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This Gordon Life

essays in honor of jud and jan carlberg

Gordon College 255 Grapevine Rd. Wenham, Massachusetts 01984 May 24, 2011 Editorial: Patricia Hanlon Design and Production: Matthew Schwabauer Bookbinding: Anne Pelikan

Frost Hall, Jean Sbarra Jones

Contents Forward—Mark Sargent............................................................................................................................................................ ix Peace On Earth? and Other Questions for The New Year—Daniel Johnson................................................................................2 Resolved: a Year of Reconciliation—Judith Oleson.....................................................................................................................4 Hope for a Happier News Year—Jo Kadlecek..............................................................................................................................6 Life From Below—Roger J. Green...............................................................................................................................................8 As Strong as Death: Thoughts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2005—Mark Sargent................................................................. 10 A Campus Photographer's Joural: Blizzard 2005—Dan Nystedt '06.......................................................................................... 14 Coveralls—Truitt Seitz............................................................................................................................................................. 16 Hoedown for Psalm One Hundred—James Zingarelli............................................................................................................... 17 Tragic or Comic: Two Visions of Life and Leadership—Dan Russ.............................................................................................. 18 A Personal Tour of African American History—Stella M. Pierce...............................................................................................20 Infinitives: For Jud and Jan—Graeme Bird............................................................................................................................... 22 A Builder and a Gentleman: A Colleague's Tribute to John Mason—Stephen L. S. Smith.......................................................... 23 An Uncommon Correspondence—Ivy George.......................................................................................................................... 24 Wizards, Vampires and Humanity—Janis Flint-Ferguson .........................................................................................................26 What’s a Gold Medal Worth?—Mark Gedney............................................................................................................................28 It’s More Than Just a Swing—David Lee................................................................................................................................... 30 Eat This Book: The Power and Legacy of Dr. Seuss—Priscilla Nelson....................................................................................... 32 Welcome Home—R. Judson Carlberg....................................................................................................................................... 34 The Book King James Inspired: 400 Years Later—Graeme Bird................................................................................................38 Go Communal: A Lenten Reflection—Sharon Galgay Ketcham................................................................................................40 Defending the Fatherless—Marvin R. Wilson........................................................................................................................... 42 Screwtape Revisited—Thomas Albert Howard.......................................................................................................................... 44 Reflections on Charity in Truth—Bruce Webb..........................................................................................................................46 Love and Attention—Lindsey Reed...........................................................................................................................................48 Theatre and Worship—Jeff Miller.............................................................................................................................................49 Visions and Revisions—Norman Jones..................................................................................................................................... 50 Addicted to Facebook? Social Media and Christian College Students—Natalie Ferjulian ’10 and Maggie Roth ’10.................... 53 Consciousness and Hope: Seeing Through Death—Bert Hodges.............................................................................................. 56 Matters of The Purse and Other Economic Issues—Casey Cooper............................................................................................58 Playing Right: The Need for Holy Leisure—Peggy Hothem.......................................................................................................60 Towards a Shalom-Feminism—Lauren Swayne Barthold..........................................................................................................62 iii

First Day of Shorts—Dorothy Boorse........................................................................................................................................ 65 Justice or Mercy—Kaye Cook...................................................................................................................................................66 Seek Peace: An Invitation to Rest and an Exhortation to Act—Greg Carmer.............................................................................68 Thoughts for Palm Sunday: April 2007—Mark Sargent............................................................................................................ 70 I Tried to Imagine­—Tom Borman '00....................................................................................................................................... 73 Sacramental Stones: Sculpting As an Easter Metaphor—James Zingarelli................................................................................. 74 Chlorite—James Zingarelli....................................................................................................................................................... 76 Streets of Orvieto­—James Zingarelli......................................................................................................................................... 77 Why Easter Is Good News for Everyone—Steven A. Hunt........................................................................................................ 78 Easter in the Ruins: April 25, 2011—Mark Sargent...................................................................................................................80 First Dandelion Contest—Craig Story......................................................................................................................................86 A Tribute to Tim Stebbings: March 17, 2003—Mark Sargent....................................................................................................88 Annunciation—Tanja Butler.....................................................................................................................................................90 A Transfigured Vision: Art in Worship and Community­—Tanja Butler..................................................................................... 91 March Madness and the Beauty of Mathematics—Richard Stout..............................................................................................92 Giving a Hand: A Chapel Address in Honor of Jud and Jan Carlberg—Stan D. Gaede................................................................94 A President Precedent (excerpt)­—bryan parys '04.................................................................................................................. 103 Gordon Symposium: Student Initiated Conversations Outside the Classroom­—Harold Heie.................................................. 104 A Kind of Awe­—Hannah Armbrust '11................................................................................................................................... 107 Rites of Spring—Michael Monroe.......................................................................................................................................... 108 A Perspective on the Environmental Backlash Movement—Richard Wright............................................................................110 Questions for Adoniram Judson Gordon—Matt Schwabauer...................................................................................................112 Achieving Our Unique Institutional Character—Richard F. Gross...........................................................................................116 A Framework for the Liberal Arts—Stan D. Gaede...................................................................................................................118 Change Is Our Lifeblood—Ann D. Ferguson........................................................................................................................... 124 First-Year Seminar—An Exercise in Character Formation—David Aiken................................................................................ 126 Developing Christian Character in Students—Malcolm A. Reid............................................................................................. 128 Autumn­—Stephen Bjork '01....................................................................................................................................................131 Two Monks and a Scholar—Jennifer Hevelone-Harper........................................................................................................... 132 The Beechers In Our Backyard—Agnes Howard..................................................................................................................... 134 Inspiration—Jon Tymann........................................................................................................................................................141 Inspiration—Rich Obenschain............................................................................................................................................... 142 Inspiration—Grady Spires...................................................................................................................................................... 143 Inspiration—Elaine Phillips................................................................................................................................................... 144 Inspiration—Mark Stowell..................................................................................................................................................... 145 Inspiration—Pat Marcheterre................................................................................................................................................. 146 Gordon Celebrates National Poetry Month: April 2010.......................................................................................................... 147 Translating A. J. Gordon's Global Vision Into Globalization: A Look Ahead—R. Judson Carlberg............................................ 148 Teachable Moments—David Franz '45B................................................................................................................................. 150 No Turning Back—Stephen L. S. Smith, Ronald O. Waite and Theodore N. Wood.................................................................. 153 iv

Land of History and Mystery—Elaine Phillips........................................................................................................................ 155 Per Credere, per Sperare, per Amare: Joined Together to Believe, to Hope and to Love—Liesl Smith......................................... 158 The Lessons of Dislocation—Liesl Smith................................................................................................................................ 162 Going Green, Crossing Cultures: Modern Lessons from Francis of Assisi—Wendy Murray..................................................... 164 The Accidental Chaplain—Bob Whittet.................................................................................................................................. 166 Facebook in a Monastery—John Skillen................................................................................................................................. 168 Celebrating The Other Global Language—Emmanuelle A. Vanborre...................................................................................... 170 Words Matter—Jan Carlberg.................................................................................................................................................. 172 The Inimitable Peter W. Stine—Kristin Schwabauer Rydbeck '04........................................................................................... 176 Ann Ferguson: Living the Literature—Jo Kadlecek..................................................................................................................177 Modern Myths of the Church and the Mentally Ill—Suzanne Phillips '83............................................................................... 180 Relational Turmoil: How Does God Figure In?—Paul Borgman.............................................................................................. 182 Thanks, After the Stroke­—Paul Borgman............................................................................................................................... 183 Work’s Newest Danger: Resisting Rest—Kent W. Seibert........................................................................................................ 184 Lessons in the Marketplace—Thomas L. Phillips.................................................................................................................... 186 Advent I—Michelle Arnold '99................................................................................................................................................191 Jesus Is Lord!—Paul Brink...................................................................................................................................................... 192 How My Mind Has Changed—Bill Harper '62........................................................................................................................ 194 What's Happened to Real Politics?—Timothy Sherratt............................................................................................................ 196 Politically Correct Prayer­—Ruth Melkonian........................................................................................................................... 198 American Christianity: A New Perspective—Thomas Askew and Richard Pierard..................................................................200 GC and PC—Russell K. Bishop............................................................................................................................................... 203 Prairie Pothole Wonder—Dorothy Boorse.............................................................................................................................. 205 High Place Highs—Dale Pleticha...........................................................................................................................................206 Think January—Bill Harper....................................................................................................................................................208 Worm Sex­—Mark Stevick.......................................................................................................................................................209 In Search of the Perfect Game—Valerie Gin........................................................................................................................... 210 Learning to Serve—Steve Alter.............................................................................................................................................. 212 Broken Glass—Mark L. Sargent.............................................................................................................................................. 215 Thoughts on Setting out—Bruce Herman............................................................................................................................... 218 Surface Detail, Second Adam—Bruce Herman....................................................................................................................... 220 Dress on Fishing Dock­—Jean Sbarra Jones............................................................................................................................. 221 Why Teaching Matters Now More Than Ever—Janet Arndt '68.............................................................................................. 222 The Certainty of Uncertainty—Norman Jones........................................................................................................................ 224 An Hour with the Constitution...............................................................................................................................................226 Golden Pines–Gordon—Makoto Fujimura............................................................................................................................. 227 Ken Olsen Brings Entrepreneurial Leadership to Science—Daniel Tymann............................................................................228 On Taking Vows in Two Priesthoods, Christianity and Science—Robert Herrmann................................................................ 230 Biomes—Abby Ytzen '10......................................................................................................................................................... 231 When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?—Bryan Auday.................................................................... 232 v

Favorite IT (Information Technology) Memories and Artifacts............................................................................................... 236 Get Lost in Jerusalem—Ted Hildebrant.................................................................................................................................. 238 Hyperspace—Michael Monroe............................................................................................................................................... 240 Cyberworlds, Cyberethics, Cybermissionaries?­—Brian Glenney............................................................................................. 242 Forty Shades of Green—Irv Levy and Dwight Tshudy............................................................................................................. 244 AuTUMn WONDErLaND—Irv Levy...................................................................................................................................... 245 Remember the First Hypernikon—Marvin R. Wilson............................................................................................................. 246 End of an Era­—Bill Harper..................................................................................................................................................... 250 Hecht—Sue Trent.................................................................................................................................................................. 251 Denizens of the Autumn Air—Gregory S. Keller..................................................................................................................... 252 Second Church's Place in Theological History­: John Codman and the Unitarian Debate—Cliff Hersey.................................. 254 Man and His Works: Powerplants (Legger Potessi in Me)—Grant Hanna '06............................................................................ 257 Saving Marv's Bible—Cyndi McMahon.................................................................................................................................. 258 Listening Between the Lines: How the Acceptance Speeches Matter More than the Debates—Nathan Baxter.......................260 Some Thoughts upon the Burning of Westmont—Mark Sargent............................................................................................. 262 The Hour and the Day—Heijin (Esther) Kim '06.................................................................................................................... 265 Remember the First Hypernikon—Marvin R. Wilson.............................................................................................................266 In Case You Have Been Wondering about All the Moths—Dorothy Boorse............................................................................. 267 Advent Voices—Mark Wacome Stevick..................................................................................................................................268 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . Florida—Sybil W. Coleman............................................................................................ 270 A Campus Photographer's Journal: Northern Lights—Dan Nystedt '06................................................................................... 272 End Game­—Bill Harper......................................................................................................................................................... 274 All the President's Pens.......................................................................................................................................................... 275 “Actually, Lucy, My Trouble is Christmas.”—Rini Cobbey........................................................................................................ 278 December Sun: A Christmas Reflection—Greg Carmer..........................................................................................................280 Acknowledgements................................................................................................................................................................ 285



Forward—Mark Sargent

Foreword I’ve been asked, from time to time, what is the most distinctive gift Jud Carlberg has given to the academic community during his tenure as president. Among several options, the one that comes immediately to mind is freedom. Jud allowed us, as faculty and staff, considerable freedom to explore ideas on our own, to write and to think without some of the anxieties and fears that all too often clamp down on a Christian academic community. He did indeed embrace the motto “freedom within a framework of faith.” With that stance, he trusted our own commitments to the Christian faith without trying to control how we expressed them, and encouraged academics to speculate, contend and create. And when the results were noteworthy— interesting, humorous, provocative, inspiring and faith-enhancing—both he and Jan celebrated the fruits of that freedom. This collection is a gift back to the Carlbergs. It represents a sampling of some of the most engaging written work that emerged from the Gordon academic community during the years of the Carlberg presidency. It is, necessarily, incomplete: there were so many other fine pieces that could have been chosen. Patty Hanlon has done her best to make a judicious selection, making sure to include representative voices and organizing the collection around the rhythms of a full year, referencing both the liturgical calendar and the academic one. By design, the collection focuses on short pieces written for a wide audience, and does not include the many first-rate scholarly publications by faculty in academic presses and journals during the last two decades. But in these short essays you can catch something of this Gordon life during the nineteen years when Jud and Jan helped shepherd the community. And our hope is that now, as some of the pressures of managing a college through its annual cycles subside, Jud and Jan will be able to read through these pieces and to reflect on just how rich those years have been. “You crown the year with your goodness,” the Psalmist writes, in praise of the Lord who sends the rain to water the fields and the hills. Much of the goodness we enjoy comes from the chance to work together, as God’s children, in this unique place. We hope the words in this collection convey some of our joy and our gratitude to the Lord for that privilege.

Mark Sargent May 24, 2011


Peace On Earth? and Peace Other On Earth? and Other Questions Questions for Thefor New The Year— New Year Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson

With Christmas passed and a New Year ahead, we’ve put the parties and gift exchanges behind us and turned our energies again to more sober concerns. We’ve packed away holiday decorations and put our homes back in order. In the process, though, we may also be tempted to put away those seasonal expressions like, “Peace on earth.” Peace on earth? It’s a lovely holiday sentiment, to be sure. But I think there is much use for it beyond the holiday. When we return from our seasonal reveries and look squarely again at the realities of our world, a planet at peace is hardly the first image that comes to mind. What we find instead are wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes. We see strife in our streets and violence in our homes. We feel the pernicious threat of terrorist attacks, and the not unreasonable fear that some well-intentioned responses to it could actually make the threat worse. The result is that, for many people, calls for “peace on earth” or “world peace” seem fanciful at best, serving more often as punch-lines to jokes about bewildered pageant contestants than as genuine expressions of hope. Today, fewer than one in three Americans (32 percent) hold out any hope that a sustainable peace will ever be achieved in the most contentious regions of the globe. Even fewer—about one in four (24 percent)—maintain that religion is a primary force for peace in our world, while a substantial majority (60 percent) contend that religion actually does more to engender conflict than to bring about peace. Is such skepticism regarding the real prospects for peace on earth warranted? Maybe. But it should have little bearing on the call to be peacemakers—especially for those followers of the Christian faith—any more than the realization that we may never wipe out all human disease should lead us to abandon efforts to combat it through medical science. One thing that a long century’s worth of peace research has made abundantly clear is that a lasting peace never arises spontaneously. It is not something that we can just sit back and wait for. It takes diligent effort from all parties involved to address their differences, misunderstandings and grievances in ways that preclude a return to violent engagement. And those who are most committed to working for peace in such situations are rarely satisfied that the work is done. Not long ago, an historic yet controversial African American was, to the surprise of many, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His many detractors, and a few of his supporters, immediately raised questions about his worthiness. “After all,” they said, “what has he really accomplished to date? What has he actually done to advance the cause of peace in our world?” Such questions were hardly lost on the prize-winner. Indeed, he addressed them directly in his acceptance speech: “I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.” So said the 1964 Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we celebrate this month. 2

In response, Dr. King took up a theme that Peace Laureates before and since (the most recent one included) have echoed. The prize—like the work itself—is given not in recognition of what has already been achieved, he suggested, but in expectation of what remains to be done. In view of this, he would accept the prize as a “trustee, inspired and with a renewed dedication to humanity.” And one thing trustees—and I think he meant all of us—must never do is lose hope in the cause that has been entrusted to them. As he continued in his speech: “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him . . . I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.” Peace on earth? Maybe we should not be so quick to pack up that little bit of Christmas. Dr. Daniel Johnson is associate professor of sociology and social work at Gordon College, and chair of the department, which recently launched an initiative for the study and practice of peace. He and his wife, Susan, and their three children live in Beverly, Massachusettts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Resolved: a Year of Resolved: Reconciliation— a Year of Reconciliation Judith Oleson

Judith Oleson

In working with social work majors in their senior field placements, I’ve observed a lot. Many students encounter, some for the first time, clients and co-workers, supervisors and community activists, politicians and policy analysts who hold different beliefs, values and worldviews from their own. Sometimes “difference” is across racial, class or cultural lines. And sometimes “the other” is anyone whose life choices are different. Consequently students need to practice what the social work program has already taught them: to embrace and respect all persons even though they might represent “those other people.”   But how? How can they—and the rest of us—resolve ourselves to a year of embracing and respecting others, no matter the diversity? Put another way, how can we live reconciled? Especially at the start of a new year and in the midst of so many crises that might tempt us to push people away rather than embrace them, what steps can we take toward peace? First, let’s identify the problem. Though 2009 is both bitter and sweet—we’re inaugurating a president who seems willing to listen to diverse viewpoints but is inheriting an economic disaster—we have to acknowledge the mess we’re in. We have an economic system built on consumerism that has required we spend rather than save. The failure of major financial institutions has frozen credit here and around the world, causing state governments, private companies and educational institutions to cut staff and services.  We have not seen the worst of it, and unfortunately, those already at risk will suffer the most. The impact on a range of people here and throughout the world is already great. Second, let’s admit what went wrong. I happen to believe that our financial systems have been allowed to over-extend themselves through unreasonably risky products bearing great profits, with virtually no government oversight. Instead of making loans for production, our financial institutions now primarily buy and sell debt for a profit.  Predatory lenders have provided home mortgages to people they knew could not afford to pay. And our government borrows from other countries to fund the Iraq war, while paying many U.S. companies lucrative profits for military support services and to build Iraq’s infrastructure that we tore down. This process has strained relationships around the globe. Third, let’s acknowledge that a creative solution is possible, but it won’t be easy. Reconciliation never is, after all. Still, we can reconcile our own lives with God’s plan for us and at the same time, rethink the over-consumption that too often drives our priorities. We can seek forgiveness for engaging with institutions that maximize profits for a few at the expense of many. We can no longer ignore our participation in a culture of exploitation, and can choose not to support a religious culture that promotes a gospel of “prosperity.” Finally, we can see the opportunity we have now to reconcile our day-to-day habits with a life of stewardship, not only in our fiscal habits but in our relationship to the Earth, knowing as we do, that everyone around us is affected for the good. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, we have an opportunity to model life as reconciled community in the way St. Francis prayed, “to give more than we receive.” We are invited to turn over all that worries us and alienates us from others and 4

prayerfully move into a deeper level of trust. Only then can our eyes see new opportunities for giving and sharing with those around us, even those with whom we disagree. In entering 2009, we can resolve to be reconciled to God, to each other, and to institutions that resist exploitation and greed. We can model a new economy by organizing shared housing, offering no-interest loans, establishing labor exchanges, creating cooperative health plans, or growing community gardens. This New Year, more than any new year in the recent past, is the time to reconcile our lifestyles to the Prince of Peace, to decrease our wants and fears in order to create more space for others. As I prepare to help our social work students this year, I’m certainly aware of the challenges they’ll face. But I also believe we have the capacity to prepare Christian leaders who can effectively contribute to the public square, without the need to condemn and diminish those with diverse points of view.  That can only happen of course as each of us takes intentional steps toward peace. Judith Oleson is an associate professor of social work and field placement coordinator. She lives in Rockport, Massachusetts, and has two daughters. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Hope for a HappierHope News forYear—Jo a Happier News Year Kadlecek Jo Kadlecek

It happened again. Barely a week into 2011, an otherwise respected news outlet broke a major story by reporting that a U.S. Congresswoman in Arizona had been shot “and killed.” Within minutes of the report, others followed suit and the instant news of the “assassination” spread around the world. Though he claimed reporters had confirmed the “fact” with state officials on the scene, the organization’s chief editor was later forced to apologize for the error, which, thank God, was not true. At the same time on the other side of the world—in Australia, to be exact, where I was visiting in-laws—record-breaking floods consumed the local news coverage. Though headlines of the Arizona horror dominated front pages for a day (i.e., “Bloody Spangled Banner” or “Hatred, Anger and Bigotry in U.S. Rampage”), it was the constant updates of flash floods and torrential rains that locals cared about. Warnings were issued through the media of which towns to evacuate, fundraising efforts were televised for the Queenslanders whose homes were lost, and forecasts were announced along with locations where people could receive immediate help. As one who both studies and practices journalism, I find the coverage of these stories instructive for the new year. Of course, with today’s technological tools, the news landscape has become a 24/7 tsunami of information, a virtual force to be reckoned with—albeit an enormously complex one. One day it can jump the gun (pun intended) while the next it can aid a storm victim. It can enlighten citizens, and it can destroy careers. It can inspire and dishearten readers. Coupled with current economic pressures, ratings wars and instant access, journalism’s very mission—to provide people the information they need to be selfgoverning—can be both its success and its demise. Granted, bad journalism is hardly news. A record amount of misinformation lines the halls of newspaper history, from the front-page story of Dewey’s presidential election (Truman won) to last summer’s debacle of a U.S. agriculture worker’s out-ofcontext speech on race. The examples of faulty journalism are many. But journalism has always been a human effort, with imperfect reporters gathering facts and admittedly not always getting them right—though most I know certainly try to get them right. Admittedly, though, the pressure to produce stories in today’s content-hungry climate can also mean a decrease in the discipline of verification. So, it’s not hard to understand how today’s journalists—and their infotainment cousins—might succumb to technology’s tyranny of the urgent. It’s also not hard to understand why folks complain about the state of today’s reporting. Still, if I had to choose between flawed journalism and no journalism at all, I’d take the “lame-stream” media any day. Why? Because we can’t survive without news. Simple as that. Democracy fails without reporters. Humans are wired to know, and the press serves, reflects and, consequently, helps define a community and often a country—flaws and all. Imagine what would have happened, for instance, had television not brought images of black children being hosed by white 6

sheriffs into American homes during the Civil Rights Movement? Or if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches had not been broadcast or reprinted in newspapers around the globe? Or if the duplicity of certain political leaders, government officials or corporate executives around the globe and throughout history had not been investigated by tenacious reporters? I might not win many points here, but I think the press has done more good than harm by its dogged pursuit of truth. More human rights violations have been addressed and personal lives improved than not because of a free press. Do reporters have agendas? Sure. Are they completely objective in their reporting? Of course not. Could their coverage be more thorough? Absolutely. The integrity of the vocation demands it and good reporters can—and often do—produce stories that reflect both unbiased methods of reporting and hard earned excellence in truth-telling. Which is why I’m hoping for a happy news year in 2011. Not happy as in fewer stories of wars or shootings or disasters. But news that helps a community care about displaced families, like those I saw in Australian papers; where readers and viewers realize their lives are better for the information they’ve received; where facts are verified by credible sources; and where loyalty to citizens takes precedence over loyalty to advertisers or agendas. I’m hoping for the kind of news that makes veteran reporters fall asleep at night satisfied with work well done and makes citizens actually glad to have it. It’s news in context, relevant, timely and clear. It might not be entirely right the first time. But at least we’ll have access to it so we can draw our own conclusions.

Jo Kadlecek is the senior writer at Gordon College, and a member of the communication arts faculty. She and her husband, Chris Gilbert, live in Beverly, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Life From Below—Roger J.




As Strong as Death: Thoughts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2005 Mark Sargent

Budapest is a modern alloy, a fusion of medieval

The mood of the Hungarian capital now appears bright

villages divided by the Danube. Last May, on our first

and entrepreneurial, but the pages of local history

morning in the city, Arlyne and I rode the old blue

have their blood-stained edges. Across the Danube,

railcars of the subway under the river to the base of the

in the old city of Pest, the Soviet star once flew above

Várhegy, or Castle Hill, on the Buda side of the water.

As Strong as Death: apartments and artisan windows, untilMartin we found the Thoughts for shaded stairway rising to Saint Matthias Church, still theLuther crown of the oldKing city. Here,Jr. at the Day, end of the ten-day2005—Mark journey, the College Choir would perform its Sargent

the House of Parliament. Student protestors, angered

A few cobblestone switchbacks took us through banks,

by the Soviet stranglehold, were once gunned down

final concert—in a church once ruled, for more than a

War. In the National Museum there are old photos of

century, by Muslim imams.

Nazi soldiers stationed all along the Bastion’s walls.

Built in the 1300s, Saint Matthias has had an eclectic history, not unlike its prismatic roof. Even today the cathedral must share its precipice with twentiethcentury partners. Next to the cathedral a postmodern Hilton has been fitted into the remnants of a crumbled

city was a cosmopolitan center, a haven for several displaced peoples, including a large aggregate of Jews, many of whom disappeared during the last World

Gypsies—once quarantined and murdered by Nazis and Communists—now sell handicrafts nearby in the open market or push tourist books in the square where thousands of political and religious rivals over the years have lost their lives.

monastery. Along the cliff’s edge, the hotel’s bronze

For nearly a century and a half, when the Christians

windows and thin metal coronets pay only half-hearted

fell to the Turks, Saint Matthias served as a mosque.

allegiance to its ancient setting—a rich new in-law

Inside the sanctuary, the Turkish past is brought to

puncturing the old family’s pride. Far less brazen, the

mind by the frescos that surround the biblical and

winding stairs of the Fisherman’s Bastion evoke the old

medieval saints with Byzantine designs, spilling across

medieval walls, even with some fairy-tale indulgence.

the ceiling and pillars. About twilight, as the concert

Constructed shortly after World War I, the Bastion

neared its finale, the choir hit its emotional crest with

spreads over the ledge once frequented by fishermen

a melancholy refrain by René Clausen:

who sold their catch outside the cathedral doors.


in the cathedral square. Well before World War II, the

Set me as a seal upon your heart, A seal upon your heart, For love is as strong as death . . .

exchange of life in the Palestinian-Israeli fury. Twice now Arlyne and I have traveled with the choir on its European travels, listening to its varied

These are words from the Song of Solomon, perhaps

repertoire—folk anthems, baroque hymns, American

the most elusive of all the selections in the Hebrew

spirituals—sung in the great European cathedrals.

canon. Christians have always been uncertain how

Somehow, the acoustics of the old stones give new

to read this love poem—to claim it as an allegorical

vitality to faith: Bach in his familiar naves and

portent of New Testament atonement or to accept it

chancels, Aaron Copland venturing into the vast

as an expression of Hebrew sensuality, perhaps with

gothic spaces overhead. Here American enthusiasm

artistic roots as deep as Egypt. The Song of Solomon

meets European antiquity, each compensating in

has always tested our capacity to understand the

some measure for the other. But a trip through Europe

syncretic nature of our own traditions. How do we,

veers, inevitably, into the backstreet corners and

with historical care, heed the poetic and prophetic

public corridors where Christians, Jews and Muslims

power of the language even as we hear the echoes

have spilled each other’s blood. For the most part,

of pre-Christian cultures? What does it mean today

America lacks those tragic symbolic spaces—except

to walk over ecclesiastical stones once claimed by

one. Not long after bin Laden’s Sayyid Qutb extremists

Muslims, Catholics and the secret police?

slammed planes into the towers Americans rushed

Ten days before we entered Budapest, we walked

forward with pleas for revenge. Sales of the Qu’ran

through the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, not

escalated. Conversions to Islam actually increased.

far from the headless statue of Franz Kafka. On

Some Christian and Jewish politicians urged restraint

the tops of the tombstones small stones filled the

and issued apologies when mosques were defaced or

ragged granite—an ancient Hebrew ritual of prayer.

Muslims threatened. Several called for self-control—

Squeezed at all angles between the thick roots of the

the hard discipline of understanding and study before

trees, hundreds of gravestones tell the names of just a

fear gained the upper hand.

fraction of the Jewish dead buried here. Six centuries

Those appeals, though, are less frequent, at least in

of the Diaspora lie beneath the overwrought earth.

the major American media that so often serve as our

There are far more names, nearly thirty thousand, in

public square. Returning from Budapest and Prague, I

the adjacent Memorial building, a chillingly bland

have thought more about the importance of interfaith

ledger of the Bohemians and Moravian Jews lost

dialogue on Christian campuses. Such conversations

during the purges of World War II. Not all that long

have never flourished at evangelical colleges. In many

ago former secretary of state Madeleine Albright

respects, they still appear an anathema, a retreat

discovered her grandparents’ names on the Memorial’s

from the Great Commission. For many believers,

walls. That night, after we returned to our hotel,

what looms for them at the end of the interfaith

we watched Albright on the BBC lament the latest

conversation is a pale spirituality, a plea for tolerance


rather than conviction. It is an agenda more likely to

faith the principles and metaphors that resisted the

be heard among those of the mainline churches than

debilitating cycles of retaliation, advocated for both

among the centers of evangelical and Pentecostal

resilience and patience, and restored the dignity of

expansion throughout the world.

those created in God’s image.

But it is a conversation that seems every day more

King met some of those images of God on tour in

necessary. Among the most compelling challenges

southern India, in the village of Trivandrum, where

of the next generation will be the struggle to live in

he was branded a “fellow untouchable,” an American

a world where Christianity and Islam are flourishing

brother to the thousands sleeping in shacks with their

and colliding. What do we need to prepare for that

chickens and cows. As a Christian, he could praise

future? To start, we may need more courage to read

“the wonderful spiritual quality of the Indian people .

and listen to the tragic narratives of historical violence

. . . who were poor, jammed together and half starved,

and delusion. Whatever one fears about interfaith

but they did not take it out on each other.” With

dialogue as a dilution of faith, a far more anemic

confidence in his own faith, he walked into interfaith

modern impulse is to avoid talking about death, to

conversations and saluted, with a prophetic intuition,

erase the tragic from our public rhetoric about faith

the work of other religious leaders—Jews, Hindus

and practice. History and story matter, especially to

and Muslims—who drew from their own traditions

those whose suffering is inexplicable in moral terms.

the principles of peace and reconciliation. Gandhi, of

And we all need a deeper awareness of the intellectual

course, was an enduring influence, a victim himself of

tenets within all religious traditions that both impede

interfaith wrath. In “the philosophy of Gandhi,” King

and advance social hope—those ideas that discourage

once wrote, “my skepticism concerning the power of

insularity, check anger and impulse, and offer ideas for

love gradually diminished.” That reading rekindled his

the amelioration of ethnic and social rage.

seminary studies, helping him “lift the love ethic of

Perhaps no American spoke more compellingly about the mixture of tragedy and hope among believers


Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.”

of all faiths than Martin Luther King Jr. The man

Aware that the African-Americans had long invoked

who proclaimed that his dream for racial justice was

the Hebrew exodus as their own reservoir of comfort

“deeply rooted in the American dream” also knew

and hope, King saw a “unique relationship” between

that the tragedy of African-American slavery and

the “urban Negro” and the Jews. With a courageous

discrimination was deeply rooted in the American tale.

candor, he acknowledged how a few examples of

He knew the stories—from the bleakest scenes of the

“Negro anti-Semitism” had contributed to the “social

Middle Passage and chattel slavery to the more subtle

poison.” But he also used the occasion to urge all to

forms of modern racial condescension—needing to

avoid the “tragic and immoral mistake” of branding

be retold. But he also drew from his own Christian

other races and creeds with “cheap and dishonest

slogans” because of the behavior of their most

become isolated from our stories of nation and faith,

“frustrated and irrational” members and proponents.

a commemoration that remains vibrant in African-

He ventured into the difficult terrain where cultures

American churches but less relevant elsewhere. The

and creeds clashed, without bargaining away his own

danger is that King will become a ritual about an

inheritance as a Christian witness and an African-

ethnic struggle in the American South that grows

American man. And while the route out of violence

further distant each year in our collective memories.

was not always visible, he clung to the promise of his

At a Christian institution, we need to see the day

faith, even as he took counsel from beyond his own

less as a detour from our current preoccupations or

culture and borders.

simply as a tribute to the past, but as an occasion that

Now his story belongs to the world. Today the image of King stares out from Asian, African and European windows. I saw it at a Budapest bookstore and at a Prague café near Wenceslas Square, the site where Václaz Havel and thousands of Czechs sang into the autumn night to mark the nonviolent end of the “Velvet Revolution.” King died in 1968, still in the

continually enlarges our moral and intellectual scope. In King, we find not merely one of the great martyrs of the Sixties, but one of the few Christian voices on the international stage who tried to proclaim, without passivity or naiveté, that love among people of all faiths—empathy, perseverance, truth-telling and grace—could be as strong as death. §

morning of his middle age, even as the short-lived brilliance of the Prague Spring gave way to the tempest of Soviet tanks. Yet what he wrote to the Southern

Mark Sargent is the provost of Gordon College.

pastors from Birmingham Jail would sustain Havel during his many months awaiting trial in Prague’s Ruzyne Prison. Last Saturday, as I rode the red line to Ashmont Station for a dinner with the Boston Urban Program, a flyer for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service rested nearby on an empty subway seat. Not long ago, in the pedestrian tunnel at Downtown Crossing, I heard a single acoustic guitar player sing “We Shall Overcome.” Today, that day of memory, there are hundreds of the faithful in the brownstone sanctuaries of Dorchester, Roxbury and Lynn but greater stillness within the white-steepled, snow-fringed clapboard on the North Shore. This is a holiday that could, without care,


A Campus Photographer's Joural: Blizzard 2005—Dan Nystedt '06


A Campus Photographer's Journal: Blizzard, 2005 Dan Nystedt ’06 I shot this photo during one of the biggest blizzards to hit New England in almost thirty years. The storm began to let up, so I put on my boots and set out to capture the newly fallen snow before the Gordon physical plant plowed it all away. I trudged my way about campus, snapping photos here and there, and eventually made my way to what’s known as the Ferrin Parking Lot. At the end of a row of cars, the wind had carved the snow away to reveal the trunk lid of an almost completely buried auto. What I love about this photo is how the snow turns this normally familiar scene into an almost completely unrecognizable wilderness.


Coveralls—Truitt Seitz 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899


Coveralls oil on wood panel, 2 x 4 feet © 2007

Truitt Seitz painter

Coveralls was painted at the end of a three-year period during which I was employed as a carpenter. The experience changed the way I understood the symbolic nature of physical labor. In creating Coveralls I used the red pigment, the subtle cruciform composition, and the gestural brush marks to serve as symbols that loosely connect the rendering with the pictorial content. The coveralls serve as a metaphor for the laborer’s body, one in which daily toils slowly deteriorate the flesh and bone. Without romanticizing physical labor, I tried to elevate it by depicting the physical world at its most humble and most sacred. That the coveralls might be interpreted as a slab of meat in a butcher’s shop is a deliberate ambiguity, reinforcing the notion that the daily, corporeal sacrifices of a laborer nourish the bodies of loved ones. It isn’t necessary to search hard for parallels between “meat” and “body,” nourishment and sacrament. Truitt Seitz, M.F.A., adjunct professor of art, has exhibited in New York and the Boston area. Coveralls was recently selected for a group exhibition juried by contemporary artists Jenny Saville, Vincent Desiderio and Eric Fischl.


Hoedown for Psalm One Hundred James Zingarelli Create a jubilant clatter, for the ears of God hear the toe-heel tap of all kindred folk. His caller of the wry grin come, circle His presence, you-know-how-it-goes song says the Lord is God. It was He who took to fashion our faces, not by our own clumsy brush and liner, He drew us in: dumb bow-legged wool of His pastoral reaches. Step up, the barn door left swung open wide, give thanks to sing, handshake His name, whistle His invitation's mercy, to the last dance every true daughter and son be true in time.

From Taken to Task: Poems, 2001


Tragic or Comic: Two Visions of Life Two Visions of Life Tragic or Comic: and Leadership—Danand RussLeadership Dan Russ

It’s no secret we are in the midst of a cultural crisis, not merely a financial one. There are many causes for this, but perhaps none more pronounced than that of a faulty vision of life and leadership. We see this not only in political leaders-whose influence, good or bad, is not nearly as profound as we think; we also see it in every arena of our culture. And it’s been building for decades. In the 1970s, Donald Cowan, then president of the University of Dallas, told parents of incoming freshmen, “We are here to educate students to be leaders at 42, not merely to get jobs at 22.” He said young people needed to be educated in a classical Christian tradition because that would equip them with the philosophical depth and historical perspective necessary for the coming years. They might come into powerful positions of leadership in the 1990s, Cowan said, at a time, “when we’d be facing huge upheavals in our culture, needing leaders with the moral imagination, grounded in the old verities, who could stand in the breach.” My own attempt to understand this has been to re-vision our culture (as well as our education of future leaders) in light of the twin lenses of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, those classics that founded our ideal of the epic enterprise and heroic leader. The Iliad is a tragedy about the clash of two civilizations. I call it tragic because the story ends with one civilization destroying another and the Greeks' champion Achilles killing the Trojan Prince Hector. Not only must Hector die, but Achilles is told by the gods that his life will be glorious but brief. While Achilles enjoys glory and the Greeks fight for the ideals of hospitality and honor, their vision of life becomes one of war, their vision of a leader that of a warrior. In contrast, The Odyssey is a comedy of a man who believes in relationships and ideals worth living for. I call it comic because, like the Bible and Shakespearean comedy, it ends in the restoration of a kingdom, the reuniting of the royal family, and the recovery of deeply held cultural values. While Odysseus engages in battles with men and monsters, deities and demigods, sometimes killing them but more often outwitting them, he does so as a means to an end: Penelope, Telemachos, his household, and his beloved Ithacans. In short, The Odyssey sees life not as a tragic conflict but as a comic journey where leaders became guides and shepherds. Granted, war is sometimes necessary, but in too many cultures around the world, including our own, life has become war, and warriors the leaders. When people come to envision life as fundamentally warfare, the survival of the powerful, and leaders as warriors, we easily forget that war is for the sake of peace, or shalom, the right order of things, so that humans can flourish. Leading in peacetime is far more complicated than during warfare, because a culture at peace recognizes the complexities of life and the importance of giving all people honor and justice. Too much of our modern world, full of constant crises, reminds 18

me of The Odyssey’s Ithaca after twenty years of warfare: a wife without her husband, a son without his father, a people without their leaders, all because war took away a generation of brave men and left a gang of entitled hooligans to fill the vacuum. But Odysseus embodied a vision of life that never forgot what he stood for; and by his wit, courage, and the aid of a motley crew of people and gods, he managed to restore the values for which so many had died. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., no stranger to conflict, stood in the Christian tradition of leaders like Augustine and held fast to his vision for racial harmony and peace, reminding us, “The arc of history may be long, but it does bend toward justice.” He did not embody a tragic vision of life as war, as a zero-sum game. Rather, he was a sojourner and a guide, on his way not to Armageddon but to a Marriage Feast. Our culture is starved for such leaders who can bring us through this crisis…in peace. Dr. Dan Russ is the director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College. He and his wife Kathy live in Danvers, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


A Personal Tour of African A Personal American Tour of African American History—Stella M. Pierce History Stella M. Pierce

As I reflect on the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, a day after what would have been Martin Luther King’s 80th birthday and in the year that the NAACP celebrates its 100th birthday, my emotions range from ecstatic to somber when I think of my life’s journey as an African American. This journey began in Valdosta, Georgia, the southern town where I grew up despite the apartheid system in which segregation was a part of everyday life. My town in the 1950s and 1960s included sprawling block-long churches for whites downtown, and smaller black churches in residential areas on unpaved roads. I joined other “colored” children attending our underfunded schools while white children went to schools with many more resources. Neighborhoods were segregated with many black families living in substandard housing. At service stations, public buildings, medical offices, stores and most other places, I couldn’t possibly miss the “Colored Only” and “Whites Only” signs designating separate seating areas, water fountains and bathrooms. It was an oppressive system in which I was taught that although our family was well-educated, had strong Christian values and owned property, we were measured first by race. With tenacity, my family focused on my education and I was enrolled in the all-black, rural Mineola Elementary School. Mineola was about 10 miles from my home and I recall the long rides that seemed to take forever to get there. I questioned why I had to attend this school when there were others nearby. My journey continued as I entered Lomax Junior High School, another segregated public school with all black students and teachers in my hometown in 1956. Although Brown vs. Board of Education was decided two years earlier and “separate schools” were found to be “inherently unequal,” nothing changed in Valdosta. During high school when I attended a summer program at Boggs Academy, an independent boarding school for blacks in Keysville, GA, the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on our campus because white teachers worked and lived with us in the dorms. We heard cars and trucks outside our rooms and loud yelling. We were instructed to get on the floor and under our beds if possible. It was a long night, one that I had difficulty understanding. Returning home to attend Pinevale, the black high school in Valdosta, was in some ways a reprieve--no cross burnings. The new building was beautiful, but inside the old segregated system continued through 1963 when I graduated, and it continued for several years thereafter. That fall, when a few blacks were recruited for the first time, my parents refused to allow me to integrate Valdosta State College--they were worried I would fight back when the taunts and jeers came. They were probably right, knowing my sense of social justice. So instead, I entered Florida A& M University--an historically black university--the same year Dr. King gave his “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.    20

When I graduated three years later, I took my first job as a speech therapist in three all white schools in my hometown. I hadn’t applied for it; the superintendent contacted me. I didn’t want the job. But something moved me in that direction and I became the first African American to teach at these schools. That began my lifelong career in education. I have often felt responsible to advocate for marginalized students and those with disabilities. I have often been one of the few African Americans in the school or program or now, college, where I’ve taught, even when it was not always pleasant or easy. And I have often had to turn to the words of Scripture to remember the grace that transcends injustice. I am delighted at how far our country has come in our struggle to live and worship together, and to educate all students. But history has also taught me how much more we have to learn about loving our neighbors, and how much we should be concerned that the achievement gap persists for many students of color. Now, only a few weeks after the country inaugurated its first African American president and in this month designated for African American history, I feel all the more compelled to reflect on, and to tell, my story. Most of my students can’t relate to my experiences, some wonder how they can be true. Nonetheless, my journey as a student and educator chronicles the struggle for equal educational opportunity and success in America.     Dr. Stella M. Pierce is professor of education and chair of the education department at Gordon College. She and her husband live in Beverly, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.



For Jud and Jan Graeme Bird The impulse to create, to shape something of beauty,

The desire, the longing to know, to unravel mysteries, to disentangle enigmas,

The yearning, the aching to love and be loved, to hold and be held, to belong.

My God, is it from You these overwhelming urges arise? and is their fruition, their fulfillment, also from You?


Story Stephen L. S. Smith

A builder and a gentleman A cOLLeAgue’S TrIbuTe TO JOhN MASON It’s often said that commencement speeches are the hardest speeches to give. I disagree. Entertaining hot, happy soonto-be-graduates under a bright sun is a piece of cake compared to trying to do justice to a colleague’s life work and contributions to the institution we both love. It’s not simply that John is only the second person ever to retire from the department, amazing though that is (we’ve been blessed with a core of strong, stable faculty for many years). No. It’s that John, quite literally, founded economics and business studies at Gordon when he arrived in 1968. He hasn’t just made “contributions” to the department; he has made the department. He hoisted the sail and set the compass heading. Or consider a better analogy. Did you know that in another life John might very well have been a carpenter and architect? He designed his wonderful home on Red Coach Road and built much of it with his own hands. So too our department is built on the blueprints he drew up—the vision he sketched out almost four decades ago. And John’s been the lead contractor, measuring tape hung at the ready in his belt, pounding nails on the construction site every day. At the risk of giving John a case of terminal embarrassment, let me ask, What has that vision been? What did his blueprints call for? Unyielding commitment to high standards for faculty teaching and professional engagement. High expectations for students. Genuine collegiality in governing the department; everyone’s voice heard and respected. Careful but not uncritical devotion to how economics can help students think about the world and be better stewards, better citizens, and better able to pursue their callings and vocations. And, above all, deep attention to Christ’s claims, the better to prepare

A Builder and a Gentlemen: Gentleman: A Colleague's Tribute to John Mason Mason— Stephen L. S. Smith

students for lives of Christian service whatever their calling. All of us here at Gordon, not just in the Economics and Business Department but in the wider College, are the better for John’s winsome vision.

Stephen L. S. Smith

John has the gift of being able to connect as an intellectual and spiritual father with his students. His manifest care for students’ intellects in the classroom reflects his care for their souls and for their faiths. Students recognize this. They respect him for it. They listen to him, they share their joys and heartbreaks, and they go to him for personal advice and prayer. I myself am among the students whom John befriended and mentored. I first met John in 1978—I was 20—in the cramped backseat of a car driven by Bill Harper ’62, heading to the Institute of Christian Studies in Toronto. Grady Spires was wedged back there too. John’s vision for putting economics at the service of biblical norms of justice and stewardship made a deep impression on me. We communicated several times while I was in graduate school. And when Gordon posted its opening for an international economist, it was very natural to want to come here to be his colleague. More recently we in the Department have had a new respect for John borne out of his courageous fight against Parkinson’s Disease. We know it is a great thing that he will be able to spend more time with his family, including his incredible brood of 12 grandchildren. We understand also that it is a good thing for him now to turn to scholarship—his writing that, without exaggeration, has influenced more than a generation of Christian thinkers. From remarks at a faculty retirement celebration, May 10, 2007. Stephen Smith, Ph.D., is professor of economics and business.

I first met John in 1978—I was 20—in the cramped backseat of a car driven by Bill Harper ’62, heading to the Institute of Christian Studies in Toronto. Grady Spires was wedged back there too.



