a special place in the humanities. I believe, for example, that poetry contains truth in a way that philosophy or history or theology cannot. But I must admit that the exposure to the methods and approaches of New Historicism has changed my teaching. My Renaissance literature class, for example, now contains, in addition to poetry, stories, and plays by Spenser, More, Shakespeare, Sydney, Wyatt, and Kyd, readings from Luther’s letters and essays, Margaret More Roper’s letters and translations of Erasmus, Elizabeth I’s speeches, selections from Calvin’s Institutes, and a treatise on education written by Ascham. I am now much more concerned about teaching literature in the context of the cultures that created it. I believe that this is the future direction of literary studies.


Jill Baumgaertner received a bachelor’s degree from Emory in 1968, a master’s from Drake in 1969, and a doctorate from Emory in 1980. She previously taught at Valparaiso University and joined the Wheaton faculty in 1980. She is the author of Finding Cuba (Chimney Hill Press, 2001), a collection of poems that explores her Cuban ancestry, and three poetry chapbooks:Leaving Eden (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 1995), Namings (Franciscan University Press, 1999), and My Father’s Bones (Finishing Line Press, 2006). She has also written a textbook/anthology, Poetry (Harcourt Brace, 1990); and Flannery O’Connor: A Proper Scaring (Cornerstone Press, 1998). She was a Fulbright fellow to Spain, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press’s poetry chapbook contest, the Goodman Award in Poetry, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Illinois Prize of the Rock River Poetry Contest, and the CCL Midwest Poetry Contest. She serves as poetry editor of The Christian Century and is past president of the Conference on Christianity and Literature.