An Uncommon Correspondence—Ivy Correspondence


Ivy George



Wizards, Vampires Wizards, and Humanity— Vampires and Humanity Janis Flint-Ferguson

Janis Flint-Ferguson

Harry Potter left a muggled world of grumpy relatives and spoiled peers to enroll in the now renowned Hogwarts Academy. There he learned about wizardry, evil, and ultimately himself. Readers of all ages followed his adventures to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and the mythic nature of the plot has been researched, discussed and analyzed in even the most elite circles. All of this to the delight of a publishing house most known for its young adult fare.   Still, there are many who simply fail to believe that any book for young adults is truly a work of literature—good books, good stories, sure, but somehow lacking in the values of classic literature. If literature is a reflection of who we are, then many might see young adult literature as incomplete; real literature moves beyond the problems and concerns of that age group. It just doesn’t count. And the fantasy stuff? Wizards first and now the vampires of Twilight are fine for casual reading, but not really fit for literary study. What, after all, is their intellectual or moral value? I’m not convinced we should so easily dismiss these novels. In fact, I would argue that the very best of this genre is solidly focused in that reflection and recreation of the human experience, both of which are the hallmarks of good literature. We study literature for what it says about who we are or who we would like to be. All literature is a bit “speculative,” a bit of the “what if” and a whole lot of consequence. The classics touch upon the questions and concerns that are universal and timeless-the issues that make us human. We read them to remind ourselves of our humanity. Consider Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight—the novel, not the movie—where Bella Swan is in love with a vampire who attends her high school but is not part of its social scene. Edward finds himself unexplainably attracted to Bella, in ways very different than his thirst for blood would indicate. In the romance that develops, Bella wants him to turn her into a vampire so that they can be together always. Edward refuses because he is concerned for her soul. He is concerned with the vampire’s characteristic of evil and he does not want to be responsible for putting another person into that situation. He does not want to give Bella a romanticized notion of an immortal life that she does not and cannot fully understand. Carlisle Cullen, the “patriarch” of the vampire “family,” was first the son of a minister who turned into a vampire. Escaping persecution, he left England to live with vampires in Europe. But something in the life of the traditional vampire repulses him. Carlisle is no Dracula. He does not want to take the life of others, even though he has used his vampire powers to save several—including Edward—from certain death. Instead, he studies medicine, comes to a New World and develops the selfcontrol needed to serve humanity. Fighting the temptations of the flesh, Carlisle works only for the good.   So it is that through this young adult novel, we can speculate on what it means to be human, what it means to be part of a community, what it means to fight our own base instincts. There is a true reflection of humanity portrayed through the Cullen clan, a reflection of how things might be if we, even without supernatural powers, set our minds on acts of goodness and the care for another’s soul. Novels like this help us remember life’s purpose. 26

Which is why it is particularly interesting to note that just last month (January 2009), the National Endowment for the Arts issued an amazing study. For the first time in the 26 years they have been surveying readership in America, there was good news to report. The percentage of Americans who reported reading “novels, short stories, poems or plays” increased from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 50.2 percent in 2008. Who contributed to the overall increase in literary readership? Young adults, who accounted for nearly 40 percent of the overall growth. The report is a boost for English teachers like me who believe reading literature is inherently important for each of us— regardless of age—in our development as human beings. It is good news indeed that adults and young adults alike are reading and discussing their own humanity  through the characters of wizards and vampires. How literary!   Dr. Janis Flint-Ferguson is professor of English and education at Gordon College. She lives in Essex, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


What’s a Gold Medal What’s Worth?— a Gold Mark Medal Worth? Gedney

Mark Gedney

Everybody wanted to be Mark Spitz in the summer of 1972. As Labor Day approached, my friends and I raced across the Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee trying to claim our own Olympic glory. It was a great introduction to Olympic inspiration. Next came Austrian Franz Klammer, who skied with abandon and became my first winter Olympic hero. Then the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid during my senior year (1980) had us lacing up our skates. The Olympics up to that point were only positive for me. But that changed when the United States and 63 other countries boycotted the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980. I became increasingly aware of the Olympics’ darker side: Hitler’s Games and the massacre in Munich the same time I was pretending to be Spitz. And for the last 30 years, my clearest memories of the Games have become the steroid popping, pseudo-amateur athletes or the end of amateurism itself—not Olympic glory. So I wondered if it was worth paying attention to Vancouver. My two sons have been largely indifferent, interested more in their posters of Tom Brady or Dustin Pedroia, and probably unable to name any competing athlete. Maybe they have a more realistic understanding of what a gold medal is worth: endorsements, celebrity, and perhaps bragging rights when they visit their European cousins. Still, in the run-up to Vancouver, I wondered what to make of the claim of Pindar, the great poet of the ancient Greek games (who was recited at the 1984 Summer Olympics closing ceremony): “Creatures of a day! Man is merely a shadow’s dream. But when the god-given glory comes upon him in victory, a bright light shines upon us, and our life is sweet” (Victory Ode to Aristomenes). For the 19th century champions of the modern revival of the Games (most famously the Baron de Coubertin), the ancient glory that had been lost was an appreciation of the importance of action in a world increasingly dominated by technology and cold, disengaged rationalism. A strong body and a passionate (fiery) spirit (mens fervida incorpore lacertoso) was Courbertin’s motto. The value of a gold medal was measured not only in renewed physical vitality but in renewed vigor of mind and spirit. Today’s athletes might enjoy physical prowess, but I think our current malaise concerning the Games can be traced to the ubiquity of amazing athletic feats in sports coverage. Every night we can tune in to ESPN for the “Top Ten” plays of the day and search the Web in case we missed one. If we are to capture a new sense of Olympic glory, I doubt it will come from simply going faster or looking better than the last winner. Yes, the current crop of athletes will be better than the last and records will fall, but when we equate the value of Olympic medals with the sheer physical prowess of the moment, we, too, have lost something. Maybe we’re too busy to enjoy the particular integration of spirit and body that leads to excellence. Such integrity, though, is what we see on display in each competition, not just on the medal platform. We can appreciate every athlete, win or lose, who 28

pushes herself to the limit. With each race, and not just the finish line, we see all the possibilities of the human spirit: courage, perseverance, wisdom, honesty. These are evident in everyday sporting events, but with the dominance of professional sports, our gaze is too often drawn to the top, classifying everyone else as losers. Despite the blurring of the amateur designation in the Olympics, it still represents a different possibility. Rather than ignoring or treating with disdain those who finish out of the top tier, we still enjoy the last and the least from countries far and wide, not because they are first but because they, too, show the glory of the human struggle. It is this spirit of perseverance and self-transcendence that we can recognize in all athletes, and it is this shared experience that creates a unique camaraderie between athletes when the Games are at their best. The gold medal, then, represents not only being first but the desire to integrate spirit and body to its highest degree. Understood as this symbol, it is no longer the possession of one person; it is the possession of all who raced and strove for excellence. And it’s shared by all who appreciate, as Pindar said, that “the test of any person is in action”—even if that test is taken when you’re only nine and racing your best friends on a late summer day. Dr. Mark Gedney is associate professor of philosophy at Gordon College. He and his family live in Gloucester, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


It’s More Than Just It’s a Swing— More Than David Just Lee a Swing David Lee

Most golfers in New England are probably not thinking about their swings during February. But this is the month when Golf Digest publishes its ‘hot list’ in what’s become known as “The Equipment Issue,” an issue which sells about six million copies. Why? Because it includes crucial details about the newest irons, drivers, wedges, putters, hybrids, and woods. What it doesn’t mention—at least overtly—is the secret behind the improvements: physics. But for the third year in a row I’ve worked with a team of students for this issue, analyzing the dynamic and static mass properties of new drivers sent to us from all the major club manufacturers. In the fall, we receive the clubs and measure quantities like the Center of Gravity, the Moment of Inertia tensor, the Characteristic Time, and so on. Much of the instrumentation we use comes right out of rocket science (the satellite industry), and the data are analyzed in an attempt to quantify several aspects of the performance of clubs. No joke, our measurements are combined with extensive testing that uses Doppler radar tracking of balls hit with the new clubs by robots. A three-day technical summit is then convened as the editors gamely attempt to evaluate the technological aspects of this 21st century version of the game. But our observations offer much more than information about which club will lead to a better swing. They show the power of physics, especially to the next generation of scientists. From the minuscule quarks inside a proton to the gigantic clusters of galaxies in the universe and even the dynamics of a golf club, we live in a world of physics. If you want to learn about black holes, quantum computers, invisibility producing cloaking devices (think Harry Potter), or just how a digital camera works, a physicist could provide the answer. The tools our world needs to feed the hungry or heal the sick make use of techniques and understanding derived from physics. It’s not easy stuff though. Big solutions—even better golf clubs—involve a lot of time, mathematics, experimentation, computers, and frankly, inspiration. That’s not always an easy sell, especially when we consider that the U.S. spends more per student on education than only two other countries, and yet American high school science and math students rank 23rd and 32nd among their 57 international peers. Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman recently told a group of presidents from independent colleges that, “American scientific progress has depended upon the young, whose energy, curiosity, and adaptability have made it the envy of the world ... And yet students who have limped through science and mathematics with many a weary groan have little incentive to major in these subjects when they enter college, and many will even shy away from courses geared to the non-scientist.” So how can we inspire more students to enter the physical sciences? At a time when our lives are forever changing because of scientific and technological progress, how can we help young women and men—and the general public—to see the benefits and impact a career in physics can offer? 30

Golf helps. So do other hands-on experiences that reveal how physics underpins the natural and synthetic world around us. How, for example, can we make a specific metal harder or tougher? Is there a way to produce some particular material using less energy-intensive techniques? How has Einstein’s theory of General Relativity allowed us to find our location anywhere in the world with an $80 GPS unit? What deep truths could we discover about the physical universe every time, say, a cell phone rings or an X-box is fired up to play Rock Band? In other words, physics asks some of our deepest questions and demands some of our most creative solutions. It sustains some of our most successful technologies and showcases some of the most astounding beauty of the universe, even when we are examining ordinary, everyday things. Our ability to appreciate such things, to see the universal in the mundane, is a special gift. The physicist’s lens somehow brings into focus the widest of wide-angle views and the closest of zooms all at once. Put simply, physics is about a lot more than golf, but your swing cares about it. Dr. David S. Lee, professor of physics, is chair of the physics department, and the coordinator for the 3-2 engineering program at Gordon College. He and his family live in Wenham, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Eat This Book: The Eat Power Thisand Book: Legacy The Power and Legacy of Dr. Seuss—Priscilla of Dr. Seuss Nelson Priscilla Nelson

I loved Dr. Seuss’s books as a child and I love them more as an adult. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Dr. Seuss has had a profound effect on my life. As a kid, I was tickled by the very sound of, Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam – I – am! The melodic rhyming and the silly stories made me love language. They made me want to read. Still do. Little wonder, then, that March 2—what would have been Theodore Seuss Geisel’s 107th birthday—has been designated national Read Across America day. The annual celebration (sponsored by the National Education Association and Random House Publishing) is the nation’s largest reading event with a wonderfully ambitious goal: seeing every child reading in the company of a caring adult to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The purpose, of course, is to motivate children—like me—to read, and in the process, to fall in love with reading. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without Dr. Seuss’s books; consequently, my adult zeal for his books is linked now to my passion for teaching children to read. Green Eggs and Ham, for instance, is one of those books that can be “read” on different levels. While the benefits of reading aloud any book to children are many, the sounds of the words, rhymes and entertaining storyline in books such as Green Eggs and Ham have a particular appeal. But there’s more to that appeal than it might seem. Reading text with rhyme not only builds background knowledge, vocabulary, and familiarity with language, it helps children attend to smaller units of language. And attention to the smallest element of language builds a critical foundation for success in reading, which translates into success in every area. Consider, then, how developing a child’s ability to hear rhyming, alliteration, and syllabication can lay a solid foundation for attending to sound, and ultimately, reading. Each syllable can be broken down into smaller units, a process that goes like this: The smallest unit of sound—called a phoneme—when blended together creates words. In the word cat, for example, there are three phonemes: /k/ /?/ /t/. These letters can be confusing to a mature reader. But this is about sound, not print, and every letter has a name and a sound. The name and sound are not usually the same. So reading teachers often use speech marks / / to denote the sound of the letter. For example, /k/ is used to denote the first sound in cat. We can’t use /c/ because the letter c has more than one sound (city, cat). But by changing one phoneme in cat, such as changing /k/ to /p/, we change the word cat to pat. New word, new meaning. When a new reader is able to blend phonemes, it ensures overall reading skills. Familiar sounds create new words, phonemes are broken apart, and spelling skills grow by focusing on each sound when matching letters to sounds. So when new readers are able to move phonemes around, they can read and spell new words not previously encountered. This is decoding, reading at its most basic level. Dr. Seuss’s books were among the first I decoded as a child. The more I read, the more my life changed especially when I 32

became the one reading to my dad. From Dr. Seuss to Louisa May Alcott to my current diet of research journals and young adult fiction, my confidence as a reader began unknowingly and playfully by developing my awareness of phonemes. There is power in those itty-bitty phonemes that Dr. Seuss so creatively used to engage children, sheer power in phrases like: And I would eat them in a boat. And I would eat them with a goat. . . So I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox. We might not eat books with a fox, or even in a box, but if we—and our children—are to become the people we were created to be, we need to read. Like maps, reading enriches life’s journey; it provides entry points to a rapidly increasing body of knowledge. That might be why a principal friend of mine at the end of each school year honors the first graders in her school and publicly congratulates them on achieving what she calls the most life changing skill they will ever attain. The student body applauds the accomplishment of those first graders because they, too, know how valuable good reading skills are. Skills that often start with silly rhymes, sounds and stories. To this day, I wonder if my affinity for Green Eggs and Ham influenced the naming of my first born . . . Sam. It was one of the first books he and I read together.

Dr. Priscilla Nelson is an associate professor of education at Gordon. She and her family live in Lynn, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Welcome Home Home—R. Judson


R. Judson Carlberg





The Book King James TheInspired: Book King 400James Inspired: 400 Years Later—Graeme Bird Years Later Graeme Bird

Talk about staying power. It’s the book that has never gone out of print, one that remains on the best-seller list of all time. And as millions of people the world over prepare to celebrate the Easter season, they’ll be reading or hearing the story of Jesus from that same book: the King James Bible (KJB), a profoundly influential translation that turns 400 this year. There have already been events marking this milestone, including exhibitions in locations as far apart as Nashville, Tennessee, and my own birthplace of Dunedin, New Zealand. On November 26, 2010, the book’s publisher even began a 400-day celebration of the original publication of the KJB, which is scheduled to end on December 31, 2011. Not surprisingly, there has also been a recent spate of books dealing with aspects of the KJB. One—entitled Begat (Oxford, 2010) by English linguist David Crystal—enumerates and analyzes all expressions found in the KJB of 1611 that have survived and influenced the modern English language. Examples include “to everything there is a season,” “beat their swords into plowshares,” “a thorn in the flesh,” “rod of iron,” and “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Crystal, with his dry wit, includes cases (many he says he discovered on the Internet) where these old sayings have been given a modern twist, such as “ruling with a rod of irony,” or a comment on a new design of toilet: “the spirit is willing but the flush is weak.” Why does a 400-year-old translation of the Bible continue to be so influential? One writer claims that “the precision of translation . . . and majesty of style, have enabled that monumental version of the Word of God to become the mainspring of the religion, language, and legal foundations of our civilization.” Indeed the directness of the translation (with a deliberate avoidance of paraphrase) and the beauty of the English style, somehow combine to produce a literary masterpiece, regardless of what one believes of its message. The process of attaining such stylistic perfection is described in another book, God’s Secretaries (Harper Perennial, 2005). Author Adam Nicolson recounts how a draft of a biblical passage would be read aloud to the members of the translation committee, so that each could hear it and judge whether it achieved a sufficiently high standard of aural excellence. That quality still resonates with today’s readers and listeners. Consider, for instance, how majestic and unforgettable is the verse, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want,” a majesty just not captured by the more modern, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (New International Version). Or compare the traditional “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” in which the slightly archaic KJB language lends an aura of reverence and devotion, with the more contemporary (or even colloquial) Contemporary English Version: “Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name.”


In fact the beauty, power, reverence, and “authority” of the KJB (also known as the “Authorized Version” or AV), has occasionally led some groups to claim that it alone possesses divine inspiration (the so-called “King James Only” position); a less extreme version of this belief led to the “New King James Version,” first published in 1979. Nicolson also discusses how King James, for the ostensible purpose of fostering religious toleration amongst quarrelsome religious parties, gathered a group of scholars and churchmen together with instructions not to make a new translation but to “make a good one better,” a reference to the fact that they were to follow as closely as possible the Bishops’ Bible of 1568. There were approximately fifty translators or “revisers”—at least three of whom had started their study of biblical languages by the age of six. Thus the KJB is one of those rare examples of highly trained academics producing something that appeals to the public at large! Admittedly, there is criticism of the KJB: it generally revolves around the fact that the English language has changed significantly in the past 400 years, resulting in many words and expressions that either have become obsolete or else whose meanings have changed dramatically. Examples of the latter include the word “prevent,” which used to mean “come before” (as its etymology would indicate), “seethe” meaning “boil,” and “naughty” meaning “worthless” or “wicked.” And when we read in Genesis 26:8 that King Abimelech saw Isaac “sporting with Rebekah his wife,” we assume they weren’t playing ping-pong. But in spite of such perceived drawbacks, there is something about the power and style of this translation that even 400 years later still draws people to its words and story. It was a book, after all, that inspired more than one king.

Dr. Graeme Bird is an associate professor of linguistics and classics at Gordon. He and his family live in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS =, an e-conversation with the Faculty of Gordon College.


Go Communal: A Lenten Go Communal: Reflection— A Lenten Reflection Sharon Galgay Ketcham

Sharon Galgay Ketcham

I’ve given up many sugary substances during past Lenten seasons. One year chocolate, the next soda, and the hardest? Sugar in my coffee. The practice of fasting or abstaining from something delicious during the 40 days of Lent is an ancient discipline, one that’s supposed to help the faithful prepare for Good Friday and then Easter. Typically, Lenten sacrifices are an individual practice, supporting a uniquely personal spiritual quest. Lately, though, I’ve been finding it more and more peculiar that we focus on an individual custom in preparation for a community celebration. Of course, in a society like ours that emphasizes the individual above the community, I shouldn’t be surprised that religious practices have followed suit. Individualism is in the DNA of Americans.  We define maturity as independence; our common pursuit in parenting is to raise self-sufficient children; and marketers have great success selling individuality. Many in American religious circles even view their faith as primarily an individual journey, “between God and me.” But there’s something in the air, rumblings perhaps of a different nature. I’ve been hearing it often these past few years in a variety of places and it reminds me—especially during this Lenten season—that there is something more to religious life than . . . me.    In politics, for instance, Hillary Clinton adapted the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” to the American context, asserting our national responsibility for children. Hers was a political call to go communal.   In education, researcher and educator Chris Watkins defined knowledge not as a static entity that allows us to pass the entry key to students in the classroom. Rather we co-construct knowledge in the classroom as teacher and student discover and interpret together. This is an educational call to go communal.   In philosophy, Descartes’ “doubting self” as sole agent in the quest for discovery of the real is overshadowed by Levinas’ “face of the other,” which we cannot ever see clearly, but to whom we are ethically bound; hence, a philosophical call to go communal. In advertising, brand managers create connections around a cup of coffee or an athletic shoe, and in films, we rally for the underdog (like the character Michael Oher in The Blind Side) who makes us feel a part of something bigger. Both are cultural calls to go communal.  I find this “communal turn” swirling around us a welcome counterbalance to our overemphasis on the individual, especially in light of an historic faith thousands share during this Lenten season. But it also prompts me to ask hard questions: Are other people only companions with whom I share a common journey? Are others merely useful for my own spiritual benefit? Do I only connect with fellow pilgrims for personal gain?   40

Still, amidst an ideology that prizes the individual, such questions are secondary at best, irrelevant at worst. For as Yale scholar and theologian Miroslav Volf stresses, communion with other believers, “is not an addendum to communion with God.” No matter how solitary or private our faith might feel, we are not on individual paths with the Almighty. We are part of a community’s journey and others are integral to it. Many voices, old and new, press us out of our self-focused paradigms and into the truth that we are really corporate beings, living always in dynamic relationships with others. Even the weekly meeting together of fellow disciples—known as church—is more than a gathering of individuals; in religious educator Thomas Groome’s words, we are “becoming Christian together.” Lent then holds a new possibility: a communal call. We walk the Lenten road toward Passion Week doing more than closing our eyes in personal reflection. We open them wide to others, seeing them through the light that shines from the center point of Easter, the newness of a Life once dead offered for those he loved. And in the process, we can consider the selfish ways we act that might damage others. We can take care to use words that extend grace and promote peace. We can attune our ears toward the voices around us that we often silence by our own. Perhaps we can even fast from our fascination with our personalized religions, and extend our hand more frequently to our neighbor. In other words, Easter can arrive during Lent this year when we allow the activity of truth to transform our communities of faith from a collective “me” to a corporate “we.”  

Sharon Galgay Ketcham is an assistant professor of Christian ministries at Gordon. She and her family live in Plaistow, New Hampshire. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS =, an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Defending the Fatherless—Marvin R. Wilson



Screwtape Revisited— Thomas Albert Howard



Reflections on Charity in Truth Reflections on Charity in Truth— Bruce Webb Bruce Webb

Those in the industrialized West continue to struggle with the effects of the financial crisis and ongoing recession. Unemployment is still on the rise. Businesses struggle to stay afloat even as consumers stubbornly, though understandably, refuse to increase their spending. Unprecedented policies have been implemented: massive bailouts of businesses deemed “too big to fail,” interest rates at record lows, stimulus packages the size of which boggles the mind and massive budget deficits. As our economic troubles deepen, we are inclined to look inward, focusing exclusively on the damaging economic and psychological effects of the loss of a job or a home—and this is understandable. Yet the difficulties we face—real and damaging as they are—cannot compare to those of the world’s poor who struggle on a daily basis for mere survival. Christians must be ever mindful of Jesus’ call to “serve the least of these.” A timely reminder of our obligations to the world’s poor comes in the latest social encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity, or Love, in Truth”), the latest in a long line of social encyclicals that began in 1891 with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (“New Things”). Leo addressed social problems that had arisen from the industrial revolution, especially the growing conflicts between labour and capital. Subsequently, popes have addressed topics relevant to their own times, thus developing a body of moral teaching on a broad range of economic issues and systems. Caritas in Veritate builds upon and updates the encyclical Populorum Progressio (“The Development of Peoples”) issued by Pope Paul VI in 1967—the first encyclical to deal with development in the Third World. These two encyclicals address development in a broad sense, including but not limited to economic growth. The popes call this “authentic human development” or “integral development” that involves “the whole human person in every single dimension.” Authentic development, they argue, cannot be achieved by technical solutions or institutional reform alone, but requires a vision of the human person as possessing inherent worth and dignity, grounded in the truth of our bearing the divine image. Development without God “ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development,” one that fails to address human needs as they really are. Defying easy political classification as Left or Right, liberal or conservative, the encyclical addresses a wide range of topics including immigration, the environment and our responsibility toward future generations, the right of workers to organize and the social responsibility of business. Claiming that “the Church does not have technical solutions to offer,” the encyclical advocates broad principles and avoids specific policy proposals. One such principle is the close connection between justice and love, justice being “inseparable from charity, intrinsic to it.” According to Benedict, justice is “the primary way of charity ... [and] the minimum measure of it.” We cannot truly love others unless we desire and seek what is due them by right. Closely related is the notion of the common good, which he defines as “the good of all of us, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.” Pursuing the common good “is a requirement of justice and charity.” Furthermore, he contends that all Christians are called to seek 46

the common good “corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors” and in doing so “the more effectively we love them.” But as Pope Benedict points out, “Deeds without knowledge are blind, and knowledge without love is sterile.” With regard to development, “the individual who is animated by true charity labours skillfully to discover the causes of misery, to find the means to combat it, to overcome it resolutely.” Pope Benedict properly calls upon rich countries to allow goods, and in particular agricultural goods, to be imported from poor countries. For many poor countries, “the possibility of marketing their products is very often what guarantees their survival in both short and long term.” The United States and the European Union spend many billions of dollars annually on agricultural subsidies and price supports and impose tariffs on imported products, such as sugar, that effectively block agricultural imports from much of the Third World. We should call upon our governments to phase out agricultural subsidies and end this gross injustice. We should also ponder carefully the claim that “every economic decision has a moral consequence.” How many of us take the time to consider seriously the moral consequences of our economic decisions to spend, invest or work at a particular job and for a particular company? Christians should devote more time to learning about the ways in which our economic actions either serve or fail to serve the common good and the well-being of the poor. Perhaps the most controversial proposal is Pope Benedict’s call for a “world political authority” that would “manage the global economy.” There is, he says, an “urgent need” for such an authority, “to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration . . . .” In addition, the “authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties . . . .” What sort of “authority” could possibly amass the information necessary to manage the entire global economy? The power vested in such a body would need to be immense and well beyond anything we have known, or cared to imagine. We do need greater international cooperation to ensure just trade and monetary systems and to seek to prevent the rapid spread of financial crises throughout the world. But these matters would be best addressed through existing channels and treaties, rather than through a vast new bureaucratic body. This matter aside, I strongly encourage all Christians and “persons of good will” to reflect deeply on the moral teaching offered by Benedict XVI. There is much here to ponder for those outside as well as inside the Catholic Church. §

Bruce Webb is a professor of economics and business at Gordon. Previously published in Cardus,







Love and Attention—

essay: Love and attention

Lindsey Reed

Jerusalem and athens Forum

Story lindsey Reed ’12

love. According to Weil, even more than intelligence, attention is essential to love: Not only does the love of God have attention for its substance, the love of our neighbor, which we know to be the same love, is made of this same substance. Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.

Every year STIllPOINT and the Jerusalem and athens Forum (JaF) honors program sponsors an essay contest for current students in the program and JaF alumni who are still at Gordon. lindsey Reed’s essay “love and attention” was this year’s winner.

Deeds without knowledge are blind, and knowledge without love is sterile. . . . Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. From Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict X As I think of the most loving people in my life, I do not think of the Latin word for love, caritas. Most of these are ordinary people for whom the simple word “love” fits more closely. I think of Mrs. Farley, an elegant 80-year old who lives at the retirement home where I worked last summer. My job was often stressful and unpleasant: The dining room was understaffed; the kitchen felt like an oven. I’d rush around trying to please 50 very-hard-to-please customers. Food was rejected as too hot or too cold; forks and teacups handed back to me if they were hard to handle.


36 STILLPOINT | Fall 2010

In the midst of this was Mrs. Farley. I’d rush to her table, but she was never in a hurry. “How are you?” she’d greet me, beaming, shaking her costumejewelry earrings. “Are you having a good afternoon?” The words flowed together like a song. I’d lean in close, taking her hand, talking about the menu. Mrs. Farley never had much interest in the menu— she was so easy to please, and besides, dementia made the menu hard to grasp. She’d interrupt my talk of roast chicken and asparagus with compliments: “You have beautiful skin, dear,” and “What a pretty shirt.”

Love, then, is the capacity to attend to another. Academic pursuits are helpful in developing love. We gain a capacity to focus on the needs of others by focusing on an equation or by straining to write a sentence. But one day my academic pursuits will be forgotten. While intelligence may be a means, attention—which is love—is the end: “The greatest of these is love.” What is important above all is my capacity to look attentively at someone and to ask “How are you,” or to almost sing “Did you have a good afternoon?”

lindsey Reed is a junior English

Does “love is rich in intelligence” imply that intellectuals have a greater ability to love? Were Mrs. Farley’s loving actions “blind”?

major from Ottawa, Canada.

Simone Weil has helped me better understand the place of intelligence in

Sarah Grimes, a senior sociology

Honorable mentions were awarded to Hilary Sherratt, a senior Pike Scholar from Rowley, Massachusetts; and major from Terryville, Connecticut.

Theatre and Worship— Jeff Miller

Theatre and Worship Jeff Miller In church a few weeks back, the pastor noted that one of the prevailing purposes for worship is “to abate memory loss.” God knows our memories are tragically short. When we are experiencing the loneliness of difficult times, it seems all we can recall is darkness. When we are light-headed with joy, we often cannot fully remember the heaviness of the shadows. God knows we are as fickle as dust—but very special dust. He loves us and continues to call us back to Himself, from wherever we are. One call of worship is to remember. The goal of theatre is similar. It is a dramatic call to abate memory loss. We often forget what silly creatures we are when we are in love. We lose touch with our humanity when we are driven by arrogance and vengeance. We fail to see the impact of our actions, both routine and monumental. Theatre keeps us from forgetting. It parallels one purpose of worship in that regard. But it is not worship. Worship has an objective and is based on a relationship. Theatre offers a transient relationship (with a community of people who have been similarly moved by a cast well-trained to make it happen) and sometimes it offers an idea we may find deeply truthful, but it will not fulfill our need to worship. Because it moves in that direction, because it resonates with some of the elements of that need, however, it feels akin to worship. And so, many theatre folk opt out of worship. Frequently the worship they experience in church falls so far short aesthetically of the theatre worship-like experience they know. And, as with anyone, their memories fade. I see two important lessons in this: 1) We must not substitute worship-like experiences for real worship; 2) We must seek to be more diligent about the aesthetics of our worship—so that our memories of God’s faithfulness never grow stale or lack vitality.


Visions and Revisions— Norman Jones

Visions and ReVisions: The JouRNey of aN aRTIST LoSING hIS eyeSIGhT



Story Norman Jones Illustration Tim ferguson Sauder and Grant hanna ’06

aS a TheaTRe dIReCToR NoRMaN JoNeS had SPeNT a GReaT deaL of TIMe LeaRNING hoW To See The NuaNCeS of hIS WoRLd. NoWadayS he’S LeaRNING ThaT vISIoN CaN RequIRe revISIoN.

In 1989 I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). It is a genetic, degenerative disease of the retina, and those who have it are usually blind by age 40. I was 34 at the time. Imagine a big round disc—that’s the retina. on that disc is a series of stacked coins. every one of those coins is a rod cell. In the middle of the disc the stacks are taller, and they get shorter as you get closer to the edge. every once in awhile one of the discs on top dives off into the retina—a suicide diver. Then another one does it—and no one knows why they do it. Maybe they think they’re having fun, or maybe there’s some kind of secret genetic terrorist war going on. Suicide cells die on the retina and decompose to form a pigment— thus the name. over time the stacks of coins get shorter and are covered by the pigment. eventually even the tallest stacks of coins in the middle are gone. each person with RP has a different rate of deterioration— but it’s steady and unrelenting. I don’t see as well today as I did yesterday; and I see better at this moment than I will tomorrow. I still have some of the center stack of coins in each retina. That means I can see directly in front of me, but I don’t have any peripheral vision. Normal peripheral vision is 118 degrees; I have 19. anything under 20 is legally blind. Think of spending every moment looking through the viewfinder of a camera—you want it to be a wide-angle lens, but it’s not. When I was first diagnosed I was devastated. I tried to compensate for the pain by learning all I could about the disease and about any research related to a cure. I was angry at God; didn’t feel like talking to him at all. I went though a period of emotional and spiritual darkness. I could not understand how this had happened to a guy who had learned to see very well. I’m a theatre director, and I had spent a great deal of time developing the ability to truly see what is around me, to notice the nuances of my world—learning how people express emotions with their movement and the objects they interact with. I wanted to hide from everyone and everything, including God. I felt like I was living a series of deaths; waiting for the next stage of vision loss, wondering when would be the next plateau. When would I quit driving? When should I start using a white cane? Slowly I began to realize my vision required revision.

I resisted using a cane for years. It was difficult to accept the label of being disabled. I didn’t want people to stare, to look at me with a mixture of curiosity and pity. But finally I took a small step toward acceptance of myself as a disabled person. I used the cane for the first time on one of our annual Gordon theatre trips to england. Before the trip I remember praying “okay, God. I’ll take this one step. Let’s see what happens.” and God showered me with grace, having taken that little tiny step of faith. The cane was great! as I walked down the street, people cleared out of my way. Crowds practically dove into the streets; I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea. When I bumped into people they’d apologize to me instead of me apologizing to them—and I liked that. But I don’t want you to think everything became suddenly wonderful when I began to take these tentative steps of acceptance. It continues to be hard. I still stumble. I walk into things. I recently apologized to a pole—twice. I think I must keep an entire squadron of guardian angels busy (“okay, he’s on the move again—let’s go; let’s go—Michael, you take the point; Jimbob, you take the wing, and Ringo, you go the other way”; I really like the idea of having two guardian angels named Jimbob and Ringo). as I continue to take those tiny steps forward, I experience God’s grace. you know that passage “your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” I met a guy from my church who has one of those lamps from Palestine from the first century—exactly the kind of lamp they’re referring to. “how much light will that thing give off?” I asked him. It was tiny, tiny—just fit in the palm of his hand. he replied, “enough for one step.” one step; now I have enough light for one step. Now, one step. faith. Sometimes your vision is going to require revision. Suffering and loss will come to you. Someone will betray you. you will experience failure; perhaps the loss of a dearly loved family member or friend; perhaps your own physical challenges. I know I am speaking to many who have experienced terrible loss. Part of the reason it hurts so much is because we know it is not intended to be this way. We were intended for paradise, made in the image of God. But we live in a fallen world, and on this side of eternity, as we continue to strive for eden, loss will still be with us.



a few suggestions to you from what is helping me: as my vision of myself as person is being revised, I’m learning to accept the difficult lesson of being dependent on other people. I often don’t like it. I’d love to jump in a car and go somewhere on a whim. But my dependence on others has made me the recipient of many extraordinary kindnesses. When we were in edinburgh a couple years ago, we attended a bagpipe concert called the Military Tattoo—about 10,000 bagpipes in a field and about 60,000 people watching them in the shadow of edinburgh Castle. afterwards I was making my way out of the crowd, and a Scottish fellow came up to me asking if I needed any help. “No, no,” I said. about a minute later he came back and said, “I don’t care what you say, I’m gonna help you anyway—here we go. I’m gonna take you to your people.” So I said to myself, “okay, I want this guy to have this blessing—why not? Let’s just enjoy this.” So we walked down the Royal Mile arm in arm, talking about bagpipes and Scottish farming practices. and I thought “Who gets to do this?” God has showered me with grace as I have allowed myself to learn something about dependence—and I encourage the same for you. Learn to be dependent on one another and dependent on God. Notice how many times in Scripture Jesus depended on God the father while he was here. We also should depend on God the father—as well as on each other. you may be thinking “Wait—I know the people around me; I’m supposed to depend on them?”

and share your own imperfections—your hurt, your loss, your grief—with the hurting, grieving Body of Christ, in whom God’s perfect Spirit dwells; who—despite us and because of us—God uses to speak to one another through his grace. There are plenty of days when I would love RP to go away. even for awhile. But despite our feelings at times to the contrary, we have a faith in God; a God Who is alive; a God Who is here. a God Who loves us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through him—and those—who love us. (Romans 8:35, 37) I am not telling you these things because it sounds good; I am telling you because it is true. unchanging and forever. for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor discouragement, nor loneliness, nor failure, nor snotty old RP, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us—us!—from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38) and the people of God said “Amen!”

But we are all imperfect. Think of anyone you know. They have something; it may not be RP—maybe it’s add, oCd. everybody’s got something. But I declare unto you: he who is without syndrome, let him cast the first stone. The travelers you are with on your journey are every bit as imperfect as you are. another encouragement to you is to engage in sacred conversation. Plunge into significant conversation beyond the normal everyday stuff. Plunge into those conversations as if your life depended on it. Get your face out of facebook for one hour every couple of days and have a significant conversation with someone face to face. Listen to them. Take time. Give yourself permission to not know what to say. Take time to go beyond the word “like.” Take your time so you don’t have to (over)use that word. I suspect the world is full of lonely people. If we could see a bunch of cartoon bubbles above people’s heads, we would read things like “Nobody really knows me”; “I’m all alone”; “I wish somebody cared.” But don’t allow a sense of impending doom to prevent you from having a vision for your own future. do not be afraid to have that vision—boldly. and allow God’s grace to revise your vision when it is required. allow that vision to be sketched in dust rather than cast in concrete. Take one step. you have the faith for that.



Norman Jones, M.a., a theatre director, actor and writer, is associate professor of theatre. Since coming to Gordon in 1985, he has directed 39 plays and supervised 28 student-directed productions. Norm’s interest in encouraging the creation of new theatrical works has resulted in 13 premieres or commissioned plays. This article is part of a convocation address he delivered at Gordon September 26, 2007. The audio podcast is available at (go to “Gordon Pulpit,” then “Chapels,” then “fall 2007” tab). he hopes to take his story to churches, Christian schools and conferences, and can be contacted for information. 978 867 4274

Addicted to Facebook? Social Media and Christian College Students Natalie Ferjulian ’10 and Maggie Roth ’10

Addicted to Facebook? Social Media and “The Internet is neither good nor bad in and of itself; it’sChristian how we use it that can be harmful,” said Mark College Cannister, a Youth Worker Journal contributor and Students—Natalie Ferjulian professor of Christian ministries at Gordon College.

When Justin Ellis asks his high school youth group

about how to help young people navigate their way

members how they are spending their time and money,

through this new digital world.

their answers almost always involve technology. Some want a new iPod, others the latest iPhone app. Many simply are doing what all teens do: shopping and socializing. Only now the Internet, specifically Facebook, is the mall of choice.

’10 and Maggie Roth ’10

“The downside of adolescents using social networking

In a recent study conducted among evangelical college

is that they can lose the ability to learn how to build

students, one in every three said he or she is spending

healthy relationships in person when they isolate

one to two hours a day on Facebook; 12 % report using

themselves with technology.”

it two to four hours each day and 2.8 % report usage at four to seven hours a day. That’s in addition to other forms of social media and electronic usage such as video games, blogs, e-mail and Internet browsing.

In fact, more than half (54 %) of Facebook users surveyed said they were neglecting important areas of their lives due to spending too much time using the Web site. More than 70 % chose “socializing” as

Ellis, a youth leader at Free Christian Church in

the number one reason for using Facebook, while

North Andover, Massachusetts, and his colleagues

15.3 % use it to “fill time.” Almost half of the students

say their experiences confirm the data from a recent,

surveyed said that engaging in social networking

unprecedented study by two Gordon College faculty

activities actually helped alleviate stress in their lives.

members: Bryan C. Auday, professor of psychology, and Sybil Coleman, professor of social work.

For Coleman and Auday, such responses worry them, especially because they say that during the critical

"Pulling off the Mask: The Impact of Social

years of young adulthood, students need to be mindful

Networking Activities on Evangelical Christian College

of their social and academic development. “Evidence

Students, A Self-Reported Study" surveyed 1,342

from this study raises a red flag for us about their time

students 18 to 27 years of age on four evangelical

management skills, possible neglect of important

Christian college campuses. The results suggest that

areas in students’ lives and psychological and spiritual

youth workers and parents need to think strategically

health,” Coleman said.


It’s no surprise that of the social networking products

report several negative consequences, but also

within North America, not including e-mail, the

mention many positive outcomes from “Facebooking.”

most frequently visited site was Facebook, with approximately 93 % reporting that they had used it compared to only 27 % for MySpace and 4 %for Twitter. Blogs were read regularly by 26 % of the students. Rarely do students stick to using just one social networking service; 42% report spending at least one to two hours text messaging. Cannister is also concerned that young people aren’t learning delayed gratification because everything on the Web is designed to be immediate. “As a result, kids learn to expect instant gratification in every area of their lives,” he said.  “This can be dangerous in areas such as relationships, academics or sports.” The study also revealed the amount of time students devote to electronic activities can significantly impact their academic performance, personal relationships, self-esteem and emotional well-being. The use of social networking services enables participants to organize into groups that are allowed to share personal information via the Web. “One of my youth told me the Internet is a place where he can redefine himself,” said Ellis. “Some kids are forming their identities based on how they socialize online and how they are perceived through things [such as] Facebook profiles, chat rooms and Twitter pages.” According to Auday, it isn’t clear yet whether overzealous use of computer activities will be accepted as a distinctive form of addiction. However, research shows that a surprisingly high percentage of Christian students who frequently engage in electronic usage


Many of the students surveyed offered a host of helpful and practical solutions themselves. One student, for instance, said that when she needs to spend time away from her electronic devices, she unplugs her computer and turns it off. She will also let her cell phone battery die and not recharge it until she needs to have it or until she “has time to waste.” Barry Loy, vice president for Student Development and dean of students at Gordon College, suggests younger generations need mentoring in how to spend their time “especially in a culture that has so much free time available to them. The Internet is like anything. It can be evil, harmful or wonderful, depending on the time constraints placed on it.” Still, the data from this study indicate the majority of students might not think they need such constraints, because they don’t necessarily believe their personal relationships have suffered as a result of spending significant time on social networking sites. In fact, one in three reports the time spent networking has improved the quality of his or her social relationships. “I use Facebook to stay in contact with friends I have met who are living all over the world. Facebook helps me keep and enrich those relationships,” said Suzanne Hoofnagle, a communication arts major from Peabody, Massachusetts. “Facebook also is bridging the gap between generations as all different age groups are joining social networking sites.” The fact that more than one-third of the students surveyed said they believe social networking

technology fosters relationships is interesting,

person—we can demonstrate the many benefits there

particularly because more than 35 % agreed their

are for not always being online.”

usage decreases time spent socializing face to face. So, either today’s students are not very self-aware, or the disconnect between virtual versus real time spent with

Ellis makes it a point to remind his youth who is boss. “You own technology, technology doesn’t own you.”

others is blurry. “As parents and youth leaders, we need to set limits. We need to have technology-free zones, and we need to

Natalie Ferjulian and Maggie Roth are 2010 communication arts graduates.

provide opportunities for face-to-face interaction,” said

This essay originally appeared in YouthWorker

Cannister. “By incorporating physical activity into our


lives, as well as theological discussions—live and in


Consciousness and Hope: Seeing Through Death—Bert Hodges



Matters of The Purse and Other Matters of the Purse and Other Economic Issues—Casey Cooper Issues Economic Casey Cooper

What do you want first: the good news or the bad? I like to start with the good news, too, so here it is: despite our current economic condition, one that is being reported with dramatic words like crisis, recession, failure, and chaos; despite significant pressures and uncertainty, we actually live in stable circumstances. The benefits we enjoy in the U.S. are many and the fact that we are civilly working through this situation without violence and government overthrows shouldn’t be taken for granted.  The really good news is that our hope is not in this world anyway. What, then, is the bad news?  Simply this: instead of dissecting the economic issues of our times (which might be boring as well as bad), I’d prefer to offer a challenge, one that isn’t necessarily comfortable or encouraging.  I’ll start with an explanation as to why.  I have long felt that the greatest failure of the modern church has been our inability to take care of the poor in our communities.  True, the government offers programs that help, but frequently, they provide little hope.  It should be no surprise that many government programs come up short in areas the Bible clearly charges the church to address.  So here’s our challenge (the bad news): In times of economic crisis, when the needs are ever clearer and certainly more pressing, the responsibilities do not lie with social services or bailouts. They lie with us.  We cannot seal off our doors and try to hold on to as much as we can. Instead, we must give, and not just a little now and then, but abundantly. After all, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”  Likely, this passage in Matthew 19:24 is familiar. But if it evokes in us thoughts of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, then we need to consider it again.  If we think outside of our own neighborhood, outside of our own comfort zone even, it’s not hard to realize we are the rich.  We live in the wealthiest nation on earth and, consequently, have an equally rich responsibility.  Our responsibility to the poor within our own communities, our own country, and around the world is a great privilege and ongoing challenge, especially in times when money is tight.  Though the government might see the need for economic stabilization as more important than the individual needs of people, we cannot afford to.  It may just be that providing aid to our financial markets is the best option for government intervention, but our resources and focus must remain on people. Of course, as an accountant it wouldn’t be fair for me to extend this charge without some practical advice on how to live in a way that enables continuous generosity.  So here are my top three tips: 1. Live on a budget. The conscientious giver always starts a budget within her income, not expenses. Just  like a diet, a healthy and generous lifestyle is manageable but a crash diet/budget is only effective for a season. And let’s only use credit cards as a method of purchase, not a means to finance the latest gadget or gift.


2. Keep it real.  It’s possible for us to buy too much house, food or stuff, all of which often comes at the expense of our giving. We need to think about the long-term effects purchases might have on our budget and our giving, reading everything we can, and investing only in what we know is honorable.  3. Teach others. Though money matters are too often private issues in our culture, we shouldn’t be afraid to help others, especially children, be open about finances and creative ways to give. Silence only breeds a generation with entitlement issues and financial ignorance. No matter what the economic bad news signals, I’m convinced there’ll be plenty of good news the more we learn how to live lives that enable us to give generously, continuously, and cheerfully.

Casey Cooper, CPA, is an assistant professor of business and economics at Gordon. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts and is currently hard at work promoting Gordon’s new minor in nonprofit studies. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Playing Right: The Need Playing forRight: Holy The Need for Holy Leisure—Peggy HothemLeisure Peggy Hothem

A student I didn’t know well recently stopped by my office. No more than three minutes into our conversation, tears welled up in her eyes. Though she was a senior who had been extremely successful in her classes and involvement on campus, she told me she was exhausted from the overload of commitments in her life. She was burning out. At age 21. There’s little question—and a lot of proof—that our society is moving at a pace like never before. The organization Take Back Your Time ( has made the case that Americans put in the longest working hours among industrialized nations, spending 2,000 hours of work per year on the job. This factors out to be nine more weeks of paid employment than the average European worker. One in three U.S. employees experienced feeling overworked as a chronic condition and two-thirds of those surveyed acknowledged being in a constant state of stress. And if college seniors are already feeling the weariness of over-committed lives, what will that mean for them as future leaders? Obviously, this accelerated pace, along with an increased perception that we don’t have enough hours in the day, can be translated into decreased family time, lack of attention to children or spouses, and the demise of community involvement. But what could have a more damaging effect is something that concerns me most: are we too tired and too busy for moral reflection? Are we avoiding the most important questions of life because we don’t make the time to stop and consider them? It’s an especially important question as we enter the Christmas season, which ironically can feel not like the most wonderful time of the year but the most hectic. Instead of holy leisure, we move frantically between shopping and obligatory holiday events. And yet, especially for faith-based communities, I worry about how much we miss of the season when we rush through it. Which is why holy leisure might be just the gift we need to ask for during this time of the year (and of course, each year to come). The connection between leisure, spirituality, and moral action is not necessarily a new one. But their combined potential as a transforming power in our society could indeed be a saving grace. What do I mean by holy leisure? It emphasizes the sacredness of a slow reflective attitude and experience. It goes beyond mere amusement, diversion, entertainment, or a slothful passing of time to create the soil for contemplation. It’s a detachment from the inner compulsion to be constantly busy. In a world of doing and more doing, holy leisure gives space for our imaginations and curiosities, transforming ordinary insight into a sense of wonder and delight. It makes room in one’s life to listen more and meditate on what’s important. By encouraging leisure not as mere diversion or another busy activity, but as the concept of a holy pause, we’re inviting others to a restorative peace, to step back from the fast pace of modern life. When we rest in this still place, we are more likely to hear the questions we should be asking of ourselves, as well as the still, quiet voice of God. 60

But how do we do this? How do we challenge the frantic pace of our over-worked society? Not with more meetings or gadgets but with intentional times of quiet. With sabbatical lifestyles that encourage creative expression and genuine hospitality. One way might be to heed the early church fathers who desired holy leisure as a perspective toward life. They approached the beginning of each day with a prayer from the psalms: “Oh, that today, you would listen to His voice.” Or as author Joan Chittister describes it: “holy leisure is to bring a balance of being . . . back into lives gone askew, and to give people time to live a thoughtful, a contemplative, as well as a productive life.” The senior who stopped by my office? She sought me out because she had heard I talked a lot about this idea of holy leisure. She wanted help slowing down. It was a first step, but a step nonetheless, not toward another form of distraction or escapism. But toward a re-formed perspective of leisure, one that slows down long enough to listen. One that nurtures a receptive state of being in which the fullness of God’s delight can give us health, healing, and hope. From what I can tell, her generation, like all of us, could use a lot more of each. Dr. Peggy Hothem is a professor of recreation and leisure studies at Gordon. She lives in Hamilton, Massachusetts, with her sons and is an expert in fun. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Towards a ShalomFeminism—Lauren Swayne

Story Lauren Swayne Barthold Illustration Tim Ferguson Sauder


Towards a Shal m-Feminism Is feminism old news for the church? Bad news? A Gordon philosopher explains why not. In thinking about the relevance of feminism for the church, I have realized we come from many places. In fact, my own journey has taken me from anti-feminist to reluctant feminist, to what I now want to call “shalom-feminist.” I suspect you will identify with one (or more) of these three categories yourself. With that in mind, I will speak to three possible types of reactions Christians may have when they hear the word “feminism.” FIghTINg FOr EquaLITy Or FIghTINg TO ENd OPPrESSION? Anti-feminists are those who roll their eyes—Don’t women already have equality with men? Aren’t feminists a group of whiney women seeking privilege due to alleged victim status? Though there’s been progress in the past 200 years—the right to vote; equal rights in laws concerning marriage, children, property; and gains in terms of work opportunities and salaries—it is important to note that feminism’s focus is not only on equality. Many feminists fight to end oppression against women in all forms: legal, financial, social, psychological, physical, institutional, cultural and linguistic. So what’s the difference between fighting for equality and fighting to end oppression? Voting like men, working like men, and getting paid like men (and thus having heart-attacks like

men) are not the goals of feminism. Rather, we could think of feminism as aiming to create a world where each individual is able to live out his or her God-given vocation, unimpeded by society, institutions and individuals. There are many subtle forms of oppression in our language and culture. For example, none of the books on parenting could have prepared me for the “mermaiditis” that seems to afflict all 3-year-old girls. Disney’s Ariel in The Little Mermaid surrenders her voice to the wicked sea witch Ursula to gain access to the “human world” and fall in love with Prince Eric. “But how will I get Prince Eric to fall in love with me if I don’t have my voice?” Ariel asks Ursula, who then instructs her about the importance of “body language” (particularly effective with Ariel’s Barbie-esque body) and tells her that “men up there don’t like a lot of chatter, a woman who’s a gossip is a bore, and . . . the one who holds her tongue will get her man.” How can I explain to my 4-year-old what Ursula means by “body-language” and why men (allegedly) want us to be silent? Raising a daughter has opened my eyes to the existence of some amusing but disturbing images of women that pervade our culture. Don Imus notwithstanding, our culture makes it clear that sexism and racism—when you can get away with it—sells.



None of the books on parenting could have prepared me for the “mermaiditis” that seems to afflict all 3-year-old girls. FEmINISm rOOTEd IN ChrISTIaN PrINCIPLES The second group has a deep and real fear that feminists are anti-family, anti-church and anti-men. But we need to avoid what’s called in philosophy “the straw man (or, better here, straw woman) argument.” To equate all of feminism with man-hating, family-hating women is to commit the straw-man/ woman argument. Most feminists don’t think men per se are the problem. A close look at the history of feminism, for example, shows it was aligned with Christian principles and beliefs from its inception. Feminists in the 18th and 19th centuries—like Harriet Taylor and her husband, John Stuart Mill (responsible for much of our political thought in the United States today), Mary Wollstonecraft and others—fought for basic political and legal rights for women. One particularly heinous 19th-century law defined children as the property of fathers alone, which made it impossible for women and children to seek any sort of legal protection from an abusive husband or father. The defining marks of 19th-century feminism, then, were its evangelical commitments and its concern for others (particularly women, children and blacks) as social beings. Rights were not just about women’s individual rights but about relieving the suffering of those in society wherever found, particularly as it affected children and families. Thus feminism, abolitionism and temperance frequently were causes uniting evangelical men and women. What might happen if evangelicals could claim their own feminist roots today and see that feminism is about eliminating oppression? These women were neither angry nor saw themselves as victims, but stood up against injustice. A pity we don’t hear more about strong women like Sojourner Truth, who, having been a slave for 40 years, became an itinerant preacher decrying the evils of racism and sexism. Instead we tend to get our images of feminists from the media, which seldom has any memory. ShaLOm-FEmINISm A third group comprises those who, having experienced deeply hurtful discrimination, wonder whether feminism could offer a way of healing the brokenness caused by oppression. I believe a Christian feminism that offers hope and healing is possible. To develop this, I draw on both biblical insights as well as insights from secular feminism that contribute to what I call “shalom-feminism.”

I see two components in shalom-feminism: to recognize and name oppression wherever it exists; and to be peacemakers in the presence of pain and oppression. These components reflect Christ’s own vocation, which He described as coming not to bring peace but the sword; and giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, cleansing the lepers, giving hearing to the deaf, raising the dead and preaching good news to the poor. I take his double focus to affirm that there is a time for the incisiveness of anger as well as a time for healing. I hope the church can be a place that embraces humans in their rawness—in their raw anger, pain, frustration. Have we thought about the appropriateness (indeed health) of anger as a response in some situations? Why might feminists be angry? We need to acknowledge, as Jesus did, that while not our ultimate goal, there is a time for anger, particularly when it leads to a naming of the violence. Being able to articulate the source of pain, as feminist theory does, will provide a tool for addressing the issues. Having put our finger on the wound, we then need to apply a balm of love: shalom. Shalom is suggestive of peace but not only understood passively; it is not just about peace from violence, peace from disturbance; it is not just about absence of conflict but about creating a world in which each individual can live out God’s purpose. Thus shalom suggests peace for life, for freedom, for joy in being able to realize ourselves as being made in God’s image—for worship. Its biblical sense is rich and immense. Other words associated with the noun: universal flourishing, wholeness, sufficiency in abundance, tranquility, safety; as a verb: to restore, finish, heal. Without this positive element of peace, peace devolves into “niceness”—not a word used to characterize Christ. “Niceness” is not a Christian virtue. I see a shalom-feminism rooted in Galatians 3:28: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.” How does this verse convey shalom? It challenges rigid gender stereotyping by teaching that we are Christians first, before all other sources of identity. Secondary sources of identity (gender, race, occupation) do not determine our status before God. Note the interesting imagery here; it’s as if the clothing of Christ makes our gender if not invisible (which is not to advocate androgyny), then certainly secondary when we come together in the church. Jesus looked past gender on at least two occasions. First, when he told the sisters Mary and Martha that Mary, in taking time to listen attentively

63 14 STILLPOINT | FALL 2007

to Jesus’ words and ponder them, had chosen “the better part.” A woman’s place, in other words, is not (necessarily) in the kitchen but in the seminary! Second, Jesus revealed himself first to a woman in His risen form. He didn’t care that a woman’s testimony or authority was considered inferior to that of men in the culture. If asking a woman to proclaim the good news is not a definition of preaching, I don’t know what would be. WhaT arE SOmE SPECIFIC WayS ChrISTIaNS CaN EmbraCE a ShaLOm-FEmINISm? b Act from a place of love that helps channel feelings of anger into actions of naming oppression.

concerns of women students and encourage them that the church is a place that wants and needs to hear their voices. In addition, I am involved with several other faculty as well as a recent alumna in developing a gender studies minor at Gordon as one way of introducing students to theoretical tools that will better enable them to listen to, understand and critique voices often overlooked in our culture. Such tools enable us to become more like Christ in hearing and engaging with voices that both church and culture consider too “illicit” to heed. In other words, my hope for shalom-feminism is that it will encourage us to walk with Jesus to the well, where the noonday sun is not the only form of oppression keeping others at bay.

b Acknowledge that men are not the problem—that both sexes are capable of oppression against women (though in different ways and with different effects) and that both sexes can benefit from the absence of oppression. b Look for subtle institutional and cultural manifestations of gender discrimination. b Recognize that gender oppression is inextricably linked to racial oppression. b Think about what it means that language is fallen and needs to be redeemed.

Lauren Swayne Barthold, Ph.D., is

b Ponder the relevance of the notion of “identity” and how secondary identities of race, gender, nationality, bodyability, etc., should be considered in light of our fundamental identity as children of God.

research include a monograph on

At Gordon I am engaging with students to see why—given that women comprise 64 percent of the Gordon population— less than 10 percent of the philosophy major is made up of women. In the Women and Philosophy group, we listen to

understanding. She is married to

assistant professor of philosophy at Gordon. Her current areas of the dialectical nature of Gadamer’s hermeneutics, a critique of Rorty’s refusal to allow religion a public role, and the role of the good in another philosopher, Pablo Muchnik, with whom she has two children, daughter Auden and son Gael.

Res urces ChrISTIaN


Elaine Storkey, What’s Right with Feminism? (1989)

Juliet Mitchel and Ann Oakley (eds.), What is Feminism? (1987)

Mary Steward Van Leeuwen, Gender and Grace (1990); After Eden: Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation (1993) Christians for Biblical Equality,, an organization representing members from more than 80 denominations who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women.

bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody (2000) Rosemary Tong, Feminist Thought (1998), a grassroots, nonpartisan effort to build a more family-friendly America.

Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus,, an international organization of women and men who believe that the Bible supports the equality of the sexes.



First Day of Shorts—Dorothy Boorse

First Day of Shorts Dorothy Boorse A brilliant dragonfly, I shun my outdoor skin and don shorts on fresh-shaved legs to reel a red-speckled jig. A fat toddler whirly-gig wiggling on my arm, feels the house, sun-warm cooling in the window’s breeze. My nicked, wet calves like painted wings flash insect-quick while giggling short-lived dancers shimmer in spring.


Justice or Mercy—Kaye




Seek Peace: An Invitation to Rest and an Exhortation to Act Greg Carmer

In May, five large, heavy boxes arrived in the chapel

to: maintaining a deep, mystical connection to God

office. They were filled with books, eighty copies of the

that empowered him to be compassionately connected

Seek Peace: Anstaff Invitation same book in fact. The chapel decided to send a home with each Student Ministry leader for them totext Rest and an Exhortation to read over the summer. We considered many titles: toDevotional Act—Greg Carmer Classics like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or Thomas á Kempis’ Imitation of Christ; beloved texts of evangelical theology like Packer’s Knowing God or Stott’s Basic Christianity; and recent titles on the practical implications of seeking God’s Kingdom like Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution or McLaren’s Everything Must Change.

Isn’t it interesting that the call of God in our lives pulls us in two directions; one towards communion with Him and one towards loving and serving others around us. The God who invites us to find rest from our wearisome burdens in Jesus (Matthew 11) is the same God who compels us to “seek first the Kingdom” (Matthew 6) and to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city in which you dwell” (Jeremiah 29). We are invited into a rich and righteous life, one that is

In the end we choose a new book that weaves together

marked by being in right relationships with both God

the inner disciplines of prayer and friendship with

and our neighbors.

God with the outward expressions of telling others about Jesus and pursuing righteousness—The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice by Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2007). As the title implies, this text is concerned with the relation between intimate communion with God and right-relations with others. “Being fully devoted followers of Christ”, writes Campolo, “involves commitment to what Jesus was committed


to others.”

It is a common temptation to neglect one or the other aspect of this call. We can become so caught up in looking for God or expressing our praise to God that we fail to love our neighbors in practical ways. Likewise, we can be so busy with addressing the physical, social and emotional needs of others that we fail to rest in the reality of God’s love and His delight in us. Both temptations are distractions from what God calls us to and both can steal from us the joy of a life in Him. Jesus warns us that on the day of final accounting

there will be some who have been very busy doing

aspect of God’s call. It is in heeding Christ’s invitation

good things in His name but whom H e never knew:

to commune with and rest in him that we find our

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we

true identity as beloved children of God. And it is in

not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive

actively loving our neighbors through word and deed

out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I

that we find God’s purpose for our lives. I challenge

will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.” (Matthew

you to hear anew God’s call to seek peace as both an

7:22–23). Inversely, there will be those who are sent

invitation to rest and an exhortation to act.

away from his presence because they failed to act with compassion towards others: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45). As followers of Jesus we cannot afford to ignore either

Greg Carmer is the dean of chapel at Gordon. This essay originally appeared on the Gordon College website;


Thoughts for Palm Sunday April 2007 Mark Sargent

its attractions are its Christian mission, its EnglishIn Lithuania, the word for Easter is an import— Thoughts for Palm Sunday: ”Velykos,” or “important day,” taken from Byelorussian. language instruction, and its entrepreneurial bent. April 2007­ Mark Sargent While I was there, the university unveiled its new Here and there the— grassy landscape of the nation Thoughts for Palm Sunday: name, exchanging Lithuania Christian College for slopes, but for the most part the rivers weave slowly, April 2007—Mark Sargent LCC International, in large measure to capture almost reluctantly, through the flatlands.  Water in motion, according to local folklore, is a spiritual gift. 

its multi-national community. The student body

Easter is even more important if it rains. Churchgoers

president was Macedonian; two new basketball

will walk bareheaded, as if to receive an ancient

recruits had just arrived from Senegal. The Christian


faculty, mostly American Protestants on short, self-

Last September, on the bright morning of my final day in the city of Klaipeda, I rose early for a farewell walk along the shoreline of western Lithuania. Ferries


funded assignments, taught students from Estonia and Lithuania, Ireland and Ukraine, and many other places, including the fiercely poor neighbor of Belarus.

carried workers and a few late-season tourists to

I had been invited there as a consultant, primarily

the sand dunes and low brush of the Curonian Spit,

to help the institution think about how to fuse some

about six hundred meters off shore. Dozens of huge

of the best aspects of American Christian colleges

vessels, mostly from Scandinavia and Germany, were

with Eastern European conventions. Consider it

docked or unloading their imported goods at the

this way: How would a school like Gordon, with its

harbor piers: Klaipeda is the major commercial port

longstanding concern with faith and learning, meld

among the Baltic republics. The Lithuanian economy,

with the highly technical demands of the Lithuanian

once stagnant under Soviet control, is livelier now,

ministry of education, with its more prescriptive

often jamming the old, narrow cobblestone streets

rules for faculty priorities? More than that, I began

of the capital Vilnius with new cars. At noon, I

to wonder how a Baltic institution could meet the

would give my closing presentation to the faculty of

expectations of its American donors, so full of hope for

LCC International University. Housed in an office

boosting evangelism and economic freedom, and still

complex originally designed to serve a hospital, LCC

preserve the sinewy faith and courage of its Christian

International University is a post-Soviet experiment:

communities, with their heritage of resistance and

sacrifice. In America, evangelicals can often glibly

Jurgaiciai Mound is the formal name of the famous

reconcile prosperity and piety, though there is no

“Hill of Crosses” in northern Lithuania, just miles

certainty that this habit will thrive in Eastern Europe,

south of Latvia. Centuries ago this hill was the site

where the gap between the commercial opportunities

of resistance to foreign intruders. In 1831, and three

of the young and their parents’ austere lives and

decades later, Czarists slaughtered insurgents here.

storm-hardened faith is far greater than on our side

For long sections of its history, the nation of Lithuania

of the Atlantic. When I finished my talk, the dean,

virtually disappeared, absorbed at different stages by

Marlene Wall, gave me some traditional linen coasters

the Czarists, Poles, Germans and the Soviets. In the

and a small wooden cross, two light strips of bamboo

old German quarter of Klaipeda, Hitler gave one of his

linked with twine. “Keep the cross,” I was told later

more infamous speeches from the balcony of the opera

by one faculty member, “for when you return to visit

house. Today, in the square below, street vendors


sell necklaces and bracelets made of amber stones,


fragments of oxidized tree resin from old forests buried

Yesterday, on Palm Sunday, I thought about my trip

millions of years ago under the expanding Baltic Sea.

to Lithuania, especially in the gray morning when I

According to the pre-Christian myth, the soft amber

watched the rain-soaked branches outside our home.

washed ashore after an angry deity struck a large

This year, perhaps, I will actually follow Christian

amber palace below the sea with thunder. Faith and

tradition and save the palm leaves given out at church,

folk legend still mix at times in western Lithuania: it is

let them dry, and burn them to make the gray dust

not uncommon to see amber rosary beads or hear old

for next year’s Ash Wednesday. It will be such an easy

stories about crosses cut out of magical oak trees.  

ritual for me, the ashes prompting some introspection

There are no historic churches in Klaipeda. World War II leveled them. The greatest religious site in the nation is an outpost of folk resistance and faith that has few rivals. Shortly after the war, the friends and relatives of dissidents transported to Siberian gulags began placing crosses at Jurgaiciai Mound in honor of the exiled and the dead.  Soon, despite the threat of arrest, Christians began literally overloading the hillside with all forms of crosses—metal castings, crude oak carvings, amber crucifixes, and elegant Orthodox designs.  Some of the work was hasty, merely pencils or sticks tied together. Others, such as wooden statues of the thorn-crowned Man of Sorrows, were truly art.  Layers of crosses covered virtually every square foot, a defiant hosanna in a secular state.  To

but without political hazard. I have set the palm leaves beside the bamboo cross on the shelf above our fireplace. On Easter, they will also help me think again of Lithuania, where a few LCC faculty as well as some students from places like Ireland and Belarus may well join the thousands of believers who will gather on Jurgaiciai Mound for a service at dawn.  It will be a free and sunlit scene, mixed up now, as in all free nations, with sightseers and vendors crowding in on Easter ceremonies with their own aims.   But it is a reminder that there are still places in recent memory and in fearful corners of the world, away from the UNICEF sites and tourist temples, where people risk their lives to lay the path for Jesus, even under charges of sedition or shrouds of darkness. 

suppress this display of faith, Soviet authorities burned

If it is a good day, it will rain, the spring grasses matted

the wood crosses and bulldozed the grounds in 1961,

to the ashen soil. §

but that merely inflamed the resistance, enough to warrant at least three more attempts to raze the scene, now filled with the crushed embers and cinder dust of the scorched cruciforms. By the time of Lithuanian independence in 1989, 40,000 crosses covered the site.  At present, after nearly two more decades of pilgrims, there are half a million.  


Mark Sargent is the provost of Gordon College.

I Tried to Imagine

I Tried to Imagine­—Tom Borman '00

Tom Borman ’00 I tried to imagine you on your nails Suspended up and aching in a broken winged “y.” There was a moment when every eye was turned Aside And even the wind denied you Tried to push you away As if the air was thicker than earth As a god hung dead Against the sky of Palestine. You awoke to the hue of anxious angels Glowing through that tight mesh of rag and wrap In that moment inside your eyes Before your chest rose to take its first breath of Forever While new life was slow, still soaking through your skin Spreading form cell to cell/with the fresh itch of infection.

Before you slid your red fingers through the weave Of fused cloth and clot covering your face And tore back the shroud... I try to imagine you on your throne Lit with the upturned eyes of anxious angels Do you ever cover your face with your hands Remembering that moment in the dark when no one knew yet? Do you smile in there As dark as deep space night Remembering the Void? Does light sneak through the holes in your hands? Does it look like the sun and the moon? Is your breath hot on your face? Do you recall the first whisper of life you gave away, The first man-eyes to open As black and wide as the sky of Palestine?


Sacramental Stones:Sacramental Sculpting As Stones: an Sculpting as an Easter Metaphor—JimEaster Metaphor Zingarelli James Zingarelli

It’s supposed to ring when you strike it. That’s how you can tell it is sound. It’s an old world sculptor’s approach that could make the difference between selecting a solid block of marble with enormous potential or one that makes a dull thud, crumbling like sugar under the hammer’s blow. Much depends upon the integrity of the stone’s veining. You see, veining can give the stone a complex strength that is iron concentrated or it can be corrupted by deep fault lines, weathered by water and soil over time. With the hammer, you get a first aural clue into the nature of the dense block you are unable to see inside of. But you must strike it to discover this. As I tell my students, you want a stone that can hold the form of a sculpture, one that can endure the long process leading to what you hope will become something entirely new, something transformed, something “sacramental” in a sense. Still, you cannot carve the actual work unless something is first destroyed: the original sound block. I’m often reminded (usually by the stone) that it has existed for millions of years and due to enormous degrees of heat, pressure, and time, it has achieved its present perfect hardened state. It has, in a way, been waiting for me, being in existence since before Constantine, before Cyrus of Persia, before Moses and the prophets. In fact, my studio is a kind of geological museum holding some of the earth’s finest raw antiquities quarried from around the world including Morocco, Italy, Egypt, China, Iran, Zimbabwe, Canada, and Vermont, to name a few of the places they’ve lived.   Marcia Bjornerud, a structural geologist, wrote in her book, Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth, that a Proterozoic (or younger rock) from the Cambrian Age might be dated at around 545 million years ago while something from the Archaen age (highly unsculptable gneisses) could go back as far as four billion years ago. You can understand why stone makes me feel young. Each stone represents possibilities for transformation. But for anything to happen, I must take my hammer and chisel and essentially break the stone, destroy it, sacrifice the original block, hoping that, over time, a sculpture will ultimately result. No true beauty is ever made without sacrifice. It’s not just the stone that must give deference to the hammer, but the sculptor too must become the servant to the work. Everything I do in my studio takes large quantities of time, an investment of developed (and developing) skills, along with a vision that moves back and forth between hope and despair and (hopefully) back to hope again. I too must defer to the stone. I need to expend time, energy, and a part of my life if I am to be in dialogue with the block. I have to be willing to wear its dust, to wait out the form to emergence, and to keep listening.   74

Something must go. Something must yield to the hammer’s blows and the chisel’s cutting edge. As is true in the passion of our Lord, the culmination of the resurrection would not have been possible without his being broken, without his willing sacrifice for humanity. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of another metaphor in his Jesus of Nazareth, that of the seed, which points to the same notion of brokenness and sacrifice: “On Palm Sunday the Lord summarized the manifold seed parables and unveiled their full meaning, ‘Truly truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit’ (John 12:24). He himself is the grain of wheat.” Not long ago (in geological time), I started carving an abstracted marble series of “seeds,” shoots, stems, roots and leaves. Sometimes these forms resembled heads, eggs, fetal forms, and figures. Many of them are carved from scraps of stone that I’ve collected from builders who have considered these unusable, cut-offs from countertop and fascia. These stones, rejected by the builder—but sound stone for the sculptor—have now become the very substance of new work, and with hope and patience, some yield may yet come of it.   With hammer in hand, the work continues. Something is broken. Some “sacramental” transformation is taking place. Something new is being made.

Jim Zingarelli is a professor of visual arts and chair of the visual arts department at Gordon. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Amesbury, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Chlorite—Jim Zingarelli

CHLORITE from the series Host and Hunger Canadian clorite, 14 x 12 x 9 inches © 2008

James Zingarelli sculptor

Host and Hunger is a series of hand carved stone and wood heads that grapple with questions of hunger and fulfillment. Each one is carved with stark simplicity employing a similar template, each with large open mouth: a void, a need, call, groan, presence of absence. The heads are androgynous with smooth, rounded craniums, longish noses, a full lower lip, and spiraling listening ears. One head echoes the other. They tilt back like fledglings in expectation of the parent bird’s return. Materials used come from various parts of the world: Italian Cararra marble, Zimbabwe granite, Indiana limestone, African Ebony, New England willow—establishing a physical global connection regarding issues of need and provision. Jim Zingarelli, B.F.A., M.A., professor of art and department chair, is a sculptor and painter who lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, with his wife, Katherine. He has also taught sculpture at the Gordon in Orvieto program and at The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Vermont. His work has been exhibited at Dartmouth College, Yale University, Vorpal Gallery (Soho, New York), St. Paul’s Cathedral (Boston), the Attleboro Museum (Massachusetts), and the Pepper Gallery (Boston).

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899



Streets of Orvieto James Zingarelli

Streets of Orvieto­—James Zingarelli

The black cobblestones arc a mosaic beneath my feet, storefronts curve with the street’s narrow passage and press toward the Duomo rising, a slice of pageant opening to where the frantic swallows dive. Some gray medieval ornament is attached to a pale yellow stucco, an etruscan profile is seen first, in relief, above my head and next, in a passing woman’s face, walking along the tufa walls lining every route planned or passed Your lamps curl out, your gutters weave the rooftops, electric lines, unconcealed, are just another braid of one time twisted into another, and I am found comfortably wedged within this bar hearing the radio’s song.

From Taken to Task: Poems, 2001


Easter Why Easter Is GoodWhy News for Is Good News for Everyone Everyone—Steven A. Hunt Steven A. Hunt

A friend of mine once expressed frustration with his inability to believe the story of Jesus’ resurrection, the story of Easter. He saw his non-belief as some kind of final rejection of God. But he didn’t want it perceived that way or for God to take it personally; he just struggled to believe Christ rose from the dead. I’m sure he’s not alone. But as I told my friend, I believe the story of Easter is good news for Christians and non-Christians alike. In fact, I’m convinced it is a day for which everyone can be grateful, regardless of what they believe. First, Christians have been celebrating this good news for nearly two thousand years. Indeed, it is the central proclamation of the faith. But why celebrate it as “good news”? The “good” part is simply this: Jesus’ resurrection shows that death is not the last word. That God intervened in history, in real time and space by raising his son from the dead, makes it “news” in a journalistic sense. Through this historical event we learn that God gave life to his son in part to show that he wants to give life—real, substantial and unending life—to us all. This was his intention in the first place. One might even begin to fancy that God can’t imagine living without us. At least that might go some way toward explaining Good Friday. The Easter event also shows more clearly than anything else that God is already in the process of setting this broken world right. So it is then, according to Christian tradition, that the first Easter morning was the dawn of a new creation; it was “In the beginning” all over again on that first day of the week in the garden. And since this work was set into motion, Christians await the denouement while working toward its fulfillment. Thy kingdom come, we pray. In this work also, death has been utterly vanquished, dealt a death-blow, if you will. Perhaps it was crushed under the weight of that stone which rolled from the tomb. Thus we need not live in fear, toiling in desperation, worrying that an inescapable, meaningless end awaits us, that the seeming non-existence before our birth merely foreshadowed the time after our death. Nor need we live frenetic, harried lives, simply attempting to repress thoughts about the inevitable. Instead, we ought to own up to this fact: we all die. Denial here creates quite a hangover at some point. Easter, however, provides the opportunity to slow down, to be grateful for what truly matters and for what God has done in Christ. This good news fills the hearts of Christians today. But what about those who can’t put their trust in what they might perceive as some pie-in-the-sky delusion? What about those who read the preceding paragraph and say, “Talk about denial!” ? Can the story be good news for them? If nothing else, Easter can be understood as a powerful mythic story, one that schools us in the power of hope. Doesn’t the story teach that if Jesus can begin again, having been rejected by his own people, abandoned by his disciples and murdered by imperialist overlords, so can the rest of us?


Doesn’t nature teach the same lesson? Spring itself—especially in New England—is a welcome reminder that life returns to barren, dormant trees. And so, after a time of deathly cold, the warmth of life can return to our living deaths as well. The sun always comes around again. We can begin again, therefore, and flourish. We don’t need to live life bound to destructive patterns of behavior or as though we’re simply the sum total of our negative baggage because a new, vibrant life remains a possibility. Truth be told, that new life begins with hope. So the story of Easter can teach everyone to hope, to hope that life can conquer death. And if hope is a first step towards faith, who knows where this journey will lead? Is not humankind’s seemingly infinite capacity to hold on, even in the darkest times, muffled evidence itself of Easter’s basic truth? To what, or better perhaps, to Whom shall we give credit for this innate and uniquely human strength? Whether taken as historical fact, one which changes everything, or as mythic fiction, one which symbolizes the truth that hope springs eternal, the resurrection of Jesus is good news indeed. Happy Easter.

Steven A. Hunt is an associate professor of biblical studies at Gordon. He and his family live in Rowley, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Easter in the Ruins April 25, 2011 Mark Sargent

In early spring the scarlet poppies of Greece fill the

site, standing at the foot of a great monolith of volcanic

cracks of the marble ruins. They crop up alongside


the dust of tourist paths, and mix with the thistles in the open grasslands, not so much in clusters but in

Easter in the the fields. Ruins: April 25, When I visited Ancient Corinth some ten days ago 2011—Mark there were a few poppies growing between the rustSargent colored stones of the Bema, or the public rostrum,

exposed a vast cityscape, built by the Romans over

where the Apostle Paul appeared in 51 A.D. before

there are only broken stones. First-century mosaics

a Roman tribunal, accused of “persuading people

and goblets, many depicting Dionysus and sexual

to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” The

play, fill the local archeological museum, along with

proconsul—brother of the philosopher Seneca—

the statue of a toga-clad Augustus Caesar and that

dismissed the charge even before the defendant had

of his adult grandson Gaius Caesar, nude, muscular,

an occasion to speak. This was, after all, an intramural

uncircumcised, bearing the regal confidence of a

quarrel, weighty perhaps for the poor Jewish

young heir who could not know that he would be dead

community but irrelevant to the edicts of Rome.

from the wounds of battle before the age of 25.

Much of what survives at Corinth bears the stamp

The train from Athens had slowed slightly as it crossed

of Rome. Dozens of stone torsos, their heads long

over the narrow, steeply sloped Corinth canal. During

shattered, were dug out of the clay when the site was

the last half hour of the journey the rail lines had

excavated just over a century ago. Until then, about

gradually edged closer to the shores of the Saronic

all that you would have seen on the historic locale

Gulf: enormous white cruise ships and cargo vessels

were the seven surviving Doric columns of the Greek

filled the open waters, a stark contrast to the goat

Temple of Apollo, chiseled more than 300 years before

herds that meandered through the shrubs and olive

the Romans arrived and more than a half-millennium

groves on low hillsides. Dug in the late nineteenth

before Christ. That ruined temple still commands the

century, the four-mile canal had been a dream of the

scattered blossoms, like drops of blood sprinkled over


But all around the temple archeologists have now the wasteland of the Greek city that they sacked in 146 B.C.E. That Roman city is now rubble itself, a victim of recurrent earthquakes. It actually requires some imagination and a good guidebook to envision the temples and theatres that once stood where today

Photo: Mark Sargent, Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth

Emperor Nero. Corinth is set on an isthmus between

Most everyone comes to Greece with hopes of seeing

the mainland of Greece and the large peninsula of

something of the origins of western culture, even

the Peloponnese. It also rests on the thin strand of

if only in the ruins on top of the Acropolis. I had

land that divides the Aegean Sea from the Gulf of

hoped to catch some echoes of the liberal arts ideals

Corinth. Not surprisingly, then, it became a gateway

that are often traced to classical Athens and Rome.

for trade. Remnants of an old stone road built in the

My trip—an accreditation visit on behalf of the

sixth century BCE, known as the Diolkos (literally,

New England Association of Schools and Colleges—

“haul across”), still mark the route where Corinthians

acquainted me with the crosscurrents within the

rolled ships and transported goods over the isthmus.

modern Greek university, including the bureaucratic

That place at the center of first-century commerce

measures taken to shield the professional guilds and

fueled the city’s wealth, feeding the indulgence and

the public institutions. Private higher education,

licentiousness that Paul would assail in his letters to

often the nerve center of the liberal arts in the United

the young Corinthian church.

States, is deemed invalid by the Greek constitution.


I met faculty with graduate degrees from Oxford and

arts. No doubt, I was set up for this by several days

Harvard, but who were unable to register with the

of pondering the status of general education in the

Ministry of Education in Athens or to secure public

European Union. But walking through the physical

university jobs, merely because their undergraduate

remnants of Greek, Roman and Christian cultures

degrees came from private Greek colleges.

in the old city also stirred thoughts about the

Not that the Greeks lack an independent spirit. Taxi drivers routinely complained about the size of the public payroll or described the rising “euroscepticism,” the mounting fear that weaker nations like Greece

was, at least for an interlude in the first century, a place where Jerusalem did meet Athens—and imperial Rome.

were being manipulated by the European Union.

Few people turn to Paul to start any conversation

Many telephone poles, cinder-block walls, and

about the liberal arts, in part because the Apostle is

kiosks bore posters depicting the U.S. and the E.U. as

better known for warning about Greek sophistry and

vultures hovering together over Libya. But the idea

the foolishness of the wise. It is far more common to

that citizenship and public service require liberal

view the Christian liberal arts as the synthesis begun

learning—the breadth of the “septem [seven] artes

in late antiquity, when writers like Augustine melded

liberales” once embraced by the ancient Athenians and

classical eloquence and the quest for knowledge with

Romans—seemed an echo of another age.

Christian doctrine and virtue. The study of the liberal

I had saved the trip to Corinth for a free day after the accreditation work in Athens was done, with hopes of walking over a few more lanes in the New Testament. It was also a way to prepare for Easter. After all, it was

arts became a means for faith to seek understanding, drawing not only from the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures but also from the well of Hellenistic and Roman philosophy and practice.

to this church that Paul wrote his great letter about

The Greeks had never actually settled on a unified

the Resurrection: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we

theory of the liberal arts. Plato and Aristotle favored

shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed . . . For

liberal learning as the pursuit of knowledge. For

the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised

both of them, speculative philosophy and vigorous

incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

“mathematical” inquiry—namely, arithmetic,

I needed the reverberation of that promise. This has been, in many ways, a difficult season for me, not the least because we have all been reminded of the vulnerability of our bodies. Multiple surgeries in our community. Cases of cancer. The loss of a beloved cousin, my age, her spine crushed by tumors. I was anxious for that mystery of hope. But Corinth also gave me a new lens on the liberal


crosscurrents in our own project. Ancient Corinth

geometry, astronomy, and music—would lead to virtue and wisdom. Others, especially the sophists, saw eloquence rather than inquiry as the prime goal. They wanted a pragmatic wisdom, one that shaped and improved society, even if that opened them to charges that they elevated persuasion above truth. The liberal arts were often the way that “liberal” or “free” persons, in other words the social elite, could

cultivate skills for leadership; in that vein, rhetorical

eloquence and cultural power embodied by the septem

brilliance could become a means to manipulate others

artes liberales of the Greeks and Romans, it may be

and secure power. On the other hand, the liberal arts

best represented by the appeals for humility, charity

did genuinely aid the rise of democracy in the Greek

and hope that distinguish the high points of Paul’s

city-state, as leaders now needed to prepare themselves

letters to the young and often cantankerous church at

for the give-and-take of political debate, even if that


debate was still centered in the corridors of offices and not in the public square.

Corinth was not at its economic or cultural pinnacle when Paul spent a year and a half there, though the

In the century or so before Christ’s birth, the Romans

new community of believers drew largely from the

readily adapted the Greek educational practices for

city’s less fortunate. Not that Paul was opposed to

their own republic. Cicero describes how philosophy

converting the powerful. In his epistle to the Romans,

flowed from “the Greek Adriatic Sea of many ports”

for instance, he passes along the greetings of Erastus,

and eventually “cascaded upon our wild, craggy,

the Corinthian treasurer. I followed a museum

inhospitable Tuscan shore.” Known primarily as an

brochure to find one stone in the ruins that bore

“orator,” Cicero still argued for education that blended

Erastus’ name, most likely the mantle of a building he

eloquence with knowledge. Like many of his Roman

funded. But many of the people whom Paul cherished

contemporaries, he maintained that the end of

at Corinth—notably, Aquila and Priscilla—were

learning was to prepare good citizens to lead the good

Jewish exiles banished by Rome. Paul probably wrote

society, though those citizens were still the children

several letters to the Corinthians, but the first one

of privilege, as the liberal arts were reserved for those

that survives—full of counsel about factionalism,

with private teachers and the leisure to study. That

egos, promiscuity, and tongues—offers prudent advice

remains, of course, one of the challenges today, as the

and survival skills to a community on the fringe of

liberal arts are most frequently championed on the

a prosperous and cosmopolitan society. He is not

high-rent campuses in America. As with the Romans,

worried that the church will worship at the Temple of

a good dose of the traditional texts and instruction in

Aphrodite, but he does fear that the prostitutes in the

virtue is great nourishment for service and leadership,

city could lure the unwary believer. And it would be a

though we can too easily celebrate a liberal arts

needy people, not the wealthy, who might be tempted

pedigree as a badge of character and wisdom without

to eat the meat left over from sacrifices to idols.

acknowledging that it can also be the legacy and license of power.

As that letter soars toward its finish, though, Paul moves beyond the immediate ethical dilemmas in

That may be one reason, perhaps, why I thought about

Corinth toward his more luminous themes—the image

our project in the Christian liberal arts when I sat

of the church as a body, the great prose poem about

among the remnants of Ancient Corinth. If Christian

love, and then the reassurance of the Resurrection.

thought can indeed add to the mix of inquiry,

These are among the grandest claims in the new


gospel—and, as such, are the very themes that should

dangerous one, since facile notions of love generally

raise a Christian approach to liberal learning beyond

lead to compliance rather than courage, evasiveness

some of the well-sculpted conventions of the modern

rather than wisdom. Intellectual communities, like the

academy. In many ways, for students entering colleges

democracies they often support, need the doubters,

and universities, the choice is still often between

the antagonists, the skeptics, and the restless. But we

knowledge and eloquence. You can strive for the

can also too easily decide that the checks and balances

prowess offered by increasing specialization or the

that we put in place to insure democratic governance

leadership skills implicit in intellectual breadth and

and scholarly advances are the highest moral end in

critical acumen. But education is more than simply

themselves. The audacity of the Christian liberal arts

the refinement and preparation of the individual for

project is that it can embrace those concessions to

leadership; it is also the humility to recognize that the

prudent governance and intellectual foment while

scholarly community itself requires different parts of a

calling the community to something higher.

body, each gifted in distinct ways, to resolve any major intellectual or cultural challenge.

is that this is a different kind of integration than

Admittedly, Paul has a local quarrel in mind. He

we usually envision when we are striving after an

stresses the diversity of gifts to counteract the

intellectual fusion of faith and learning, refining our

Corinthians’ overemphasis on “tongues,” whether

“worldview,” as valuable as that can be. It is a project

those tongues were ecstatic utterances or the linguistic

far messier, paradoxical and irresolvable. We need

virtuosity evident in such a cosmopolitan center.

scholarly ambition and even competition to learn, but

Corinth, apparently, had both: multilingual believers

also the willingness to offset that with a love that “does

and those who claimed that they actually uttered the

not envy” and “does not seek its own.” We need the

language of angels. We may be far removed from that

dedication to build on layers of inquiry and knowledge

kind of triumphalism, but we have our own varieties,

fully aware that this knowledge will, in time, “vanish

whether it is the arrogance of the pulpit, the specialist

away.” In the end, it will not be the programs and

or the ideologue. Paul’s vision of the church may also

proposals that I remember most, but the moments

be far removed from the liberal arts academy, but

when someone put agape above their own priorities

the humility needed to honor one another’s gifts and

and interests to walk alongside me when I needed it

wisdom may foreshadow the highest promise of an

most. We will never get the balance right: the Pauline

interdisciplinary community of believers and learners.

vision of love is always beyond our grasp, but no less

And then there’s love—the much-admired thirteenth chapter about agape, the highest form of love in


What struck me reading First Corinthians in Corinth

relevant to the Christian liberal arts or the modern academy because it cannot be legislated.

the Greek language. That prose poem about a love

It took just under an hour to make the long walk

that “endures all things” is adored in the church but

uphill from the Agia Paraskevi metro stop to my

a strange concept for a university, and perhaps a

residence, and along the way I would occasionally

stop briefly in a small new Greek Orthodox Church.

their damage, fluids return, cells recompose. Against

On the Friday when I returned from Corinth, workers

the limits of our wisdom and knowledge, we have the

on ladders were tying palm branches above the

Apostle’s witness to the risen Christ and the promise

mosaic icon over the church portal, in preparation

that we will be changed in death. It was the “mystery”

for Palm Sunday. I was struck by the contrast. The

offered as assurance to a Corinthian church tempted

icon, with its intermittent gold inlays, is an image of

by temporal pleasure and prosperity. It remains the

the eternal, its very artifice signaling that there are

mystery that keeps alive our hope for meaning beyond

beauties and mysteries beyond our comprehension.

the massive achievements of our own more scientific

The dry branches, already brown at their stems, were

and cosmopolitan age. Until the mystery of rebirth

a preface to crucifixion and death, a citizen’s tribute,

is finally revealed, agape may be our only means of

rustic, certain to wither quickly in the urban sun and

practice. §

smog. When my taxi to the train station had left the hilltop of Ancient Corinth, it drove by a palm grove, a couple orchards and a tilled field, and I recalled a

Mark Sargent is the provost of Gordon College.

few of my favorite lines from Wendell Berry’s “Mad Farmer,” which I have always enjoyed for their cagey spirituality: As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection. I understand misdirection. We do, at times, need to lose our minds, our habits of thought. Sometimes the best promise of the Christian liberal arts is to run against the grain. The gospel should be a check on power and wealth, not simply a conduit. But I cannot understand resurrection. No amount of science-and-religion dialogues will help us know how cartilage and bones recover tissue, enzymes reverse


First Dandelion Contest Editor's note: Dr. Craig Story's "First Dandelion" contest is a yearly event at Gordon. Text originally appeared on the Gordon website.

The Challenge:

1:45 p.m.—Offhand I mention to Henry Ferland that

Find the first blooming dandelion of the spring on

some dandelions have been spotted by Donna Loy. He

Gordon’s campus. Bring it to Dr. Craig Story with a

calls her to find out where they are and goes off to get

note telling where and when it was found. If I am not

First Dandelion will get your prize, but, more importantly, you will Contest—Craig earn the respect and admiration of your schoolmates Story and the entire Gordon community.

one. Just after he leaves, I mention to Rebekah that

in (unlikely), slide it under my door with a note. You

Henry is going out for the dandelion and this is the

This will be done every year as a way of indirectly

A few seconds later, Henry arrives with his second-

measuring the effects of global warming.*  

place dandelion. Unfortunately there is only one prize:

outside the Emery Hall door, and within 15 seconds has her prize-winning specimen in hand.

a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints cookies. Yum!    

Rules: ● No “forcing” the flowering indoors.

April 11, 2007, 3:50 p.m.—Jake Kreyling is the winner!

● Dandelion must be found on the Gordon College

Jake Kreyling of Physical Plant leaves a message on my

Fowler Campus. ● You are ineligible to win the contest two years in a row. (Give someone else a chance, Jake!)

voicemail while I am speaking with a student. He is very excited and breathlessly tells how he has found a “whole bunch” of dandelions in front of Tavilla Hall. I tell him he should deliver it to me and claim the

Dandelion Winner Hall of Fame:

prize before someone else does. Jake says he is not too

April 11, 2006, 1:50 p.m.—Rebekah Hendrie is the

worried about someone else finding them since he


picked them all to eliminate the competition.

1:24 p.m.—Sharp-eyed Donna Loy emails saying she

4:10 p.m.—Jake claims his prize, a box of Girl Scout

has found a bunch of dandelions on campus, asking if

Thin Mints cookies, his favorite.

anyone has won yet. 1:38 p.m.—I reply “no,” and she says she just wanted to be the first to find some—not win the prize.


last chance to win before he gets back. Rebekah goes

March 31, 2008, 2:52 p.m.—Jake Kreyling is the winner!   It’s a rainy day, this last day of March. Jake shows

up at 2:52 p.m in his waterproof suit, dripping wet

March 22, 2010, 11:10 a.m.—Katie Nellis is the

with a small but convincing specimen of Taraxacum


officinanale in hand. He knows where to find these. “In the same place every year!”

Katie found these dandelions Friday, March 19, against Tavilla Hall on the south side. The R.D.’s son,

Jake claims his prize, a box of Thin Mints—still his

Henry, played an important role in the discovery of the

favorite—and promises to share it with his fellow

dandelions and will share in the glory of victory.

workers. Jake, congratulations. This time I think these dandelions were picked on the day of appearance.

This is a record-breaking early find! Maybe there really is something to the dandelion/global warming

April 7, 2009, 2:45 p.m.—Mark Wacome Stevick is the

connection. I learned that the National Arbor Day


Foundation has revised the hardiness zone map in

It was a chilly, breezy day following a rainy spell. I received this enthusiastic email from Mark at 4:06 p.m.:

Dandelion outside of Jenks! Anyone nab one yet?

2006 (you know—that map on the backs of seed packets that tells when to plant things). This reflects a significant upward shift in the seasonal temperatures expected in a given latitude. No doubt change is afoot.    April 11, 2011, 2:00 p.m.—Jeff O’Brien is the winner.

I took a pic . . .

I got a few emails today around noon from folks in


the Design Center saying they had seen some yellow

I wrote back that, according to the rules, the winner is the first one to bring it to my office with a note when and where it was found. He did do this—after his class and meeting with a student. Now that’s dedication to his professorial duties. Congratulations for being the first professor to win the contest. Enjoy the Thin Mints . . . and springtime! Honorable mention (but no cookies) to Autumn Brown, who a few days earlier found a dandelion at the Starbucks campus in North Beverly and tacked it to my door with a note. Nice try!

growth out behind their building. Alas, they were far too busy to come claim their prize. As the rules state, it has to be brought to me. Oh, well. Congratulations to Jeff O’Brien, who left me a note stating that the winning flower was found by Tavilla Hall at 2:00 p.m. There is no doubt Tavilla is a source of some of the very first dandelions on campus.  * Probably dandelions are not a highly accurate way to measure this phenomenon of climate change. For more reliable information on global climate change I recommend two books: A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley; and Physics for Future Presidents by Richard A. Muller.


A Tribute to Tim Stebbings March 17, 2003

Mark Sargent

As many of you know, Tim Stebbings loved baseball

their craziest schemes and budget requests as well as

cards. He collected thousands and thousands of

their generosities and faithfulness.

them—and gave most of them away. My son Daniel, who was once in Tim’s sixth-grade Sunday School class, would occasionally bring home a shoebox or bag of cards as a gift from Tim. You knew then that this was not your usual Sunday School. Daniel disclosed the secret building projects Tim had going

A Tribute to Tim Stebbings: March College during the week was, on Sunday mornings, building a cardboard replica of the city of Corinth 17, 2003—Mark or Solomon’s temple with the kids in the church Sargent basement. And, on occasion, Daniel brought home

on downstairs. I enjoyed knowing that the same man who was overseeing new construction projects at the

some of those baseball cards from Tim, cards from the 1960s, 70s and 80s—or what any sixth-grader would have likely considered biblical times. In giving away the cards, Tim gave us a glimpse of his irrepressible youthfulness. He had that wonderful ability to find happiness in childhood pleasures, and he loved tradition and legacy. Tim told many stories about the legacy to which he was indebted—about growing up in the Plymouth Brethren, about his days at Barrington College. When I was a newcomer to Gordon, Tim told me stories about many former Gordon people who are often forgotten—tales about


As our accountant, Tim was our keeper of statistics. Yet, like those baseball cards, the statistics never came without clear images of human faces. Like few colleagues I know, Tim remembered the names of students—and the names of his colleagues’ children. He stood alongside soccer matches shouting encouragement to specific players (and, on occasion, some friendly counsel for the referees). He was never one to dwell on mistakes. “Unlucky,” he would often say when a Gordon player kicked the ball out of bounds. Tim himself never lingered on misfortune, even when cancer overcame his body. He had always looked honestly and frankly at financial challenges, never avoiding the truth or losing faith. When time proved him right and others wrong, he never said “I told you so,” but just helped us all to think about the next step forward. And when the enrollment and budget numbers were good, he often thought first of the people he served. During our best financial years, Tim was always the strongest advocate for giving the faculty and staff a Christmas bonus. I remember my first year at Gordon, a good financial year, when Tim came enthusiastically into my office on a snowy December

afternoon carrying a batch of envelopes and wearing a

the year. For students to love the vice president for

Santa Claus hat. “I have good news and bad news for

finance, the person who tracks their debts, is like Billy

you, Mark,” he said. “The good news is that I have the

Martin toasting the umpire. Yet the students loved the

bonus checks and I would like you to give each one

administrator in him. And, once he transferred from

personally to the faculty members. The bad news is

his administrative post to faculty, the students selected

that you have to wear this hat while you are doing it.” I

him to give the year’s honorary last lecture. Many

still have that hat in my office—a reminder of a leader

graduates look back and list Tim as their best teacher.

who loved the joy and surprise of serving.

He always got his MVP votes.

Tim always had a special heart for the rookies, the new

A few months ago, before we knew how soon the end

faculty or staff that he invited into his home or took

would be, Tim was granted tenure on the faculty. As

out for an ice cream. He could recognize the struggles

part of the process of pursuing tenure, he wrote a

of those in a slump, those needing an extra word of

perceptive tenure paper on Christian stewardship. He

encouragement. And it was amazing how you could

challenges us in that paper to balance the rights of the

hear Tim’s dry wit or catch one of his ironic barbs and

stakeholders with the call of generosity and prudence.

still feel the warmth of a person who cared. He had

He argues for an economics that prizes discernment,

that rare gift—a direct and honest style, with its sly

justice, temperance and courage. Whether he taught

tenderness. It was a thing of beauty.

courses in profit or non-profit work, the result that he

After all, Tim was an accountant who loved an artist.

was always striving for was virtue.

He would often tell me, with pride, about things his

We have lost a friend. What we have not lost is the

wife Alice had done to transform some ordinary object

legacy of a good steward—and another example of

into something beautiful. And Tim himself made an

what it means to imitate Christ.

art form out of transforming the ordinary, everyday event or duty into a gesture of grace or beauty. . . . serving food in the dining commons, rushing to pick

Mark Sargent is the provost of Gordon College.

up colleagues at the train station, organizing games for the College picnic, taking a colleague to hear gospel music in Boston, spending free moments with our students of color, or assisting students traveling in our international programs. It is this spirit that students and colleagues loved. The students once selected Tim as the staff member of


255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899


AnnunciAtion oil, acrylic and gold leaf on panel, 10 x 5 x 2 inches © 2006

Tanja Butler painter and printmaker

Annunciation depicts an intersection of time and eternity in the moment of decision offered Mary by the archangel Gabriel. Mary, by accepting God’s invitation, opens the door to God’s redemption, the door shut since the Fall. The bottom panel depicts the biblical narrative within time and human history while the upper panel refers to the activity in eternity, symbolized by the gold background. Mary’s conception has been likened in medieval and Byzantine theology to the image of the burning bush. Just as Mary contained God in her physical body, a miracle similar to the bush not consumed by the divine flame, the Japanese paper lamp behind Mary holds light within fragile, combustible material.

Annunciation—Tanja Butler

A ladder between history and eternity has now been established. The barren Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil recedes as faith and assent provide access to the Tree of Life, described as a folk art motif. The ladder from Jacob’s dream refers to the cross, a connection between heaven and earth. Tanja Butler, M.A., associate professor of art, has displayed work in many solo and group exhibitions and participated in a number of print portfolios, including The Florence Portfolio, now part of the Armand Hammer Collection of Art and the Vatican Museum of Contemporary Religious Art.


A Transfigured Vision: Art in Worship and Community­— Tanja Butler A Transfigured Vision: Art and Worship in Community Tanja Butler This is truly an exciting and challenging historic moment, as experimentation abounds, and guiding principles are being developed by theologians, church leaders and artists to integrate art and worship in more informed and intentional ways. These new opportunities to serve God in his church are a source of great joy to me as an artist. My translation from an isolated studio to the center of community is a profoundly moving experience of God’s ministry of reconciliation, a call from alienation to communion. I stand at this new threshold of artistic activity with some trepidation, knowing that it is an awesome charge, to express and help shape the worship life of a community. I think of Moses in front of the burning bush, and tremble, for this is holy ground. I think also of Moses as I plunge into this new territory, an uncharted way to the promised land, requiring fresh attentiveness to God’s movements and provision as pillar and cloud. May the art we produce be filled with his spirit and life.

This a brief excerpt from an essay that originally appeared in Palimpsest, the online journal of the Studio for Art, Faith & History. Palimpsest publishes material by and about the artists, poets, playwrights and scholars who have participated in the Studio’s life and work in Orvieto, Italy.


March Madness andMarch the Beauty of and the Beauty of Madness Mathematics—Richard Stout Mathematics Richard Stout

It’s time for “March Madness,” that round of college basketball games that never seems to end, but (thankfully) signals the end of winter and the coming of spring. For faithful fans—like me—it can also be an emotional roller coaster where our team plays an inspired game one night, but loses the next on a last-second basket. And the drama is heightened by the fact that if a team loses, it goes home. No second chances. A season has ended. But even amidst all the emotion of the sport and the drama of the competition, something else emerges: an interesting mathematical problem. At the heart of the tournament is a basic question upon which the madness depends: How many games must be played to determine a winner? The answer, of course, is related to the number of teams in the tournament. The larger the field (of teams), the more games needed. But what, exactly, is the relationship between the number of games and the number of teams? For this year’s 68 teams, how many games will it take to determine a champion? One way to solve the problem is to draw a schematic diagram showing how teams move through the tournament from round to round, and then count the number of games. That works, but to find the answer for another tournament we need a new diagram. Or we can take a more analytical approach and consider how many games are needed in each round. This method would be easier to use if there were 64 teams instead of 68. For instance, with 64 teams we’d need 32 games in the first round, then 16, and so on. Different calculations are needed to account for 68 teams, a method that might not be easy to do—which is part of the challenge, and the fun. And what if a tournament had, say, 138 teams? Or suppose we generalize the original problem to the following, which seems even more difficult: In a single-elimination tournament with “N” teams, how many games are needed to determine a winner? Although the original problem can be solved with drawings or specific calculations, this more general problem needs an entirely different approach. It isn’t possible just to make calculations or follow a prescribed procedure. A solution requires a different level of analysis and understanding. Unfortunately, many people will stop there because they see mathematics as a jungle of unintelligible rules and confusing procedures. But keep pushing and you’ll find mathematics becomes more than just useful laws and procedures. Press on and it reveals an aesthetic quality. In fact, doing mathematics provides an opportunity to appreciate that beauty. Some see mathematical beauty in the process of uncovering simplicity within a logical framework. Others find it in the way patterns produce enlightenment and understanding. Or, some find beauty from the satisfaction achieved after understanding a concept at a level where you really “know” it is correct. 92

What does this have to do with basketball tournaments? As a wise professor pointed out to me years ago, in order to produce a winner, it helps first to realize that every team but one must lose a game. If we started with “N” teams, then “N minus 1” teams must lose. In order for that to happen, there must be “N minus 1” games. A tournament with 68 teams requires 67 games, and one that starts with 138 teams requires 137 games. It’s that simple. And this solution to the general problem, using such a simple argument, becomes a thing of beauty. Knowing as much mathematics as possible and being able to apply that knowledge to solve practical problems is crucial in today’s complex world. Still, it’s not enough. As an educator I hope others will also see the beauty in what we are doing. When I ask students why a particular statement is true, I sometimes stop and write “BMIB”—Because Mathematics is Beautiful— simply to emphasize that there is an aesthetic quality in valid mathematics. Consequently, we make calculations or construct arguments that help us understand how a basketball tournament works. But we’re doing more than that. We’re also trying to understand something that lies beyond our sensory world, to access an abstract but ordered universe that many mathematicians believe has an existence of its own. And the opportunity to glimpse that universe can be a beautiful experience indeed, a little like watching the last three point shot swish to win the game.

Richard Stout is a professor of mathematics at Gordon. He and his wife, Martha, live in Ipswich, Masachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Giving a Hand Chapel Address in Honor of Jud and Jan Carlberg April 11, 2011 Stan D. Gaede Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.

this question came from someone totally unconnected with Gordon. He was a president at another college, whom I met at a CIC conference, where college presidents from all over the country come to learn

one another. Good conference, usually. And Giving a Hand: A from certainly that was the case this time around. He made us, andAddress we are his. Chapel in Until, that is, I got into a conversation with this fellow We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Honor of Jud and Janwho I didn’t really know all that well. In fact, we just happened to be sitting next to each other at one of Carlberg—Stan D. the sessions, and so got to talking about all kinds of Enter his gates with thanksgiving; things. Eventually, he noted that I was from Gordon. Gaede go into his courts with praise. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good.

And then he asked me if I knew Jud Carlberg. I said, “Well yes, actually. Rather well. In fact, I’ve known Jud and Jan for over 30 years.” At that point, he looked at me rather directly, kind of winced, and then said,

His unfailing love continues forever,

“So, what do you think of him? Jud, that is. What

and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

kind of president is he, anyway?” And he said it in this odd sort of way, that made me wonder whether he

Psalm 100 (NLV)

was fishing for an insult, or something to that effect. One of those moments when—if you said, “Oh, he’s a complete turkey”—the other person would smile

As you know, I typically base my chapel talks on a question that has come to me, from…..someone. At some time. And that will be true this morning, as well. However, usually my questions come from folks here at Gordon. Like one of my students. Or a friend on the faculty or staff, perhaps. But not this time. In fact,


broadly and say, “I thought so!” But I didn’t say that, of course. Couldn’t say that. And so I let go with a comment that must have sounded like a shot between the eyes: “I think he’s one of the most amazing, gifted individuals I’ve ever known in

my life.” At which point, I stopped rather abruptly

with over the years. When Jud was academic dean,

and looked at him to see whether or not he was still

for example, I had the very bad habit of telling him

alive. Much to my relief, he suddenly broke into a

what I thought about all kinds of things that he

huge smile and said, “Me too. Me too!” After which

probably didn’t want to hear. Didn’t need to hear,

we continued the conversation, sharing some of our

quite honestly. Worse than that, when he became

varied thoughts and observations on Jud and Jan;

president—and then made the mistake of asking me to

confirming for me, once again, my own conclusion

be his provost—do you know what I did? I said, “Yes!

after all these years of working with the two of them.

Thank you very much.”

And why would that be? Why have I reached that

But then, after only three years at the job (when I

conclusion, for one thing? But what makes Jan and

was still just getting my feet wet), said, “So long.

Jud who they are? The people they are, in the first

I’m leaving.” And went off to become provost at

place? And the gift they are—and have been, to

this…school in Santa Barbara, of all things. Called

Gordon—throughout all these years? More than

Westmont. Which, of course, we both knew well,

anything, that’s the question of the morning. And,

since I graduated from there, and it is a sister college

unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as one might think.

in the Christian College Consortium. In some ways,

In fact, there are all kinds of reasons why I might not have arrived at that conclusion. Personality differences, for one thing. Jud and I are very different kinds of people. I’m on the intuitive, somewhat idealistic, empathetic—maybe even pathetic—side of the personality scale. And Jud…well, Jud is not. He’s a straight shooter. Who sees things as they are, not how we might want them to be. And makes decisions

Westmont is as close to Gordon as any school in the country, in terms of mission and objectives. But that, of course, raises the question, Why? Why would I take the same job there that I already had here? Especially given the fact that we had been here for two decades. Love New England. Raised our kids here. And frankly, just started this provost job that Jud had so graciously offered me only a few years before.

accordingly. These are actually very good traits, as we

Those are just some of the questions that Jud could

will see in a moment. But they are not the qualities

have asked of me at the time, of course. And rightly

we empathetic types usually enjoy. In fact, they quite

so. But…..he did not. And now we get to one of

often make us mad. Or sad. Or send us running in

those characteristics about Dr. Carlberg that I think

some other direction. But that didn’t happen with Jud

makes him so amazing, as a leader. Because when I

and me. And that’s…well, that’s what makes this story

told him of my decision to leave (and why), do you


know what he did? He looked at me, and listened.

Actually, there are other reasons why this friendship shouldn’t have matured as it did; one of them being that I haven’t always been the easiest person to live

Listened to all my reasons for making the move. And then said, “How can we make this transition as good as possible, Stan? For you and Judy. For Gordon. And


for Westmont.” After which, we immediately began

the right thing for all concerned. For us, the trouble

laying plans to make the whole thing work. And not

makers. For Gordon, where the trouble occurred.

just work for Gordon. But for us, as well. Stan and

And for the Kingdom, which is the only thing that

Judy. These traitors. These so called friends, who were

really matters.

now leaving two gaping holes in the administration, since Judy was Registrar at the time. But that didn’t matter. What mattered to Jud was realistically facing the situation before him, and doing the best he could, for all concerned.

would Jud respond as he did? In retrospect, of course, everything seemed to turn out fine. But at the time it happened, that’s not what anyone would have thought. Except Jud. Who thought…..differently. Who thought

And that’s something I have seen this man do, time

about the big picture. Who thought not about his own

and time again. And almost always with the same

inconvenience, but his own task. His own calling. His

results. Which are what? Well, in this case, he

own responsibility. And wound up making the most of

then went off and did a national search for the next

it. Something he has done, time and time again.

provost, and wound up hiring Mark Sargent. Who I can honestly tell you—as someone who has watched Mark, over the years; in the Consortium and through friends—is far and away, one of the best provosts I’ve ever seen. Ever. I mean, what ended up happening at Gordon (when I left) is that Gordon won, big time. Because Gordon wound up replacing a so-so provost (that would be me) with the best provost in the history of the human race (that would be Mark). Amazing, when you think of it. Amazing how well it turned out for all concerned. For Gordon. For Jud. And even for us, since I think making that transition was the right thing for us, as well. But no one would have known that at the moment I told Jud we were leaving. At that point, the situation looked awful. And Jud had reasons to be more than a tad angry. At me. At us. At the situation. But that’s not what he did. That’s not what he “does,” in fact. What Jud does is the right thing. The right thing— not just for himself, in the immediate moment—but


You see, why would someone do such a thing? Why

That’s Jud, you see. And that should be the rest of us, as well. But it is not. This ability that he has is a rare thing in this world in which we find ourselves. And so, the question (again) is, Why? Why is Jud like this? It’s an important question, by the way, because—whatever it is that has allowed him to live his life this way—it has had tremendous effects. Gordon, for one thing, has hugely benefited from the gifts and wisdom of this man, over the years. I mean, just stand someplace on this campus (almost any place) and look around. A good number of the buildings you see were built during the time of his leadership. It is no exaggeration to say that this campus was absolutely transformed during his presidency. But so was I. In fact, I’d say that I’ve learned as much from Jud and Jan as any two people that I’ve ever known. In my life. And that’s the truth. They have been good friends, to be sure. But they have been more than that. They have been my teachers, as well. So let me tell you what I have learned from Jan and

Jud. Just a few (of the many) things they have taught

into the conversation, or encourage Billy to work with

me, over the years. And then maybe we’ll figure out

those same “others.” For Billy’s benefit, to be sure. But


for the good of us all.

Okay, here’s #1: It takes a team; and it starts at

The question, of course, is, why? Why are they able

home. Here’s something you’ll realize pretty quickly

to do it? And to be honest with you, I think the most

after meeting Jud and Jan: They both understand

accurate answer is that they are both rather “strong.”

their limits, and they’re totally honest about those

Very, very strong, in fact. There are two possible

limitations. With themselves and with others. This

responses when someone close to you sees something

isn’t false humility, by the way. It’s honesty. They

that you don’t see. The first is the natural one: “You’re

know their gifts. But they understand, as well, where

wrong! I didn’t see it; so it must not be there. Leave

they are needy. And for that reason, they rely upon

me alone.” The second is the very unnatural one: “You

“others” to get the work done.

know, I may be wrong. The fact is, she sees things I

I think this comes out most especially, by the way, in their relationship with one another. They rely on each other. All the time. They’re a team, of course. And it works—this team—because they’re different. And they know it. They love it, in fact. And they use their differences to be better (much better) than they could ever be alone. Jan can tell a story, for example, like few people in the history of the human race. Jud, on the other hand, can tell you what it means. Not just in theory (up in the clouds), but down here, where we live. For the story, go to Jan. For the practical implications, Jud’s your man. Jan can also tell you who’s hurting. Who’s having a hard time, and why. Jud, on the other hand, is often rather surprised by that fact (“You mean, Billy, isn’t having the time of his life?” “No, Jud, he’s not!”). But Jud will take that information and figure out what to do about it. Whether to let Billy work it out for himself, or to intervene. Whether to bring others

don’t see. And if that’s the case, what should we do about it?” And that’s how these two people work with each other, all the time. And why are they able to do it? Well, again, it’s because they’re strong. They’re strong precisely because they know where they’re weak. And such strength only comes from one place: It cometh from the Lord. They know Who’s really in charge, in other words. Which is why they have the strength to listen. So, first, they’re a team. But second, they seem to be able to remember something that the rest of all too often forget (#2): Difficult days aren’t there to send you running; they’re there to teach you. Sometimes Christians think bad days mean they’re not in the Lord’s will. You know, “The Lord isn’t blessing me, so I must not be in the right spot. Need to go someplace else. Do something else. Gotta get out of here!” And sometimes, that’s absolutely right. There are moments when it’s time to get going. But often—indeed, I think most of the time—it’s not right. Rather, difficulty exists for other reasons. One of which is to teach us a


lesson. And Jud knows that. In fact, that’s the way he

And with this third lesson, we move pretty much

responds to almost every problem that comes his way.

exclusively to Jud, not Jan. Regarding the first two

“What’s happening? And what can we learn from it?” Those two questions are Jud’s modus operendi. Two questions he asks all the time. Which tells you, by the way, why he’s such a successful college president. Because he’s a student, first and foremost. A learner. The Learner-in-Chief, you might call him. As a result, he doesn’t run from things, he learns from things. I

they are together. But on the issue of organization, they are different. At least, they started out differently. Jud, of course, is a born organizer. Jan, however, was born….shall we say, less organized. But hold that thought, for a moment. We’ll come back to it. For now, I want to think about just Jud.

can’t tell you how many times, over the years, that

After first meeting Jud, I pretty much concluded that

Jud has told me, “Stan, X,Y or Z is going to happen.

he was one of the most organized fellows I’d ever

It’s happening already. I can see it.” And then, after

met. Which he is. What I didn’t realize until later,

he says that, I’ll say, “No, Jud, it’s not going happen”

however, is that he is organized for a reason. And the

(in which case, I’ll be wrong). Or I’ll say, “You’re

reason isn’t to “be organized.” Rather, he’s organized

absolutely right, Jud. We’d better get out of here.” In

in order to accomplish that which needs to be done.

which case, I’d run. And he’d remain. Doing what

He organizes for the task, in other words. But the task

needed to be done to prepare for whatever it was he

isn’t just to be organized.

saw coming.

And you know how you can figure out the difference?

It’s happened a million times. And the reason isn’t

Here’s the key: The person who organizes for the task,

just because Jud is so smart (which he is). It’s because

can change direction, if needed. But the person who

he’s so honest. Honest with himself. And honest

thinks the task is organization keeps on going, with the

about what he sees around him. And after that, wise

same game plan, come hell or high water. And that’s

enough—and brave enough—to confront whatever

not Jud. Jud’s not interested in hell, for one thing. He

he’s seeing and do what needs to be done to deal with

wants the higher road. And if taking that higher road

it. Whether it’s popular or not. Whether it will be

means reorganizing, so be it.

understood or not. Whether it means changing, or not changing; leaving the past behind, or rooting oneself in that past so that it can guide the future.

Like every president, Jud has faced many, many difficult moments during his presidency. That’s what presidents do. But what I have noticed (time and time

And why can he do this? Again, because he’s a

again) is his willingness to think outside the box on the

student. He’s one of you. And he knows that difficult

“how to” question, and to reorganized in order to face

days—like a difficult course—isn’t there to send you

the problem squarely. In fact, one thing you’ll notice is

running; it’s there to teach you. It’s for your good. If,

that Jud is very creative with people. He’s got folks on

that is, you’re a learner. Which he is.

his staff who have been with him for many years, but

Lesson #3: Organization is where you start, not end.


lessons—about teamwork and handling difficulties—

have done any number of different things, depending on what needed doing.

Take, for example, my wife. I told you that Judy was

point of organization, for Jud, isn’t about holding onto

the registrar here at Gordon before we shuffled off to

something, it’s about accomplishing something. And

the West Coast. But do you know what she was doing

that’s what he does. All the time.

before that? She was Jud’s assistant in the Academic Dean’s office, when he was VP for Academic Affairs. But then something truly awful happened. Florence Winsor—the long-reigning registrar, at the time— decided to retire. Good for her, perhaps. But awful for Gordon. Because she left a huge hole in that office, which everyone thought would need to be filled by someone who had already been a successful registrar someplace else. You know, grab another registrar from another school (who’d done a good job), and bring them to Gordon. That’s what’s often done, of course. But Jud doesn’t do what’s often done. He observes, instead. And learns. And in this case, his observations had led him to notice something about his assistant. That she was almost as organized as he was, for one thing. But she also cared pretty deeply about doing things right. And so one day, when he was tired and not thinking too clearly, he had this sudden brainstorm that maybe Judy (his assistant and my wife) would make a good registrar. Which she would. As we would learn down the road, once she took the job. But we were not down the road! At that point, we didn’t even know the road existed. And so the question is, how did he come up with this idea in the first place? It wasn’t the easiest conclusion for him, organizationally speaking, since he would lose his own assistant in the process. The one who kept him (even more) organized. And it wasn’t the easiest for the Registrar’s Office either, since they would have to train this novice to be a registrar. Judy didn’t know beans about the job. And yet it happened. For the good of the college, I believe. Why? Because the

As does Jan, by the way. Even though she’s not….. quite so well organized. Or didn’t used to be, at least. But she is something else, as you all know: And that is creative, like few people I’ve ever known. But creative, it turns out, for the exact same reason her husband is organized. Jud is organized for the task, remember; not for the sake of organization. And Jan is creative for a Higher Purpose, not simply for the sake of creativity. Which takes us to lesson #4: A good story is worth a thousand words. Not a new thought, of course. And some of you are no doubt thinking, “Yah, you just say that cause you like to tell stories all the time.” Which is true. But I didn’t always. In fact, if you ask my brother or sister, “Was Stan a story teller in his youth?” they would say, “No, not that I remember.” And for good reason. I was not. Actually, I liked a good story, but only if it ended in a joke. And my reading habits, growing up, were almost totally consumed by nonfiction. A good story was sort of a….waste of time. Or so I thought. But two things changed all of that. Actually, three. Eventually, of course, a good liberal arts education forces you to encounter some good stories. And that happened to me as an undergraduate. But secondly, as you know, I became a professor here at Gordon. And it eventually became clear to me that I could talk about social theory (which I loved) till the cows came home, but if I didn’t tell a story or two, the cows would be the only ones who would come home. Because my students would not! They would remain out to pasture, looking for a more flavorful cuisine. Of which there are many, at a place like Gordon.


But there was one more thing that turned me around

Jan and Jud pay attention. That’s the point. And it

on this whole business of story telling, and that was

is amazing what one can learn if one pays attention.

Jan Carlberg. Who, of course, can tell a good story

Little things—that you would hardly even notice,

about as well as anyone on earth. Which impressed

in the routine of life—can suddenly give you an

me, from day one. But there was more. Much more,

education. Actually, I am reminded (right now) of one

actually. Because, it turns out, stories—good ones,

of those “little things” that happened to us few years

at least—are not simply a matter of employing a

ago, at Christmas. Partly, no doubt, because it strikes

technique to hold people’s attention. Indeed, stories

me as one of those things that Jan would notice. And

are, first of all, about paying attention. They result

pass along to the rest of us, for our edification. But

from looking, listening and learning. And so you’ll

now it’s my turn.

note that most of Jan’s stories are about things that have happened within her own world. In her family. In her own experience, growing up. Or the experience

Again, it was a little thing. Just your normal, every day happening, which we’ve been doing in my family ever since my youth. You’ve probably done it, as well. And that is simply gathering around the table, as you get ready to eat your

They rely on each other. All the time. They’re a team, of course. And it works—this team—because they’re different.

Christmas meal, and….. praying. Thanking the Lord for what he has given us. And most especially, at Christmas: Thanking Him for the gift of his Son. We actually do lots of eating at Christmas, so this gives us plenty of opportunity to pray. There’s the

of those she loves. Jan doesn’t just “tell” stories, in other words. She learns from the stories she sees all around her. And then shares her learning with us. Which means….what? Well it means that her stories exist not merely for the sake of the story itself. They are attention grabbers, to be sure. But long before they grabbed our attention, they grabbed hers. She learned first, and then so did we. Stories, for Jan, are vehicles for learning. Exactly like her husband’s approach to organization. And exactly what we’re about at this Christian liberal arts college.


Christmas Eve meal, which for many years has been fondue. And then there’s Christmas morning, which is my responsibility, primarily; and includes the best Eggs Benedict you’ve ever tasted in your life (or so I think). And then finally, on Christmas afternoon—after all the presents have been opened, and everyone is totally exhausted from unwrapping all these presents that you spent days putting together in the first place—the magnum opus. The big turkey. And the final meal of Christmas. Well, on this occasion, we were all together around

table, looking at the big turkey. Which was kind of

mind. Figured out what he really valued, I suspect;

staring us in the face, if you want to know the truth

what was really important to him. And so he stretched

(sort of like the Peking Duck the family encounters

out his hand, and opened his palm, to his mother. And

in The Christmas Story). But we couldn’t eat it, of

Heather…..well, Heather did the right thing. She

course. We had to pray first. And in our family, that

let go of my hand, and clasped the hand of her son,

means reaching out, and holding hands with those


who are sitting next to you. Judy came up with this idea years ago, and the rest of us have put up with it ever since. Even though about half the time, I wind up sticking my elbow in the salad, and then wonder what’s tickling me about half way through the prayer. Anyway, this time, the table had a few more people around it than normal. For in addition to the normal tribe—that being Judy, our three children and their spouses—we also had a new member of the family: Our first grandchild, Max. He was still using a highchair at that time, of course, which was nicely stationed between Poppy (that would be me) and his mom (that would be Heather, our oldest daughter). This was a good place for him, I thought. I could tease him, periodically (as I’m inclined to do); and his mom could keep both of us under control (as she’s inclined to do). And so, as we prepared to pray, both Heather and I reached out to hold Max’s hand (as is required by law). But at that point, we encountered a problem. Max was already intently looking at his food, and wanted no part in holding hands with such a tempting display of goodies in front of him. So Heather (being a smart mom) said, “Fine,” and reached across to hold my hand, instead. “Just like the good ol’ days,” I thought to myself with a smile. As we bowed our heads, however, Max looked at his food, and then looked up at his mom, and changed

It was a nothing event in the eyes of the world. But to the eyes of the beholder—that would be me—it was the world. The world as it should be. Our first child—a child whom we had been given—letting go of my hand, so that she could give her hand to another. That’s what we’re here for, by the way. Did you know that? Not to have babies, necessarily. Some will be given children and some will not. But all of us will be given to each other. To lift one another up. To nourish one another. To teach one another. And to grow one another in the wisdom that God has so generously bestowed upon us. That is what Jan and Jud have done for us here at Gordon College, by the way. They have reached out their hands to us—in far too many ways to even count—so that we might learn and grow into the people that God has created us to be. That’s why they’re a team, in good days and bad. And that’s why they organize and tell marvelous stories, as well. They weren’t put here for themselves, you see; and they know it. They were put here for us. To equip us. To help us to continue the journey, so that we might one day do what they have already done. Which is to reach out to others, as they have reached out to us. Passing along the Truth we know, not only by what we say, but how we live. And what is that Truth? What is the thing that has allowed them to give of themselves to us, throughout


all these years; and now, let us go, so we can give ourselves to others? Well, we know the answer, don’t we? It is the Truth we read just a few minutes ago. A Truth upon which this college was established by another servant named “Judson.” A Truth that allows us to give that which we have been given; to love as we have been loved; and live as we have been designed to live by the One with whom we will live forever: “The Lord is God!” That is the Truth. “He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” That is why we “enter his gates with thanksgiving; and go into his courts with praise.” Because this we know, in good times, or in bad; at the height of the mountain or the in valley of the shadow; whether holding hands, or giving our hand to another: “The Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Thank you, Jud and Jan, for living that truth among us. We shall not forget! Thanks be to God. §

Stan Gaede is scholar-in-residence at Gordon, past president of Westmont College, and president of the Christian College Consortium.


A President Precedent (excerpt)­—bryan parys '04 A President Precedent (excerpt) bryan parys ’04 Jud didn’t avoid tension—he set up camp on the borderlands, somehow always retaining that distinctive Carlbergian grin. And, though it may not be immediately apparent, I am crafting the subtext to be a loving paean to leaders cut from the Judcloth—a compliment I don’t deal out lightly. In fact, things might have been different if my undergraduate brain had felt totally safe and protected by my college. My reflections by this point would clearly show that Gordon had not pushed me into places of cognitive dissonance, forcing my hands and brain to grapple with the troubles that face our world and our history, and ultimately form our passions. What staggers me as I think back over my time under Dr. Carlberg’s tenure is his ability to not give in to the allure of the momentary, whether it was negative or positive. He knew to acknowledge gripes and celebrate achievements, but more importantly, he knew how to keep moving forward past the temporal and into the eternal. And this idea surpasses this moment of tribute into bigger territory. We are unique—fearfully and wonderfully made, for sure. But, we are our full selves even as we populate that great cloud of witnesses, and keep the sun from scarring those that follow us.

This essay originally appeared in STILLPOINT, the Gordon College magazine.


Gordon Symposium: Student Initiated Conversations Outside the Classroom Harold Heie

I am a great believer in the pedagogy of posing a good

•Or, are their obstacles to human betterment

question as a way to initiate a respectful conversation.

and social improvement that reflect not only

But, not just any kind of question. Since Christian

“personal evil,” but also “systemic evil,” evil

colleges are committed to the “integration of faith

that is inherent in the very structures of

& learning,” at least one aspect of which is seeking


for connections between biblical & theological

•And, if there is such a thing as “systemic evil,”

understanding and knowledge in the academic

how is such evil addressed and by whom? – is

disciplines, I favor the posing of what I call “integrative

that a role for individual Christians, or for

Gordon Symposium: churches, or for government, or for some of each? adequately be addressed without drawing deeply from Student Initiated •Is there any room for churches and both one’s biblical & theological understanding and Outside government to collaborate in seeking for knowledge in Conversations the academic disciplines. human betterment and social improvement Good integrative questions can often be gleaned— fromHarold the Classroom­ within the framework of an adequate a Christian college’s statement of beliefs and practices. Heie understanding of the “separation of church For example, the Doctrinal Statement of one Christian questions.” By that I mean questions that cannot

college says, “We believe that human betterment and social improvement are essential products of the gospel.” For me, that affirmation, with which I enthusiastically agree, cries out for elaboration relative to the “how” question. How can human betterment and social improvements be essential products of the gospel?” A host of integrative sub-questions come to mind: •Is human betterment and social improvement possible only if people get right with God?


and state.

•If church and state are to be separated as to “function,” does that mean that one’s religious views should not inform one’s politics? Or, is it inevitable that one’s religious views will inform one’s politics? These are all thorny questions, and they are all integrative questions, because they cannot be adequately addressed without drawing deeply from biblical & theological understanding and knowledge in such academic disciplines as economics, politics

and sociology. Given the very urgent and timely nature

conversations being mostly voluntary (although some

of these questions, students must be encouraged to

chapel credits could be obtained for a limited number

struggle with them. But, what is the best venue for

of events). In its earlier years, a few of the chosen

such explorations?

topics were: Money and Possessions; The Coming of

The first answer that comes to mind is the classroom.

Global Christianity; and “Who is My Neighbor?”.

And, that is true, up to a point. But, with all due

But this new symposium didn’t get off to a strong start,

respect to the teaching faculty, I believe that to limit

for two reasons. First, all the planning for the first

conversations on such important questions to the

symposium was top-down, carried out by faculty and

classroom is short sighted, primarily because these

a few co-curricular staff members. Second, on the first

questions do not fit neatly into the departmental sub-

day of such cancelled classes, it was a beautiful sunny

divisions of knowledge that typically characterize

85 degree day in April and Gordon College is only a

the college curriculum. These pressing questions

mile and a half from a splendid beach on the Atlantic

are interdisciplinary in nature. It would be almost


criminal, in my estimation, for these questions to be discussed only within Religion and/or Politics classes.

A new idea then occurred to us. After an interdisciplinary theme is announced for a given year,

The next answer that comes to mind is an out-of-

turn the students loose to design symposium sessions

class venue to which all faculty, staff and students

that they judge to be pertinent to the given theme. The

are invited. A very radical version of this outside-of-

enthusiastic student response has been overwhelming.

class strategy is to create a venue for campus-wide

The sessions students have come up with over the past

conversation to be designed and implemented by your

12 years have included lecture type presentations (with


students at the lectern and some faculty sitting in the

Lest you think I have lost my mind when I make this suggestion that you entrust your students with the responsibility to design a campus-wide conversation about important issues, let me give you a real example of where that has worked to an admirable degree. In 1998, the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College, which I used to direct, inaugurated an annual Gordon College Symposium, for which classes were cancelled for a day, and campus-wide conversations were orchestrated around an important interdisciplinary topic, with participation in these

student chairs), poetry readings, a panel of students from a given class dealing with the interdisciplinary issue as it relates to the course material for that class, musical compositions, art exhibits, and other venues as varied as the imaginations of students (including a pig roast on the quad one year – and I still haven’t figured out how that event was related to the topic for that year). This Symposium has now expanded from just one full day of concurrent events in a given week, to include events planned for each evening of that week. This annual event has featured as many as 70 student


initiated projects over the one week period, with

disagrees with me, I will explore whether

conversations about the materials presented expected

we can find some common ground that can

as part of each design. Total student attendance for the

further the conversation. But, if we cannot

week has exceeded 3000, for a student body of about

find common ground, I will conclude that

1500. The total cost for this week of events is minimal,

“we can only agree to disagree;” yet I will do

since it typically involves no outside speakers. It is

so in a way that demonstrates respect for

a co-curricular vehicle for students to take more

the other and concern for her well-being and

responsibility for their own learning, and for making

does not foreclose the possibility of future

students, co-curricular staff, and faculty equal co-


participants in the educational process.

•In aspiring to these ideals for conversation,

Conclusion: Ideals for Respectful Conversation One often hears it said that something “goes without saying.” Given the vitriolic nature of much public discourse, there is something that you may think “goes without saying” that needs to be said explicitely at the beginning of conversations about controversial issues. In my own attempts to orchestrate respectful conversations, I typically hand out the following “ground rules” for conversation that I will aspire to exemplify, with an encouragement to all who have gathered to aspire to these same ideals

•I will try to listen well, providing each person with a welcoming space to express her perspective on the issue at hand •I will seek to empathetically understand the reasons another person has for her perspective •I will express my perspective, and my reasons for holding that perspective, with commitment and conviction, but with a noncoercive style that invites conversation with a person who disagrees with me •In my conversation with a person who


I will also aspire, by the grace of God, to be characterized by humility, courage, patience and love. § Harold Heie is founding director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon. Adapted from talks given at the CCCU Chief Academic Officers Conference in Nashville (TN) on March 27, 2008 and at the Fall Faculty Workshop at Northwestern College (St. Paul, MN) on August 17, 2010

A Kind of Awe­—Hannah Armbrust '11 A Kind of Awe Hannah Armbrust ’11 Life is a patchwork of illegible bliss, is what you said, after we missed the second train and huddled together like orphaned birds on the platform, while the wind bit through my jacket, pushed brittle leaves around our feet, and dragged dark clouds across a slush-gray sky.

Look at those leaves, you said and touched my shoulder with a kind of awe, How are the colors brightest when it’s gray? I shivered again, but turned my head slowly right, where birches twisted together in the wind—white and gold sharply distilled against the sky.

Originally published in IDIOM.


Rites of Spring—Michael RitesMonroe of Spring Michael Monroe

May of 1913 saw the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a ballet notorious both for the raw, seemingly unrefined atmosphere it evokes and for the demands it makes on its musicians. The story concerns a primitive, pagan sacrifice and the music is wild and otherworldly, still fearsome to most ears after almost a century. And yet, summoning this uncivilized world requires a highly civilized and disciplined orchestra of about 100 players, all prepared to negotiate complex rhythmic intersections and grueling instrumental demands. We can be pretty sure that ancient Russian music didn’t actually sound like this, but Stravinsky’s score has become the most iconic musical work of the 20th century, in part because it puts its listeners in a startling but thrilling place. What amazes me is that after listening to this music for years, it still sounds unpredictable, even though I know what is coming. It’s as if Stravinsky encoded a permanent sort of unpredictability into his very specific notations. Of course, we find the same thing happening in the best suspense novels and horror films, which keep us on the edge of our seats even when we know what will happen. In fact, this is the kind of thing art is always doing: art is art-ificial after all (real pagan sacrifices aren’t usually accompanied by enormous orchestras). But when it works, we stop noticing the artifice and are freed to experience the artist’s vision again. For musicians, the hours spent constrained by studying and practicing are what make us free to be expressive and unconstrained on stage. Training one’s muse sounds counterintuitive, but most artists know that the imposition of artificial constraints can free the creative spirit. Perhaps more than a million hours of combined playing experience are required to produce a successful performance of The Rite of Spring, but both performers and audiences find that the composer’s rigorous demands allow a paradoxical escape from the modern world. For American college students and professors, the arrival of May signals the end of the school year and an escape from the rigors of academic life. Whereas March’s spring break is an intermission from upcoming papers or exams, May offers a real opportunity for the kind of renewal we associate with spring. This is not to diminish the joy that intellectual pursuits can bring, but one of the most important tests of an education is to find out who we are once the exams are over. Hopefully, in addition to providing some career credentials and useful knowledge, education is a freeing experience. Again, this might seem counterintuitive – when studying for a final exam or grading a large stack of papers, one hardly feels free. As with the musician trying to count his way through Stravinsky’s maze of mixed meters, fearing the conductor’s wrath at an ill-timed entrance, college life can be full of times when we feel oppressed by obligation or fear of failure. It can seem that the only freedom college offers is during the breaks. 108

The truth is that the real freedom is often experienced years later, when mastery has settled in. That’s why it’s important to believe in the process. Learning to read can be an imposing task in first grade, but it’s a skill that frees us in countless ways when it becomes second nature. In the church calendar, May falls within the Easter season, and Easter is, of course, another rite of spring. Christians celebrate the freedom and new life that were won by an altogether different sacrifice; but this new life is still animated by the idea that some apparently constraining principles, such as loving one’s neighbor, can actually free us to be who we’re intended to be. True growth is hard to measure day by day or test by test. But May is a time to think back not just on a year, but on how a lifetime of learning frees us to know the world in new, thrilling, and even startling ways.

Dr. Michael Monroe is assistant professor of music at Gordon. He and his wife and their three children live in Medford, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


A Perspective on the Environmental Backlash Movement—Richard Wright








Questions for Adoniram Judson Gordon—Matt


Questions for Adoniram Judson Gordon This virtual interview with Gordon’s founder was created by matching our questions for A. J. Gordon with passages in several of his many books on the Church, on mission, and life in the Spirit.

STILLPOINT: You are known for many things, including being the pastor of the Clarendon Street Church in Boston and revolutionizing that congregation towards enacting the works of the Holy Spirit. How would you define your work ethic in achieving this outcome, or what would you say drives you to keep up such a high energy level for your church? Adoniram Judson Gordon: I would rather aim at perfection and miss the mark than aim at imperfection and hit the bullseye.

Christ. What can you tell Christians in this century about how this was achieved? A. J.: Regardless of the century, whenever there’s been a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, whether that be in a single heart or in a large group of believers, inevitably what follows is a fresh undertaking to spread the gospel among the people in the world who have not yet heard it. SP: You have written much on the subject of evangelism and inspired many to share the gospel, giving little regard to one’s social or economic background. What’s your secret for crossing these and other boundaries?

“A man was once so holy that the neighbors called him the ‘Godintoxicated man.’ We want a Godintoxicated Church.” SP: This seems like good practical advice to live by. A. J.: Nothing’s really practical except what’s spiritual, and nothing is spiritual unless it’s practical. SP: Certainly from a practical point of view, your teachings were an encouragement and a call to action for many in your congregation, empowering them to live out their lives for

112 30


A. J.: I don’t care what your occupation is—you may be a carpenter, a blacksmith, a sales associate, a business executive—your first business is to give the gospel to those who have not heard it. My hope is that we consider this our main concern in life. SP: It could certainly be seen as one of your many main concerns. Were you unaware of how your message affected people in your congregation and beyond?

A. J.: I don’t know about that. But I do know that if we fully serve the Lord, the majority of the good we do happens in such a way that we are unaware of it happening. Service overflows from us. SP: How would you say people have responded to this attitude of service? Or rather, what is your vision of how the Church can truly serve others? A. J.: Many Christians get cold warming themselves by the world’s fires. I go to Christians of wealth and ask for money, and they say, “My money is so tied up that I can’t spare it.” I want to see the Church of God able to say, “My money is so tied up that I can’t spare it for the movies or the club; it’s tied up for Jesus Christ; it’s under consecration.” SP: Imagine if the Church gave itself over to this and other kinds of holiness. The world could be radically different if more people consecrated not only their money but their lives too. A. J.: In Germany a man was once so holy that the neighbors called him the “God-intoxicated man.” We want a Godintoxicated Church. SP: You have been a champion for many things, not least of all education, as evidenced by your formation of the Boston Missionary Training Institute, which today lives on as Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. What would you say is most important for students to keep in mind as they work toward their degrees?

A. J.: You can’t grow in grace unless you become more knowledgeable; and you can’t become truly knowledgeable unless you study the Scriptures every day. The Word of God has this rare attribute of being able to minister to every element of our being, nourishing our minds and stirring up our devotion; giving us food for thought and captivating our emotions. SP: Does it ever bother you then, when you see students sometimes sleeping in your classes? A. J.: Sometimes we’re most awake toward God when we’re asleep toward the world.

Matt Schwabauer, the creator of this interview, is an actor, singer, writer and world traveler/explorer. His travels include a recent mission trip to Guatemala. He graduated from Hope College in 2006, where he earned a B.A. in theatre and creative writing. He joined the Gordon community in 2007, where he serves on staff in the Design Center. A. J. Gordon’s “responses” were selected from North Field Yearbook; For Each New Day (Revell, New York, 1896); How Christ Came to Church (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 2010); and Grace and Glory (Howard Gannett, Boston, 1880). Some slight modernizations in style were made to the selected passages.

FAll 2010 | STILLPOINT 31113

Frost Hall Dan Nystedt '06


A Campus Photographer’s Journal: Frost Hall         Dan Nystedt ’06 I was working as a student photographer when I took this photo, a vertical night shot of Frost Hall for the cover of Stillpoint, needed for the following day. When I got to campus, the sun was going down and turning the rain clouds a wild shade of blue, so I grabbed my equipment and rushed over to Frost Hall to capture it. Upon arrival, however, I discovered a large Physical Plant truck parked in the front with two workers unloading folding chairs into the Pendragon, the function room located in the basement. Knowing that I only had a few minutes of blue sky left, I politely asked how much longer they would be. The older worker responded that they would be done a lot sooner if I helped out a little. So I joined in until the job was done and then quickly sent them on their way, just in time to snap this photo while standing in the freezing rain. By the way, if you look closely, you can see the shadow of my umbrella. 


Achieving Our Unique Institutional Character—Richard F. Gross



A Framework for the Liberal Arts Stan D. Gaede

I want to take just a few minutes to share a bit of my

these versions are still out there, and I think most of

heart with you regarding this topic of the liberal arts.

us get some form of them as we make our way through

I’ll be somewhat narrative in my comments, but all

American education.

for the purpose of giving you some sense of my own

A Framework for the Liberal Arts—Stan D. I suppose I should begin by declaring that I am a Gaede sociologist. Sounds like an admission, doesn’t it? thinking about the liberal arts and concerning our project at Westmont.

on a farm in California, the third child of Mennonite parents, in a family that had been Mennonite for probably over 300 years. We don’t know for sure because Mennonites are not big on chronicling their

Something like “I am an alcoholic.” And, quite frankly,

personal history. It’s rather seen as a form of hubris.

it isn’t a particularly informative descriptor. Partly,

But the journey over the past several hundred years is

that’s due to the field. Like most other disciplines

pretty clear, starting off someplace in western Europe,

these days, there is a breadth to sociology that makes

moving to Russia in the 1780s, then to the American

encountering a sociologist a bit like...well, confronting

Midwest in the 1870s, and finally to California in the

a pile of manure. There is always the possibility that it


will be useful, but very little certainty.

My parents were not separatists, however, and I grew

My specific interest is in the sociology of knowledge,

up fully involved in the life of our community. Went

and especially the relationship between culture and

to public schools. Didn’t wear funny clothes. And, in

ideas regarding what is true, or right, or good. Like

fact, we looked like prosperous California ranchers:

many other sociologists in the early 70s, that led me

sprawling ranch home, swimming pool, and very nice

to conversations on secularization and modernization.

looking...pick-ups. But the thing to keep in mind is,

But eventually, I settled into the intersection of

that although I was fully immersed in the culture, I

epistemology, the history of ideas and the philosophy

was also given a value context that was a bit counter-

of science. This sounds a lot better, I know, but it still


pretty much looks like a pile of manure.


Another bit of context, I suppose, is that I grew up

The first version of education I received is what I

I give you that more for context than anything else,

will call “education as necessary.” The basic idea here

hoping it will provide you with a bit of understanding

is that education is an alternative to failure. You do

as I talk about my own journey. What I want to do,

well, or you’ll get a swift kick in the derriere. Don’t

however, is lay out three or four different versions of

disgrace the family. Behave yourself. Do what you’re

education that I received while growing up. I think

told. And if you don’t get a good education, you

certainly won’t make anything out of yourself.This isn’t

was impressed that he was able to exercise such self-

a particularly inspiring form of education, obviously,

restraint for what he assumed was my good. But his

but it is fairly effective. I suspect many of us start out

comment also brought a stab of pain, as well. Because

here. I certainly did. And I think the grading system is

I would have loved to have worked with him. And,

basically under girded by this assumption. You study in

because I think farming is a rather noble art.

order not to fail.

The point is, parents and teachers alike often see

The second version of education is what I call

education as a way of gaining skills and knowledge

“education as helpful.” The idea here is that education

that will give one an advantage as one moves into

will provide you with skills and knowledge that will

adulthood. Typically, we focus on those things that

lead to a better life. Perhaps this is just a positive

will help us get good jobs and earn a decent living—

version of the former. Certainly, it remains very

especially Americans. But there are skills that will also

pragmatic. But it is also more hopeful. And it can be

make us better at living with other human beings and

even inspiring at times.

accomplishing a host of other objectives. So stated,

It’s a curious thing, but even though my father was a rather successful farmer, he always hoped that his

education remains a utilitarian concept, but it has a little more nobility attached to it.

children would be able to do something else. I think

A third version of education came to me in high

that’s because his own journey was truncated by World

school, during my junior year, from an English teacher

War II and he never made it to Berkeley as a result.

who also happened to be my football coach. The book

He wound up working in a grocery store, becoming

was The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and

a manager in his early twenties, and then planting

the experience was one of learning for the pure joy of

potatoes on the side, just to earn some additional cash.

it. It’s an odd book for such a launching, since it comes

But the side business suddenly took off. And he was

with a rough hue. But I found the description of war

able to take advantage of a booming economy and

to be entirely contrary to anything I had ever learned

build up a large farm in the process.

before: very different, entirely probable, and absolutely

Nevertheless, he routinely told us—his children—to


get an education so that we could secure good jobs

I became a reader for the first time in my life, not

and do something with our lives. And, by and large,

because I had to, but because it was interesting. I

we listened to his advice. Two thirds of us got a Ph.D.,

suspect that only a football coach could have taken me

and no one wound up in farming. A few years before

there, at the time. But it worked. And I very quickly

his death, however, and while I was already well

discovered that the same thing was possible in history,

ensconced in higher education, my dad told me that he

and physics, and music. As a corollary, you should

always secretly hoped that I would take over the farm.

know that I also discovered that it was not possible in

And I was stunned, to be honest with you. Part of me

chemistry or foreign language. For me, that is. But the


fact is, I was seeing that there was the possibility of

in making it, Sennet is trying to give craft- love some

pure pleasure in education. And it was a revelation.

kind of usefulness or larger value. More on that later.

I call this the “hedonistic version of education,” using

A final version of education I will call “life-changing,”

that term not in a negative sense but as a description

or “transformative education.” This assumes that one

of a fairly raw form of enjoyment. I think it’s the same

can be, in some sense, improved through education:

thing that happens to someone who learns to play an

bettered in some way, made more whole, or more

instrument well, or paint a landscape, or uncrack a

fully human. Becoming a bit more like what the

formula for the first time. Frankly, outside of formal

Creator intended, might be another way of saying it.

education, I think this experience comes quite early

Sometimes this has a moral dimension to it, where one

in life. Watch a small child at play, for example, and

learns how to behave oneself. The book Black Like Me

you will see this same form of pure joy. The delight of

was such a book for many in my generation, where we

a child looking closely at a butterfly is almost palpable,

literally found ourselves in someone else’s skin, and

isn’t it? Of course, it might soon thereafter be followed

learned a bit more about the consequences of our own

by the butterfly being decapitated, or more likely,

actions as a result. And this conference, it seems to

losing its wings. So it’s a bit dangerous without some

me, is an effort to explore this dimension of education,

moral discernment. But it’s there. And sometimes

as we think of the relationship between justice and

we’re able to kindle that same spirit in formal


education as well. In his latest book (entitled Respect in a World of

other ways as well. It happens on the athletic field, for

Inequality) the well-known sociologist Richard

example, with a coach who cares more about character

Sennett talks about this in relationship to playing the

than the scoreboard. It happens in biology courses,

cello. It’s something he learned as an adolescent but

where the consequences of poor stewardship are made

continues to do on a regular basis. Why? Well, in his

crystal clear. And it happened, for me, periodically

youth, he says it gave him a permanent sense of “craft-

on Sunday mornings when I went to church, and got

love.” I like that term, by the way. By “constructing an

an education about right and wrong and the purpose

accurate, free sound I experienced a profound pleasure

of my life in this neck of God’s universe. The point is,

in and for itself,” he notes, “and a sense of self- worth

a transformative education occurs in many different

which didn’t depend on others.” This kind of craft-love,

locations—sometimes by intention and sometimes

he argues, represents a counterweight to a market-


driven society in which people assign value to each other (and themselves) according to socioeconomic status. That last comment is interesting to me, by the way, not only because I think he’s right, but because,


But transformative education can take place in many

Now, I say all of this as kind of a background to our thinking about the liberal arts. And obviously this is a complicated conversation, since the liberal arts have been claimed by many different traditions and

rooted in fairly divergent epistemologies. But I’ll be

at the least. But good in some bigger sense, as well. For

rather bold and suggest that I think a good liberal arts

the being—the human being—is doing something that

education ought to include all four of these versions of

fits its essence and its capacity.

education. The first two are the easiest, since almost any form of education promises to be helpful in one way or another.

All of this is much more apparent as we move into transformative education, since that requires the question: what is it that you want someone to become?

Actually, there are those who contend that the liberal

Again, one can disguise the teleology, but it’s going to

arts should not be helpful, wanting to distance it from

be there nevertheless. Transformation is inherently

any form of utilitarianism. But I personally find almost

normative, whether we obscure the norms or not.

all of those arguments to be more provocative than substantive. They do help you to move to one of the other versions of education, but they almost all carry with them an underlying assumption that even this form of education will be good for you in some sense, and rewarding--existentially (at least).

What we seem to like best, these days, is what one might call transformation by accident. I’ve found it curious to go to testimonial dinners where students, who are scholarship winners, will give glowing reports about how their education changed their lives. And the people who provided the scholarship are sitting in the

What we typically do in the liberal arts, however, is

audience, shedding tears of joy and absolutely rejoicing

that we talk about higher-level skills, such as thinking

in the life that has been changed by the education

critically, and communicating effectively; skills that

received. And yet, it may also be the case, that no one

help us refine the art of living. These have a certain

at the institution that provided the education will

cache to them but they are still in the realm of utility.

claim to be attempting such a thing. That is, we’re

The last two forms of education—the hedonistic and the transformative— are more difficult but also tend to get at what is viewed as especially valuable about

happy to take credit for transformation when it occurs, but we don’t want to tell anybody precisely what we’re doing ahead of time.

the liberal arts. They are more difficult because they

Perhaps this is the quandary of the post-modern

require a teleology of some sort, and we’re not very

moment. On the one hand, we all know that education

good at talking about such things in this post-modern

is rooted in all kinds of pre-theoretical assumptions,

world. We skirt around it when we advocate for the

which impact the education as well as the educated.

hedonistic quality of a liberal arts education. And we’ll

On the other, we have no categories for saying that one

talk about the pure joy of learning and the delight of

thing is better than another, and therefore we have

opening up a new universe. But of course, when we do

little guidance in how to actually go about engaging

this, we’re banking on the hope that our students will

in transformation. And so we tend to deny that that’s

“get it” even if it isn’t named. The unstated premise is

what we are really trying to do, even though every

that this project is good in some sense. Selfishly good,

faculty member I know takes enormous pride in their


students who have gone on to accomplish any number

is good, because it improves not only one’s life, but

of worthy things. It’s an odd moment.

the lives of others as well. Fully exercising one’s gifts

Especially for a liberal arts college, I might add. Because I do think we are about human flourishing: about enabling people to not only gain helpful skills and not only enjoy fully the world that they’ve been given, but also to enable them to flourish and to become better than they had ever imagined they could be. Indeed, I would argue that that’s why the liberal arts are at themheart of American education. Because it is doing something that everyone else counts on. It’s cornerstone work, in other words. At least, that’s what I believe. And that has a lot to do with the way we come at things at Westmont. Westmont is what I would call a “framework college.” That is, we affirm a specific framework, a certain set of convictions, out of which these issues can be pursued. We don’t assume that all colleges should be framework institutions, by the way, nor that our framework should be the only one employed. But we do rather like our framework, and indeed affirm it with great joy and gratitude. We are sometimes called a Christian liberal arts college, though that isn’t my favorite way of putting it. We are, rather, a liberal arts college with a particular frame, that being a Christian world and life view. “Christian” itself is a rather broad term, having within it many different traditions. And we are rooted in some of those traditions more clearly than others. But, the framework itself is very helpful. It enables us to not only explain why one should acquire skills and knowledge, but to what end. Learning is enjoyable, for example, because that’s how we were created. Becoming a certain kind of person


is delightful because it delights the Giver. We do not require our students to accept this framework. But we do want them to understand it, and consider it as a frame for their own educational journey. And, certainly, we assume that our faculty are here because they find this framework to be both palatable and profitable, fitting their own assumptions about that which is good, and right, and true, and also find it a good context to pursue such questions. There are pros and cons to this kind of approach to the liberal arts, of course. The primary disadvantage comes when there isn’t a good fit between the framework and the person. I don’t simply mean tension, by the way, because I think tension often produces a good education. But sometimes, when the disagreements become severe, the whole thing can just be exasperating. And then the education is not edifying, it’s a pain in the neck. The great benefit, however, is that such an education gains hugely in purpose and reason for being. It is not deceptively transformative, in other words, but clearly lays out what its intentions are. And at its best, it can be that genuinely helpful, hedonistic, and life-changing experience that I think ought to characterize a liberal arts education. Let me close with a story. Last June, our third and last child graduated from high school. She went to a local public school here in Santa Barbara, and so we invited family and friends from out of town to join us in the celebration. As a result, when I awoke the next morning (the day after graduation), the house was rather full. And I, being someone who likes a little solitude early in the morning, decided to jump into the car and go down to the cemetery here in Montecito.

If you haven’t seen it, you should go down there

Two things happened at that moment. First, I cried,

sometime, by the way. It’s just down the road from

thinking about the loss that family has suffered. But

here, but it’s perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific

second, I recommitted myself to the kind of education

Ocean. It’s one of the most beautiful settings for death

that we’re pursuing here at Westmont. Why? Because

that I’ve ever seen. I go there periodically because it’s

it seems to me, a liberal arts education needs to be

not only

valuable from the perspective of the grave. Regardless

lovely, but the people residing there are immensely polite. I’m rarely disturbed. Actually, you may have

of whether that comes at eighteen, twenty-one, or fifty, or ninety-five.

heard that being a college president is a bit like

It needs to be not just a set of skills that will take

walking around in a cemetery: a lot of people are

you someplace, but a life worth living, both now and

under you, but nobody’s listening. And this morning,

forever. If it hasn’t acquainted you with the joy of

that’s exactly what I wanted. I was rather happy about

learning, I think it has failed. If it hasn’t improved

our daughter’s fulfillment of her high school career.

your character, or encouraged your love for others, or

And I wanted to ponder the moment in silence. And

expanded your universe, than I think it has been short

give thanks.

of the mark. And, I would say (and this is the frame

So I pulled up to my favorite spot close to the ocean’s edge. And then noticed a balloon attached to a gravestone not too far away. The balloon caught my attention, not only because it’s a peculiar sight in a

from within which I work) if it hasn’t enabled you to be a more faithful steward of the gifts God gave you, honoring Him in how you use them, it has failed as well.

cemetery, but because this balloon was very familiar to

Jesus said, “The greatest commandment is to love the

me. In fact, one just like it was attached to our other

Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all

car back home—a car frequently driven by our new

your soul and all your strength. And your neighbor

graduate. It said on it “2002,” and it was a balloon

as yourself.” I think that’s good advice, in life and in

given to all high school graduates in Santa Barbara the

death. And I think it’s a great foundation for a liberal

day before.

arts education, especially from the perspective of the

The sight of it kind of took me back. And I quickly got

grave. Thank you. §

out of my car and made my way over to the gravesite, only to encounter a name that I knew all too well: Erik Kester, the gravestone said. And I knew immediately what had happened. Erik had died just two years

A talk delivered at the Third Annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts, Westmon College, 2003.

before of cancer—a form of cancer that had taken his sister a few years earlier. Erik would have graduated in the class of 2002. And so his friends and family took the balloon that belonged to Erik, and attached it to the headstone.


Change Is Our Lifeblood—Ann D. Ferguson



First-Year Seminar—An Exercise in Character Formation—David Aiken



Developing Christian Character in Students— Malcolm A. Reid




Autumn­— Stephen Bjork '01

Autumn Stephen Bjork ’01

We slid through the scattering of leaves on a cobblestone street, hurling wadded fistfuls and laughing. Silly college kids, we slept out on piles of pine needles by the road. I can float above, admiring the picture. I am storing up moments like acorns, in fear of winter.

This poem originally appeared in IDIOM, Spring 1998


Two Monks and a Scholar Honors Convocation Address, Spring 2007 Jennifer Hevelone-Harper

In the sixth century in a village near Gaza, a young

allow them to create pride in myself. I could content

man named Dorotheos joined a monastery. He was

myself with oil, and fire, and ointments…the things

about your age, a Christian and well-educated—he

that serve those who do not read medical works”

had studied medicine before he decided to become

(Letter 327).

a monk. He was very smart—a bit socially awkward. He had an idealist vision of monastic life. He sought a place apart from the busyness of urban life where he could devote himself to prayer and contemplation. However, he found life in the monastery anything but

His spiritual father Barsanuphius, with gentle monastic humor cautioned him not to refuse the resources that had been given to the monastery to provide healthcare to the monks. After all, no one was perfect--better to succumb to the passion of

Two Monks and a medicine, than to other things that could studying tempt a Christian. The key thing to remember was to Scholar—Jennifer charged with overseeing hospitality to visitors, and avoid pride in his own accomplishments. He should finally as director of the new infirmary. Hevelone-Harper acknowledge that all healing came through God, who quiet and peaceful. The abbot quickly put his talents to work first as the gatekeeper, then as the person

The new monk was unsure how to behave in this last position. He had expected his new life in the monastery to differ in pronounced ways from his life in the world. Now not only was he practicing medicine again, but he was surrounded by his own old medical textbooks that he had donated to the monastic library. He saw this as a temptation to retreat to his old way of life in the world. He also felt tempted by his fascination with medical equipment and supplies donated to the infirmary. He wrote to his spiritual director, a monk named Barsanuphius, asking if he ought to use the medical books and supplies or: “if it would be better for me not to care for the things that distract the mind, and to flee from them for fear lest I


gave both life and death. So what can a conversation between two monks 1500 years ago say to a group of young scholars at a Christian liberal arts college in New England? There are several lessons this story brings to mind. First, the intentional communities of the monastery and the Christian college share similarities. Groups of believers have gathered to pursue the study of wisdom and to adopt a communal life filled with the spirit. However, our ideals and our actual experience sometimes collide. Gordon students sometime talk about the “Gordon bubble” and complain that we aren’t in the “real world.” Well, the real world of sin

and suffering permeates our community just as it

was second year Latin that proved so onerous. For

did Dorotheos’ monastery. He once had other monks

others it is finishing the final research paper or their

sweep stinging insects into his cell because they

doctoral dissertation. For the first-year professor it

found him pompous. We’ve encountered all sorts of

is writing nine new lectures a week. For the other

brokenness among those in our dorms and classrooms.

faculty it means balancing an article due two weeks

I remember a roommate whose mother was homeless;

ago, a batch of exams to grade by Tuesday, registering

a student who struggled to overcome the effects

all advisees by Friday, and taking that extra time with

of childhood sexual abuse; another who suffered

a student. Throw in a four year old with a fever and

crippling depression. The real world is right here.

a two year old with a runny nose and the glamour of

Second, we sometimes have trouble sorting out the

scholarship feels fleeting, indeed.

priorities of our hectic lives. When I was a sophomore

When we try to do it all on our own power eventually

I had a roommate that skipped classes to take jobs

we come up short. This is the reality of the Christian

that would pay her tuition. Anyone here in need of

life—whether lived in a middle eastern monastery or

more sleep to stay focused in class? Too plugged into

our Wenham campus. But Barsanuphius reminded

facebook and twitter to have time for any sustained

Dorotheos that life and death both come from God.

reflection or embodied human contact?

God has called you to the task at hand. He alone knows

You might think, what I really want to do is help people—make a difference in the world. Why should I spend three more semesters studying medieval history or finishing that last core class? Dorotheos wondered why he was running an infirmary when he wanted to be meditating alone in the desert. But this is the place that God has brought you to equip you. Each book you read, with each paper you write, each sentence you translate, you are sharpening your intellectual muscles for the work to which God has called you. Third, we sometimes have an idealized view of academia. After all, you are in a privileged position to have the leisure of four years to study. I certainly idealized the life of the mind as a Gordon student. I went off to study abroad for a year on the Oxford

how finishing this semester at Gordon will prepare you for the work he has called you to. When we seek the life of the mind for its own sake, we fall prey to temptations, on the one hand pride and on the other hand burnout—opposite outcomes of being too selfcentered. When we seek to commit our scholarship to God, as a form of service and worship for our Creator, he reminds us that we need not carry the burden alone. He provides for us the strength and direction we cannot muster on our own. So today we rejoice in the academic accomplishments of your fellow students. We also give thanks for the work God has given to us. So go ahead, surrender to the passion of those textbooks! But do it in the name of the one who called you to know him first. §

program. I dreamed of graduate school where I could fully immerse myself in the scholarship of my own

Jennifer Hevelone-Harper is a professor of history at

field. But scholarship is not all glamorous. For me it








The Beechers In Our BEEchErS ESSAY: ThE Backyard— Agnes Howard in Our BackYard

Teaching an introductory history class led Agnes Howard to a fascinating reacquaintance with members of the 19th-century Beecher family (close relatives of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) buried in the georgetown cemetery just a short walk from her home.

Teaching Gordon’s introductory U.S. history course last fall, I looked for a figure to illustrate transition between late-colonial religion and the Second Great Awakening. I chose a family—the Beechers of the 19th century, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose Uncle Tom’s Cabin stirred slavery debates in the 1850s; Henry Ward, the pastor whose recent biographer affirms him “The Most Famous Man in America”; and Catherine Beecher, who reshaped female education. Hardly a 19th-century trend eluded the Beechers: religious revival and reform, westward migration, foreign missions, abolition, women’s rights, spiritualism. Charles Beecher, brother of Harriet, is buried in Harmony Cemetery near our home in Georgetown, Massachusetts.

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STILLPOINT | Spring 2011

The local presence of some of the family gives us claim to the whole lot of them—their solidarity, lively arguments, and public engagement making them important in their century as well as our fascinating neighbors. Lyman Beecher was the paterfamilias, a disciple of Timothy Dwight and defender of Connecticut’s Congregational church establishment. When Connecticut’s church lost state support in 1818, Lyman lamented but then rejoiced to see American Christians energized by voluntarism: “For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell for the best thing that ever happened to the state of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God. . . . By voluntary

efforts, societies, missions and revivals exert a deeper influence than ever they could by queues, and shoe-buckles, and cocked hats, and gold-headed canes.” Lyman exerted that influence, preaching for revival and railing against dueling, drunkenness, Jesuits, slavery. He moved west to transplant the institutions of New England civilization. But as the father of many, he increases in stature still more. Theodore Parker called him “the father of more brains than any other man in America.” Married three times, Beecher fathered four daughters and seven sons. His children influenced a broad range of cultural and theological tensions of their century. All his sons became ministers, and most of his daughters grew into prominent figures in 19th-century reform.

Story Agnes Howard Photo Kristin Schwabauer rydbeck ’04

But son Charles Beecher made this corner of the North Shore his mission field and resting place. Charles was musical, intellectual—nephew Lyman Beecher Stowe names him “the only real scholar of the family.” Had his father not pegged him for the ministry he would have preferred a career in music. As a young adult he was a church organist in New Orleans, where he gathered stories of slave life that Harriet would later employ in her writing. After pulpits in Indiana and New Jersey, he moved to Georgetown in 1858 to assist the aged pastor and then to lead the church. Like his siblings, he faltered on the theology of his father (Reformed and predestinarian). In the summer of 1863, 27 members of his congregation petitioned the ecclesiastical council, complaining: “It seems to us that several doctrines preached by our pastor are not in accordance with the faith once delivered to the saints, and held generally by the churches of New-England.” The pastor suspected they also objected to his advocacy of abolition. Charles was tried for heresy. A heresy trial concurrent with the Civil War: one event a small, local, ecclesial matter; the other a great national conflict. Charles was convicted. As The New York Times reported, the council decided: It is in evidence that much of Mr. Beecher’s preaching has been in accordance with the Scriptures and with standard New-England Divines. Yet this is so interwoven with preaching of an opposite and erroneous character as dangerously, if not fatally, to neutralize the good effects of his teachings. With some things on these doctrines that we think truthful, he has indulged in much that we consider wholly irreconcilable with the articles of faith of this church . . . and of the Orthodox churches generally in New-England.

Both the complainants and the council identified not only Scripture but also a strain of New England tradition as standards for orthodoxy. Beecher’s conviction split the Georgetown church, with the majority willing to flout the ecclesiastical conference to keep him as pastor. And the majority of Georgetown voters even elected him their state representative in 1864. Some in Beecher’s fold did leave to start a new church, but several years later his heresy conviction was overturned. Sorrow came to bind him to the dust of Georgetown. One day in 1867 daughters Essie and Hattie were boating with a Beecher cousin on Pentucket Pond when their craft capsized and the teenagers drowned. Two years later his son Frederick was killed in an Indian battle in Colorado. A large stone in Harmony Cemetery commemorates all four. Worn down by pastoral work, in 1870 Charles was lured to Florida by Harriet to minister among the freedmen, who, he reported, were wary of him as “unsound.” He became superintendent of public education in Florida’s Reconstruction government. By the end of his tenure, school enrollment had more than doubled, and blacks and whites were both involved in the educational system. Though he prized the climate and flora of the South, he eventually moved back to Georgetown. He died here in 1900. What does one make of the Beechers in our own backyard? How might we take stock of the historically rich area where Gordon College is located? Our placement on the North Shore links us to the early fishing and Bible Commonwealth settlements in the 17th century, to revolution in the 18th, to a frenzy of movement, piety, reform, industry and immigration in the 19th. Charles Beecher is not quite enough to make Georgetown famous.

But he and his siblings call to mind three noteworthy features of our historical landscape. First, they remind us how influential clergy were in public life for spiritual and social concerns. Second, Charles Beecher draws interest and empathy for his efforts to square his ancestral faith with the demands of his time. Being at Gordon makes us heirs of a New England theology that features twists and turns as the academy and the pulpit wrestled with hard doctrines and cultural currents. With his siblings, Charles entertained ideas we might dismiss, like the preexistence of the soul or spiritualism. Some of his answers might seem plain wrong; others peculiar to his time; and others earnest attempts to understand Scripture, tradition and the pain of living. Third, the entanglement of his family with the big events of the day directs us to the social, cultural and private currents that came along with political turning points. Surveying his era, 19th-century pastor and Yale professor Leonard Bacon quipped, “This country is inhabited by saints, sinners, and Beechers.” Saints we occasionally meet and sinners we already know in abundance, but Beechers merit our reacquaintance.

Agnes Howard, ph.D., is assistant professor of English and history at gordon. She and her husband, Tal, associate professor of history, live in georgetown and have three children. Agnes’ essays have appeared in First Things, The Cresset and other publications.

Spring 2011 | STILLPOINT 37135

Postcards on My Wall Jo Kadlecek

Postcards on My Wall Jo Kadlecek Three arrived this summer. a handful came last spring. The rest from semesters past. There are the cows of Vermont. Elvis with his Spanish omelette recipe. The standing, waving bears from California. Wegman’s Grocery store and parking lot. a western jackalope; a cigar-smoking chimp from Mexico; even a giant ‘lobstah’ from Cape Cod. academic treasures? Hardly. Tacky? You bet. Still, I consider the postcards pinned to my office wall valuable educational tools for one simple reason: they came from students. My students. Journalism students who have grown up in virtual worlds, navigating online satellite maps and watching cultures bump into each other more on screens than on sidewalks. The cows and creatures represent another encounter altogether, another way of communicating (void

of electricity); another way of observing a place they might otherwise ignore. and for writing students there’s no better advice than, as Flannery O’Connor put it, to stare. Here’s how it happened. Two months into my first semester as a new faculty member on campus I began asking students to send me a “tacky postcard” whenever they’d leave for a break or a trip. No research incentives here or grand hypothesis; I’d just always liked tacky postcards. Truthfully I wasn’t sure if I’d captured enough of my students’ imagination yet for them to respond. What right, after all, did I have to impose on their break from academia? Then again, I reasoned, if I asked them to send me tacky postcards, it might also send a non-tacky message that I was interested in their lives. and they might pay attention to more than their virtual worlds.


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Photo Kristin Schwabauer Rydbeck ’04

Then my students pulled out pens (instead of keyboards or cameras) and wrote in cursive with their own hands. They’d venture bravely into an actual post office to purchase a stamp. Happily—and surprisingly—they obliged. Whether it was Christmas break in Florida—from which I got the sunglasses postcard with one eye at the beach (“me”) and the other in a snowstorm (“you”)—or a semester abroad (the monastery and vineyards in Italy), these young high-tech reporters did something they hadn’t done much of before. They held in their hands the anachronism of a picture postcard—some yellowed from years on the rack—representing a history and a slice of culture worth a million story possibilities. Then my students pulled out pens (instead of keyboards or cameras) and wrote in cursive with their own hands. They’d venture bravely into actual post offices to purchase stamps—sometimes with foreign coins—from real humans. after which they licked the stamps, stuck them in the corner of the postcards, and dropped them in mail slots. Which brings me back to this summer when a couple landed in my mailbox. There was the louisiana “See you later, Alligator” postcard and the truly tacky lights of las Vegas.

Followed by the Ocean City boardwalk and the night-clubbing Scottish couple in skirts, each reminding me of the wonderful reality that my students are paying attention outside of the classroom—and to more than their electronic screens. They are looking at curious parts of new places, scouring details for clues, listening carefully to unfamiliar voices and experiencing the best kind of training possible for a journalist: life. Their physical senses captured in ways no website could reel them in; their emotions pricked in places no Facebook wall could touch. My postcard collection reminds me that real travel will always be more exciting than the Internet; that its people, stories and adventures are richer sources for understanding the issues of today’s world. I’m hoping they ignite a pirate’s thirst for treasure, a little like the postcard of Captain Jack, who hangs not far from the Parthenon. Of Nashville, that is. and I’m hoping I’m going to need a bigger wall. Jo Kadlecek is senior writer at Gordon College and teaches journalism courses in the Communication arts Department. Fall 2009 | STILLPOINT 23137

Story David goss ’74

The Dorchester Project

Photo Kristin Schwabauer ’04

Dorchester’s historic Second

David Goss

church is now home base for the Gordon in Boston program. A little-used room in this impressive building recently yielded some unexpected treasures.

The DOrcheSTer PrOjecT in March of 2008 i received a call from Cliff Hersey, director of global education at gordon, concerning a problem with the archives at Second Church (Congregational) of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Cliff knew i was involved with the creation of an archival database at the estate of general george S. patton as a part of the new public History institute at gordon. He wondered what might be done to organize a similar collection of materials in Dorchester. i agreed to visit the church and give him an assessment. it would prove to be an incredible learning experience for us both.

certainly possible but would require time, effort and a team of the right people. i agreed to help recruit that team and to help manage the project. By April things had improved. Cliff was committed to being involved and immediately began construction of a muchneeded, new inner-city classroom facility featuring a secure, archival storage area. One of my museum studies students, Brian Schober ’12, was planning to spend the summer in Dorchester as part of the inner-city program, and he volunteered to assist. From gordon’s library staff, Martha

Cliff smiled as i took in the sheer variety and volume of this assortment of old stuff. “We have to make sense of this,” he said. The impressive, though somewhat neglected, early 19thcentury edifice known as Second Church was the famous church presided over for many years by the equally famous reverend John Codman, perhaps Boston’s most notable evangelical minister of the 19th century. it had, during the previous decade, finally closed its doors and by a vote of the few surviving members been given to the Church of the nazarene. Through Cliff’s involvement with that organization, the building had recently become the headquarters of the gordon in Boston program as well as serving as a place of worship for several ethnic congregations. Cliff took me on a grand tour of the labyrinthine interior, concluding with a large parlor in the c. 1840 rear addition behind two massive sliding doors. Within this 40- by 20-foot room was a staggering array of largely unrecorded material culture and historical ephemera. Scattered upon the floor, covering several large tables, filling massive bookcases, piled high, bundled, boxed and balanced everywhere were thousands of church records and various religious documents, books, journals, diaries, ledgers, flags, maps, pamphlets, prints, paintings and artifacts of every description. Cliff smiled as i took in the sheer variety and volume of this assortment of old stuff. “We have to make sense of this,” he said. And i surveyed it all in wonder, remarking that it was

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Crain offered her considerable professional skills. The church secretary, Olive Knight, offered to help identify church-related materials as did David Tierney, a former member of Second Church. The final and key team member, Carol Mori, a former chairperson of the Beverly Archival program and archivist of Dane Street Congregational Church in Beverly, agreed to lead a training session and help oversee the organization of the collection and its storage. By the start of May semester, as i was about to teach my course on cemetery studies at Second Church, the team had already emptied the room of the materials. Most were inventoried and placed in labeled, acid-free boxes on shelves in the newly created archival storage. The development of an archival database would need to wait until September, but an interesting collection of items was discovered in the process. Among the many 18th- and early 19th-century books were titles from rev. Codman’s personal library as well as sermon notes and letters in his own handwriting. We discovered a number of Civil War-era relics including a handpainted, wooden grave marker brought back from Virginia by Dorchester soldiers bearing the faded photograph of their young commanding officer—later buried in nearby Codman Cemetery. Among many maps we found a large, hand-drawn diagram showing the original seating plan and names of pew holders and

annual prices they paid for their seats. Most exciting was the discovery of two 20-foot, muslin, political campaign banners. The first bore the names of grant and Colfax, the successful republican candidates for president and vice president in 1868. The second was a similar banner bearing the names of Lincoln and Johnson, elected in the 1864 campaign. Attached notes explained that both banners had been flown in front of Second Church.

SignS of Life in a Cemetery

The first public display developed out of the archive collection was “Second Church and the Civil War.” The display opened at the church on February 6, 2009, followed by a special bicentennial Lincoln birthday party gathering for the community on February 12. The display tells the story of the 54 members of Second Church in Dorchester who served in the Civil War—15 who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The rev. Dr. Victor price arrived at Second Church in 2004 with an

On the following day, Friday, February 13, the Lincoln banner traveled to the Salem Old Town Hall, where gordon’s institute for public History hosted an afternoon open house and an evening invitation-only Lincoln bicentennial gathering. The event featured period music and dance, an appearance by “president Lincoln” in the guise of John Sarrouf, costumed members of the Civil War Club, a color guard, speeches and lots of fun.

Two weeks later paul Malkemes ’95, executive director of The

For the Second Church archives, this is only the first phase of a multiyear archival process. With Carol Mori and Cliff Hersey continuing to drive the project through the next academic year, the final result will be a well-organized and significant collection of previously unknown materials ready to be used by researchers to help tell the story of Boston, Massachusetts, and in particular the community of Dorchester.

The Codman Burying ground in Dorchester, part of Second Church, had seen better days. Kids had sneaked over the weed-covered fence, and trash filled the grounds. neighbors witnessed illegal activity and loathed the destruction of gravestones. The church lacked money to pay for cemetery maintenance and members took on the job—a daunting task for a small parish. exciting new vision. He foresaw the cemetery as “a place of light and life,” believing its revitalization would be an inspiration to the area. But it was a massive project that would cost thousands of dollars the church did not have. They sat amongst the weeds and prayed for the wisdom and resources to care for the properties entrusted to them. Then they waited. Boston project, called with an idea. He proposed working together to rebeautify the cemetery. paul knew The Boston project’s focus on community development matched the need to revitalize neglected open space and that this large-scale project would impact the entire community. The Boston project Ministries was founded in 1995 when paul and glenna (Aron) ’94 launched a Summer Missions program that took 16 teenagers to the city for service, outreach and discipleship. By the time paul made that phone call to Second Church, The Boston project had grown into a Christian community development ministry involving a staff of over 25 students and alumni and hosting dozens of fellow gordon alumni as volunteers. gordon’s involvement in the cemetery renewal project deepened this past May when David goss (assistant professor of history) and Cliff Hersey (director of global education) had their class study regional history through local cemeteries, including Codman Burying ground. Students explored gravestone symbolism, learned how to

David goss, M.A., assistant professor of history,

do rubbings and assessed the conservation needs of this particular

and codirector of the gordon institute for public

burying ground. These projects helped to restore the history and

History, teaches museum studies, public history,

legacy of this site and provided parameters for its future care.

and early American maritime and intellectual history. His book Salem Witchcraft Trials was published this year by greenwood press (new York). A new book, Daily Life during the Salem Witch Trials, is forthcoming.

neighbors are talking about the visible changes in the cemetery— disappearing barbed wire, newly cleared pathways and flowering trees—and about the teamwork that has bridged divides across age, race and class to tackle a god-sized project.

InstItute for PublIc HIstory


Inspiration—Mike Ahearn Inspiration I have been part of the Gordon College community for four months, and what a joy it has been! I would like to thank the faculty, staff and students for their gracious welcome. Since arriving in June I have had the pleasure of meeting a variety of people who contribute to Gordon’s distinctiveness as a Christian institution. The devotion to providing an excellent education—and also to nurturing character and soul—has been refreshing. as believers we’re called to serve God wherever he places us, and our lord often surprises us with His plans for our lives. as someone who until recently worked in the secular marketplace for many years, I am looking forward to doing what I can to aid the College’s mission in developing the hearts and minds of young men and women who exhibit the character of Christ. I place great value on a liberal arts education; after all, to worship God with your mind implies learning in a broad spectrum of areas. While we each have our own interests and aptitudes, we glorify God in seeking a wide knowledge and understanding of His creation. Though people sometimes assume I must have been an economics or business major, as an undergraduate I majored in history. Now, as a financial manager, I am very grateful for both the formal education I received and for how God uses our life experiences to teach us. For Christians, growing in understanding is meant to never end. Michael Ahearn Vice President for Finance and administration

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Family My wife, Joy, and I celebrated our 19th anniversary December 1. We have lived in arlington, Massachusetts, for

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most of our marriage. I grew up in Philadelphia and moved to the boston area for a job out of graduate school in early 1989. Joy is from California, came to boston after college and worked for au bon Pain, the French bakery café, for a number of years. Church Joy and I met more than 20 years ago in a bible study group at Park Street Church in boston, where we are still active members. at Park Street, Joy is involved in a variety of caring ministries, and I have been serving as church treasurer for the past six years. Our son, Joshua,

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is an eighth-grader at Covenant School in arlington. Who knows? Someday he may find Gordon as enthralling as I have.


2 STILLPOINT | Fall 2009

Inspiration—Jon Tymann Inspiration As another academic year closes, I reflect on the fact that I’ve been connected to Gordon College for 28 years. Coming in as a transfer student from babson College in 1981, I was looking for a strong academic college that allowed me to play soccer and baseball and to be surrounded by Christloving people. Never did I imagine Gordon would become my home for nearly three decades. Gordon’s program is what drew me in; the continuing mission and the people of Gordon are what keep me connected. I have been blessed to be associated with so many wonderful faculty, staff, alumni, parents, students and friends of the College who exemplify Christ through their lives locally and around the world. Our commitment to the mission statement since 1889 continues to help us thrive: “Gordon College strives to graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to a lifestyle of service, and prepared for leadership roles worldwide.” I am continually inspired by our students’ passions and visions to live out this mission in new ways. We truly are sending students into “leadership roles worldwide.” Jonathan Tymann ’83

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senior Director of Development

Development Office jamie.hokanson@gordo

other correspond

editor, sTILLPOINT | G 255 Grapevine road, W



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I just celebrated my 24 anniversary with the love of my th

life, Carlene, who has been an amazing soulmate. We have


five children: three boys—Jordan, 19; Joshua, 16; Jamieson,

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15; and two girls—Courtney, 11; and Cassandra, 8. I now enjoy the thrill of Jordan being a freshman at Gordon. The legacy continues! I want to thank my parents for raising me in a Christian home where family time together

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was always celebrated and challenges were addressed through the filter of scripture. may God continue to lead the next generation to seek Him in all they do for His honor and glory. Special Organizations God has blessed my life in so many ways. I have had the pleasure of working with organizations that have inspired me to do more with the gifts that He has given me. I have also worked with men and women who have had a passion and vision for doing “good” for our society, working out that vision in a visible and constructive manner. Thank you

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to Young Life, the YmCA, Portsmouth Christian Academy, Hampton Falls baptist Church, stratham Youth Programs and boy scouts of America for the honor of working with you toward making life better for those we serve. may God continually bless you all in everything you do in His name. We serve a loving and gracious Lord!

2 STILLPOINT | summer 2009

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Inspiration Thirty years ago we offered our first wilderness expedition under the name Scotsman Adventure School. Ten students signed up for 15 days in the White mountains of New Hampshire. What great memories we have from that first trip! Over the years God has allowed us to grow into the La Vida Center for Outdoor education, which now houses six programs and partners with the Department of recreation and Leisure Studies to offer a concentration in outdoor education. A new initiative to share adventure ministry abroad has led us to Africa and most recently ecuador, where La Vida alumni, staff and immersion students help in program development and facilitation training. Time spent alone in the wilderness is important— even more important now in our age of cell phones, iPods and the Internet—than it was in 1978. Students overcome their fears and experience the power of encouragement in community. They learn to appreciate God’s creation and spend time listening for His “still small voice.” I am reminded of this need in my own life as I spend more and more time in the office and less in the mountains. I pray God will continue to use the power of the wilderness to refine and prepare His servant leaders—as He has done all through history.

VOLUme 23 NUm

“At the still point of the t

T. S. Eliot, referring to God in his



Patricia C. Hanlon editor

Nan Dire Pare

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R. Ju Pres

Dan exec Adv and

Rich obenschain Director of La Vida Center for Outdoor education Assistant Professor of recreation and Leisure Studies

An Inspirational Staff Over the years I have been inspired by the servant hearts of our student staff and by God’s awesome faithfulness in the midst of challenges those students



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overcame and through which they grew. Wilderness Adventure Adventurous time in the wilderness encourages students to fully trust God and commit their lives to Him.

Family I’m inspired by the impact wilderness adventures have on the lives of Gordon

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students, high and junior high school kids, and adults as well. my daughter, Tess, and I participated in the father/ daughter trip in 2007.


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Inspiration—Grady Spires Inspiration Turning 80 years old this year has given me cause to reflect on my time at gordon. i first came to gordon in 1953—55 years ago! Fresh out of Westminster Seminary, newly married and just beginning doctoral work at Harvard, i started out as an “instructor” in the philosophy Department, commuting to gordon from Cambridge. i remember working days at gordon and nights at a local inn to help pay the bills and provide for the baby that came along shortly. Life was busy and full, but i taught because i felt firmly committed to Christian higher education and because i was drawn so deeply to gordon’s integration of life, faith and teaching. gordon has changed over the years, but, if anything, i have seen it grow into a more mature plant.

from Miami to the conference center in georgia where my high school friend had invited me to stay and work for the summer. i’d had to quit the Dade County All-Star baseball team i’d been elected to play on as well as my summer job. My folks weren’t so happy about that, but it ended up being a good decision. it put me in touch for the first time with the idea of a personal faith. Hitchhiking back to Miami at the summer’s end, i was often picked up by Christians. The car-ride conversations cemented my faith and gave me cause to seek Christ throughout the rest of my life.

Grady Spires professor of philosophy

the Scriptures i learned in my youth to pray every day and

seen god face to face

spend quiet time in the

and my life is preserved”

Scriptures, and i’ve tried to

(genesis 32:30). The little

stick by that.

Christian camp and center in upstate new York by the same name—which i came to as a young man and through which

The Works

i met my first wife—has consistently been a

of Herman

place for me to encounter god as well. peniel,


more than any other place, has taught me that

Dooyeweerd was a

god dwells within me and walks with me.

Dutch philosopher who felt all thought is religious in character and Christians


should allow this orientation to affect how

in 1954, we started

doctoral work was based on Dooyeweerd’s

it has sustained me throughout the years.

2 STILLPOINT | Spring 2009

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R. pre

Da Exe pre Ad Co and

Development Office

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“peniel,” saying, “i have

growth and thankful for how as a community

Na Dir and


where he encounters god

home in Hamilton. i am astounded by its solid


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Jacob names the spot

Church out of a


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Daily Prayer and Time in

First presbyterian

T. S. Eliot, referring to Go Four Quartets

granddaughter, Janel (Stockwell) Wright ’05


Church of the North

“At the still point of the t

Written in collaboration with grady’s

As i’ve reflected on my life, i can see god’s hand so clearly. i remember the first time i came to understand what it really meant to give my life to Jesus. it was in the days when gasoline was rationed, so i’d hitchhiked 750 miles

First Presbyterian

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they understand the world. Much of my ideas. Though i lost my thesis when my office burned, i’m still inspired by this man’s philosophy.

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Inspiration—Elaine Phillips Inspiration “So,” you ask, “what inspires you? What propels you out of bed to face each new day?” Now, I know some of the right answers to that question: a deep love for what God has given me to do; joy at the prospect of engaging with students and colleagues; a sense of excitement at each forthcoming day’s adventure. But the truth is, it’s often fear. Fear of being a spectacular failure if I don’t over-prepare. Fear of disappointing people. Fear of being perceived as an outright


sloth, especially when I compare myself to the people who surround me. I’m a prime audience for the exhortation in Psalm 56:3—“When I am afraid, I will trust in You,” a theme to which the psalmist returns several times.

“At the still point of the

T.S. Eliot, referring to God in his

One more abiding fear, the prospect of physical pain, does indeed propel me out of bed early in the morning in order to exercise and hold at bay longstanding weakness in my back. And, in the strange ironies of life, that fear is a gift; the hour and a half of enforced morning exercise has become a



Patricia C. Hanlon Editor

Nan Dire Chu

paradigm for what can be happening in the realm of prayer—


spiritual “exercise.” I’m prodded by a line from Richard Hays’

Tim Ferguson Sauder Creative Director

The Moral Vision of the New Testament—“. . . Believers stand in a relation of solidarity with the pain of an unredeemed creation” (page 26). When I’m feeling ineffective and

Kirsten Keister ’04 Publication Design

terribly small, I’m reminded that we pray to the Master of the Universe. I revisit God’s faithfulness and trust Him as I actively


R. Ju Pres

Patr Dire Com

commit the fearsome aspects of the forthcoming day, and— when I am being less selfish—a deeply pained world into His abiding care. I remember that we only have each day once, and that time, just like pain and prayer, is also God’s gift.

Elaine Phillips, Ph.D. Professor of biblical and theological studies, Senior Distinguished Faculty Recipient, 2006

The Moral Vision of the New Testament



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Hays’ compelling book analyzes the moral teachings of the New Testament Scriptures, and from that coherent vision speaks to contemporary issues such as violence in defense of justice, divorce and remarriage, abortion and homosexuality.

The Man Born to Be King A cycle of plays by Dorothy Sayers on the life

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of Christ, capturing the real characters behind what we have often allowed to become flat, stained-glass representations.

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Inspiration—Mark Stowell Inspiration Today is one of those perfect fall days that remind me why I love New England. The trees are starting to change, the sky is clear and the air is crisp. I am catching the end of a soccer game, reflecting on how much has happened in my years at Gordon. Many of these changes have at least my fingerprint on them, if not my whole hand—from the old Magnolia tree I planted for Dr. Dent 20 years ago to the recent renovations of Frost Hall. Yet I’ve also had many amazing experiences away


from campus, wonderful times of interaction with students. The classroom is essential but learning goes on in a thousand places. It’s those times of growth and shared experiences that make me a believer in all we do here. As I enjoy my 28th

“At the still point o

T. S. Eliot, referring to God

fall at Gordon, I want my faith to be active and well-informed, with a global perspective and thriving in community—which Gordon allows us the freedom to do. Mark Stowell Assistant Director of Physical Plant

Editorial Patricia C. Hanlon Editor Kristin Schwabauer ’04 Assistant Editor

CrEatiVE Tim Ferguson Sauder Creative Director

Sugarloaf Mountain

Kirsten Keister ’04 Rebecca Powell Publication Design

I recall singing praise songs atop Sugarloaf Mountain on a camping trip with a Discovery class. There were powerful times with many


classes telling life stories around a campfire

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along the Ammonoosuc river. Mexico Forever in my mind: clowning and miming in the streets outside Mexico City; building a home in Tecate. And the kids at La Casa de Esperanza, an orphanage in Tijuana—lives were changed as we in Mexico Outreach wrestled with God over tough questions.

oTHeR CoRReSPoNDeNCe Editor, STILLPOINT Gordon College 255 Grapevine road Wenham MA 01984


Restore Creation I’m proud of our environmental concern and enjoy our “restore Creation” efforts most when the students are equally passionate. We have made a difference in sustainability, and many faculty, staff and students have done their part. Family

STILLPOINT, the magazine for alum College of Gordon and Barrington, year and has a circulation of over 2 in STILLPOINT are those of the ind necessarily reflect the views of the

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Working at Gordon encourages spending time with family. Thirty-one years of marriage, a daughter that graduated from here and another that works here will attest to the difference it has made in my life.

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In eAch IssUe

Inspiration— Pat Marcheterre InspIratIon Sandwiches and Students


the turning world.”

o God in his poem

creAtIVe Tim Ferguson Sauder Creative Director Rebecca Powell Amy Harrell ’07 publication Design

AlUMnI neWs Nancy Mering Director of Alumni and parent relations

AdMInIstrAtIon R. Judson Carlberg president Brook Berry Vice president for Enrollment and Marketing

Pat Marcheterre, Deli Lead, Dining Services After many requests to see her in STiLLpOinT, i had the privilege of interviewing “pat the Lunch Lady” to find out what inspires her. i had no idea what inspires her, though i did know how much of an inspiration she has been to many students. There are few who haven’t been a recipient of her warm spirit and smile as they move through the deli line in Lane, looking for a sandwich and receiving motherly conversation as well. —Meg Lynch ’10 “Thirty years of making 150 sandwiches a day—and i’m not sick of it yet! i just love being a part of the gordon Dining Services family, and i love this environment. But what’s my true inspiration? it’s the students. “i watch as they begin their journey, nervous and excited freshmen. My position is not academic, but i get to see them every day—when they’re happy, stressed, dying for peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. i watch as they mature into adults, readying themselves for the world, and finally as they graduate. The cycle changes every four years, and i’ve happily stayed. “And then they come back. They come to the deli to say hello. They come with new stories, new spouses and growing families. i feel like old mother hen to them!


ordon College enham MA 01984

“i know i’m going to have to retire eventually, but i’m still not ready. it’s these kids. it’s the daily interactions i have with them, the conversations. “There’s one particular question students often ask me: ‘When we’re on break, do you make sandwiches?’ And i always reply, ‘i thank god every day for this job, but when you kids go on break, you can bet i’m not making sandwiches!’”

am, Maine Photo Cyndi McMahon

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inT in whole or in part n is prohibited.



Spring 2010 | STILLPOINT 3

Gordon Celebrates National Poetry Month: April 2010 Gordon Celebrates National Poetry Month April 2010 What do ketchup in heaven, coconuts, kitchen tables, petting a lion and the Beatitudes have in common? They are all part of Gordon College’s Second Annual Poetry Podcast created in celebration of National Poetry Month. “Poetry offers a unique experience,” said Mark Wacome Stevick, assistant professor of English and an award-winning poet. “At certain times everyone needs to turn to that kind of dense, raw poetry for the expression of something you cannot express.” The Academy of American Poets inaugurated National Poetry Month in April 1996; its purpose is to “bring together publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.” Other readers for Gordon’s podcast project include Norman Jones, associate professor of theatre arts, reading “Ketchup and Heaven” by Mark Holliday; Laurie Truschel, director of student ministries, “The Ram: Caught in the Bush” by Madeleine L'engle; President Carlberg, reading “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost; Katherine Bagley, Lane dining service worker, joined in this year as well by reading one of her all time favorite poems called "Canis Major" by Robert Frost, a poem about a constellation in the shape of a dog. “This poem is something I taught my son when he was little,” said Bagley. “Every time I read it, I think of him.” §


Translating A. J. Gordon's Global Vision Into Globalization: A Look Ahead—R. Judson




Teachable Moments— David Franz '45B




No Turning Back—Stephen L. S. Smith, Ronald O. Waite and Theodore N. Wood



Landy of History and Mystery—Elaine Phillips




Per Credere, per Sperare, per Amare: Joined Together to Believe, to Hope and to Love—Liesl


Gordon’s semesterlong arts-oriented program in Orvieto, Italy, sponsored a three-day conference the goal of which was “. . . the ultimate calling of the body together with the soul.” Eucharist and Eschatology: Art and Theology in the Duomo of Orvieto did just that.


Joined Together to Believe, to Hope and to Love




liesl sMith

14th-century Duomo dominate the square that rests at the height of the medieval town of Orvieto in Italy, where Gordon’s off-campus arts-oriented program is located. Its centrality reflects not just the importance of the Church within medieval community life; the very imagery inscribed on its architecture proclaims the hold the Church had on the cultural imagination. The design of the Duomo both within and without proclaims salvation history. Outside, the reliefs on the façade trace from the creation of humanity to the judgment by Christ enthroned. Inside, the Eucharist (Communion) and Eschaton (return of Christ) dominate the imagery. There is reason why the Eucharist was the focus of early Christian devotion and remained so throughout the Middle Ages, inspiring the liturgical development of the Feast of Corpus Christi in the 13 th century. The Eucharist is at once feast and union, sustenance and promise. Its transcending union speaks to the reality of Christ and His Church, and there is in the breaking of bread a transcendence beyond time. In that act of receiving, St. Paul’s “now and not yet” finds its fullest expression, and the deepest longings of the Body of Christ are at once met and whetted. In the Eucharist we are caught up with Christ as surely as the disciples at the Last Supper—as surely as the saints of old. Yet the celebration of the Eucharist reminds us that we still wait for Christ’s coming—walking in that long “until” before our Lord’s return. Thus, eucharistic imagery refers inevitably and inescapably to the eschatological. This past May, Gordon College, the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi and the Comune of Orvieto hosted Eucharist and Eschatology: Art and Theology in the Duomo of Orvieto—an interdisciplinary academic conference envisioned and organized by Professor John Skillen, director of Gordon in Orvieto and 1976 Gordon graduate. Visitors and conference attendees explored firsthand how fundamental the eucharistic and eschatological are not only to the design of the Duomo but also to our contemporary Christian community. For three days a wide range of interdisciplinary papers was presented by scholars like Professors Nicholas Wolterstorff and Jaime Lara of Yale, John Paul Wauck of the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Susanna Caroselli of Messiah College and Jonathan Riess of the University of Cincinnati, to name a few. The various foci and perspectives provided a rich contemplation of the Incarnation of Christ’s physical body, His body in the Church, and His body in the Eucharist. The academic proceedings richly fulfilled the objectives of the conference to “reflect on the meaning of human corporality, on the dignity of the flesh and on the ultimate calling of the body together with the soul (eschatology).” Fittingly—given that the Eucharist is about feast and community—a wider invitation to the community of Orvieto and to all tourists was issued through the arts during the week of Corpus Christi. First, Gordon College and the Comune di Orvieto together sponsored an exhibit of Gordon professor Bruce Herman’s paintings entitled Il Corpo Spezzato/The Body Broken in the Palazzo dei Sette. Then during the week of Corpus Christi an Italian-American theatre company named the Compagnia de’ Colombari under the direction of Karin Coonrod, a 1976 he spires of the

159 photos oF orvieto by Daniel nysteDt ’06

Orvieto and the Duomo

Gordon graduate, performed Laude in Urbis, a contemporary adaptation from medieval mystery plays. The conference, exhibit and play culminated in the Feast of Corpus Christi, the origins of which are tied to the town of Orvieto itself. These visual and dramatic events reflected the embodied nature of the Eucharist better than words ever could. Though the Il Corpo Spezzato exhibit began in April and continued through June, for the week preceding Corpus Christi, Herman worked in the


Sculpting at the Gordon in Orvieto program

Palazzo’s atrium on a series of large panels treating scenes from the life of Mary. Herman shared with visitors his painting process as well as his completed art that lined the upstairs gallery. There is something peculiarly intimate about watching a visual artist at work. There is a certain quality of revelation to the affair, as layer by layer the fuller image begins to emerge. Watching Herman’s panels “assume flesh” provided a beautiful metaphor for the themes of embodiment and revelation treated formally in the conference proceedings. Fittingly, the conference concluded with a multimedia presentation by Herman on the intimacy with which Christ’s

body speaks to our brokenness. For Lyn Shields, one of several Gordon trustees accompanying President Jud Carlberg and his wife, Jan, to

as the Feast of Corpus Christi reminded us—as the eucharist continually reminds us—we live and communicate, watch and work for the full revelation of the body of Christ in glory. Orvieto, this concluding talk was the highlight of the conference: “Bruce summed up all that had been said before and so beautifully tied in to the art of the Cathedral of Orvieto, both Eucharist and eschatology: ‘Because of Christ’s sacrifice, a broken body can become a vessel of beauty and transcendence.’” That promise of beauty from brokenness traveled in

Students from Gordon in Orvieto enjoying a view of the city

medieval fashion through the streets of Orvieto for two nights as the Compagnia de’ Colombari depicted salvation history from “Creation” through to the “Harrowing of Hell.” Laude in Urbis was framed by the “Road to Emmaus” encounter with Christ, ending appropriately with Christ revealing himself in the breaking of bread. The power with which the various scenes (some in Italian, some in English) resonated with the spectators was expressed by Diane Bennett, wife of Gordon trustee Peter Bennett: “One minute I was thrilled with the talent, the next close to tears, the next in laughter—and the act depicting hell was so realistic I found myself pleading with God to get me out of there! The heckling and making your way through dark, smoky lanes was very powerful. I cannot imagine how anyone watching could walk away without a clear message of salvation. In fact, a young girl who had just arrived in Orvieto asked what was going on. She joined the group, and there was opportunity to share Christ with her throughout the night.” It is no coincidence that such moments arose during these Corpus Christi festivities since Gordon has dedicated itself to building opportunities with Orvieto. Lyn Shields noted, “Clearly Orvieto is thrilled with the presence of the Gordon program. Watching the way the town (predominantly Catholic) and the school (predominantly Protestant Evangelical) work together so harmoniously was a real witness to true Christian unity.”

Corso Cavour, a main street in Orvieto

This harmony arises from years of relationship-building. Since 1998 Gordon College has been a presence in Orvieto with the semester-long arts program directed by Dr. John Skillen and housed in the Instituto San Lodovico, a convent. That the City of Orvieto and the diocese would invest so generously in this event makes it clear that Gordon is an authentic part of that community, celebrating together both the Eucharist and

Todi, reminded his audience: “Per credere, per sperare, per amare”—we are joined in order to believe, to hope and to love. That active and productive union may find its most potent expression and experience in the Eucharist, but as the Feast of Corpus Christi reminded us—as the Eucharist continually reminds us—we live and communicate, watch and work for the full revelation of the Body of Christ in glory.

That the City of Orvieto and the diocese would invest so generously in this event makes it clear that gordon is an authentic part of that community, celebrating together both the eucharist and the body of Christ as incarnated in his people. the Body of Christ as incarnated in His people. Gordon’s vision for global engagement is certainly being achieved partially through its various programs abroad, and more generally through investing a global vision in its students. In some ways the Gordon community in Orvieto provides a perfect example of what eucharistic community ought to be. We are privileged that the local church is interested in communion with us and believes wholeheartedly that we are joined, as Padre Giovanni Scanavino, bishop of the Diocese of Orvieto-

Dr. Liesl Smith is the assistant director of global education at Gordon and also teaches courses in early British history (History Department) and things medieval (English Department). She holds a master’s from Carnegie Mellon University and a doctorate from the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. Smith has taught at Jiangxi University in Nanchang, China, and in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Her scholarly publications focus on Anglo-Saxon and Latin hagiography—writings on saints. Her poetry has been published in various journals.


The Lessons of Dislocation— The Lessons LieslofSmith Dislocation Liesl Smith

“Yes, I’m calling from Acme Rescue [not its real name], which provides emergency evacuation services for U.S. citizens abroad. We heard that some of your students were missing in Cairo and were wondering if our services might be of use to you.” Ah, the joys of misinformation. It multiplied with the same brainless abandon as fruit flies around a rotting banana. That phone call provided one of the lighter moments in our Global Education Office, only because we knew beyond any doubt that our students were safe. Most questions we seriously entertained were in-house expressions of concern from faculty, staff and alumni of the program. It made sense—when communication with Egypt was spotty and the United States was deciding whether or not to pull its citizens out—that the question on everybody’s mind was: “Are you bringing the students home?” Over the course of a semester abroad, however, the whole notion of “home” gets upended. The students in Egypt this spring semester [2011] had not been in their new locations long enough for the people and places to become home. At the semester’s start, they are in the throes of discovering that however much technology shrinks our globe, home is a long, long ways away. For students encountering sudden political turmoil, that desire for home and safety may become even more intense. Still, it doesn’t take political protests to make the emotional and physical distance between their American and study-abroad “homes” to hit students hard. I saw that a few years ago when I was teaching Medieval Monasticism in Orvieto, Italy. One evening over dinner a student asked me if I felt homesick. I was taken aback. Home had been where I’d laid my head for so many years that homesickness seemed a foreign concept. I was surprised she would wonder if I could be homesick—so surprised that I failed to respond to the real issue behind her question: how much she was missing her family. Despite such feelings of homesickness, it’s the rare student who does not eventually feel that his or her study-abroad home is “home” in a very real sense. That relocation in the heart often complicates coming back to the States to what had previously been home. Students expect to feel the same as they did before they left and to reconnect with friends and activities on the campus, only to return to a feeling of dislocation they were neither expecting nor are able to shake. Yes, they are glad to be back; thankful to be surrounded by the familiar and by those they love and missed. Meanwhile, though, they feel some inexplicable, emotional qualifier hovering over them. Even as their “homecoming” feels good, they wonder what to do with their feelings of loss and the absence of those with whom they have formed important relationships. With reentry, students encounter a whole new range of homesickness for the places that have worn themselves into their heart’s geography. They look about them at what was once familiar and discover that it no longer feels as it did before. They have not come back to the same home because they are no longer the same people. The adjustment of going and coming is only part of the challenge of studying abroad, and, however important, it does not necessarily translate into personal transformation. Far more important is the opportunity that dislocation offers for substantive 162

“rewiring.” For students to be removed, even if only momentarily, from American culture—where our gospel of self-fulfillment defies the sacrificial nature of loving (and seeking justice for) our neighbor; where gadgetry becomes our daily bread; where the mantra of “rights” tramples on the grace of forgiveness; and where we skip merrily into the temptation du jour— dislocation can be a gift. To be separated from their stuff, from their usual comforts and distractions, and to dwell in a different place can feel anything but secure. And yet it provides a vital opportunity to discover—with the psalmist—an altogether different dwelling place. Because we are sensuous beings, we cannot help but react and be affected by our surroundings and those around us. We listen, see and engage differently when surrounded by the unfamiliar. How do we prod students to move into these experiences with a readiness not only to learn and engage the new but also to find their anchor in a reality that transcends location? Do I prod myself to do the same? Am I homesick, as that student in Orvieto asked; as the students making their way from Egypt to Istanbul or Jerusalem may be as I write this? Perhaps not enough. Perhaps even those of us who have trained ourselves to feel that home is simply where we lay our heads need to learn this lesson of dislocation. The much-touted shrinking of our globe makes “home” no less important, but in the end it cannot be reduced to the place, nor even the people, whom we love. For us, as for our students, the work of reconciling the various homes, families, and even selves that we accumulate ought to move us to a truer, deeper engagement with the place where we find ourselves. We look toward a “home” that is a dwelling place for every generation, a place that is both here and now, but not yet.

This essay originally appeared in The Chronicle Review. Dr. Liesl Smith is director of administration and management in the Global Education Office and an adjunct instructor of history at Gordon.


Going Green, Crossing Cultures: Going Green, Crossing Cultures: Modern Lessons from Francis of Assisi Modern Lessons from Francis of Assisi—Wendy Murray Wendy Murray

When I make note to various interested (or uninterested) parties that this year, 2009, marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Friars Minor, birthed by Francis of Assisi, I am met with blank stares. It is obvious to me that some want to say (but don’t)—who? Others: —and so . . ? I get it. Most people who know anything about Francis know that he is a Catholic saint (thus irrelevant to non-Catholics) or a vaguely familiar “guy who liked animals.” There is nothing to say to that except, yes, he liked animals (But he would not have joined PETA.). There is a larger cosmic vision under which he understood his place, others’ place and the place of all creation. We moderns—Protestant, Catholic or otherwise—would do well to appreciate that larger vision he championed especially as it relates to pressing issues of our time. Francis strongly advocated “creation care.” Near the end of his life, when Francis was sick, blind and in constant pain, he wrote the Canticle of the Creatures, the earliest literary document written in vernacular Italian. It began with the word Altissimu, the Italian way to hurl the word “alto” (high) to its superlative expression. Italians frequently attach the “issimo” suffix to words to elevate their force. And Francis was a true Italian. Altissimu for Francis referred to God, for whom, in the Canticle, all creatures are summoned to participate in a cosmic performance. It is to be sung in every landscape by each participant in creation for the singular purpose of rendering back to God the beauty and originality of his own personality. It is not pantheism. Rather, it is an exercise in the particulars—sun, moon, wind, fire—all are points of intersection between this world and the next. In the Canticle, earth gives back to the Almighty the gifts he himself ascribed it. The song reflects Francis’ vision that brings into harmony all that exists on earth as fellow participants in a stunning assertion of gratitude for God’s care (It also explains why he liked animals.). Second, during the horrific period known as the Crusades, which of part occurred during Francis’ lifetime, he stands out as a singular emissary of peace by means of dignified inter-religious dialogue. In 1219 when Pope Honorius IV dispatched the Fifth Crusade, Francis would not be denied his intention to go in order to visit the Muslim leader, the sultan Malik al-Kamil, even if it meant death, as all deemed it would. When he arrived at the Crusader camp in Egypt, Christian forces were poised to attack the port city of Damietta. History notes that the siege (August 29, 1219) ended in a massacre for the Christians. At this point Francis left the Christian camp to walk straight into the camp of the enemy. He was immediately arrested and threatened with decapitation. But Francis requested first to see the sultan, who received him graciously. He asked promptly if Francis wished to convert to Islam. He said he did not, but had come instead to present the sultan’s soul to “God on behalf of Christ.” The sultan’s sages advised him to uphold “the sword of the law” and cut off Francis’ head. The sultan conceded that he was indeed bound by law to execute Francis. However, he chose to act against his own law, 164

he said, because it would be an “evil reward to bestow on one who intentionally risked death in order to save his soul for God.” Rather than denounce the sultan’s beliefs, Francis put his life on the line. Love ruled his action. Risk, disgrace and probable death were irrelevant. As was true of all noble knights whom Francis emulated, he acknowledged al-Kamil as an equal in dignity, offering his life in exchange for another’s soul. The sultan understood this. Francis won, if not his conversion, his respect and reciprocity of valor. Finally, we can learn much from Francis during the current recession we face. Francis defined his life with a purpose higher than comfort and material acquisition, and thus lived simply. His religious vows and those he imposed on his brothers embraced poverty. Church officials felt it would be “very difficult to possess nothing in the world,” to which Francis replied: “If we had any possessions we should also be forced to have arms to protect them, since possessions are a cause of disputes and strife, and in many ways hinder [us] from loving God and our neighbor.” We can’t all embrace poverty as he did. But we can capture the intention behind his vow and not bind our lives to the things we acquire. Francis exhorted his brothers to live in a way that others “may be drawn to peace and good will through your gentleness. We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Wendy Murray is an adjunct professor of communication arts at Gordon College. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts and is the author of A Mended and a Broken Heart: The Life and Love of Francis of Assisi. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


The Accidental Chaplain—Bob Whittet

The Accidental Chaplain Landstuhl Hospital, Germany

It was a beautiful Monday in May. My academic robe and hood were back in my closet; my final grades had been turned in. I was ankle deep in cement, helping my colleague, Mark Cannister, pour a cement slab at his house in South Hamilton, when I received a phone call from the administrator at Bethany Church in Greenland, New Hampshire. I was surprised by his question: Was I available to fly to Germany immediately, hopefully by the end of the day? We had heard the day before that Sgt. Conan Marchi, a former member of my youth group and student leadership team, had been shot and critically wounded by a sniper in the city of Hit, Iraq. I’d led prayer for Conan, his wife, Hope, and parents, Bob and Jolene during worship that Sunday morning. The administrator explained, now, that word had come that Conan was on his way to the Landstuhl Hospital at Ramstein Air Force Base in southern Germany. He was in critical condition, with a life-threatening straight-through gunshot wound to his abdomen. His wife and parents were on the way. It would be important for Conan and his family to have someone from Bethany on scene—and the pastoral staff felt I was that person. After I hung up I said to Mark, who was looking at me quizzically, “I think I need to go to Germany . . . right now.” Mark and I gave the cement one last skimming; I jumped in my car for the hour-long trip home to Rye, New Hampshire. In the car I called my wife, Jean, and then my travel agent, asking him to please get me on the first available flight later that day. He called back with the news that there was one seat available on a Continental flight to Frankfurt, scheduled to leave Boston at 3:30. I glanced down at my watch—it was one o’clock, and I was in Salisbury, Massachusetts, northbound. Once at

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home, I changed my cement-covered clothes, literally tossed a few things into a suitcase, and grabbed my passport in the kitchen on my way out the door. At Logan Airport I was quickly ticketed and then sprinted for the gate, where the flight was already boarding. Settling into my seat, heart pounding, I rubbed my face and realized I hadn’t shaved while I was at home. In fact, I hadn’t shaved in three days—after all, it was the beginning of summer. A SOLDIER’S STORY On the ground in Frankfurt, I made a quick stop at the Budget counter to get a car and a map, eager to get to the hospital before dark. The Autobahn, with its average middle-lane speed of 105 miles per hour, was just what I needed. Clearing security at Gate 3 to Ramstein AFB with what appeared to be divine intervention (I had no idea how I was going to get onto the base), I came upon Landstuhl Hospital, the largest U.S. military hospital outside of the United States. I wound through the long corridors with a tall sergeant from Georgia who had offered to help me find Sgt. Marchi. I began to wonder what awaited me when I got to the room. In 18 years in the pastorate, I’d made plenty of hospital calls, but never one like this. We entered Conan’s room. The young man whom I’d first met as a gangly middle school student, and whose wedding I’d officiated at five years ago, lay there under a plethora of IV bags and pints of transfusing blood. When our eyes met, his jaw dropped. “Conan, don’t worry,” I said. “This doesn’t mean you are going to die.” After we’d had a few hours to pray and visit together he asked, “Do you want to hear what happened?”

I said that I did, indeed. I had to wonder if Conan was mad at God for allowing the serious wound he had suffered. But as I listened to his story of what had happened three days before, it quickly became evident that just the opposite was true. Four months into their 12-month deployment, he and his squad of five soldiers and their Iraqi translator had been on patrol on the streets of Hit, looking for weapon caches. His squad walked up the street, three in front of him and two behind. Conan was momentarily distracted by something and happened to glance down. It was exactly then that he felt something rip into his hip, as if he’d been hit by a baseball bat. His legs went out from underneath him and he collapsed on the street, hearing a gunshot ring out from up the street. A second shot then hit the translator in the knee—again there was a delay between the arrival of the bullet and the sound of the shot. Saving him from a possible follow-up kill shot, one of the men in the squad grabbed Conan by the loop on top of his armored vest and threw him behind some metal barricades off the side of the street as others fired their weapons in covering fire. Another, a medic, worked feverishly to control Conan’s bleeding until the rescue patrol arrived with an armored vehicle to evacuate him. Conan said of the sniper, “He was really good, placing that bullet less than one inch under the bottom of my armored vest from that distance.” The sniper had been an expert marksman, shooting a high-powered rifle from possibly as far away as a half mile, which explained the delay in hearing the sound of the gunshots. “But God saved my life,” Conan went on. The momentary distraction that had caused him to look down took away the possibility of the fatal forehead shot—the favorite of snipers. Glancing down at just that

Story Robert Whittet ’78

moment had also tipped his bulletproof helmet down, leaving the second-best shot that the sniper hopes will hit your femoral artery. The shot missed Conan’s artery by less than half an inch. Conan recounted his subsequent airlifting to a medical facility in Iraq where he had the first two surgeries

his toes before striking him in the jaw. His feet were healing. He had had some reconstructive surgery done on his jaw, but would need more. “I need to go to Walter Reed to get my good looks back so I can get back to my unit,” he explained to me.

“Conan, don’t worry,” I said. “This doesn’t mean you are going to die.” required to save his life. Another round of surgery the following morning stabilized and prepared him for the medical evacuation flight to Germany. Upon arriving in Germany it was another trip to surgery. By the time I arrived on Tuesday afternoon he was already up to his eighth surgery. Little did either of us know then that the surgeries required to battle against infection would eventually number more than 20. A WORLD OF ITS OWN Over the course of my visit, I came to realize that the military is a community unto itself, with its own language and customs. After the fourth straight person I was introduced to greeted me as “chaplain,” I decided to go with it, and took on the role of chaplain not just for Conan and his family, but for a steady stream of visitors who stopped by, many of them fellow wounded who were also recovering in the hospital. Most of the wounded were victims of shrapnel from roadside bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). One soldier moved briskly around in his wheelchair. It was his third time to Landstuhl to be treated for wounds. This time he had been driving a Humvee up a street when he ran over an explosive device. The shrapnel passed up through the floorboards and took off three of

Every soldier that I had opportunity to talk with at Landstuhl talked of getting back to his or her unit in Iraq. As I heard their stories, I could not escape the reality of people like these whom most of us will never meet, who are willing to serve and sacrifice on behalf of all of us. The ravages and the uncertainties of war were exemplified in Conan’s up-anddown recovery. His temperature would be 99° one minute and 104° less than an hour later as infection in his wounds festered—usually requiring yet another trip to the operating room. I watched him panic when someone opened the curtains in his room to check the weather. “Exposure!” he yelled. His body was in Germany, but his mind was still in the war zone where something as simple as opening the curtain can be a fatal decision, as you expose yourself to a sniper. Plucked from the pressures of combat, it would take him some time to realize he was now safe. He would eventually decompress and begin to look forward to heading home. I returned home several days later to continue my summer, blessed by the high honor of bringing spiritual comfort to some extraordinary people, the wounded members of our military.

Sgt. Conan Marchi, who received a Purple Heart for being wounded in action, continues to recover from his injuries at the Landstuhl Hospital in Germany. He is in daily physical therapy and working hard to be able to walk and move about normally. Having joined the military after high school, he is looking forward to starting college studies after he is discharged, and is considering Gordon College. Bob Whittet, M.Div., serves on the faculty as an associate professor of youth ministries. He resides in Rye, New Hampshire, with his wife, Jean ’81. They have four children: Ethan ’04, Justin (Westmont ’07), Aaron ’09 and Amanda ’09.

FaLL 2006 | STILLPOINT 19167

Facebook in a Monastery—John Skillen

Facebook in a Monastery John Skillen I know the subtle compelling pull of the Internet. Yesterday, preparing for a class on Dante, I noted how the belatedly penitent souls described in the Canto 8 of the Purgatorio sang together the Te lucis ante terminum (To thee before the close of day), the ancient hymn included in the evening service of Compline. I wondered if I could find the full text in latin and English on the Internet, and a recording of the hymn on YouTube. So I Googled it. Yes, I hit the jackpot. But somehow, a half hour later, still glued to YouTube, I was watching clip after clip of my favorite characters from the Muppet Show: the Swedish Chef and Sam the Eagle. all this may sound wholesome enough; we’re not talking pornography here. But how in the world did I get from Dante’s chorus of penitents to the Swedish Chef making turtle soup? I don’t remember. One thing led to another. I can recognize the weakening of the will in the early morning when, descending to a quiet corner of the living room with my Bible or my Italian Franciscan prayer book in hand with every good intention of praying matins, I allow myself to fire up the laptop just for the merest quick check of email (after all, it’s already noon in Orvieto). and suddenly it’s 45 minutes later, the prayer book is unopened, and I’ve got time only for a quick shower and a bowl of cereal. Yes, I have a Facebook account. It sits mainly unopened except when I accept invitations from the far-flung Gordon in Orvieto alumni to be “Facebook friends.” Reluctantly I have decided that Facebook provides the best medium now available to keep track of these several hundred alumni. Now I’m “social networking” often enough to experience the temptation to a sort of voyeurism in moving from one photo in which I have been tagged, to the source album, to the albums and then profiles of others tagged in the same photo, to the photos of friends of friends, to . . . Where and when does it stop? Is this harmless curiosity?

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STILLPOINT | Fall 2009

The English word comes from the latin curiositas, which the medieval moral theologians considered distinctly a vice. It was often described as the besetting temptation of the pilgrim, losing his focus on the goal of the journey by gawking at all the novelties along the way, lapsing into the titillated but uninvolved gaze of the tourist. Curiositas is a desire for the sort of aimless knowledge that comes with no moral strings attached, no responsibility for caring for the person seen. Such idle curiosity, in the medieval view, was related to acedia or will-less sloth, to which one is more vulnerable precisely during those periods of the day when zeal and fortitude are weakened by lethargy. I began with personal illustrations, but they get at some of the reasons why Facebook isn’t invited to become much of a friend at monastery San Paolo, where the Gordon in Orvieto program is situated. It is, after all, not a “trip” that surfs over the surface of famous Italian cities; rather, it’s a full semester of cross-cultural immersion that urges students to let the local culture of a small and intimate town and its people get under their skin in deep and lasting ways. as Sybil Coleman and Bryan auday’s study indicates, a third of our students spend one to two hours a day on Facebook. Such a habit can translate into 200 hours of a semester supposedly spent “in Italy”; 200 hours: 20 daytimes’ worth—one-fifth of the semester’s opportunities—lost for learning another language, for making real friends in Orvieto, for touching real tufa, for praying with real nuns. The many american university programs in Italy are all reporting their students are measurably less engaged in their local settings than they were 10 years ago. The three main factors of such disengagement are significant amounts of time on the Internet and on the cell phone—now with

the distractions of texting, Facebooking, photographing, and iPodding all contained in the same seductive device; and touristy weekends in Paris or london or Barcelona, taking advantage of cheap flights on Ryanair and EasyJet. Second, the Orvieto semester is intended to counter the disembodied, multitasking quality of so much of

long stretches of uninterrupted time, the filling up of which is decided by no one but one’s self. Fourth, in contrast to a Facebook culture in which cybercommuning with one’s untouchable cyber friends by definition takes one out of the community where one actually IS, the Orvieto semester is a pretty forceful experience of

Curiositas is a desire for the sort of aimless knowledge that comes with no moral strings attached, no responsibility for caring for the person seen. our contemporary life: earbuds plugged in, viewing our surroundings mediated through a camera lens with an eye not on the thing itself but on how it will appear packaged when we put up our Facebook albums within minutes of having the experience. all of these distract us from focused bodily attention to the people, the smells, textures and sounds directly in front of us. Hence the “new monastic” flavor of our program’s stated intention: “To give students an experience of rhythms of life slower and simpler than the forms of contemporary american life (with its speed and size, its barrage of visual images, and its pervading sense of impermanence). We do this by dining together, encouraging sustained conversation, experiencing the traditional liturgies of religious life and civic celebrations, living more closely to the earth in the midst of vineyards and olive groves, and by trading the automobile for the foot.” Third, we wish our students’ experience in Orvieto to counter the weakening of the will that the addictive clicking of a Facebook culture can aggravate. life in the monastery and in Orvieto is, on one side, more structured, with the Internet signal limited to an hour in the late afternoon, with leisurely meals taken together at precise times, and so forth. On the other side, without hour-by-hour campus obligations, and without the ever-present likelihood of unplanned interruption by the ring of the cell phone or new email message, one faces

intentional community living. Twenty or so people are obliged to look one another in the face with little relief over four months, developing patience (or not) with one another’s quirks and mannerisms, knowing with the body who has done their chores and who has not, inescapably encountering someone’s need for a shoulder to cry on or a joy to share. When the kid across the dinner table is rambling, one must deal with him. and such training in courtesy and patience is, of course, training in love. Facebook—face it—allows the slippery evasions of hitting “Reply” with an ersatz “That’s so cool!” or “I wish I could be there!!!” or “I lOVE your photos!!!!!!” The medium itself requires trite responses and sabotages any substantive conversation. How revealing is the Facebook function of “poking” someone—supposedly a tender signal that you are thinking of the friend at that very moment; but really just a watered-down imitation of a real hug and an hour of patient conversation. John Skillen, Ph.D., is a professor of English and director of the Gordon in Orvieto program. He is also the editor of Palimpsest, the journal of the Studio for art, Faith and History.

Fall 2009 | STILLPOINT 17169

Celebrating The Other Celebrating Global The Other Global Language—EmmanuelleLanguage A. Vanborre Emmanuelle A. Vanborre

Ask many English speaking Americans what March means to them and they might say, basketball. Others may mention women’s history month, the season of Lent, or spring. What they might not know is that every year in March, all around the world, the French language and French cultures are celebrated. Of course, some might not care. They might instead be stuck in the stereotypes French and Americans have had of each other for years. But that would miss the point as well as the reality that today there are over 200 million French speaking—or Francophone—people in the world. In fact, French is the ninth most spoken language on the planet and the only one—along with English—to be spoken on all five continents (yes, in school in Europe we learn that there are five continents, not seven!). And every year in March, hundreds of countries and governments organize a variety of events to celebrate the diversity of Francophone cultures, including in the U.S. As one born in the south of France and as a current professor of French, I can’t help but look forward to March as the time of Francophonie. The term “Francophonie” was coined at the end of the nineteenth century by a French geographer named Onésime Reclus to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language. Less than a hundred years later in 1970, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophine (OIF) was founded with the goals of promoting French language, education, equality, peace and development among its members. Its impact most recently was felt when the OIF set up a linguistic program to help young students from Haiti. So March is an meaningful time for me. Though I am a part of a department that offers Francophone classes throughout the year such as African studies, Québec studies, French Cinema, French literature, etc., I know that this week of Francophonie helps us reinforce the power of cultural diversity. Why? Because to teach a language is to teach a culture, so as language professors we teach more than just nouns and verbs. We teach geography, history, politics, sociology, religion, literature, arts, etc. This variety and richness is what makes our task so interesting, challenging and rewarding. Though much has been said of how technology has brought the world to us in immediate and innovative ways, today’s students nonetheless tend to enjoy the real time cultural differences they encounter with each Francophone event. They are curious, enthusiastic, surprised, sometimes shocked about their new discoveries and they like to compare what they learn, how other people live, worship, and think, with the way the people in their community do. There is no substitute for first hand experience.


I think of the author who came to our campus last year from Québec to discuss her latest novel and took time to talk with us over meals—in French. Or the French Film Festival we organized, inviting French classes from a local school to join us. I think of the times we’ve traveled into Boston to participate in cultural events organized by the Francophone community. Or of the speakers who talk in class and outside, bringing to life what we read and learn in our studies. In other words, how many students of foreign languages have indirectly met the other through what they learn in texts and books? Through videos we watch and discuss, and more directly through real persons who belong to other cultures and traditions, we learn more about distinctions and similarities, about what it means to encounter someone other than ourselves. Such knowledge brings about a certain open-mindedness, an appreciation for difference. It confronts prejudices and it challenges us to relate, to interact and learn about those outside our usual corners of the world. And in so doing, we learn about ourselves. Learning different languages and becoming familiar with other cultures helps us connect with people from around the world and prepares us to understand and help them. As a result, we can better respond to global events—like the earthquake in Haiti—because we have learned of other’s languages and lives. So this year, as we celebrate Francophonie, we are all the more mindful of our Haitian neighbors. We will listen to speakers on campus and we will know that another part of the world is very close to home. Dr. Emmanuelle Vanborre is assistant professor of French at Gordon. She moved to Boston in 2000 and currently lives in Woburn, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.







Words Matter—Jan Carlberg

Words Matter By Jan Carlberg


ords matter: those written or whispered as well as those heard, read or thought. Consider these simple phrases: “I love you”; “Please forgive me”; “Thank you so much”; “I forgive you”; or “I’m listening.” Do you need to hear or speak any of these words?

My grandmother completed just eight years of formal education in Norway before coming to this country to work as a maid in New York City. She was just 15 years old. The Jewish women she worked for taught her to speak English and showed her how to use the New York Public Library. My grandmother loved to read and memorize poetry. She became wise, and a lifelong learner. One day when I was a young girl, she took me aside to teach me the power of words through a poem she’d memorized. Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds. You can’t do that when you’re flying words. Once spoken, though you wish them left unsaid, God Himself can’t kill them, make them dead. Not the best poetry, but great wisdom. I cherish memories of sneaking peeks at my grandmother cradling her Bible— reciting, not reading—page after page. It reminded me of the old prophet Jeremiah, who wrote, “When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16) But this is not about my grandmother or me. It’s about you and what you do with the words you’ll hear or use in these last days of the school year and after you’ve left Gordon to follow God’s call on your life in fresh directions. Being part of Gordon means we are people of our word. We keep our

commitments. We guard our speech. We use words to build, not to tear down. We learn to listen, not just speak. Remember the privilege and responsibility that you bear His Name and have within easy reach the Word of God. I challenge you to take words with you. Words that heal and reconcile. Words that challenge people to think. Words that infect the world you’re in with love and joy and peace. Words filled with hope. It won’t be easy, but it will be easier when you remember to fill up on God’s Word. Eugene Peterson writes in THE MESSAGE his paraphrase of Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ—the Message— have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Words matter. God’s and yours.

Jan Carlberg is the author of The Hungry Heart and The Welcome Song: And Other Stories from a Place Called Home, and speaks at conferences, churches and colleges across the country. She has served as a director of women’s ministries, community Bible study teacher, assistant chaplain at Gordon, and has served on the board of Vision New England. An open letter to graduating seniors published in Vox Populi, a Gordon student publication, May 2008.

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A Beloved Professor's Johntod.Graduates— Mason: a Beloved Professor’s Address address to graduates

John D. Mason Dr. John Mason, founding father of the Department of Economics and

Business at gordon, passed away January 15. This is text of John’s address to graduating seniors May 18, 2007, at the traditional Senior Breakfast.

I am a Christian brother who happens to be an economist. Now economists might be described as charter members of the World Association of Party Poopers (WAPP). It is our self-assigned task to assess the cost of whatever it is you may want to do, and then more often than you would like, to caution that these desires simply are too costly—that the ends you seek are not feasible, and therefore we encourage you to chart a less utopian course. In other words, so we are interpreted, “Don’t dream so much, and be content with the way things are”—to which you may well respond, “Who invited this guy to the party?” But before showing me the door, recall that I am a Christian economist, and Christians should always be dreaming of new and better ways of bringing God’s

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STILLPOINT | Spring 2011

full shalom to every corner of our world— albeit, I must note, in ways that indeed yield the improvement we seek (for example, feasibility). I share a special bond with your class. You and I terminate our full-time involvement with Gordon College at the end of this academic year: in your case, I pray, to use what we offered here in a quest to make this world more pleasing to its Creator; and in my case, to retire from full-time teaching. Although retired from this calling I have dearly loved, I will join with you in the pursuit of a better world through my ongoing research into ways of assuring that all students in this society receive a good, quality education. Before I say anything more I must recognize the beautiful woman sitting

beside me at this breakfast, my wife of almost 41 years. To the extent I have been able to accomplish anything worthwhile throughout my professional career, Sherrie has been a vital part of that. As a number of you can testify, she manifests the gift of hospitality in a way I never could, and she keeps this otherwise dour economist smiling and fashionable. A foundational principle of economics is the law of diminishing marginal utility, which observes that the more of some good we consume, the less the additional value received from one more unit of that good. As I have noted with some of you, I have discovered at least one exception to this law—kisses with one’s spouse of many years. Each kiss is at least as sweet as the previous one; there is no diminishing marginal utility here. I wish for each of

you this same sweetness with your life mate as I have found with mine. The counsel offered to me by your representative who extended the invitation to speak was to make this talk touching and lighthearted. I hope I have been faithful to this charge so far. She also said that you asked me to speak for who I am. Heeding this counsel, let me return to my encouragement to you to embrace the pursuit of God’s full shalom in this world.

disparities between rich and poor—the pope condemned both capitalism and Marxism/socialism as “systems that marginalize God.” “What is real?” he asked. “Are only material goods, social and economic and political problems ‘reality’?” “Just structures,” he continued, “are an indispensable condition for a just society, but they neither rise nor function without a moral consensus in society on fundamental values. Where God is

economic order more just. As one very important example of this, fellow Christians in an earlier era led the cause for abolishing slavery and the subsequent repressions known as “Jim Crow.” To advocate for and to assist those in society who are weak, vulnerable and poor—as I contend the Bible instructs us to do—will inevitably require sacrifice in a world constrained by scarcity. I challenge Christopher Hitchens and his

Each kiss with one’s spouse of many years is at least as sweet as the previous one; there is no diminishing marginal utility here. The New York Times this past week contained two contradictory items. The Sunday Book Review highlighted the latest book from Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens is one of those erudite and clever British imports who help us better understand ourselves. The reviewer notes how in his recent writings Hitchens seemed to be edging towards a position of cultural conservatism. But rather than embrace a traditional religion, as one might expect as the next step in this intellectual pilgrimage, Hitchens now turns and attacks religion—joining what appears to be a counter-offensive by prominent atheists of late in reaction to the growing influence of orthodox believers in each of the religions that claim Abraham as a spiritual father. This past Sunday, probably about the time when readers of The Times were digesting the Hitchens review, Pope Benedict XVI was addressing the Latin American bishops in Brazil. In this much-anticipated speech, delivered on a continent hosting the largest concentration of Roman Catholics—as well as knowing great

absent—God with the human face of Jesus Christ—these values fail to show themselves with their full force: nor does a consensus arrive concerning them. . . . I do not mean that nonbelievers cannot live a lofty and exemplary morality; I am only saying that a society in which God is absent will not find the necessary consensus on moral values or the strength to live according to the model of these values.” From where I sit, Benedict XVI wins this contest hands down. A comprehensive market economy—call it capitalism—will of itself not generate a just distribution of income, and the socialist alternative (given all we have learned over the last century) offers no improvement. Any workable economic order requires the presence of underlying values that constrain its harmful potentials, along with mercy-filled actions by citizens to provide what no government, however well-conceived, can do. In this part of the world the Judeo-Christian religious tradition has been a—if not the—primary source providing these necessary components that render the politico-

fellow travelers to provide in the absence of God a more compelling and enduring motivation to sacrifice than that given to us in Jesus Christ—the God Who became man and taught us to sacrifice for others, and then in humble obedience offered His own life as an example for us and as an atonement for the sins of the whole world. So, dear brothers and sisters, have fun this morning and this weekend as you remember and celebrate the good times you have enjoyed together over these past years. And as you march across the stage tomorrow to commence your life after Gordon, may you continue to have fun—even dancing (my middle name is Dancer!)—in the midst of the necessary sacrifices required to help make this world more pleasing to our great God. Help this world do the good things to which it aspires, but, without God, lacks the understanding and will to make it happen. May God bless you!

Spring 2011 | STILLPOINT 41175


The Inimitable Peter W. Stine—Kristin Schwabauer

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The Inimitable Peter W. Stine When he started at Gordon, English professor Peter W. Stine had two kidneys, two legs and a great sense of humor. But now, on his way out, he’s “given both of his legs to Gordon,” according to fellow professor Mark Stevick—and replaced a kidney. His sense of humor, however, has remained steady. Pictures of students, masks from sabbatical trips, Princemere Readers tour posters, and shelves and shelves of books have cluttered Dr. Stine’s office for his 40 years at Gordon. But at the end of this academic year, when he retires, he will take these things with him, move to Brooksby Village in nearby Peabody, Massachusetts, preach and travel, and maybe even find time to read the complete works of Thomas Hardy. Stine has left a mark on campus, teaching British, African and NobelPrize literature classes. He paved the way for British-literature studies to be part of the European seminar, starting in 1973. His reading of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever became a tradition on campus, and he often performed in NODROG, a faculty talent show where one year he removed his prosthetic leg for entertainment. He will lead his last literary pilgrimage to Britain this July, taking students on a “Castles, Cathedrals and Poetic Places” tour throughout Britain. Students have always loved this curmudgeonly but caring professor, who called them by their last names and never let them wear hats in class. “Welcome to college!” he was known to retort to students complaining of heavy work loads. He has also left an indelible impression on faculty and staff—so much so that Sue Hakes of the Alumni and Parent Relations staff gave him one of her kidneys when he needed one. “Thank you, Peter W., for your invaluable contributions to the Department of English Language and Literature—and for being a good friend to so many of us,” fellow English professor Janis Flint-Ferguson says. Stine’s advice as he departs: “Always be students, always read and always be curious. It’s a large world God has made, and you should always be curious about what’s in it.”

Contact Peter W. Stine | 8 Larrabee Avenue, Danvers MA 01923






ann Ferguson:

Ann Ferguson: Living the Literature—Jo Kadlecek

Living the Literature 55 years of Classroom stories

Story Jo Kadlecek

the young woman responded simply, “I’d starve first.” Thankfully, she didn’t. She enrolled in seminary to study the Old Testament—“because you can’t understand literature without knowledge of the Bible.” Her undergraduate mentor begged her to teach writing while she studied. She needed the work, found she liked the classroom atmosphere and has been teaching ever since. When asked what her favorite class was, she responds, simply, “Whichever one I was in.”

Five and a half decades after she first stepped onto campus, ann Ferguson retired May 15, 2010, having shared her love for literature, writing, theatre and art with some 2,000 students in almost 500 classes.

Ann Ferguson remembers events and trends current students now study in books: World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War protests and apartheid. Mostly, though, she remembers students and the stories they shared. “Many have become writers themselves— children’s books, fiction, drama, you name it,” she says. “Or they’ve studied law, become librarians, teachers or scholars. One became a master carpenter so he could write poetry. But they’re all readers.” Hired in 1955 when the College was still on the Fenway (just opposite the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Ferguson made the move with Gordon to Wenham that fall. She found a home, unpacked her books and went to work. The College had a faculty of 27 and just 300 students, and as a young professor she wore many hats, teaching freshman writing, art history and masterpieces in literature. In 1956 she started a theatre

program, producing the first three-act play in the College’s history, Night of the Burning Pestle. She traveled as a faculty advisor with the European Seminar (the precursor to Gordon’s Global Education programs), and drove students regularly into Boston to theatres or museums. “It was pretty exciting to be a part of that early group and to see all that’s come to pass here,” says Ferguson. “There weren’t a lot of Christian colleges doing these things then.” In fact, at the small Protestant college Ferguson attended in the Midwest as an undergraduate, she’d had to sign a pledge that forbade attending movies, operas or plays, including Shakespeare. At that time, young women at Christian colleges were expected to become missionaries, wives or teachers.

Her love for a good story led her to Boston University, where she completed her doctorate while teaching full-time at Gordon. When she finally took a sabbatical, some 20 years after she began at Gordon, she studied another love: Russian literature, adding Russian to the list of languages she was already proficient in: Gaelic (for Irish literature), German, French, Spanish and Italian. “There’s never been a time at Gordon when we weren’t encouraged to seek out truth in all aspects of the College and across all disciplines,” she said. “I don’t want to see faith embraced without the ability to think. Thinking and reading enriches the faith, and that’s exciting. That’s why I stayed.”

as a former freelancer and teacher who’s lived in five states, Jo Kadlecek is in awe of anyone who has stayed in one place for five years, let alone 55! ann Ferguson is her new hero.

But Ferguson was determined to find her own way and follow her passions. During her senior year of college when someone asked if she was going to teach, Fall 2010 | STILLPOINT 39177

Ordinary Time, 2010 Patricia Hanlon


Ordinary Time, 2010 Patricia Hanlon Ordinary Time is the long season in the church year between Trinity Sunday and the first Sunday of Advent. Most iconography points us toward the transcendent; this is an iconography of the quotidian, of the “infinity of little hours” of our everyday lives. It poses the implicit question: what do our “little” moments add up to, and what might it all look like, if we had eyes to see? I’ve always been fascinated by what mathematical information looks like when it’s plotted out as points on a numbered grid. One equation reveals itself to be a straight line, another an exponential curve, still another, a parabola; and, at the level of higher mathematics, you begin to see the gorgeous recursive patterns of fractal geometry. Ordinary Time is my attempt at imagining what one small section of plotted moments in my life (or yours) might look like in aerial view, if such a view were possible. Mixed media (sandpaper, beach glass, coal, shells and pottery fragments) on board


Modern Myths of the Church and the Mentally Ill—Suzanne Phillips '83



Relational Turmoil: How Does God Figure In?— Paul Borgman


Thanks, After the Stroke

Thanks, After the Stroke­—Paul Borgman

Paul Borgman For the opposing digit, first to move that fifth week Following, then index finger, middle, littlest, and finally, Least and last, the ring bearer, half an inch up, one down, All curling now, sort of, around the deodorant lifted By a heavy hand weaving uncertainly Steadily upward to the right armpit thank you God; For the sister insisting on music those first dark days, Daughter bringing Walkman, other sister Elijah— ‘Oh rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him’ When wait was inhale and rest exhale, breathing lessons. Anxious for nothing and everything, maybe my other half Floating away, too, where wait and rest are timed By the dripping sack above me, a suddenly old man taking Measure by bleeps and tappings toward the final thud; For the sun’s rising this day and the trees’ clearing a better Way of seeing further and the smile of my wife Playing from her lips from deep down and out those eyes; For the return of boyishness—she says who knows me Best—and I say it is good, very good, and most of all For her and for you, my friend, and you, and you—Immanuel.


Work’s Newest Danger: Work’s Resisting Newest Danger: Resisting Rest Rest—Kent W. Seibert Kent W. Seibert

Thirty years ago I took a class on the psychology of the workplace. I can still remember discussing how the forty-hour work week would soon become a thing of the past. American workers, aided by emerging technologies, were becoming so productive that there would not be enough to keep them busy eight hours a day, five days a week. By the year 2000, the thinking went, people would have so much free time they would know what to do with it all. So much for that prediction. By the 1990s the U.S. surpassed Japan among developed nations in the total hours people worked each year. Not only are we not working less today, the forty-hour work week now sounds rather quaint. No more nine to five. Today’s working world is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The technology many thought would liberate us now seems to enslave us. Even the current recession in which we find ourselves has not changed things. Those who are out of work know that finding a new job is a full-time job in itself, and more so with instant access to Craigslist, Monster Jobs or LinkedIn. For those who are fortunate enough to have kept their jobs, they’ve also absorbed the added responsibilities of their fellow co-workers who were let go. So complaining about being overworked just is not an option in today’s job market. It’s not that we don’t want time off. Indeed, Americans embrace weekends, vacations and retirement. But I find it no little irony that the same time period that saw an alarming rise in hours worked also witnessed the growth of the leisure industry – where opportunities like cruises, theme parks, video games, and extreme sports abound.   Now we shop for just the right gear that will fit in our car, and fight traffic to get to the beach or the park where we can finally relax. Of course, lurking in the back of our minds while we are “relaxing” is that we will soon have to re-pack the car and fight the traffic to get back home. Yes, we need time off from work, and not just so we can recharge physically to return to the job. But “vacationing” these days can be just as exhausting as the life from which we’ve retreated. We return home ready for real vacation. Why, then, are we so resistant to stopping? To resting? Why do even our leisure pursuits become stressful and demanding? Perhaps we don’t fully understand how essential it is to our physical well-being that we stop from the pressures of work. Rest is also crucial to our social, emotional, and spiritual health; we are wired for it. After all, we are human beings, not human doings.   And despite our culture’s career-driven mantra to work, work, work, our fundamental identity is that we are, not that we do. Yes, we are also wired to work. And being productive and creative is a central element of our humanity. But so too is simply being. We don’t always have to be active or productive to find meaning and satisfaction in our lives. The rare and recent occasions I have made, for instance, to slow down have been immensely refreshing. I’ve taken long, slow walks alone in the woods or on the beach with no other purpose than to be in the moment.  Or I’ve listened to music, not while 184

I am working out or doing something else, but simply to set aside an hour to sit still, to listen. Or I’ve spent prolonged time in silence before the God I worship. Each has led to some of the deepest spiritual experiences of my life. But I confess, I don’t make time to cease and be nearly enough. I convince myself I have more worthwhile things I should be doing with my time. And I don’t think I’m alone here. Which is why we must begin to resist the non-stop pace of our culture and our lives, and learn simply to rest. If we don’t, I fear what predictions we’ll face in our 24–7–365 world.   Dr. Kent W. Seibert is an associate professor of economics and business. He and his wife and their two daughters live in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Lessons in the Marketplace—Thomas L.







Advent I— Michelle Arnold '99


oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches © 2006

Michelle Arnold ’99 painter

“In three years spent living and working in Italy, I encountered medieval churches as places of mystery. The architects built them to be visible expressions of divine presence, intended to foster an encounter between heaven and earth. Like the cathedral builders, or Impressionist painters like Monet (whose Rouen Cathedral paintings did not have the cathedral itself as their true subject; rather the invisible light and air), I use paint to articulate that which is without color or form. In exploring the edge between visible and invisible, past and present, spiritual and physical, painting becomes an evocative metaphor for our own interior lives: that place where there is no longer thought, interest or opinion—only listening and waiting in the darkness.”

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899

Michelle Arnold graduated with a double major in English and art, and was a Pike Scholar concentrating in art history. She spent a semester in Florence and a semester in the inaugural Gordon in Orvieto program. She served as program coordinator for Gordon in Orvieto 2001–2003 and was manager of the Barrington Center for the Arts 2003– 2004. She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and recently received an M.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She lives and works in Beverly, Massachusetts. More of her art can be found online at



Jesus Is Lord! July 4, 2008 Paul Brink

Today, Americans have the opportunity to take a

The basic idea is not difficult: although Christians

step back from the election cycle, from the nation’s

are ultimately children of God and citizens of the

policy debates, and from the great issues that press

Kingdom of Heaven, they also find themselves to be

upon them and be reminded that they are Americans.

citizens of states in which they bear important moral

In solemn civic ceremonies and friendly backyard


barbecues, Americans everywhere will be found celebrating the 227th anniversary of the founding of

What difference does dual citizenship make? For starters, it gives us a point of reference and a source

Jesus Is Lord!— of authority that lies beyond the US Constitution and American society. In confessing that their risen That such moments of national celebration occur is Paul Brink Lord is the one to whom “every knee will bow,” not inappropriate, even amid the great challenges of their country.

war, poverty, environmental degradation, and other

Christians properly position and radically relativize

public injustices. On the contrary, such moments can

their recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance and their

remind us of our tasks as citizens and of our shared

songs of national praise. State claims to sovereignty,

political responsibility to right these wrongs. In short,

to authority, to power all appear in a new and

a national ceremony like the 4th of July can provide

dramatically different light when viewed from the

perspective and new energy for seeking the political

perspective of the Gospel.

good of our neighbors.

Note what dual citizenship does not mean. It does

For Christians, the 4th of July also provides an

not give Christians a pass from confronting the issues

opportunity to step back from the election cycle,

of the day because their “real home” is someplace

from the nation’s policy debates, and from the great

other than on this earth. Nor does it mean they may

issues that press upon them and be reminded that

avoid the hard work of developing distinctly Christian

they are Christians. The idea that Christians hold

perspectives on those issues and working out a larger

dual citizenship was developed most famously by St.

Christian vision for the place of politics and the state

Augustine in the fifth century, but the idea can be

within the Kingdom of God. Dual citizenship does not

found throughout the Scriptures. (Spend some time

mean that Christians are led out of American politics,

this July 4th reading Paul’s letter to the Colossians!)

out of their national citizenship, to some “higher” calling. Jesus is Lord over all precisely because his love


for this world led him further into it. To take the very form of a servant and to be obedient to death, even death on a cross, is not the stuff of another world! The consequences of a Christian, dual-citizenship perspective are dramatic and liberating. The proclamation that Jesus is Lord frees us from the desperate, misguided hope that this or that agenda or program or leader among us will be ushering in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is already secured in Jesus Christ and God’s renewed creation has already begun to appear. For the same reason, our dual citizenship frees us from the despair that destroys hope when, time and again, those agendas, programs, and leaders among us prove to be merely human after all. Christian hope is not attached to the success of our endeavors. It is God who builds God’s Kingdom and enlists its citizens to be stewards of creation and agents of redemption. Christians who believe in a Lord who is making a world where justice puts all injustices to flight and sets all things straight will not fail in their work for that world here and now.

Paul Brink is an associate professor of political studies at Gordon. This essay originally appeared in Capital Commentary


How My Mind Has Changed—Bill Harper '62



What’s Happened to Real Politics? Timothy Sherratt

Political philosopher Kenneth Minogue once wrote

Evangelicals, galvanized by criminalized school

that Marxism “supplied its followers with a politics,

prayers and decriminalized abortions, spoke the

a religion, and a moral identity all in one. For this

latter language. Has this version of Christian politics

reason, it was not a political doctrine.” He went on.

become an anti-politics, marked by an unwillingness

“Political doctrines give reasons: they talk to each

to acknowledge that public institutions, no less than

other. Marxism could only declare the truth.”

private initiatives, have a role to play in justice and

straight from the Marxist playbook. The fear, anger and

to generate prosperity, or  the  responsibility of

misinformation these forums generated crystallized

individual persons to care of their own bodies, for

the parody that is contemporary politics.

example. When government finds ways to nurture

What's Happened creation care? Listening to this summer’s “town hall meetings” on to Real If government is to do justice, it must acknowledge healthcare, one could be forgiven for thinkingPolitics?— that multiple human responsibilities: the responsibility Americans, evangelical Christians included, have Timothy Sherratt of parents to raise children, of economic institutions either abandoned politics, or taken their politics

In the same passage quoted above, Minogue recalls a politics in which “one might be a passionate liberal or conservative, support parliament or the king, advocate or oppose the extension of the franchise, and so on, without in any way imagining that these enthusiasms constituted a revelation.” How have Christians contributed to the absolutist style in politics? We are, after all, in the business of revelation, of declaring the truth. When evangelicals returned to politics after decades in the wilderness,


civil society it honors its own limits and civil society’s competences. But nurture and justice call for action. Both are compatible with extending solidarity to society’s weakest members, be they poor, unfortunate or unborn. Even free markets, as we learned to our chagrin in 2008, need rules, which in turn need enforcement. None of these undertakings is free from constraints— resources are limited, needs unlimited, institutions and individuals fallible.

politics itself was undergoing dramatic change, from

None of these undertakings can be accomplished

the compromises of Depression-era economics to

except in a politics of talking, listening and “giving

the uncompromising imperatives of civil rights.


In the 2008 elections, a modestly larger percentage of younger evangelicals voted Democrat compared with 2004, especially in swing states where the Obama campaign worked hard to attract them. Most younger evangelicals hold orthodox views on the destruction of fetal life. Many also express concern for ecological restoration and good environmental stewardship. The good news these younger evangelicals may bring to politics has little to do with shifts in party affiliation, however, for the new vehicle for political action is no less fraught with contradictions than the old. It rests instead on a more evident desire to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over every area of life. Such a desire opens the door to seeing government as a divine office, not a dispensable one. An office that calls for the virtues of endurance, patience, and cooperation— virtues that enable the collective judgment that is the essence of real politics—is imperiled by their absence.

Tim Sherratt is a professor of political science at Gordon.

This essay originally appeared Nov. 6, 2009, in Capital Commentary;


Politically Correct Prayer Ruth Melkonian

The United States was the first nation to

the anti-gay agenda.” Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic

constitutionally ban an established national religion,

and Kathryn Kolbert of People for the American

yet it has always had a strong civil religion that

Way accused Warren of being inflammatory and

supports traditions such as clergy offering prayers at

deprecating when he raised concerns that expanding

public events. Yet when President-elect Barack Obama

the definition of marriage to include gays could open

announced that evangelical mega-church pastor

up marriage to other currently off-limit categories

Rick Warren would give the opening prayer at his

(incest, pedophilia, and polygamy).

inauguration, some critics were quick to raise very uncivil cries of protest. Why? Not because of concerns about church-state

By acting as if opposition to gay marriage is the only thing Warren has done in public life and vilifying him on that basis, single-issue activists are exacerbating

the culture war, polarizing the warriors on both sides. Politically his career Warren has taken risks in reaching out issue: gay marriage. Correct Prayer­Into— his critics in an effort to encourage discussion and This is ironic and unjust, as Warren has done more Ruth Melkonian seek common ground. But the reaction of many to than almost any other mainstream evangelical leader separation but because of Warren’s position on a single

to diversify the evangelical agenda and deescalate the culture war. In the last decade, Warren has even been praised in The New York Times as one of the “evangelicals a liberal can love” for his work in fighting poverty, supporting international human rights, fighting AIDS, working to combat global warming, and engaging in interfaith dialogue with Muslims. Yet Warren’s attractiveness to some liberals was reversed when he gave public support to Proposition 8 in California, a ballot measure that banned gay marriage. He was blasted by Joe Solomonese of the Human Rights Campaign as being an “architect of


Warren’s role in the inauguration suggests they are

not interested in returning the favor. Unwillingness to compromise on any issue puts his harshest critics in the same camp as many on the far right—that is, the camp of those who will declare the culture war over only when they have achieved total victory. Neither extreme contributes to the kind of serious debate and constructive pragmatism people like Obama desire. Indeed, Obama’s decision not to back down on the selection of Warren should come as no surprise, given Obama’s campaign commitment to bringing people together from all sides. On the issue of abortion, for example, Obama attracted

broader bipartisan support by proposing an agenda to address the root causes of abortion and thereby to reduce the numbers. That is something most foes and supporters of abortion can agree on. Similarly, on the issue of gay rights, American leaders across the board need to be able to have a candid conversation without it dissolving into a no-holds-barred fight. The country needs to engage in serious debate over the meaning of marriage, and Warren shows himself more ready to do that than those who make gay marriage their all-or-nothing issue and treat it as beyond debate. Most Americans express uncertainty about the issue, with a majority supporting civil unions but opposed to gay marriage. Indeed, this is the official position of Obama himself. Both Warren and Obama manifest a breadth and seriousness about civic conversation that stands in refreshing contrast to the narrowness of the singleissue absolutists. While these men may differ on the issue of gay rights, their willingness to engage in debate, maintain respectful relations, and seek common ground where possible is the kind of leadership—and citizenship—that America needs now.

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover is an associate professor of political studies at Gordon. This essay originally appeared in Capital Commentary;


American Christianity: A New Perspective—Thomas

Askew and Richard Pierard




GC and PC— PC Russell K.


Russell K. Bishop



Prairie Pothole Wonder Dorothy Boorse

On a bright June day I stand amid the sharp edges of the rice

tadpoles of various frogs, their development hurried in a race

cutgrass, looking over a prairie pothole wetland. Circles of

to leave before evaporating water strands them like raisins in

sedge, cattails, smartweed, and water plantain rim a puddle

a patch of baking mud.

of muddy water. Green hues wash over me. I breathe the air, hear the call of the red-winged blackbird and the faint popping sounds of trapped air bubbles escaping from mud in

Potholes, lying across the landscape like droplets flung by a giant, form a network of habitats that wink in and out,

full one year, low the next. They support a disproportionate Prairie Pothole Wonder— number of plant and animal species relative to their area. For on my temple evaporates in the breeze. The beauty of this Dorothy Boorse example, 50 percent of North American waterfowl breed, the heat. Insects buzz, a goldfinch flicks by. A trickle of sweat

day and this place stops me in my tracks. It is a holy moment, a moment of prayer. Nothing is more glorious than this wetland, this summer day, the joy of being allowed to do this research project for my Ph.D. I am transfixed. Today I am studying the life of these ephemeral pockets of water so critical to the health of the midwestern ecosystem. Some 3 million prairie potholes, scraped out by the grinding retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age, dot the upper Midwest in the United States and parts of Canada. More than 90 percent of them dry out regularly, and many have been degraded, plowed, dredged, or filled. Some potholes are protected, including thousands in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, a project funded to encourage farmers to keep wetlands out of agricultural use. Today I am surveying the macroinvertebrates in a pothole

feed, and nest in these small wetlands. This habitat is vulnerable to climate change, which is likely to make this region drier, while economic pressure will cause some farmers to plow their drier seasonal wetlands. These twin pressures—increased use and decreased precipitation— are likely to further reduce these already limited wetlands. My love of this place, which drives my teaching, writing, and personal decisions, translates into a passion to protect all such places. It is not only the big picture, the loss of the great flocks that once covered the skies of our continent, that burdens me. I want to prevent the loss of this one small space, this chapel, miniature and yet inestimably vast. Doing so is a work of love. Dorothy Boorse is an associate professor of biology at Gordon.

on conservation land. As I sort my net samples, I know I

This essay originally appeared in Thoreau's Legacy: American

will not find the unique fairy shrimp I would have seen a

Stories about Global Warming (2009)

few weeks ago, because their short adult life span is over. I


will, however, find dragonfly nymphs, small snails, and the


High Place Highs—Dale High Pleticha Place Highs Dale Pleticha

“Because it’s there.” That was George Leigh Mallory’s famous response to why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest in 1924. Craving intense athletic experiences, today’s extremophiles might change Mallory’s response to, “Because it’s extreme.” I like to hike the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although it might be a bit presumptuous to call them mountains compared to the great mountains of the world, plain-spoken New Hampshirites originally did call them the White Hills. I hike them because they are there, and I hike them because these old mountains are extreme for my old legs. And I hike them because I find hiking them to be a holy, transcendent, even religious experience. Over the millennia high places have been associated with religious experiences. In ancient Hebrew, the bamah was often a high place devoted to the worship of other gods; sometimes a high place, like Shiloh or Moriah, was devoted to the worship of the true Hebrew God, Yahweh. Sinai, the mountain of Moses, was a high place associated with the giving of the Ten Commandments and the rebelling of the Israelites. The Mount of the Beatitudes, the Mount of the Transfiguration, and the Mount of Olives were high places important in the ministry of a young rabbi from Nazareth. The top of the Everest massif, called Chomolangma Goddess Mother of the World, is often festooned with Buddhist prayer flags. Kenya’s tallest mountain is Mt. Kenya, not far from Africa’s highest, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I can’t ever forget reaching the 16,400-foot Lenana peak on Mt. Kenya early one glorious Easter morning with some students and being greeted by a band of Hindu worshippers at a small Hindu shrine. Tens of thousands of religious pilgrims each year trek to the top of Japan’s most sacred mountain, Mt. Fuji, supposedly the most climbed mountain in the world. New Hampshire’s Mt. Monadnock, supposedly the second most climbed mountain in the world, is hiked mostly for pleasure these days. However, in earlier days the Transcendentalists used it as a place of pilgrimage. On that mountain you may still find transcendence at places like “Emerson’s seat” and “Thoreau’s seat.” In other words, mountains move us. Those far away and those near by do something extreme to our souls. Busy minds and anxious hearts are suddenly calmed on mountains just by their mere presence. And in the process, they seem to invite some response. Even those like Sagamore Hill in nearby Hamilton, Massachusetts, (not far from the college where I teach) has a high-placed memorial to the Agawam sagamore, Masconomet, who died in 1658. A tree there is decorated with sacred items. When we reach a high overlook, many of us have felt as mountain hikers everywhere have always felt: we recognize the transcendent, the sacred. We feel nearer to God. We get perspective. Looking down “from lofty mountain grandeur,” we respond with the words, “How great Thou art!” The founder of Gordon College, A. J. Gordon, born in central New Hampshire almost 175 years ago, went on to become one of Boston’s preeminent Baptist pastors in the late 1800s. He worked to revise his church’s staid worship style, so that his 206

congregation would participate more and thus experience their God more fully. Gordon loved pastoring and was a beloved pastor. And yet, in spite of the joy and meaning he found in his work, A. J. Gordon once wrote, “The happiest and most exalted moments I have ever known in this life are those when I stand on some high outlook of my New Hampshire home, and gaze off upon the blue hills in the distance, and see those hills rising range upon range, as though they were the very portals of Beulah land. There is something indescribable in these mountain-top experiences, and they never fail to lift me out of myself and bring me nearer to God.” With new academic years, career challenges or cultural troubles—many of which can feel like impossible mountains—perhaps we need the same vigor as modern day extreme climbers to conquer all that is before us. Or perhaps we need simply to “stand on some high outlook” and step into a place of perspective.   Dr. Dale Pleticha is a professor of physics at Gordon College. He and his family live in Seabrook, New Hampshire. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Think January Editor's note: This is the first in a series of Bill Harper's inimitable Friday-afternoon beer-invitation emails.

Heat! Numbing the mind, melting the bones and burning the lawn. Heat! Whence cometh this plague in the Year of Our Global Warning 19??, 20?? (experts disagree). Is it a Saharan-sourced fatwah to weaken out resolve? A weird

by the Scottish-American Anti-Defamation League. 4. What about a frosty visit with Queen Elizabeth, described by Tony Blair in a new book as having a certain “hauteur”

about her. Too far to chill out. Think January—Bill Harper

Puritan hand from the grave punishment for lusting after comfort? O’Bama hot air? An eastern Santa Ana wind, in

which case can we throw Gaede overboard to restore good weather karma? Better yet to ask, “Whence cometh our cooling salvation?”

5. So, what about something that involves a modest carbon footprint, utilizes natural materials, keeps lights dim, elevates tables and chairs to catch the prevailing breeze (from the AC), and can boast easy access to handcrafted liquids stored in a cool cellar while boasting a genuine witch

1. Is it at Malcolm Reid’s house? No, this eternal Kiwi still

flitting in the background for local color--Salem is nearby,

insists August is winter and keeps a fire blazing in the

after all.... This looks promising, so let's discuss it further at

kitchen stove all summer.

the usual time and place.

2. If it’s hotter than hell here, what about going there to cool off? Oops, do modern evangelicals really believe in a literal hell or is it more a matter of a catenation of the universal human angst about mortality, transmogrified by.... Probably not a good choice. 3. Cold oatmeal baths? No, bad for septic systems, hard to clean up and has been termed “demeaning to our heritage”


Worm Sex

Worm Sex­—Mark Stevick

Mark Stevick On certain mindless summer days

pace the undulating lawns past shrubbery

we hear the river's throat confessing fish,

past bricked beds,

and our eyes grow empty toward desire

pacing generally toward some unattended corner,

which swims below our pupils,

toward anonymity in the mulch and

and we will not be

our specific relief.

until we are stumps beneath the sycamores, reaching roots into the liquid music

We are always lucky.

for the singing trout.

Shovelling in sweat I am surprised at the hole I myself am widening.

From the shed or the garage

The worms turn up.

my friend resurrects a spade

We stand in the silence of farmers and stare

barnacled with minerals

at their appalling knots and humid tangles,

and spoonish like my tongue but

knowing, as we fish, that some dashing

pointed slightly--I can just see that.

invertebrate Romeo leeches after his soft lover.

This iron edge will open up another mouth pronouncing soil and stones. We will be digging for worms.

© 2005 by Mark Stevick

It might be anywhere that we will drop the blade and bite; we are reckless and slightly desperate,


In Search of the Perfect Game— Valerie In Search of the Perfect Game


Valerie Gin

This past July 23rd, I was on the South side of Chicago watching America’s favorite game: baseball. The White Sox were playing the Tampa Bay Rays and I was watching with one of the White Sox greatest fans, my mom. It was a thrill to be there that day, not just to be with her but because together we witnessed something most baseball fans dream of. As Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle took the mound in the ninth inning, he’d already faced two-dozen batters without one of them reaching first base. Still, the tension rose, not because of who would win--the Sox were ahead 5-0. But everyone wondered if Buerhle could make history by making this no hitter a reality. When the first batter stepped to the plate in the ninth, he hit Buerhle’s 2-2 pitch straight toward center field--or beyond. We held our breath. But just at the fence, DeWayne Wise threw his body in the air, his glove high above his head and made a spectacular catch. The roar was deafening. And when the next batters stepped up to the plate--who also couldn’t handle the Sox pitcher--the game was over. Buerhle had pitched a perfect game. You didn’t have to be a baseball player or even a fan that day to appreciate the beauty of it. After all, there haven’t been many perfect games in the history of baseball, and that day in Chicago everyone--including the Rays--admired the integrity of Buerhle’s efforts. Of course, if we only defined perfect in terms of winning, it’s safe to say the Tampa Bay team had no part in it. Yet there was no mistaking their admiration for Buerhle’s performance. And as I watched history in the making, I realized that I’d spent my career of coaching and now teaching promoting that definition of the perfect game. When we think of good sportsmanship, we often think in terms of social values: sacrifice, dedication, loyalty. Usually, those are qualities that push players toward the perceived cultural goal of every game: winning. Yet, if some of these values are compromised along the way in order to come out on top, no one much notices. If a player shoves an opponent without the referee seeing it, he shrugs it off because, “everyone does it,” he’ll say. Winning, after all, has become everything. But of course, it isn’t. In fact, too often we minimize the perfect game by equating it with winning. We reduce the love of sport, the gift of athletics, to a mere number, as if it were only a price tag on a jersey. The higher the number when the players walk off the field, the more “superior” the team. The ends have come to outscore the means. When we stress winning at any cost, we sacrifice the opportunities to truly love the game and to promote and build character in sports. Especially at this time of year when many school and little league seasons are beginning, it’s not hard to hear parents and coaches lecture young players on the rewards of responsibility and fair play. But the moral mantras fade as win/loss records are tallied and success or failure awarded. Yes, the social value on winning trumps character, usurping the values of honesty and integrity we say sports promote. 210

Which is why I believe we need to redefine the perfect game: two teams playing hard, fair and respectfully to bring out the best in each other. Period. If we want young people to love sports, we have to take the pressure off of them to simply win and instead encourage them to perform well. I’m not saying we don’t play—or coach or cheer—to win. We do. But a truly competitive spirit doesn’t win at any costs; it agrees to pursue a win by bringing out the best in the game, opponents and ourselves. If we really love the sport, we won’t degrade it with inappropriate, unloving, or unethical behaviors. This sports season let’s applaud performance, not just the outcome. Let’s love the sport itself, the sheer beauty of the form and the camaraderie it inspires. Because the perfect game really is a work of art, one we’ll admire for form and finish no matter who we cheer for.   Dr. Valerie Gin is professor and chair of recreation and leisure studies and consults internationally on sport ethics. She lives in Magnolia, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Learning to Serve Steve Alter Matriculation Chapel Address Fall 2010

As you already know, I make my living teaching

stand before kings. And yet, as he later pointed out,

history. And, because that’s my job, you will not be

that was exactly what happened. As he said in his

surprised to hear that there are certain history-related

autobiography, “I have stood before five [kings], and

books that I think everyone ought to read. One of

even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King

those books is the famous autobiography of Benjamin

of Denmark, to dinner.”

Franklin; I assign this work regularly in one of my

Unpacking A Proverb

Learning to Serve—Steve This remark by Ben Franklin raises in my mind a basic question: what did it mean to “stand” before a Alter fairly obvious. He told the story of his own life in order classes. People who write autobiographies usually have an agenda in mind, and Benjamin Franklin’s agenda is to provide an example to young people starting out in their careers. Franklin was saying: here are the lessons that I have learned; here are the keys to my success. This morning I want to look at one of those keys—a particular word of encouragement that Franklin took from the Bible, from a verse in the Old Testament. When Franklin was boy, his father would often quote to him the following proverb from Solomon: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29

king? Sometimes, a person would be invited to pay a personal visit to a king, and this clearly was the case with Franklin: he was a famous man and kings wanted to meet him. But, this was not the usual meaning of the words found in the Book of Proverbs: usually, you “stood before a king” in order to serve the king and his kingdom. That is what the verse from Proverbs really means! You were not there for a visit; you were there to do important work. Now I want to point out: we are talking here not about the divine king (that is, God) but rather about rulers here on earth. Here on earth, kings need helpers: rulers need people who can help them to do their job of running a kingdom.

Writing in his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin


recalled that he took seriously his father’s admonition.

Let me go ahead and give you my main point. In

From his youth onward, he said, he considered skilled

whatever calling you pursue in life, in order to do

work to be a pathway to fortune and fame. Now,

good service, you will need to be skilled; you will need

he did not really expect that he would ever literally

to possess detailed knowledge. Sometimes, you hear

someone draw a distinction between head knowledge

David and Solomon had many other kinds of helpers

and practical service, but this can be very misleading.

as well. There were artists and craftsmen: skilled

In the real world you will need specialized knowledge

artisans, workers in wood and in precious metals,

in order to be of service. This is true especially if you

making things of beauty for the temple in Jerusalem.

aspire to ‘stand before kings’, that is, to serve in some

They also had skilled musicians for the temple service.

high capacity. Often, we honor those people who have

To serve the king, God was calling upon highly trained

a heart for service, and it is right that we should do so.

individuals. Why would it be any different in our own

But, in this world you will need more than a servant’s heart: you will also need a servant’s head. We need Christians who are learning in order to serve. Here let me give you three examples of recent Gordon graduates who are doing this kind of work. I’m sure that there are others like them; I know about these individuals only because they did part of their college studies in history. First, Lindsey Alexander graduated from Gordon last spring and now works as an analyst for the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation: eventually she hopes to do intelligence analysis related to fighting terrorism. Jessica Rodgers finished Gordon several years ago and now works as a legislative assistant for a U.S. Congressman. Finally, after graduating ten years ago, Stephanie Trombley went on to earn a Ph.D. in history and now teaches in the Global Security and Intelligence Studies Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona. (This means, by the way, that Stephanie actually is training other people to “stand before kings,” but this teaching role is important in its own right!) If we look at scripture, we find further examples of skilled people who were called into special service. We see this particularly with ancient Israel’s two most powerful kings: David and Solomon. These rulers were powerful, but they still needed help. David famously had his “mighty men,” a group of skilled warriors. But

generation? Sons and Daughters of Isaachar The rest of what I have to say will focus on a special category of workers who served King David. As he began to organize his kingly administration, David enlisted support from the various tribes of Israel. The text says this: “Day by day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army like the army of God.” (I’m reading here from First Chronicles, chapter 12.) Now it’s true that the focus here is on military matters. But in addition to the men trained for war, there came a group known as the sons of Issachar, who are described as “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.” Personally, I am fascinated by these Sons of Issachar: apparently these were military advisors, and this means that they were brain workers. They were men who “understood the times.” In other words, they had special insight into the times in which they lived. And for this reason, it says, they had “knowledge of what Israel should do”: they were able to recommend a good course of action. There are two ideas here about what it means to be a Son of Issachar, and these give me my two final points. As you may suspect already, both points relate to the study of history. First, you cannot ‘understand your


own times’ if they are the only times that you know

It will help build a reputation for Christians as useful

about. [You want me to say that again, don’t you? Well


here it is: you cannot really understand your own times if they are the only times that you know.] In the same way, you don’t really know your own country if you’ve never been anywhere else. Time spent in a foreign country broadens your perspective, and so does the study of history.

You may not literally stand before kings, but you might work for the U.S. Congress. (And let’s face it, they need help!) Why not aim for something like that? Aim as high as you can. Ultimately, aim to be a Son (or a Daughter) of Issachar. Seek to someday be a wise giver of advice, based on a deep knowledge of what has been

The second point is that the Sons of Issachar gave

done before. Be able to explain the pros and cons of

the king advice as to what Israel should do. In other

a proposed course of action. Help the king to avoid

words, their job was to help formulate public policy.

reinventing the wheel. Know what was done in past

In my own teaching, I emphasize whenever possible

times so that you can see the best options for today, all

key policy debates from the past--and these include

guided by the timeless principles of God’s word.

more things that you may realize. Maybe you are not interested in politics, but everyone is interested in some aspect of public policy. Policy means this: how should we run things, and according to what

This is a long-term process, not something done overnight. But why not begin this semester? May God bless each of you as you prepare for your life calling.

guidelines? How should things be run in this business, this church, this community, or in this country’s

Steve Alter is associate professor of history at Gordon. This

relations with other countries? These are policy

is text of his Matriculation Chapel address to returning

questions, and when you study the history of such

and incoming students August 2010.

questions, you listen to the thoughts of smart people who lived in the past. Aiming High Many of you, I hope, will become Christian policy wonks! That’s really what we need: Christian policy wonks. This will make you useful both in the public arena and in the marketplace. We need Christians in journalism and in the media, in law and in governmental affairs, in science and medicine, in the fine arts. Why shouldn’t Christians be making major contributions in all of these fields? For we carry the gospel with us as we go. Being skilled in your work will open doors for you and for the faith that you represent.


Broken Glass—Mark L.


B r o k e n G






Story Mark L. Sargent Photo Daniel Nystedt ’06

ADDRESS GIVEN BY PROVOST MARK L. SARGENT AT THE ANNUAL MATRICULATION CHAPEL AUGUST 29, 2007 My brief task this morning is to provide a word of challenge as we begin our year of study and worship together. Let me offer that word through a visual image. I have always been intrigued by stained glass, largely because I love the stark grandeur of medieval cathedrals. If you have visited any of these cavernous sanctuaries, you have no doubt felt the contrast between the cold, gray stone of the interiors and the bright colors that rush through the glass in the high gothic arches above. But another reason I enjoy stained glass, quite frankly, is that I have trouble sitting still. In church I can be an impatient listener, always looking around, exploring something. Often in this chapel I have wondered about the story of the stained glass windows at the front of the sanctuary. The glass here is a portion of windows created for the Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island, one of the grand mansions in one of the world’s elite cities. Built between 1888 and 1892, the house was intended as a summer “cottage” for William and Alva Vanderbilt, among the nation’s richest people. The Marble House windows were actually a collage of artwork from many centuries, incorporating several pieces of what Alva Vanderbilt identified as “old cathedral glass”— remnants of medieval French windows. Some of the floral designs in the Marble House panels are indeed very old handiwork, now embedded into windows reconstructed in the Victorian era. The human figures in the windows here were designed after 12th- and 13thcentury glass images in the Cathedral of Le Mans in France. In time the Marble House was sold to the Prince family, owners of the estate that became this campus in 1955, the campus that we have named today in the Fowlers’ honor. During their renovation of the Marble House the


Prince family removed the windows and eventually gave many of them—not only these in the sanctuary but also the ones in the prayer chapel upstairs—to Gordon College. TRADITION AND BREADTH As we worship here in the presence of artistry from the 12th century, I can’t help but think of the importance of history. One of the goals of a Christian liberal arts program is to draw deeply from tradition. It is easy to become obsessed with our own moment and place; if we simply own an iPhone or a satellite navigation system, we convince ourselves of our own progress, our superiority over the wisdom and work of the past. Yet the challenge of a liberal arts education is to acquire the curiosity and humility to look more acutely at history—to perceive principles and values that have been compromised or lost; to understand the origins of the world’s best ideas and to track the detours that have led to the worst. But the liberal arts do more than draw our eyes backward; they compel us to look broadly. Within each narrow beam of light is actually a prism of color, a remarkable spectrum of energy and space. Most major ideas are spectrums themselves—historic concepts illuminated by discoveries from the many cultures in our time. To understand brain science today, for instance, it is essential to know not simply the groundbreaking work of labs at Harvard and MIT in the last century but also the latest experiments at Fudan University in China. To understand the Christian church, we need to read Augustine and Calvin and learn about the revivals in Brazil and the courage of believers in Kandahar and Beirut. BEAUTY AND BROKENNESS When I view stained glass I see not only beauty but also brokenness. In a very literal sense, what you are

looking at this morning is broken glass— fragments held together by lead. Stained glass also reminds me of my father. A schoolteacher and an amateur artist, Dad loved to paint, to build things, and occasionally to design stained glass windows for churches. Since not everyone could pay for grand materials, my father was resourceful. On some Saturday evenings when I was a kid, Dad took us to the back of local factories, and we rummaged through boxes and discards to find good fragments of tile, wood and glass with interesting shades and textures. Today businesses are more environmentally alert and less likely to stack debris behind their shops. But those were fun days for kids—we’d take home refrigerator boxes, scrap lumber, ceramic tile and colored glass that had been abandoned. While my brothers and I built forts and castles out of the boxes for our adventures in the backyard, Dad made mosaics from the tile and glass we had rescued from the discards. My father is older now. But even this summer, several decades later, as I walked with him through his garage in California, there on the workbench were the scattered, chipped pieces and the brittle, fractured lead of a small stained glass window he had rescued years ago. He hopes, I am sure, to restore it. When I see church windows I think of my father’s hands and remember how he would transform debris into something sacred. Our calling—as students and scholars in a Christian liberal arts college—is to see beauty where there is brokenness. To create patterns that overcome disorder; to find new strategies for repairing what is discarded or unjust. Speakers often say they are privileged to be here, and it is tempting to think of that as a simple cliché. But we are very privileged to be here in this sanctuary. We are privileged to have the time and the freedom and


the resources for inquiry, reflection and preparation. So many in our world lack that opportunity because their daily burden is just to survive. We have been given much. And much should be expected. I must admit I often do not pay enough attention to the brokenness of the world. Sometimes it is hard to know how to respond to human sorrow since it so pervasive, with nightly coverage of every car bombing, hurricane death and mine tragedy. Sometimes in the busyness of this job, it is hard even to make time to listen to the struggles of those with whom I work every day. Each day my heart needs to get larger. I need to learn more compassion. But compassion may not be enough. At the core of a Christian liberal arts institution is the hope that we can blend compassion with knowledge and persistence. We must do more than mourn over others’ misfortunes. We must gather the fragments, repair the mosaics and create the designs that bring new light. MOSAICS OF HOPE Intellectual work can be its own kind of mosaic—an assembly of ideas from an array of disciplines. With the launch of a new year we should rededicate ourselves to the collaborative artistry needed to repair things that are fractured. As students you need to see faculty working together on these mosaics—and to imagine the mosaics of your own future. In time you may blend botany and sociology to develop crops and farming methods that bring relief to drought-ridden regions. You may blend biochemistry and ethics, discovering new chemical compounds that counter infectious diseases, all the while committing to public health rather than massive personal profit in the distribution of medicines. You

may be among the teachers, pastors, politicians and social workers who help parents and legislators collaborate to improve urban schools. You may work with anthropologists and historians to recover documents and artifacts that reconstruct the lives of people who have been silenced in the past. You may join economists and community activists who strive for the right balance of enterprise and equality in order to promote neighborhood development. None of these are addressed with simple compassion; all require knowledge, collaboration and strength of character to find new arrangements of ideas that rekindle hope. The figures in these windows also remind us that our faith is rooted in a specific story—the biblical narrative of the Hebrew people and its expansion beyond ethnic and political boundaries as it led to the worldwide Christian gospel. At the top of the center panel is the prophet Elijah. In the right panel is Aaron, high priest of the Exodus. To the left is David, a crown on his head as he tilts on his throne. They are, in short, the prophet, priest and king from Hebrew tradition and history. They proclaim the need to approach God with the mystery and reverence of Aaron in the tabernacle. They affirm the need to speak boldly against injustice and immorality with the anguish of Elijah. And they should remind us that, if granted power like David, we must rule with wisdom and fairness. But all of these biblical figures are broken images themselves—literally collections of fragments, even as Elijah, Aaron and David often failed. It is only in Jesus—the central figure in the mosaic, standing there beside His tombstone— that the roles of prophet, priest and king were truly fulfilled. And he did so by becoming broken Himself, like the shattered glass in my father’s garage.

CREDO In a moment we will recite the Apostles’ Creed, a custom at this service. Developed in the early centuries of the Church, the Creed was most likely a confession used prior to baptism. In reciting it we affirm our place in the mosaic of the Body of Christ, the long history and the broad community of Christian believers. The words that we read today are virtually the same as those recited nearly 2,000 years ago along Roman roads. They are the words that will be recited this Sunday in Nairobi, in Buenos Aires and in Beijing. But you will also hear in the Creed—which was crafted to affirm both Christ’s humanity and His divinity—reminders of His brokenness: His suffering under Pilate, His execution and interment, His human pain. So as we recite, imagine your voice among the medieval worshippers. Imagine it as well among the voices in a Johannesburg cathedral or within a New York soup kitchen. And let us reaffirm our desire to discern, as Christ did, what is broken and discarded; to find the sacred in what has been displaced; to discipline our hands and minds to gather remnants into patterns of community and purpose, and allow light to shine through lives and into places that have been left too long in darkness.

Mark L. Sargent, Ph.D., has been the provost of Gordon College since 1996. He has a particular interest in international education and recently traveled to Lithuania and China to assist with the development of Christian college programs.

Editor’s Note: Provost Sargent’s essay references images of Aaron and David that appear in side panels in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel—but which do not appear in the photo of the center panel on page 10.


Story Bruce Herman

Thoughts on Setting Out—Bruce Herman

Photos Tim Ferguson Sauder Daniel Nystedt ’06

Thoughts on Setting Out My graduate school mentor, the New York painter Philip Guston, once told me a story from his life that helped galvanize my own sense of purpose as an artist. Guston had been given the prestigious Prix de Rome, a scholarship for art students, and was living in Italy, painting and touring and generally enjoying his good fortune. In Arezzo, Tuscany, he had the chance to visit Piero della Francesca’s masterpiece, the mural cycle in Cappella de San Francesco, The Legend of the True Cross. He looked up at the magnificent and complex set of images surrounding the little chapel and he wept. When his friends asked him what was wrong, he replied, “We don’t have a story. These Christians—they had a story.”

Yet we Christians in the 21st century also find ourselves in a confused and confusing story with the instability that naturally results from a cut-and-paste culture of “preferences”— one that affords little sense of belonging (ethos) or meaning (telos). The sort of narrative fragmentation that has gotten into our bones needs examination. We need to carefully critique ourselves and our times—our kairos—and not be drawn unconsciously into the spirit of our age. What are the long-range effects of instinctive incoherence— that habit of mind that sees all knowledge as mere information, all stories as neutral scrapbook items for random assemblage? The tangled plotlines we all contend with have their resolution and untangling in the Bible’s majestic story: a rough little tribe with no particular talent or brilliance is chosen by God

Bruce Herman Installed as Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts

to be the recipient of a transcendent inheritance—to become the adopted children of a King far greater than Pharaoh. This little rag-tag bunch is not only offered a temporary homeland in Canaan, but that very “promised” land points toward another country, the one mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews: “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” The Bible points toward a sometimes hidden but then surprisingly uncovered storyline whose ultimate end is joy and communion, communion with the Creator and communion with each other. Believing in the God of the Bible invites you to see your story as part of a larger story unfolding in human history— a story whose hero doesn’t have to be

Story Cyndi McMahon

Professor of art Bruce Herman, M.F.A., was installed as the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts on August 30, 2006. The Lothlórien Chair is the first fully endowed chair appointment at Gordon and was made possible by the generosity of Walter and Darlene Hansen, longtime supporters of the arts and of faculty development in Christian higher education. “This is a landmark appointment for Gordon College in many ways,” says College Provost Mark Sargent. “Not only is it our first fully endowed chair, it also reaffirms Gordon’s leadership role in the visual arts both within our region and within the Christian community nationwide.” Bruce Herman with Darlene and Walter Hansen at an evening reception held at the Barrington Center for the arts celebrating Bruce’s installation.

218 6


The Hansens chose to name the chair for the “golden wood” of mallorntrees in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Overseen by Galadriel, the

yourself, and one with an alternative plotline that makes the mud puddle of your life seem bottomless—like the Loch Ness that is small in terms of surface area but very deep. Miles deep. Our little loch opens at the bottom onto the wide and mysterious sea of God’s telos. That deep sea is really the only safe haven, despite its fearsome aspect: God’s holiness and otherness. At the end of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Return of the King, Frodo’s home can no longer be the Shire, as he has seen too much. Likewise, even though we cannot return to the halcyon days of 1950s America, we may follow Frodo into the West—into an unknown but meaningful future that God has for us if we keep faith with His purposes here in (Middle) Earth. I think all musicians, poets, painters and filmmakers are trying to get at that Story whose plotlines are mysteriously transcendent, yet as near to us as our own breath. Having faith in Jesus and His invitation to be part of that Story is an incalculable advantage, artistically speaking—that is, if you are willing to do all the hard work to unpack and live into that invitation.

Bruce Herman, M.F.A., professor of art, is a painter living and working in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Meg, have two grown children, Ben and Sarah, and two grandsons, Will (4) and Jack (2). They are longtime members of the Lanesville Congregational Church in Gloucester, where Bruce serves as an elder. More of his work can be found online at

most powerful elf of her age, and her husband, Celeborn, Lothlórien was

evocative images. Stir up our emotions. Lead us through a catharsis to

a place of great beauty and peace, far from evil and danger, and resistant

purify our spirits and wills.”

to the slow decay of time. Lothlórien, in the words of Tolkien, opened a “window that looked on a vanished world.” Full of “gold and white and blue and green,” Lothlórien was a place of great color and beauty—it provided sojourners a waking dream of ancient days and a vision of hope. Dr. Hansen addressed Herman and his friends and colleagues at an evening reception held at the Barrington Center for the Arts. He began his remarks by saying, “Bruce, imagine you are sitting in a beautiful chair called the Lothlórien Chair. Inscribed upon its four legs are four lines from J. R. R. Tolkien’s book The Fellowship of the Ring. These four lines are the mandate for your mission as the occupant of the Lothlórien Chair.” These four mandates, in brief, are as follows: 1. None who encounter the Lothlórien Chair will escape unchanged. “Bruce, here is your mission: Don’t let us escape unchanged. Bring us under the spell of art to break the spell of the world. Fill our minds with

2. The Lothlórien Chair brings us inside a song. “Bruce, bring us inside the song! We feel lonely outside, knocking on locked doors but not getting inside. Give us open windows and open doors so we can get inside the song. We want to live inside the song.” 3. The Lothlórien Chair leads artists to touch and delight in wood . . . and marble and gold and all the basic elements of creation. “Bruce, lead us to delight in God’s creation. Lead us to exalt in the goodness, beauty and truth of wood. Lead us to smell the wood and to rub our fingers on the wood until we feel the life within the wood.” 4. The Lothlórien Chair teaches artists to put the thought of all that they love into all that they make. “Bruce, teach us to live and work and create from love. Teach us unconditional generosity; to give not only our work, but also to give of ourselves in and through our work.”

FaLL 2006 | STILLPOINT 219 7

Surface Detail, Second Adam—Bruce Herman 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899


Surface Detail, Second AdAm oil and alkyd resin with 24kt gold leaf on wood, 18 x 24 inches © 2009

Bruce Herman painter

The surfaces of my paintings contain their deepest meanings. I realize that can sound confusing—especially since I’m obviously committed to the story, to the human presence, and to creating images that record light, and form, space and recognizable objects. But the surface, the face or skin of the painting, contains the history of its making—all the marks of adding and subtracting the paint, the texture, and the mysterious afterimages of other layers of the painting. The surface of the painting is the site of the image’s birth. My sense of calling as a painter is tied irrevocably to my love of color, form, light, and maybe even especially of paint itself. Somehow it is the material, the matter, the thing-ness of things that must be loved into form. Absent a love of paint, the painter would be little more than an illustrator of verbal ideas. Bruce Herman, B.F.A., M.F.A., is Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the fine arts at Gordon. For over 35 years he has lived in West Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he finds “an irresistible, almost tidal pull; a stability in the midst of the constant change.”


255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899

Dress on Fishing Dock­—Jean Sbarra Jones CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

dress on fishing dock acrylic on board, 18 x 24 inches © 2009

Jean Sbarra Jones painter

This painting is one in a series of a dress at a fishing dock. The image of the dress

Jean Sbarra Jones, M.F.A. (Boston

has been present in my work for over a decade. Uninhabited, it is fragile and

University), is an adjunct professor of art

evocative. My interest in the abstracted shapes of fishing boats and the water and docks they occupy came about when I married a lover of such things. Placing them

at Gordon and an award-winning artist who has exhibited extensively. Her work is included in many collections, including

together resulted in unexpected contrasts. I was drawn to the challenge of depicting

that of color-field painter Kenneth

with paint the disparity among surfaces that are transparent and opaque, delicate

Noland. She lives and works at her home

and coarse. Strong, unifying light heightens the theatrical nature of their shared

and studio in Salem, Massachusetts, with

existence, offering an untold story to be imagined.

her husband, Norman Jones, associate professor of theatre at Gordon.


Why Teaching Matters Now More Than Ever—

Story Janet (spoerer) Arndt ’68 Photo michael Hevesy

Janet Arndt '68

Why Teaching Matters Now More Than Ever

Usually when people lose jobs they’ve enjoyed for years, they feel anxious and insecure. But Tom Esperson, a student in the graduate program at Gordon, left his on purpose: he wanted to teach. After a long business career as a chief technology officer, he told me he was no longer interested in “helping myself. I want to help others in direct and profound ways.”

Tom decided to shift gears in the middle of his life and take a job that would pay him far less than he’s ever earned. Why make such a radical change during such an uncertain time? Because whether the economy is strong or not, I’m convinced teaching remains the profession behind all others. It shapes business leaders; nurtures doctors; prepares pastors and inspires advocates. especially in our increasingly technological and fragmented world, the personal power of a teacher remains the most important job on the planet. The character and gifts of one teacher can inspire an entire movement. Of course, I would think that. I’m the director of the College’s graduate and licensure program in education. It’s part of my job to convince others why teaching matters now more than ever; why the classroom remains one of the most hallowed spaces on earth. But when I consider the teachers who inspired me, it’s not a hard sell. most of us can recall the one teacher who genuinely helped us; who challenged us to be better. His or her


STILLPOINT | summer 2009

work was more than a job. It was a chance to make a difference in a “direct and helpful way.” Her enthusiasm and integrity went beyond meeting our needs for the day, month or year. He dedicated himself to developing us as whole people—intellectually, emotionally and socially. she wanted us to be capable of navigating our way through life’s hardest experiences. But now, according to current data, the demand for teachers will exceed 1.5 million over the next decade. several states are already experiencing a severe shortage. Baby boomers are retiring, leaving vacancies in most states and in all content areas, with a critical shortage in areas like languages, special education, english as a second Language, math and the sciences. From public, private and charter schools to tutoring, classroom teaching and small-group instruction, teachers will be needed in new and demanding ways. Today’s classrooms are often mini united Nations with students coming from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Add to that students

Gordon has opened doors for me. It is very well regarded by area schools as an institution that puts out well-prepared educators. I am still a student at Gordon—should be done with my Master of Arts in Teaching by December. —Christopher Love ’04 High school physics, Topsfield, massachusetts

who have disabilities sitting beside neurotypically developing students, and teachers are faced with very diverse classrooms. Teaching today requires special teachers. Gordon’s Department of education, on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, seeks to develop them. recently, with a $30,000 grant from the e. Leslie Peter Foundation, education faculty Priscilla Nelson, susan Wood and I developed a unique summer institute that brought public school teachers and Gordon education faculty together. The goals of the Teachers Institute were to: b Develop collaborative relationships between teachers, college professors and teacher candidates. b Design and explore creative teaching strategies that satisfy the goals of the massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and state assessments. b reflect on ways experienced teachers can refine and improve instruction.

Principals of local schools were recruited to participate because, as leaders of their schools where our students are doing their student teaching, they must agree with our goals and “buy into” our desire to “clone” their best teachers. Twentyfive teachers, recruited from principals’ recommendations, took part. The gap between current research on best teaching practices and what goes on in actual classrooms is significant. ellen Condliffe Langemann, dean of Harvard university school of education, states: “One of the big problems in educational research is that people haven’t understood the need to take research one step further and translate it to useable knowledge.” “The Institute is about listening and collaboration as we strive to better prepare our students for the classroom,” says Nelson. “We’re hoping the Institute stimulates open discussion between teachers and college professors since we’re all committed to strengthening the future of education in America.”

Grad Profiles

Fiorella Bongiorni, a supervising practitioner and Institute participant, said she greatly appreciated the opportunity for teacher candidates to work with college professors. “Veteran teachers have a wealth of knowledge and practical experience, and should be willing to learn and try the new best practices I have seen in my Gordon student teachers.”

Janet Arndt, ed.D, is director of graduate education and licensure at Gordon and lives in Windham, New Hampshire. Her husband, Ken, is a 1970 Gordon alumnus, as are their four children: elissa ’00, emily ’03, ethan ’05 and erica ’08.

summer 2009 | STILLPOINT 13223

The Certainty of Uncertainty— The Certainty Norman of Uncertainty Jones

Norman Jones

A few weeks ago some of my theatre students lived with the same horror that their roommate—a Haitian—was experiencing: he had not heard from his family since the earthquake and his anxiety quickly became theirs. Many buildings in his hometown had collapsed and the event suddenly had new implications for the play we’d been devising together since early January. The topic? Uncertainty. I’d chosen the topic well over a year ago because I’d begun to notice an emerging trend in theatre, especially since the September 11 attacks nine years ago. I saw an increase in the production of tragicomedies and absurdist dramas, those types of plays that were neither funny nor tragic but simply unresolved. No resolution, no redemption, no happy ending—or any ending for that matter, at least in the traditional sense. These plays had rarely been staged in the decade before that infamous fall day. But since then, more productions, for instance, of existential plays like Waiting for Godot seemed to be taking on a new and somewhat dark life. Theatre—like all art—is one way people attempt to make sense of their lives. And certainly these latest tragicomedies offer audiences an opportunity to commiserate with others; a shared dissatisfaction with how the events of collective life have transpired. My students have even begun reflecting this attitude, engaging for the first time in my twenty-year teaching career with Beckett and Chekhov as their ‘favorite’ playwrights. Have these horrendous events knocked the wind out of our American sense of security? Certainly September 11—and subsequent attacks—has revealed a new vulnerability, and with it, a new set of questions, launching what I think has become the current theme of our broader culture, uncertainty. How then do we share such doubts? Or how do we confront them at all? It’s tempting to simply state the title of our original production and leave it at that: I Don’t Know, I Just Don’t Know. However, it may be helpful to unpack the term ‘uncertainty’ by employing a few theatre devising techniques in an attempt to redefine it. In our daily decision-making processes, we confront questions. Where are my car keys? Who shall I marry? Why did this happen? We either wrestle with these questions and tackle them head on (we find the keys) or we become so frantic we stay paralyzed and resigned. Much of what we live in is a tension between the real and the surreal, the mortal and the immortal, the spiritual and the physical. So some of the answers we come up with might seem certain but I wonder how many are actually counterfeits. I write on my Facebook page and think I’m engaging in a relationship with others. I deposit my money into a bank and think it’s safe. In our effort to avoid confronting the uncertainty, we allow time to make the decision for us. Attempting to define our certainties becomes a mix of uncertainties. 224

Put another way, our uncertainty may be redefined as mystery. In fact, faith is often described as the mystery of a Reality bigger than ourselves, the grandness of a God humans cannot fully understand, or he would hardly be God. Yet if we embrace such a sense of mystery, we may come to a place of ironic beauty and peace. Resolution. Comedy even. Albert Einstein recognized this truth when he said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” But where is the beauty when a plane collides into a building? Or when the earth groans and cracks? Or more closely to home, when our health starts to fail? What then do we believe? For me, as one who has a degenerative eye disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa, I have come to understand that the greatest certainty in my life—the God of Scripture—is also my greatest uncertainty. I have questions. And while the very tenants of the faith seem both impossible and absurd, I therefore stake my life on them. As the medieval theologian Tertullian wrote, “I believe it because it is absurd.” This is what defines both comedy and mystery. The playwright Christopher Fry said, “comedy is an escape not from truth but from despair. Comedy is a narrow escape into faith.” What would seem impossible becomes possible. The world’s events might not make sense but the questions and the beauty that can emerge as a result keep us moving toward others, toward honesty and service, coming along side those in need like the people in Haiti. That is one thing of which I’m certain.   Norman Jones is an associate professor of theatre arts at Gordon. He and his wife, Jean Sbarra Jones, live in Salem, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


in FO

An Hour with the Constitution IN THEIR WORDS

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Associate professor of Sociolo

An Hour with the Constitution Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, 39 men signed a document that forever changed the direction of the United States. On that same day hundreds of years later, paul Brink, associate professor of political studies, had 32 freshmen in his American national politics class spend the entire hour reading this document—in one sitting; out loud; in their own voices. in honor of Constitution Day, Brink had his students take turns standing and reading, skipping over italicized text—sections that resulted in amendments from the original document. “My main goal is for students to know the Constitution, and to have read and heard it with some care at least once,” explains Brink. “Both the right and the left see it as the bedrock of American politics, and both sides also appeal to it. So students need to have more than a passing acquaintance with the Constitution.” The skipped sections will be used as discussion material later in the class.

Ray Loring 1943–200

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Brink thinks his oral reading is “a great discussion starter” with his students, since hearing the Constitution out loud can raise questions for political studies students who, like many citizens, may only know passing references to the Constitution. “it leads us to ask questions like ‘Should we read the Bill of rights? Should these amendments be considered part of the Constitution? Would you have signed the Constitution without the Bill of rights?’”

Also an accomplished compos

Brink said his students also wrestle over the phrase in Article 1, the famous “three-fifths of other persons” description, which was included for determining a state’s number of representatives and for taxation purposes, identifying slaves as only three-fifths of a human being.

Truman. At 28 he wrote the sc

“That’s a hard question for our global students today,” Brink said. “And more comparative questions emerge as well: the United Kingdom doesn’t have a written constitution—at least not in a single document—and yet the country apparently is a healthy democracy. So how important is our Constitution anyway?”

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Political Studies

Spring 20

Golden Pines–Gordon—

Golden Pines—Gordon

Makoto Fujimura

gold, mineral pigments, platinum on Kumohada, 48 x 60 inches © 2008

Makoto Fujimura painter

“Golden Pines—Gordon is dedicated to the new Ken Olsen Science Center. Inspired by the trees seen outside the window overlooking Coy Pond, it has two perspectives. The first is the pine trees’ natural perspective, referencing Tohaku Hasegawa’s Shorinzu-Byobu master painting of 16th century Japan, depicting the mystery of creation. The other, created by the smaller tree with the moon in the background, connotes the scientific realm, bound to the closed system of nature. Art points to the supranatural, generative reality of the New Creation.” Makoto Fujimura, M.F.A., was born in 1960 in Boston and was educated in the U.S. and Japan. During his years studying in Tokyo at the National University of Fine Arts and Music, Fujimura began to assimilate abstract expressionism with the traditional Japanese art of Nihonga. In 1990 Fujimura founded The International Arts Movement. His most recent paintings in the series The Splendor of the Medium are formed of stone-ground minerals including azurite, malachite and cinnabar. His work is represented in many public and private collections in the U.S and internationally. He was appointed to the National Council on the Arts, a six-year Presidential appointment, in 2003. |

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899



Ken Olsen Brings Entrepreneurial Leadership to Science— Daniel Tymann



On Taking Vows in Two Priesthoods, Christianity and Science Robert Herrmann

as a fine activity for a Sabbath afternoon. Tillich once referred to this age (and our culture) OnPaul Taking Vows in Two Priesthoods, as “the land of broken symbols.” That break is at last Science, in return, has given the theologian a real Christianity Science—Robert Herrmann partly science derived,and based upon the assumption that world. As Walker Thorson has expressed it, “medieval objective scientific reality would produce a complete

description of all reality and preclude any other source of truth as outmoded and irrelevant. So, the little boy would say, “Science is material and religion is

society and medieval thought were. . . centered on a fundamentally religious conceptual framework with a papier-mâché sort of physical universe which had no more meaning than a kind of ‘stage prop’ on which

On Taking VowstheindramaTwo of salvation was enacted.” By comparison, gone their separate ways. science “took the secular world and the secular calling Priesthoods, Christianity more seriously. Instead of a papier-mâché universe, It was a sad parting, I feel, because each discipline and Science—Robert God had made a real one, and the basic inspiration for had done so much for the other. It is not mistake that the scientific revolution was a passionate belief that, science came out of a Christian culture, for example. Herrmann immaterial.” And so, scientists and theologians have

For the biblical perspective of an utterly trustworthy

in exploring and knowing what God had given men in

Creator whose universe was ordered and rational was

creation, we would find a larger framework in which

essential to the scientists’ expectation of meaningful

our grasp of our role and destiny could grow and

experimentation. As Einstein later wrote, “God who

develop further.”

creates and is nature, is very difficult to understand but He is not arbitrary or malicious.” Then, too, to be a scientist was an honorable and worthy occupation, in contrast to the pagan idea of science: Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, who were jealous of mortal man’s possession of their knowledge. Biblically, man is presented as a creature of God and his work, as part of

The challenge came in the words of Francis Bacon, “if . . . there be any humility towards the Creator, if there be any reverence for or disposition to magnify His works, if there be any charity for man . . . we should approach with humility and veneration to unroll the volume of Creation.” §

the Divine unfolding, to have dominion over the earth, always with the proviso to love God and neighbor. So

Robert L. Herrmann, excerpt from “On Taking Vows in

the scientist is no unwelcome interloper but a servant-

Two Priesthoods, Christianity and Science,” Yale Journal

son in his Father’s creation. As Oxford’s Charles

of Biology and Medicine 49 (1976): 455–59.

Coulson once said, the practice of science is to be seen


Biomes—Abby Ytzen '10 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899


Biomes digital illustration on soft knit, 5 x 20 feet © 2010

Abby Ytzen ’10 graphic designer

Biomes uses lines, bold color and playful icons to illustrate the artist’s love and desire to connect to the natural world. Her illustration works on many levels; the piece is first encountered from a distance, the viewer standing back taking it in as a whole. The breadth of the illustration—and consequently the breadth of the earth—is awe-inspiring and perhaps overwhelming. Bright colors and bold icons invite viewers to enter in. The unexpected interactions within the illustration encourage a youthful curiosity. “There is playfulness in nature that I find exciting, and I have sought to capture that element of play,” Abby says. “I have begun a dialogue within each biome; animals interacting with each other and with their environment in playful ways.” Abby Ytzen is the entrepreneurship director at Art Haven in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where she designs, networks and teaches multiple classes to artists of all ages. She also holds an internship at Soldier Design in Cambridge.


When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?—Bryan Auday

When Science Meets religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? Not long ago my colleague Haddon Robinson, noted homiletics professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, commented on why he believes people leave the church. One major reason is that the church no longer addresses issues and concerns that are relevant to their lives. I had just received a Lilly grant, which is administered through the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon. One purpose of this grant is to allow professors to explore ways public issues—in my case scientific issues— can be introduced to nonscientific audiences within the church. Last fall I used a portion of the grant to develop a 12-part adult Sunday school series titled “When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?” (The title is borrowed from a book by Ian Barbour, a stalwart in the cause for dialogue between scientific and Christian communities.) I wanted to stimulate conversations that would help Christians navigate the confusion—even among educated churchgoers—of topics such as human cloning, the



harvesting of embryonic stem cells, evolution versus creationism, and the nature of homosexuality. I taught this 12-part series at my own church, First Congregational Church in Hamilton, Massachusetts. My intention was to establish an open forum on Christian faith and science, one in which participants felt safe to explore varied positions on controversial topics. Often people view Sunday school as a vehicle for indoctrination, not as a place to explore new ideas. However, if evangelicals want to grow in their faith, they must understand not only their own position on a topic, but the positions of those with whom they disagree as well. My series began by juxtaposing scientific naturalism with its emphasis on the scientific method, with a biblically based Christian worldview. To begin a dialogue between science and theology, we needed to understand the basic presuppositions of both camps. In the words of theoretical physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne, “Every

discipline has to rest on an unexplained foundation. For science this is provided by the fundamental laws of nature, just as theology rests on the given existence of the deity conceived.” We then looked at different models of how scientific and theological communities interact. I drew upon Barbour’s fourfold typology: conflict, independence, dialogue and integration. The heading “conflict” corresponds to those who believe that science and religion are enemies—for example, biblical literalists would argue that the theory of evolution is incompatible with the Genesis narrative; each position is seen as mutually exclusive. The “conflict” approach to dialogue— which is usually characterized by mudslinging—has been popularized by the media because it makes for spirited news stories. The “independence” view is that science and religion are not in conflict because each has its own language, poses different questions, and concerns separate domains of reality. Religion

Story Bryan Auday Photos Return Design interns

asks “Why?” and science asks “How?” But in compartmentalizing science and theology, there is little opportunity for dialogue. Though I don’t have hard data to back this claim, I believe the vast majority of Christians fall into either the conflict or independence categories. The late Stephen Jay Gould was a good example of a scholar who adopted the independent typology. In his 2002 book Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Time, he pointed out the virtues of both science and religion but saw little value in bringing them together. In recent months Richard Dawkins’ much-talkedabout book The God Delusion (2006) has rekindled the fires of conflict since he is arguing, in part, that a choice must be made between evolutionary naturalism and theism. The last two typologies, “dialogue” and “integration,” refer to positions that respect the integrity of each other’s domains, recognizing that each has meaningful things to say, particularly when they are weighing in on similar questions. The difference between the two is a matter of degree—integration is a more ambitious attempt to unify theology and science into a single discourse. Both these positions, however, see dialogue as essential and allow for the possibility that science and theology can influence each other. From my perspective, dialogue and integration are the best methods for gaining insight into the two most important books that Christians have been given—the Holy Scriptures and the book of nature. During the remaining weeks of the course we delved into topics such as creationism, evolution, the intelligent design movement, and hybrid theisticevolutionary perspectives. At no point did I advocate for a particular position; it was important to allow the participants to discuss different perspectives that are held by Christians who maintain a high view of Scripture. Each person was encouraged to come to his or her own conclusions.

We looked into scientific and theological perspectives on the mind/ body/soul question, attempting to address “Who are we?” and “What constitutes our humanness?” As we looked to construct a biblically informed anthropology, we noted that the Scriptures make it clear God made us in his own image (imago Dei), and we tried to unpack what this means. We completed our study by looking at how science can help inform us about issues such as homosexuality, human cloning and developments in biotechnology. Here are two lessons I learned through this experience. First, there is an immense need for the Christian academy to converse with the local church on significant contemporary issues. My course dealt with science, but there are many other possible topics. A second lesson I learned is that I’d been taking Gordon College for granted. One of the College’s central missions is to bring the expertise of our academic disciplines alongside our faith as we strive to become truth seekers. In our community at Gordon, faculty, students, and staff have daily opportunities for contact with each other as we sort out the complexities of the Christian life. This privilege needs to be exercised, cherished and shared. No matter where you are on your faith journey, keep us in mind as a resource. To contact faculty who could help you or your church with important issues, go to

Assigned Reading When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? (2000) by Ian G. Barbour The author is the “dean” of science and theology dialogue. Good discussion of philosophy of science. Science and Theology: An Introduction (1998) by John Polkinghorne More sophisticated discussion of science and theology dialogue. Everything by Polkinghorne is solid. Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality (2004) by John Polkinghorne Polkinghorne presents a new model for science and theology dialogue—a very insightful book. Biology through the Eyes of Faith (2003) by Richard Wright Excellent discussion of both creation and evolution by a fine biologist. Three Views on Creation and Evolution (1999) edited by Gundry, Moreland and Reynolds I drew heavily from this book. “Theistic evolution” position by Howard Van Till presented.

Bryan Auday, Ph.D., is chair of the Psychology Department at Gordon. He would like to thank Robert Tansill and Dorington Little, pastoral staff at the First Congregational Church in Hamilton, for the opportunity to teach his adult Sunday school program and for supporting his vision to use a multiple-perspectives pedagogy.


A Mathematical Walk Around Campus Jonathan Senning

C c


d A


b B














A Mathematical Walk around Campus Jonathan Senning As you walk around Gordon’s campus you will no doubt walk on many different paths. Looking at a campus map (#1), it appears there is very nearly a straight line path between any two building entrances, with the big exception of the quad in the center of the campus. Consider the question: Is it possible to start in front of the Ken Olsen Science Center (labeled E) and walk down every path on the map exactly once and end up back in front of the Science Center? This certainly does not appear to be a trivial problem; a trial and error approach could take some time. This is not a new question. It is, in fact, a rather famous question that led to the creation of a whole new branch of mathematics. The story goes something like this: The town of Königsberg, Prussia (now a city in Russia called Kaliningrad), is built on both banks of the river Preger as well as on an island in the river. Although only five remain, at one time there were seven bridges linking both banks to the island and another larger island, as shown in this figure (#2) from Maurice Kraitchik’s Mathematical Recreations, Dover, 1958 . The people in the town wondered if it were possible to start at some point in the town and walk, crossing each bridge exactly once, and end up back at the starting point. No one had been able to do it, and they faced an important question in mathematics: “Just because we can’t find a solution, does that mean a solution doesn’t exist?” The brilliant Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (whose name is pronounced “Oiler”) succeeded in explaining that there was no solution to the problem. In doing this Euler began a whole new branch of mathematics known today as graph theory. This graph (#3) corresponds to the Königsberg bridge problem. The black circles, called vertices, represent the landmasses while the connections between them, called edges, represent the bridges. Finding a tour that crosses each bridge once and ends at the starting point is equivalent to finding a circuit (a path that starts and ends at the same vertex) in the graph that traverses each edge exactly once. Euler showed that this is only possible if the number of edges attached to each vertex in a graph is even. We call such a circuit, if it exists, an Euler circuit. An Euler path is similar except one is allowed to start and end at different vertices; an Euler path exists if exactly two vertices have an odd number of edges attached. You might find it interesting to look for Euler circuits or paths in this graph (#4). Returning to our original question “Is it possible to start in front of the Ken Olsen Science Center and walk down every path on the map exactly once and end up back in front of the science center?” we now easily see the answer is “no” because there are many vertices with an odd number of attached edges. Knowing this, we can walk about the campus rather carefree, that is until we begin to wonder what route including all paths has the fewest number of repeated segments. That, however, is a problem for another day. Jonathan Senning, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, wonders if it’s possible mathematically to walk down every campus path once and end up in front of the Science Center.

This essay originally appeared in Notes Along the Way, the Gordon College blog.



A Few oF oUR FAvoRite things

Favorite IT (Information Technology) Memories and Artifacts





Favorite IT (Information Technology) Memories and Artifacts When we needed to identify a photograph of an artifact from the Ken Olsen archives, we asked Gordon computer science faculty and other IT specialists for their help. Our STILLPOINT inbox overflowed; the photo turned out to be of an antique magnetic core memory. Russ Leathe, director of networking and computer services, said the image “brought back a flood of memories” from his work at Wang Laboratories in the 1980s—including the morning he met An Wang in an elevator. “Here was the man who created electronic core memory and later revolutionized the industry with the first word processor, saying hi to me. If the founder of a multimillion dollar company can remember me, how much greater is the God Who created me.” Here are more of our technology-savvy friends’ favorite IT memories.

1 | The How and Why Wonder Book of Robots

early minicomputer) and were actually allowed to

and Electronic Brains (1963)

sign up for hands-on time for an hour at a time. (I

The How and Why Wonder Book of Robots and

still can’t figure out why they were willing to trust

Electronic Brains (1963) was the book that first interested me in computers. I read it about 100 times when I was in elementary school. I built robots out of light switches, light bulbs and big cardboard boxes. Isaac Asimov once quipped, when asked about the computers he had “invented” in his science fiction novels of the 1930s and ’40s, “Did you notice I only described what it looked like on the outside?” My robots looked pretty good on the outside. Inside was me. I still have in my office my first computer, from the late 1970s, though actually my very first computer was the DigiComp I received around the same time as my How and Why Wonder Book. I’m still mourning the day it was unceremoniously thrown away. Now they’re worth hundreds to collectors! IrvIn Levy, Ph.D.

a bunch of high school students with a machine that probably cost more than a typical house at that time!) The 1620 was a decimal machine with 60,000 decimal digits of memory and a basic cycle time of 20 microseconds. It didn’t have an operating system or mass storage. Instead, one loaded a program into memory from punched cards that had been prepared previously. It didn’t have circuitry to perform arithmetic; instead, one had to load, add, and multiply tables into the memory when loading a new program. (IBM’s internal name for the system during development was CADeT, which some wag suggested meant “Can’t Add—Don’t even Try.”) I still have fond memories of that 1620. To this day I still know the machine language operation codes for several of the typical 1620 operations, though I haven’t


written a program on the machine in decades.



2 | IBM 1620 My first exposure to computers was through



3 | Punch-Card Memories

a summer program for high school students

In 1983 I was hired by my undergraduate college to

sponsored by the National Science Foundation

assist in computation for class scheduling. When a

at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, my

student registered for a class, the instructor handed

hometown. We had access to an IBM 1620 (an

over a punch card. At night I sat up with a PDP-




11 as it processed over 10,000 punch cards

started pulling black cable, hand over hand,

management, which started my technology

(Ken Olsen’s company, Digital equipment

while the workmen watched through the

career at Gordon. I’ll always have fond

Corporation, made these wonderful machines).

window and laughed. After several minutes

memories of Abbey and of Gordon’s VAXes,

By the next morning the registrar had an

we had a large quantity of black cable in

which will be retired this year after many, many

idea of who was scheduled for what classes.

the computer room. Sweaty but proud, we

faithful years of service to the College.

It was truly a miracle at the time. In 1986,

surveyed the pile of cable with a feeling of

june BoDonI ’82, B.A.

during graduate school, I worked for Apple

accomplishment. However, our flush of victory


shortly after the Macintosh came out. I got

was short-lived; all that black spaghetti needed


an “insider’s” deal on a Macintosh Se with 512

to be moved down the hall to MacDonald 107.

kilobytes of memory and 30 megabytes of

Oops. We hadn’t thought to coil it up as we

6 | A Gen X-er remembers

hard disk space—it only cost me about $3,000.

went along. Now what? It was heavy, it was

As a member of Generation X, my entire life

Today I have a new Macbook Pro with two

bulky, it was not cooperative. But we pulled

has been shaped by technology. When I was

gigabytes of memory and 160 gigabytes of

it, pushed it and cajoled it, and eventually we

5 years old, I sat next to my father, watching

disk space. It is much, much faster and cost

got it down the hall. Dave and Tom had a good

eagerly as he burned his own integrated circuit

less than $2,500. Recently I took the hard drive

laugh when they got back, and June and I were

boards in a tub of acid with his Heath-Kit Poly

out of my dead Mac and stuck it in a Mac my

then in high demand for any heavy-lifting jobs.

88 computer. When I was 10, my friend got a

sister-in-law was throwing out. When I started

AnItA CoCo, M.r.e.

Timex Sinclair minicomputer that connected

it up, it began processing right where it had left


to the TV as a monitor (that concept died off

off over 10 years earlier.

quickly, but this convergence of television

stePhen BrInton, M.s.

5 | A Word Processor named Abbey

and computers is coming back into vogue).


One of my favorite tasks as a student working

At Gordon I actually went through a phase of


in Gordon’s Alumni Office was running the

hating computers—they always seemed to lose

thank-you letters and appeal letters on

my papers. But I was the first student to deliver

Gordon’s first word processor. The A.B. Dick

a final term paper to a professor through email.

Gordon’s computer network used to consist of

word processor (nicknamed Abbey by the

I proudly toted my high-density 5¼-inch disk

a series of telephone cables running from the

Development Office) was a mammoth CPu

to the Computer Center, and they went right

“command center” in MacDonald Hall to the

connected to a huge daisy wheel typewriter

to work figuring out how to email the paper

administrative offices in Frost. It was a joyous

with a tiny display screen. Abbey was located

with the VAX system. Another area where

day when a grant made it possible to replace

in a small remote office up a back staircase

technology has changed my life is with phones.

these telephone wires with a state-of-the-art

outside of Marv Wilson’s office in Frost. There

Instead of answering the rotary dial phone

ethernet network connecting all the buildings

I could feed Abbey letterhead with one hand

attached to the wall in my childhood home, I

on campus. As with most large projects, this

and hold a book with the other—the best

now have no “land line,” and the cell phone in

one was slated for the summer. One day the

student job ever. I read the entire Lord of the

my pocket has more computing power than my

workmen who were laying cables informed me

Rings trilogy that summer. I also took home

mid-1990s-era seminary desktop computer (of

that the conduit that held the telephone wires

the thick binder of instructions one weekend

course I kept the classic ringing bell ring tone).

needed to be emptied ASAP and it “wasn’t in

to learn how to program letters. That weekend

roBert vAn CLeef ’94,

their contract” to do that. Both Dave Sweet

my previously undiscovered “inner geek”


and Tom Borchart were on vacation, leaving

came out. From there I went on to take a

it up to June Bodoni (director of the Center

few programming classes, and I took every

for educational Technologies) and me to get

opportunity to read the VAX/VMS and POISe

the job done. June and I braced ourselves and

manuals. eventually I got hired to do database

4 | Black spaghetti

FALL 2007 | STILLPOINT 29237

Get Lost in Jerusalem— Ted Hildebrant




Monroe Hyperspace Michael Monroe

In one of the most memorable speeches from Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, Mozart declares, “That’s why opera is important, Baron. Because it’s realer than any play! a dramatic poet would have to put all those thoughts down one after another to represent this second of time. The composer can put them all down at once—and still make us hear each one of them. . . . I bet you that’s how God hears the world! Millions of sounds ascending at once and mixing in His ear to become an unending music, unimaginable to us!” In addition to beautifully summarizing what it is that can make the apparently unrealistic world of opera so compelling, Shaffer’s Mozart suggests something about why the Internet appeals to me so much: at its best, it can seem to bring together an infinite number of ideas and conversations into a sort of music. Of course, playing God has its downsides, and in the case of the Internet we don’t even have a Mozart to help make sense of it all; but I still find much that is inspiring about this brave new world I like to call hyperspace. When I started blogging almost three years ago, I quickly learned that one of my favorite features of keeping this kind of journal is the capacity for hyperlinking (It’s killing me that I can’t use hyperlinks in this article!).


STILLPOINT | Fall 2009

I don’t just mean the regular sort of blogroll links that connect blog to blog or link to the latest YouTube video; I love having the ability to connect thoughts so easily from one post to another, which effectively can weave a bunch of seemingly disconnected essays into a greater whole.

My psychiatrist wife has always thought I had a touch of attention deficit disorder, but I like to think of mine as a mind that is constantly hyperlinking. Of course, on some level, making connections from one idea to another is the way intelligence works. Douglas Hofstadter, a remarkable polymath with particular interest in the field of artificial intelligence, often writes about “analogy making” as a higher-level sign of intelligent life. a computer can easily be taught millions of verbal definitions, but it’s another thing to perceive that hearing an opera can be like seeing the world from God’s vantage point. In his books Gödel, Escher, Bach and Le ton beau de Marot, Hofstadter uses a wide variety of analogies from the worlds of art, literature and music to illustrate how much our minds rely on analogical thinking. The examples work well because the creative process is so often about making connections. The farther out I get from the very focused musical training I had in school, the more I seem to find myself interested in all sorts of different creative pursuits. In addition to my primary training in musical performance, this has included composing music, writing poetry, translating libretti, making movies, working in graphic design, and blogging. I don’t make any great claims when it comes to my creative abilities, but I’m always struck by how often the crucial “creative moment” comes when the mind makes

at their best, hyperlinks can let a reader make some of the same sorts of connections that the writer has made. an unexpected or previously unnoticed connection between two “somethings.” It’s kind of like an accident you’ve been designed to make. I once would have assumed I needed much more specific training to try some of these things (and more training wouldn’t hurt), but I’ve been surprised to discover that finding successful connections is often more intuitive than I would have expected. It’s not much different than finding that perfect analogy. One of the most satisfying projects I’ve undertaken was to translate the rhyming and metered text of a French comic opera (Gounod’s The Doctor in Spite of Himself) into rhymed and metered English. The moments when just the perfect rhyme would “appear to me” always felt like little miracles in which I suddenly married the right word or phrase with the right moment.

In the case of translation, as Hofstadter beautifully illustrates in Le ton beau de Marot, there’s a sense in which one is always looking for the perfect analogy—how to express in English what Gounod’s librettist expressed in French, for example.

But whether it’s writing a symphony or choosing colors for a quilt pattern, I think the heart of the creative process is generally the same. One’s accumulated knowledge is used to help inspire the most interesting connections. It stands to reason the creative mind is conditioned to be looking for connections—whether that’s the task at hand or not—and I like to flatter myself by thinking this is the reason my attention sometimes wanders from its appointed task.

thread of thought—but I struggle more than I should with keeping my topmost focus in the right place. On a fairly trivial level, it used to drive me crazy to be watching a movie or TV show in which a familiar face I couldn’t place showed up; I might spend days trying to figure out where I’d seen that actor before. I used to dream about something like the Internet that would allow me to simply look up actors and learn where else I might have seen them. Now that I know the answer to such questions is just a few clicks away, I find it easier not to get distracted by such things. So this brings me back to my love for links and hyperlinks. They can actually put my hyper mind at ease. There’s a sense in which a hyperlink functions like a more transparent and infinitely more flexible footnote. The reader is invited to dig deeper into an idea, find a definition, or follow a citation as part of the natural flow of the prose. at their best, hyperlinks can let a reader make some of the same sorts of connections that the writer has made. and, at its best, the Internet allows for a rich web of connections that could scarcely have been imagined a few decades ago. I waited more than half my life for the Internet, and I’m so glad it’s here; it fits my way of thinking “to a T.” Perhaps a betterordered mind could keep an old-fashioned notebook journal and also keep track of all the internal connections from entry to entry, but the blogging medium has made it natural to write in a way that communicates both with my previous posts and with those of others. It’s quite satisfying to be able to make those connections more explicit—and, yes, to send readers off to other interesting hyperspaces.

(See, if this were a blog post, that last sentence would have offered the hyperpromise of some unexpected but rewarding destination.)

One of the ways I have always experienced attention deficit has been with reading fiction. attention-distraction is probably a better way of putting it.

Michael Monroe, D.M.a., assistant professor of music, oversees Gordon’s opera productions, teaches music history and

When I’m reading a long narrative (especially novels), I find it hard not to keep thinking about details I’ve already read when my enjoyment would be better served by focusing on what I’m reading. I’m always worried I’ve missed something, some important connection. That doesn’t mean people who read fluently aren’t thinking about what they’ve read; it makes no sense to think of “reading” a long work if there’s not a running

coaches singers and instrumentalists. His blog,, features essays and multimedia creations. This past spring he inaugurated a noontime series of “Piano Hero” events, joining alum Nathan Skinner in duo-piano arrangements of the great symphonies.

Fall 2009 | STILLPOINT 21241

Cyberworlds, Cyberethics, Cybermissionaries?­—



Brian Glenney


Cyberworlds, Cyberethics, Cybermissionaries? Brian Glenney “Why, if we can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn’t we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others?” —Digory in C. S. lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew I wish I could get my hands on the magic rings used by Digory and Polly in C. S. lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. I’d have the power, like them, to jump from one fantastic world to the next. I’d find a world that suited my philosophical tastes, one where I could layer on a neo-cortex with special sensory capabilities. Echo-locating my car in the parking lot like a bat has always been a dream of mine. a similar universe, a virtual universe, has opened up worlds akin to those envisioned by C. S. lewis. One called Second Life allows me to create my own virtual “self” in a land as real as any on a computer screen. I meet virtual “others”—other people who are living their virtual lives simultaneously with me—and visit virtual communities: listen to a preacher’s sermon in a virtual church, or hear a lecture on a virtual college campus. another, the World of Warcraft, is quite similar yet constrains my actions: I must complete missions of vital importance— save maidens and vanquish dragons.


STILLPOINT | Fall 2009

(all in a day’s work, so to speak.) Both present themselves as an extension of our own actual world, a digital mirror-image of our own analogue world, populated with digital people but controlled by their “real world” counterparts. ah! But does my digital self have bat senses? Well, yes and no: Yes, because I program my digital self as I please; no, because it isn’t quite me who is echo-locating. But this is where things get confusing (and intriguing). For in another sense it is me echo-locating. let me explain. “Avatars”—a form or incarnation of the self—is the name given to these digital alter egos. The name suits since the creation and use of these “beings” is so lifelike that a recursive effect called the “proteus effect” is known to occur in the users. avatars change the behavior of their users, not just in terms of more snacking and soda-drinking in front of the computer screen, but in terms of how the users view themselves. For instance, if an avatar is tall, the user of that avatar is more likely to behave with the confidence of a tall person in his real “analogue” world. How else might avatars affect selfunderstanding? Might there be, for instance, something more than a morale booster in having tall, good-

looking avatars? Might there be moral implications to certain ways in which an avatar is used? In other words, is there a moral component to my avatar—a digital soul, so to speak? No. Or so I would say when the question is posed directly. But this is my rational self speaking, a self that is often out of touch with my moral self—a self wrapped up in a confused array of intuitions and sentiments. If I consult my intuition, my answer regarding the moral status of an avatar is different. For instance, when I ask whether a married man, whose avatar has had a sexual encounter with another avatar, has himself committed adultery, I intuit that some kind of affair has occurred—something more than a mere imaginative encounter but something less than a real encounter; something to be met with disapprobation nonetheless. Oddly enough, I am also inclined to consider the avatar itself as having behaved inappropriately; and hence, I saddle the avatar with some kind of moral status. I’m not the only one with pear-shaped intuitions. Many of my students— students who use the low-grade avatars of chat rooms and Facebook—hold similarly conflicting intuitions. Out of a survey I conducted on 105 unsuspecting

Gordon College students, 94 denied that avatars are moral beings (85 percent), but more than half of them (55 percent) felt that they enabled real affairs of their users. Even more surprising, a third (38 percent) felt that the avatar itself (or him/herself) was morally culpable in such situations. This clash of intuitions suggests that the realism of digital technology presents a special challenge to our understanding of what constitutes a moral being. What I think makes the ethical status of avatars so unclear is that their very category of being is tied to their existence as an extension of a user—a moral user. In other words, the virtual reality of the digital world seems to provide a unique space for human activity; a space that many philosophical psychologists, like myself, have manipulated in other ways for other purposes. For instance, one of the central projects of my philosophical psychology lab is the engineering and facilitation of sensory substitution devices— computing devices that translate colors from a head camera into sounds heard through headphones. Subjects wearing these devices are able to blindly navigate in their environment by “hearing” its colors. like avatars, these “sound-colors” are not quite real colors, nor are they purely imaginative. What they are is, like the moral status of avatars, still under investigation.

I want to suggest that it is our unfamiliarity with avatars and soundcolors that generates our confused intuitions about them. Those who have significant familiarity with avatars, for instance, view them as no more problematic than fictional characters. They do, however, blink an eye when I mention the proteus effect—the changes in self-understanding that occur in avatar users. But it’s a blink of excitement. They see the digital world as an area of outreach—a cyber mission field exploding with opportunities to share Christ’s love and to thereby positively affect the self-understanding of other avatar users. These digital missionaries deserve our consideration. after all, if cyberspace is the new mission field, you may be financially and prayerfully supporting one in the near future.

Brian Glenney, Ph.D., works primarily on the philosophy of perception, in particular with how we perceive shape by sight and touch. He and his wife, lisa, have four children. |

Fall 2009 | STILLPOINT 19243

Forty Shades of Green—Irv Levy and

Dwight Tshudy

Forty Shades of Green Irv Levy and Dwight Tshudy

This week (October 19–23), chemists around the nation are in merriment mode, marking October as arguably the most chemical time of the year. It is, after all, the month during which National Chemistry Week is celebrated. Celebrate chemistry? Don’t chemicals cause problems? Isn’t chemistry only mentioned in the media when it’s linked to derailed trains, flaming warehouses, or protests on Capitol Hill? Hardly the stuff of celebration. But increasing numbers of chemists are working to change that image for the future. In fact, green chemistry—the practice of chemistry designed to be inherently safer for human health and the environment—has been a serious research field since the 1990s. Spearheaded by the EPA and programs such as the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards presented annually in Washington, D.C., a Nobel Prize was even awarded for a green chemistry project a few years ago. So what does it mean to be green in chemistry? And why does it matter? Many claim the adjective “green” these days, from pizza parlors to local grocery stores. But green chemists are guided by a specific set of principles—twelve to be exact—that direct our work in the laboratories and consequently, affect our lives every day. One of the key elements of greening the chemical enterprise is the recognition that green is not a destination for our science; instead, it is a path. The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, then, constantly provoke us to review the methods and materials we use, looking for ways to glean the benefits of modern chemistry without the accidents and unintended consequences that have occurred in the past. It’s a path from one shade of green to the next. Some of us in the green chemistry movement believe there is also a biblical mandate to practice wise stewardship of the physical world, to promote chemistry that is by design environmentally benign. We see this green chemistry imperative as completely concordant with our Christian calling to care for the environment as God’s good stewards. For us that means that many shades of green permeate our particular college department—from our classrooms and our labs to our student research projects and lectures we host or present, we’re always thinking green. We have to be honest though: green chemistry at Gordon College wasn’t the bright idea of a couple of professors. College students—who are often the catalytic force for world-changing movements—are largely behind the green chemistry movement. Many of today’s students not only want to learn about green chemistry, they want to teach others. In our particular program, it was the persistence of a young biology student named Laura (Hamel) Ouillette who taught us and challenged us to take our work further, to become strong proponents and founding leaders in the national Green Chemistry Education Network. But back to celebrating chemistry. Regardless of who we are—whether students, professors, or any type of citizen—we can inspire others beyond our campuses or communities to look for a greener way to live. Whether traveling to national 244

AuTUMn WONDErLaND— Irv Levy conferences to challenge others, returning to former high schools, or partnering with organizations like the Beyond Benign Foundation to work around our region, there are hundreds of combinations that can remind Earth dwellers to renew rather than deplete. It’s easier than some might think to find new ways to prevent waste, for instance, rather than treat or clean up waste. We could design less hazardous chemical synthetics with little or no toxicity. And we can all support practical ways to conserve energy, use renewable materials, and encourage innovative chemical technologies. We want to take the celebration to the streets, to the museums, to after-school fun science programs or community groups, and introduce thousands of folks to the reality that science does in fact have the potential to solve a lot of the world’s serious problems. But it is the one simple moment, that light bulb if you will, when someone gets a glimpse of the transforming power of green chemistry that can inspire all of us—young and old alike—to make a significant contribution to a greener world, regardless of the shade. That’s when the path gets greener still. So in an era where science news mostly deals with projects that are too costly, accidents that have caused harm, or global concerns that are so large they become political hot potatoes, green chemistry is a breath of fresh air. Literally. And that’s as good a reason as any to celebrate. Happy National Chemistry Week! Irv Levy is a professor of chemistry and chair of the department. He and family live in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Dwight Tshudy is an associate professor of chemistry. He and his wife live in Salem, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Note: This was one of many clever poems composed entirely of symbols from the Periodic Table of the Elements—written for the Chemistry and English Departments’ Poetry Slam in 2009.


Remember the First Hypernikon Marvin R. Wilson

Our lives are built on faith in God and His Word. But

then, is not really a solution. Others withdraw to some

those of us who have been out there for a while know

idyllic desert community of life; no hassles there.

our faith will be tested in many ways. Like the naïve

When I stand at Qumran overlooking the Dead Sea,

undergraduate who picked up his diploma and said,

I’m always reminded of the monastic community that

“Here I am, world! I have my A.B.!” And the world

was there, withdrawn from everyone else. They were

said, “Sit down, son, and I’ll teach you the rest of the

not doing anything except drawing up their plan; they


issued a document literally called “The Battle.” It was a battle of the sons of light (they were the sons of light)

Remember the First Hypernikon— against the sons of darkness—the Romans who were of life is important because it takes us to the very out there. And so there they were, isolated. God has Marvin Wilson foundation of why weR. have biblical studies at Gordon How we as believers deal with the struggles and trials

College, why we come together weekly for corporate worship. I’m reminded of Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof, who says, “Life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us.” We have different options in these struggles and testing. Some feel like running from life when it seems to be caving in around us. John 16 says, “In the world you will have θλῖψις ”—you will have pressure, you will have tribulation. The word is used in classical Greek literature: two heavy stones coming together and squeezing and pressurizing; squeezing out the olive so there will be olive oil. In the world we will be squeezed and pressed, Jesus says. But here is the key: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” What Jesus taught is what Paul taught—and it’s what the Hebrew Bible teaches. We are not alone in this journey of faith. Ending it all,


called us to separation but not isolation. God’s people have always found meaning in community—not withdrawing from society to some remote place. There are others who handle pressure another way. Several centuries before Paul wrote his letters, there was a group called the Stoics. Stoics hang in there, grin and bear it, grace and wear it, be indifferent through pleasure or through pain, come weal or woe the status is quo, so grit your teeth and go through it—no emotions. The Bible doesn’t indicate that’s how we should deal with trials and struggles in life. God’s Word reminds us that God brings these times into our lives to develop Christian character. The book of James was penned because some of those early believers were going through very difficult times and needed encouragement. The word “peirasmos,” “trial,” is used in the opening verses to denote outward trials

that come to believers—testing for the purpose of

and comfort. Hence we have hedonism as one of the

strengthening and purifying and maturing the believer,

options people have pursued as a philosophy of life—

for refining one’s character.

pleasure for pleasure’s sake. Others have emphasized

This was God’s pattern in the 22nd chapter of Genesis,

status or security.

where the binding of Isaac brought Abraham’s faith

But the Bible has a different answer as to what is the

to a fuller, deeper commitment. Abraham’s faith was

highest good in life as Christians: God’s goal for every

tested when he brought to the altar and bound his

believer is the achievement of a God-like character.

son Isaac—his only son, his beloved son. That’s why

And that’s not attained by easy circumstances because

Abraham is father of the faithful. Times of testing also

character is built more like an icicle: one drop at a

happened to Job when he was stripped of his wealth,

time. James says something almost unbelievable. He

his children, his health, and yet he could say in chapter

says, “Count it all joy” in the midst of testings. Now,

23, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

no one in their right mind can be joyful in a trial

In the struggles and afflictions of life, God’s intention

unless one understands whose they are and whom

is to purify believers. I Peter opens with the same

they’re serving. For James says we are to be joyful in

theme as James. In I Peter 1:6–7, Peter anticipates

the trial—not because of the trial. No one is joyful

what Tertullian, the greatest of the Latin fathers of the

because the doctor gives them bad news about their

Church, said at the start of second century: “The blood

health, or when they hear the news of the death of a

of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

loved one. But James says we can be joyful because

Many of those believers paid dearly for their faith. Peter says that though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, these have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine. God seems to have a purpose for why life has its ups and downs. When we feel pain, we only

that word “count” means to “anticipate the future.” Joy comes with realizing what such a trial will accomplish when it’s over. Maybe we could use Jesus as the great example of this: Jesus suffered the full pain of the cross, and it did not make Him happy. Yet Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross and despised the shame.”

think of the circumstance. But Scripture reminds us

A few years after I came to Gordon, Corrie ten

we need to refocus, for these trials are the means by

Boom came to speak. The Billy Graham Evangelistic

which God brings Christian character forward.

Association made Corrie ten Boom very well-known

In philosophy classes, students often struggle with the question “What is the summum bonum of life?” “What is the highest good?” Philosophers have debated and argued this from antiquity to the present. Certainly the world’s idea of what is the highest good, or what is the highest success, often revolves around such things as happiness, putting great emphasis on ease

with the film The Hiding Place. Corrie had suffered for months in the Ravensbrück concentration camp because she and her family had hidden Jews in Holland. She had seen her father and her sister die during that time. She told the student body about the indignities of being stripped naked seven times. Only later was she to know the joy of being a “tramp for the Lord”—the title of one of her books—in almost every


country of the world. Corrie continued to rejoice in

What is permanent in a Gordon education is the Word

God’s goodness despite difficult times, and she said, “If

of God. Teaching methods and styles will change, but

you know Him, you don’t always need to know why.”

the bedrock of a Gordon education is to go back to

God gave her an attitude of trusting Him even when

Scripture to give us perspective for whatever we do in

she could not make sense of the testing.

life. We depend on God daily for living; and we mature

I’m reminded of those great words of Andraé Crouch in his song “Through it All”: “I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys; I thank Him for the storms He brought me through; for if I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could

greater appreciation of the life that awaits us as we go through some of these struggles and trials. As James says in chapter 1, verse 12, a crown of life awaits those who persevere through hard times.

solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could

Paul was mentored in his spiritual life through

do.” A few months after I began my teaching career, my

Gamaliel, and Gamaliel was mentored by Hillel, a

wife learned that she had a brain tumor. It was a long

great scholar two decades before Jesus was born.

summer for us; she spent five and a half weeks in Mass

Paul had impeccable credentials in his knowledge of

General Hospital. And the doctor goofed in the surgery

Scripture—his Hebrew Bible—for he was Saul before

and caused blindness in one of her eyes, and she’s been

he became Paul. Yet he was also a Roman citizen, and

blind to this day in one eye. But during that time she

he was familiar with the athletic contests in that part

read something that said when you’re going through

of the Roman Empire. When he speaks of the “crown

hard times, the experience will leave you either better

of life,” it’s a beautiful symbol of what elsewhere is

or bitter, and the difference is the little letter “i”.

expressed in the words “Well done, thou good and

God’s people in the Old Testament had some very trying experiences, but they did not face those experiences alone. They did not focus on themselves because God is always greater than our circumstances. Times of challenge in our lives refine our faith— remind us of our human frailty. Governor Bradford of Massachusetts established the first American Thanksgiving based on the celebration of Sukkot, which occurred in Bible times from when Israel went through the wilderness. Sukkot commemorates when Israel lived in huts—collapsible structures—and for 40 years Israel had no permanent structure. This reminds us of the fragility of life, that we have to hold onto something greater than ourselves because with a little bit of wind, that structure can blow over. We need to hold on to what is permanent.


through the wisdom of experience; and we gain

faithful servant.” Paul wrote what we call “prison epistles.” The little word “rejoice” or “joy” is found 12 times in the little epistle of Philippians, and Paul, writing from prison, could say in the fourth chapter, “Be content whatever the circumstances.” And in Philippians 4:12—“I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Unlike the indifferent stoics or others who in times of testing blame someone, Paul could go to the Resource; he could go to the Rock— and that’s why he could be joyful. Paul writes in Romans 5:3–4, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance

produces character, and character produces hope.”

We learn from Gordon athletics, we learn from life;

That is also the story of Bonhoeffer, a great Christian

ultimately God will look us over, not for degrees, not

scholar who endured very difficult times in prison

for awards, not for diplomas, and not for medals, but

like Paul. Bonhoeffer wrote that it is not the external

for scars gotten in the daily struggle of coming to be

circumstances but the spirit in which we face it that

more like him, realizing that His grace is sufficient in

makes even death what it can be: freely and voluntarily

every weakness.

accepted. And so Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, “I’m ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.”

At the end of the day the New Testament, just like the Old Tesmament, is optimistic about testing and trouble and suffering and challenges. The New

Life is uncertain and unpredictable, but we have those

Testament is christocentric—that’s why it is optimistic.

words Joshua gives as he takes over the leadership

We do not face the trials of life alone. There is One to

from Moses. “Be strong and of good courage, don’t be

walk beside us because He has won the victory over

frightened neither be dismayed for the Lord your God

suffering and death. We stand in His grace and power,

is with you wherever you go.” We have those words of

realizing that hypernikon is more than the name of

assurance from Hebrews 13:6 that He, namely God,

the yearbook; it expresses the hope, expresses the

has said “I will never fail you nor forsake you, hence

confidence in Christ by which we as Gordon alumni,

we can confidently say the ‘Lord is my helper, I will

staff, faculty and students live.

not be afraid.’”

Yes, remember the first hypernikon. It only occurs

Now, no one here remembers the first Hypernikon,

once in Scripture. It was Paul’s standard for living—

Gordon’s yearbook. “Hypernikon” occurs only once in

Romans 8:37—and that has become our hypernikon

the Bible, but it ought to be a foundational emphasis

too. In Christ alone we have ultimate victory. Amen. §

in each of our lives. The word “hypernikon” means “more than conquerors” and is taken from Romans 8:37—“huper nikomen.” It means we are winning, but we are winning in a surpassing, most glorious type of victory. Paul, who knew all kinds of hardship, gives to

Marvin Wilson is a professor of biblical and theological studies at Gordon. This is text of his Homecoming 2010 address.

the early Roman church the secret of being successful and victorious in trials. He asks Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Should trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things—not some of these things, but all these things—we are hypernikon people; more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Trials can be turned from focusing on self-pity to victory, according to Paul. Christian growth only comes when there’s a contest, and life is that contest. No pain, no gain.


End of an Era Bill Harper (email)

Wenham, MA—Reuters News Service A terse news release from Gordon College has ended its 65 year association with a Scottish motif in student

and no symphonic pieces haveincorporated them for decades.

life. President R. Judson Carlberg, reportedly under

5. A heather blight prevented implementation of

pressure from his wife of Norwegian heritage, said

a “Green (actually, purple) Roof Initiative” on all

that “The Scots may have invented the modern world,

campus buildings. Federal seed money had already

but a monocultural association just doesn’t resonate

been secured. “In a sense,” the roofs would have been

within the college at this point in its history.” He cited

our ‘highlands’ ,” said Professor Dorothy Bourse.

a number of interlocking factors which contributed to the change: 1. A member of the history faculty has discovered that A.J. Gordon, college founder and foundation of the Scottish theme, was actually a Sicilian immigrant

6. The disastrous presidency of Scot James Forrester was followed by decades of leaders named Gross and Carlberg, thus obscuring the Scottish brand. 7. Elaborate plans for a branch campus in Scotland

End of an Era­— Harper 2. “Fighting Scots”Bill versus “Fighting Irish” made

collapsed when adequate supplies of dried sheep

some sense in the religious context of the 1950’s, but

futures went south.

named Antonio Jerome Gordoni.

students raised on movies such as “Braveheart” see naked combat as primitive rather than heroic.


4. Bagpipes are difficult to use in rock, rap and jazz

droppings could not be found for the open hearth heating scheme and college investments in oatmeal

So we are left with only memories of the “auld place”-”We are the fighting Scotsmen, we are the mighty

3. Haggis lost its place of honor on the menu in the

Scotsmen, we’re marching ever onward to victory...”--

college cafeteria. “Luckily, it kept for a very long

nurtured on occasion by wee drams from noble bottles

time, “ said one employee, “but in the end it was all

and foaming glasses of Belhaven 80 Shilling as we


gather, today, at the usual time and place.

Hecht—Sue Trent


from the series Vulnerables installation with dyed sawdust, anthracite © 1989

Sue Trent, M.F.A. artist and adjunct professor of art

Installation art places sculptural and everyday materials in environments outside of galleries, and aims to evoke reactions from viewers. Of her installation series Vulnerables, Sue Trent says, “When I first began making sculpture, I spent a year creating works that could be destroyed easily if even one person decided to touch them. I put them in public places—some of the works were so vulnerable that even casual traffic might destroy their integrity. In making Hecht, I placed dyed sawdust on a floor in an intricate pattern that could easily be disturbed by the tailwind of people rushing by. “I wanted to know whether the pieces emanated a selfprotective ‘force field,’ causing the public to act carefully in their presence. Or, conversely, might they invite touching, or even conscious mischief, and so be rendered dysfunctional? In their vulnerability these pieces offered both a question and a challenge to their viewers.”

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899



Denizens ofGregory the Autumn Air Denizens of the Autumn Air— S.


Gregory S. Keller

I can hear them at night. Flocks of them. They call down to me, taunting me, I’m sure of it. During the day, they feed in northern forests and wet meadows to gain weight for their nighttime adventures. Their opulent plumages would make the most flamboyant fashionista’s head turn with envy: sunlit rainbows of scarlet and indigo, gold and violet. Their sing-song melodies and warbles in the morning rival the most accomplished flutists or sopranos. But as they dart through thick foliage in the afternoon, they seem frantic, almost manic. I can relate. To the frenetic pace, that is, but not the singing abilities or the attention from fashion experts. Ah, if only we’d spend time looking and listening this autumn, we’d find migratory songbirds joyous and vivacious and well, inspiring—so much so that we might need to adjust our schedules. Consider, for instance, the Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Buntings, their names hinting at their vibrant appearance, boundless in vigor this season. Blackburnian Warblers—dubbed the “firethroats” of the north with flashes of brilliant orange—feed on caterpillars in treetops on crisp fall mornings. Brilliantly colored Yellow Warblers penetrate the woods with the self-promoting song that sounds like “Sweet! Sweet! I’m so sweet!” And Golden-crowned Kinglets dash to and fro with the energy of five-yearold children on multiple caffeinated energy drinks. Yet it is their nocturnal flight calls that often grab my attention. They gather in flocks overhead, sending the subtle message of a freedom I can’t share, and my jealousy is surpassed only by my admiration. Thousands of songbirds migrate each night under the cloak of darkness, so many in fact that migrant flocks actually appear on Doppler radar displays as massive and intense storms. They are the avian raindrops of nor’easters. Then there are the impressive feats of flight. Blackpoll Warblers fly 2,000 miles during the autumn months from northern New England to northern South America. Their nonstop flight along the Atlantic takes up to 88 hours. Red-eyed Vireos, abundant in the Gordon College woods during summer, depart New England each September for the lush Amazon Basin after three months of family duties. They, too, make me jealous . . . so jealous. I haven’t traveled as they have, never visited Belize or Costa Rica or Panama or any other tropical country, barely even left the United States. I’ll never be able to call the Amazon Basin or the mangrove forests of the Virgin Islands my “habitat.” As hard as I try, I can’t fly without the assistance of a large aircraft, the presence of 150 human passengers, and my $25-per-flight luggage. Even my jeans feel dingy compared to a Blue-winged Warbler. I can, though, live somewhat vicariously through these creatures, so I leave my house windows cracked at night in hopes of catching a glimpse of their exotic travels, imagining how they’re due to arrive in Guatemala or the Bahamas or Brazil in a few days. 252

At the end of October as the weather cools and the last of the migrants pass, I convince myself that I really am better adapted than these silly birds. Unlike them, I am able to evade house cats, glass windows, and wind turbines successfully as I stroll through my neighborhood. I can whistle a little tune while I do so, a song nearly as beautiful as that of the ethereal Wood Thrush, I tell myself. Perhaps my resentment will pass with the long New England winter. After all, I know deep down that these species are the glories of creation and the splendors of nature. They control insect populations and they disperse seeds, while surpassing our most vivid imaginations. We can admire these unassuming migrants as they fill our world with color, sound, and energy, at least before they leave us in their annual cycle for their tropical climes. For now, we can simply watch and listen, marveling at the splendor flying through our backyards and night-time skies, with joy . . . and a slight tinge of envy. But when spring finally does come, I confess I’ll feel a weird sort of relief when I see again the orange flashes of the American Redstart and hear the welcoming melody of the Chestnut-sided Warbler singing to me: “Very very pleased to meetcha’!” Gregory S. Keller is an associate professor of conservation biology and curator of birds and mammals at Gordon College. He and his wife, Beth, and their two sons live in West Newbury, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Second Church’s Place in Theological History: John Codman and the Unitarian Debate Cliff Hersey

Those parishioners walking the halls and rooms of

called. Understanding this interplay is important to

Dorchester’s Second Church today may not be fully

understanding the events briefly detailed here.

aware of the important place held by the church in theological history. To fully understand the gravity of the theological debate played out here, we first need to understand the social differences that existed two hundred years ago when the plaster walls and paint of the building were still fresh. Although we celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary

While the Dorchester Second Church and other area churches were independent of one another, over time they established what was known as the Standing Order of the New England Way. Under this arrangement all of the “Congregational” churches formed a community of independent parishes, each governed solely by the decisions of its own members,

Second Church's Place in yet inTheological “fellowship” with other churches so constituted. the history of Europeans in this area goes back at By 1806 when Second Church was built, the Standing History­ : John Codman and the least an additional 176 years. It is difficult for those of Order was still functional, but increasingly weakened Unitarian Debate—Cliff Hersey us living in the 21 century, with due to a serious fracture between liberal and our dizzying array of the raising of this church, we must remember that


of denominational options and religious practices to conceive of a world dominated by a single faith. Likewise, our American political sensibilities— dominated as they are by “wall of separation” language now existing (and accepted) between church and state—might find the concept of parish politics and taxes for the support of institutionalized religion difficult to understand. Let us remember that the state of Massachusetts was the last state to legally separate the two, lasting as it did until 1834. Although not in its most historically rigorous form, this combination of parish and church is largely the backdrop that existed at the turn of the 19th century when these walls were erected and a first pastor was


conservative theological leanings. In the 75th anniversary brochure of 1881 member sets the stage for our understanding of the context in which Second Church was built. He writes:

“If you can erase from your imagination all sights and sounds of the city—the shriek of the locomotive, the twinkle of the street lamps, the intrusive telegraph pole, the frequent mails; if you can obliterate in fancy most of the shorter streets, with the beautiful homes that line them, and then picture a quiet country town, with broad, fertile farms, through which there stretched a few elm-lined roads, not as yet desecrated by the horse-car; if you can picture one church and congregation

gathering at Meeting-House Hill-on Sunday mornings, from South Boston to Mattapan, to listen to the one minister of the town,--then you can form some idea of the Dorchester that was at the beginning of the [19th] century; of the Dorchester that had been for one hundred and seventy years, with its one shepherd and one fold for the slow-growing and widelyscattered flock.”

19, 1806 he was invited to preach his first sermon at Highbury Grove Chapel in London. The following spring he left his studies at Edinburgh and at Bristol he obtained a license to preach and accepted an invitation to become the pastor of a Scotch Presbyterian church on Swallow Street in London. A year later, in May of 1808, he returned to his native Boston and on August 1, 1808, was invited to preach at the new Dorchester

Pastor Codman:


Second Church was not built out of a reaction to

It didn’t take long for the new church to take to

any particular theological distinction, but out of the

the Rev. John Codman. After two guest preaching

necessity of growth. Completed in 1806, the parish

appearances and one later “lecture,” the church and

church did not receive its first pastor, Rev. John

parish unanimously invited him to become their

Codman, until 1808. Of the sixth generation of his

minister. But Rev. Codman was, perhaps more than

family to be resident in New England, Rev. Dr. John

most, aware of the swirling controversy that was at

Codman was born in Charlestown in 1782 and was

that point coming to a head among Boston clergy--the

baptized in the Brattle Street Church in Boston. Like

difficult issue of the deity of Christ and of the reality of

many of his peers, he entered Harvard College at the

the presence of the Holy Spirit—one interpretation of

age of sixteen. Upon his graduation from Harvard in

which would soon come to be known as Unitarianism.

1802, Codman briefly pursued the study of law. When

Conscious of the debate, Rev. Codman responded to

his beloved father, a member of the Massachusetts

the formal invitation from the congregation with a

Senate, died the same year, his deathbed wish was that

carefully worded, but clear statement of his theological

his son would become a minister of the gospel. Ever

intentions with regard to the debate. He notes:

the obedient son, John Codman soon thereafter left for England and Scotland to prepare for that work. For the next three years, Rev. Codman attended lectures at the University of Edinburgh and traveled the British Isles and Western Europe. It was in Britain that he was exposed to those who would most shape his theological understanding, including numerous conservative movements and individuals. While in Edinburgh, Codman fell in with the Presbyterians but

“I think it my duty to declare to that Church of Christ, of whom I have pastoral charge, that I believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to be the one living and true God; and that my faith in general, is comformable to the Assembly’s Catechism, and to the Confession of Faith drawn up by the Elders and Messengers of the Congregational Churches in the year 1680, and recommended to the churches by the General Court of Massachusetts.”

was also exposed to the British Baptist movement and

On the second anniversary of the dedication of the

numerous Protestant Nonconformists including John

church—October 31, 1808—the church and parish

Wesley, John Wilberforce and John Newton. On June

voted to accept the communication of the pastor elect.


Given the later disagreements over the theological

Codman was eventually formally dismissed by the

question, we can’t be exactly sure what it meant to

parish (that is, the political structure of the church)

“accept the communication.” But in Codman’s mind

but was in large measure supported by the full

we can be confident that he understood it as support

members (those accepting the covenant and baptized)

for Trinitarian against Unitarian theology or he

of the church. The battle lines were drawn and over

certainly would not have accepted the call. To the

the extended period of several months the widening

church’s credit, the Parish Committee did point to

theological distinctions between conservative

several theological concerns among the congregation’s

Trinitarian and liberal Unitarian theology was drawn

members. But the correspondence goes on to express

out. “Occupations” of the church building by both

great confidence in the pastor and in his ministry to

sides took place during this time and families as

the church and parish. Apparently that was enough for

well as Boston-area clergy were divided. Holding to

Codman who answered the committee with a positive

his theological beliefs throughout, Codman and his

letter. Dr. Codman was ordained on December 7, 1808

supporters prevailed. Eventually, those who held to

by a council of 12 Boston-area clergy. Dr. Channing--

more liberal theological persuasions were encouraged

in several years hence to be the primary spokesperson

to sell their pew rentals to conservative members and

for the emerging Unitarian theology—preached the

move on.

ordination sermon. For nearly a year pastor Codman ministered at Second

not the first in this controversy, brought to a head the

Church without apparent difficulty. But under the

growing battle lines of the new Unitarian theology.

surface there appeared some cracks in the veneer. The

Soon every Congregational church in the Boston area

long-standing tradition of the Boston Association was

and beyond would be forced to choose its camp. Some

to exchange pulpits on a regular basis. What did not

80% of Boston-area churches, bolstered later by the

go unnoticed by some members of the congregation

law, would become Unitarian and hold their buildings,

was that Rev. Codman exchanged only with those

but as a consequence would spawn countless new and

pastors who were in agreement with his more

more conservative congregations and fellowships.

conservative theological views. Few, if any, ministers took the pulpit expressing the emerging Unitarian views. Toward the end of his first year in ministry, the controversy made its way to a Parish Council in the form of a question: “Whether the pastor had the right of refusing to exchange pulpits, indiscriminately, with the neighboring ministers, with some of whom he did not agree in religious sentiment, and whose teachings he did not think would be profitable to the souls of his people.” To make a much longer story short, the new pastor


It is safe to say that this Second Church dispute, while

The proud history of the Second Church in Dorchester—now a Church of the Nazarene—follows in this important moment. John Codman remained its pastor for the rest of his life, dying on December 23, 1847 at the age of 65, having served Second Church for 39 years. As a tribute to his influence as a man of God and pastor, the area around the church now bears his name—Codman Square. § Dr. Cliff Hersey is director of global education at Gordon.

Man and His Works: Powerplants (Legger Potessi in Me)—Grant

Man and hiS wORkS: POwERPlanTS (lEggER POTESSi in ME) from the series From the New World

watercolor, gouache and gold leaf on paper © 2006

Hanna '06

Grant Hanna ’06 illustrator and graphic designer

Grant Hanna ’06 was born and raised in Thailand, where his parents are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. From the time he was very young, he wanted to be an artist. Upon arriving at Gordon in 2002 he declared an art major and pursued concentrations in graphic design, sculpture, drawing and printmaking. “Powerplants,” Grant explains, “is drawn from a series, From the New World, which uses the concept of the universe’s creation, history and eventual destruction and recreation as a springboard. Powerplants’ subtitle, Legger potessi in me, is drawn from the Italian libretto to Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Anna Bolena, and can be translated ‘If you could read within me.’” Grant lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, and works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. More of his art can be found online at

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham Ma 01984-1899



Saving Marv's Bible— Cyndi McMahon


cynDi McMahon

Dr. Marvin Wilson served on the Editorial Board for the NIV Old Testament translation project in 1970. As a gift of thanks and gratitude from the publisher, he was given a rare copy from the first-edition printing, not available for sale in bookstores.

I 258

ts cover was worn to the point that only the faintest traces of its title were still legible. Multiple pages had separated from the binding, but still every page was in its proper place. Notes and personal reflections in red ink saturated the thin pages—evidence of years of contemplative insights, questions and a deep appreciation for learning. Dr. Marvin Wilson’s New International Version (NIV) Bible was filled not just with notes but with memories of the decade he spent as a translator for this groundbreaking work. A gift of gratitude from the publisher, it was by now tied together with two rubber bands, one green and one

a light shade of red. It was a first copy of a first-edition printing, and thus of great sentimental value. As a leading Old Testament scholar, Dr. Wilson was asked in 1970 to join the NIV Old Testament Translation Project, often acclaimed as the most scholarly and labor-intensive attempt at translating Scripture in history. “At first I wasn’t fully convinced we needed a new translation,” Wilson recalls. “But as I started to really think about archaic and obsolete words in the English language, the need for readability, and the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls and new manuscripts since 1611 when the King James Version was published,

it became clear to me there was a need.” Wilson joined over 100 Christian Old Testament scholars from around the world to create a translation that would draw directly from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts, seeking to reflect the closest dynamic equivalent expression(s) in English. Because the scholars represented countries worldwide, the translation projected an international voice. Further, there were many denominations represented, ensuring that the translation would not have a sectarian bias. “The process of translation is not just the taking of a word and replacing it with a different, modern, universally understood word,” explains Wilson. “Every bit of linguistic and historical consideration— especially the context of a word—must be evaluated.” Wilson also emphasizes that translators are not infallible, and there may be a better way to express the Word of God than each translator’s individual theory or scholarly opinion. Furthermore, “committee translations tend to be more reliable than those produced by an individual scholar-theologian,” he says. Each biblical book went through four different committees. As a policy, each committee had an odd number of translators in case a tie vote developed over the translation of a word. “I spent most of my time on the Intermediate Editorial Committee,” recalls Wilson. “We would take the initial team translation work and go through it word-for-word. We averaged a speed of four verses an hour. It took about 10 years to complete the NIV translation.” In its painstaking attention to detail, its respect for the integrity of the biblical languages, and its crossdenominational teamwork, the NIV Bible represents an important piece of Christian history. And it is precisely this same respect for history, and for Wilson’s scholarly contributions both to the NIV project and to Gordon College, that has motivated the College to restore Marv’s Bible. Restoring his treasured NIV required a bindery company that would respect the historical and spiritual significance of the tattered Bible, both to the College and to Marv. Janet Bjork, serials and depository librarian in the Jenks Library at Gordon, chose Bridgeport National Bindery Incorporated in Agawam, Massachusetts: “Bridgeport has been binding our library periodicals for over 30 years. When we needed a company to repair Marv’s Bible, I knew they had the expertise to guide us in making decisions and to complete the project with care and quality workmanship.” Each page of Marv’s Bible was carefully separated from the remaining binding and pressed with weights to smooth out any wrinkles and creases. Twenty-eight of the pages were so badly damaged from time and use that they could not be incorporated into the new

BEFORE: Dr. Marvin Wilson’s vintage NIV Bible.

AFTER: A restored treasure.

binding. Made of paper stock referred to in the printing business as “onion skin,” these pages needed replacing. The search for an NIV from the first-edition printing— without notes on it, of the same exact paper stock, with the same page numbers—was not an easy task, but one was eventually found on the shelves of the Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop in Boston. The damaged pages of Marv’s Bible were replaced by pages from the found copy. Marv received his newly restored Bible this summer shortly after it arrived from the bindery company; he needed it for a special film project featuring his classroom lectures. But this fall it will be formally presented to him at the first chapel service of the new academic term, where he will start the school year with a Scripture reading—Proverbs 3:5–18—for the entire campus community.


Listening Between Listening the Lines:between How thethe Lines: How the Acceptance Speeches Acceptance Matter More Speeches Matter More than the Debates—Nathan than Baxter the Debates Nathan Baxter

In the tumultuous journey we call presidential campaigning, two key events shape the frenzy on the campaign trail: the nominating conventions and the televised debates. Both bring into focus the tenor, tactics, and themes of the campaigns.  We’ve seen the conventions, and today, Oct. 15, marks the last debate.  And though we might still ponder the stumping, ads, blogging, and cornucopia of matters political, I can’t help but wonder if we’ve learned all we need to know from the convention speeches. Granted, we’re prone to suspicion about “Big Speeches” from politicians.  Yet the acceptance rhetoric brings a campaign into fresh and revealing-if temporary-focus.  In these speeches, the candidates must negotiate a host of competing goals: unite their party, sketch their platform, (re)introduce themselves to the nation, appeal to undecided voters, launch their formally endorsed campaigns, distinguish themselves from their opponents, and run the gauntlet of the professional prognosticators.  We can too easily forget these enormous pressures on such speeches as we’re swept up in the fact-checking of partisans and pundits. But if we’re to make responsible judgments on Nov. 4th, it’s helpful to listen between the lines, to consider how, for high-stakes speeches like these, the particular claims are less revealing than the techniques the candidates used to try to make those claims hold together.  It’s not that details don’t matter and that fact-checking is unimportant.  It’s that patterns of meaning-making-and the language that reflects them-provide insight into the candidate’s vision of leadership and priorities in policy-making. So how each candidate forged coherence among complex and competing concerns in his acceptance speech revealed something-clearly not everything-about how he might navigate the pressures of the presidency.  Senator John McCain articulated his persona in fighting terms.  Maverick? Yes.  Reformer?  That too, but all in relation to the Fighter, who survived torture, endured legislative and electoral battles, and pledged to fight for America’s future.  The Fighter’s vision starts in the decadent halls of Washington, sweeps through the theater of domestic conflicts, and finishes poised in readiness to face international foes.  In each scene, the threats call forth distinctive aspects of the Fighter, and through his eyes, we’re given a vision of our country, our heritage, and the future into which he’ll lead us. Through the Fighter’s eyes, we’re invited to see ourselves as honor-bound servants of freedom, enlisting in the Fighter’s causein America’s cause: “Fight for what’s right for our country.  Fight for the ideals and character of a free people . . . Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other, for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.”   Senator Barak Obama articulated his persona in terms of promise.  Hope? Yes. Change? To be sure. But holding it all together were the strands of promise this Visionary has heard over the years.  Implicitly resonant with the less-remembered but more dominant themes of Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech of forty-five years earlier (“promissory note,” “now is the time,” 260

the American “creed” of equal opportunity), the Visionary sees an America making good on the promises embedded in the founding documents and formative moments of America’s traditions. Now is the time, the Visionary says, to reconcile tensions between individual freedoms and mutual obligations, to meet global threats through partnerships, threats not just military-»terrorism and nuclear proliferation»-but also humanitarian and ecological-»poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.» Now is the time to «restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.» Where the Fighter sees threats to principles that must be fought for, the Visionary sees aspects of promise that must be fulfilled.  Both envision tax cuts, more efficient bureaucracy, reforms suited to the 21st century, and a call to sacrifice and duty. But the Fighting structure calls for battle, which involves attacks, defenses, alliances.  It calls for dedication not desertion, for loyalty not treachery, for boldness not caution. The Visionary structure calls for purpose, which involves hope, common ground, faithfulness. It calls for compromise not cynicism, for strength not betrayal, for unity not division. Of course both are fraught with dangers and weaknesses. But you won’t hear that in a speech.

Dr. Nathan Baxter is an assistant professor of communication arts, teaching civil discourse, persuasion and speech courses. He and his wife, Tiffany, live with their two children in Beverly, Massacusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Some Thoughts upon Some Thoughts upon the Burning of Westmont— the Burning Westmont Markof Sargent Mark Sargent

The call from our son Daniel—late afternoon on Thursday, about 6:30—was calm, reassuring. He anticipated that we would soon hear about the fires scorching the hilltop chaparral of Montecito, and was eager to report his shelter in the cinder-block gymnasium. The danger, at least then, seemed remote: we talked of homework and soccer matches.    Much of our comfort came from memory. From my own college days at UC Santa Barbara, I recalled that Westmont’s gym was a haven of choice for Montecito evacuees whenever the flames began streaking down the canyons. Those brushfires—the worst in Santa Barbara until now—spared Westmont of all but modest scarring.   But the sundowner winds were crueler this time. After nightfall, spot fires leapt across the campus, devouring older buildings, destroying Daniel’s former dorm, charring trees, and ravaging foliage. So much of what Arlyne—a Westmont alum—and I have loved about the hillside campus proved incendiary: the oil-rich palm and eucalyptus trees cracked like matchsticks, thrusting white embers over rooftops and barrancas, or the dry ravines and creek beds.  When Daniel called the next morning, he spoke of midnight brushfires leaping outside the window of the gym foyer.   And of duct tape spread over door cracks and vents, shielding oxygen from smoke. By then, we already knew much about the cost of the night: fifteen faculty homes, including that of his soccer coach. Some of the victims—among them, Paul Willis, English prof and poet—have been longtime friends. A few weeks back, when I was asked to write something on the Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, I weighed several themes— immigration, religious liberty, and so on—but the fires on my son’s campus certainly alter the ways I think this year about giving thanks. For decades, Gordon and Westmont have enjoyed a special rapport. We share a similar Christian liberal arts vision. Stan Gaede served as our provost and their president. Westmont students come east for a term as Consortium visitors. Many of our own faculty and staff have sent children to study in Montecito. The sorrow of friends lingers into a holiday, even though, from across the country, we sometimes struggle to know what we can do or say. Yet the “Tea Fire” that raced through their campus is a reminder that seasons of gratitude are often tangled with grief.  Thanksgiving, we often forget, is a holiday carved from grief. Usually, though, our national November rhetoric has been an anthem to a plentiful GNP, the presumed imprint of God’s favor. Christmas marketing all but subsumes the day. The morning’s great parade, after all, is sponsored by a department store.   More and more, Thanksgiving sanctions neither gratitude nor inspiration but sleep: a high-carb, tryptophan-rich rest before televised football and the Friday-morning discounts. We seldom recall that Lincoln inaugurated the national day of Thanksgiving in the wake of deaths at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, anxious to retrieve great sadness as a preface to peace. This was a time for the president to commend “to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife.” The Pilgrims’ famous 1621 262

feast, recast for modern uses, gets told so often as a tale of multicultural and agricultural bounty that we often ignore the sorrowful prologue. The ninety Wampanoag men who brought venison to Governor Bradford for the three-day festivities were survivors from a great Rhode Island tribe decimated by European germs—and fearful of hostile Narragansetts to their west. Bradford recalled the skulls and bones left above ground by Massasoit’s villagers too sick to bury their victims.  The English settlers themselves—some religious dissidents, others fortune-seekers—were only half of the party that disembarked from the Mayflower. Four months of scurvy, dysentery and cold left just a few families intact. Desperately ill, Bradford, a new widower, watched flames spread over the thatched roof of the colony’s one common house, driving the sick shelterless onto the frozen soil. Yet, by summer’s end, with a modest harvest, the survivors found reason to be grateful, despite the fierce price. The Pilgrims, for all of their Calvinism, were more psalmists than prophets, slow to forecast the ways of God, quick to see his mercies in the wilderness.   Thoughts of Puritan trials and Westmont fires almost immediately drew my mind to the verses of Anne Bradstreet, an early settler of Ipswich. Three hundred and forty-two years ago, at some unidentified spot not far from our own campus, the Bradstreets’ servant dropped a candle, igniting the blaze that spread through their dwelling. The flames took it all, including a library of hundreds of volumes. On a “loose leaf” of paper—apparently all she could scrounge up—“Mistress Bradstreet” wrote a string of couplets, entitled simply  “Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House.” It endures as one of New England’s landmark poems. Early on, she confesses fear—“piteous shrieks of dreadful noise”—before signaling her quick embrace of God’s will. And, when I could no longer look, I blest his Name that gave and took, That layd my goods now in the dust: Yea so it was, and so ’twas just.      To be honest, I doubt I could muster the will, so quickly, to accept such haphazard destruction as God’s design. Perhaps that’s why I am taken by the transparency of her later lines. Bradstreet embraces her faith without forbidding mourning. She turns toward God, but still surveys the damage, the lost possessions and lost potential: Here stood that trunk, and there that chest; There lay the store I counted best; My pleasant things in ashes lye And them behold no more shall I . . . No candle ‘ere shall shine in thee, Nor bridegroom’s voice ‘ere heard shall be. In silence ever shalt thou lie . . . 263

Such emotional candor makes her final assurance—“my hope and treasure lyes above”—even more compelling. I have seen that spiritual resilience in our own faculty. Virtually all of those I know who have lost their lives’ possessions in a fire confess that the losses can be refining. “All things hang lightly on us,” Bruce Herman admitted, after lightning struck his Gloucester land, torching his house and his studio. So few of our belongings, in the end, really matter.  Yet there are still small losses that wound: photos, favorite gifts, rare books, art, and heirlooms. Mourning those losses can be a form of gratitude for the people who brought those things into our lives. I have been drawn to the testimonies of Westmont faculty who remain grateful for God’s care even though they have seen years of mementos—many left by loved ones who have died recently—consumed in the flames. So often items gain new beauty as we become aware just how fragile, scarred and elusive they can be. When Bruce, Jeff Miller and I recently spoke about the Westmont fire, Jeff recounted that the day when his wedding album was returned, years after a fire engulfed his moving van en route to Gordon. Someone has discovered the album—about the only thing that survived the blaze—and sent it back, badly singed, but now distinguished by a smoky patina. My prayer for Westmont this Thanksgiving is that they would discover dignity and beauty in the smoky patina that now coats their lives. That they would know the benevolence of friends. That the bonds of their community, tightened by crisis, would endure long past the day when new pine needles mask the ashen soil.  And I hope that I can discover, in the fortitude of others, ways of giving thanks in times of grief. Gratitude without blindness to others’ sorrow. Unlike some colleagues at Westmont—and so many persons in the world—I enter this Thanksgiving with a home, without great deprivations. My life is blessed. But each year all of us can count some losses. There will be no Thanksgiving call this month from my father, given his dementia, the scorched neurology of age. But there are plenty of images in my mind of our Thanksgiving leaves, fully raked, only to be scattered by impromptu football games in our family’s backyard. The psalmist would find in such irretrievable moments a glimpse of something eternal, something equally lost and luminous. More and more, I see God’s grace in the architecture of hope and memory.

Mark Sargent is the provost of Gordon College.


The Hour and the Day—

ThE hOUR and ThE daY

Heijin (Esther) Kim '06

oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches © 2006

Heijin (Esther) Kim, ’06 painter

Heijin Esther Kim ’06 was born in the Republic of Korea. She was raised in the Philippines as a missionary kid and received her bachelor’s degree in visual arts at Gordon College. “I have spent a significant portion of my life waiting in line to purchase an item, use the restroom or exit a building.” Esther explains, “Waiting touches every aspect of human life—from minute inconveniences such as waiting in line, to grave matters like waiting for a close family member to recover health. One must wait. What is more, the scope of waiting affects all stages of life—from infancy to adulthood—in different degrees and circumstances. However, the ultimate wait is for Christ’s second return, and that is what I wanted to capture in The Hour and the Day. Trapped in an earthly body, the young girl gets a glimpse of the new life. She yearns to be one with the Light and is overwhelmed by the Love. Yet, still doubtful that Christ really chose to love her, the girl points to her heart to confirm the Truth. Presently dwelling in a world filled with darkness, moments of light here on earth remind us of what is to come for those who wait patiently for the Lord.” Esther is continuing her art back in Korea as she rediscovers her Korean heritage after living abroad for 19 years.

255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899



As the Turn Wheels Bill Harper (email)

Fueled by a plethora of gin fizzes and and really nice

6. All work for a living, one even a lawyer! and another

sherry, The Good Breeding and Languid Marching

an economist!

Society of Hamilton has filed a cease and desist order with the Federal Bureau of Silly Complaints against a “group of fellows” who frequent a local licensed establishment on late Friday afternoons. The source of the group’s distress centers on the fellows’ alleged “maladaptation to the unique cultural ambience of this

7. Many are religious “schismatics” or “enthusiasts” who can sing praise hymns by rote and spend an unhealthily large part of their Sundays in quite unsuitable worship environments. 8. Several have been observed wantonly raking leafs

sticks on their own property and delivering Remember the First and chemicals to their lawns in small, wheeled plastic Hypernikon—Marvindevices. R. 1. None of the fellows are Harvard graduates, thus 9. None either own or routinely ride a horse or have Wilson causing them to inadvertently degrade the tone and very special part of the North Shore,” to wit:

character of town life. 2. Only 3 live in Hamilton--and even then, in rather modest houses-- with the rest coming from such declasse’ places as Bevahly, Ipswich, and Georgetown, although mercifully not Danvahs. 3. None belong to the Myopia Hunt Club or indeed have ever attended a blessing of the hounds. 4. A number are rumored to drink beer in public without concealing their enjoyment. 5. None has a wife with a proper given name such as Muffy, Bitsi or Winkie.


friends who do.

10. None are lifetime members of the Trustees of Reservations and hence ineligible to attend “elite inner circle cocktail parties”, though they do meet with monotonous regularity and vulgar hilarity at shabby events, even today, at the usual time and place.

In Case You Have Been Wondering about All the Moths Dorothy Boorse

Leaving campus in the dark of early evening, I have

But only males? Yup. The females are flightless. If

been bombarded by clouds of fluttering moths at the

you look closely at walls and doors, you will see what

glass entrance to the building. They lie in the wet of

look like mutant moths, with small, unusable wing

the sidewalk, bang against my face, tap on my hands

buds. They are supposed to be like that. They sit there

as I flick them away. You have seen them too, I know,

and send out chemicals more powerful than the best

because I hear the tidbits of lunchroom speculations,

Christmas present perfume, calling to the males,

references to the Hitchcock movie The Birds. Will

‘Come find me,’ and apparently it works, except for all

they take over? Will Hitchcock’s legacy live on in some

the males lost trying to get to the lights through the

dreadful horror flick in which Gordon staff and faculty

glass doors on campus, or feebly beating in the puddles

In Case You HaveI pass.Been dum ta dum); the mouth (the horror!!)? Dan Tymann Wondering aboutWinter Allmoths are similar to the native fall running screaming into the building, beating back the cankerworm. They come out at the same time and also theGregMoths—Dorothy flurry of powdered wings; Carmer found frozen have flightless females. But cankerworms don’t build in terror, covered by moths, almost to his car at the up the huge numbers we have been seeing the last two Boorse Chapel Lot. . . . are battered to death by moths? Moths in the eyes (ta

weeks. These are almost certainly the European winter

Possibly. I can’t really speak to that. But in case you

moth. So if you have been wondering, there you have

wondered, they are males of the wintermoth, a

it. If you haven’t been wondering, get out and notice

newly introduced European species that has taken

while they are still around!”

over the Thanksgiving and Advent periods in eastern Massachusetts for the past several years. The larvae are those light green inchworms that so devastate your crabapple and oak trees in the spring, leaving only skeleton veins of those first juicy leaves. The house

Enjoying the natural world, even the creepy bits. § Dorothy Boorse is an associate professor of biology at Gordon. This was originally published in Notes Along the Way, the Gordon College blog.

sparrows love them.


Advent Voices—MarkAdvent Wacome Stevick Voices Mark Wacome Stevick

During Advent, I find it heartening to remember the legacy of poets, prophets and saints as well as the testimony of my contemporaries. In fact, I’ve come to depend on them, on that great cloud of witnesses who’ve testified to God’s strategy for redeeming humankind-through a baby, of all things. Yes, I rely on the planed and joined sentences of John Donne, George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, of R.S. Thomas, C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, of Flannery O’Connor, Frederick Buechner and John Updike-witnesses all to some aspect of a kingdom I otherwise might have missed.  And Corrie ten Boom, whose name to type brings tears to my eyes.  And Madeleine L’Engle and Joni Erickson Tada, David Wilkerson and Anne Lamott.  With planks torn from their books have I constructed the shape of my faith; their courage and steadfastness and humility have bolstered the quiet fact of my own.   Further, I do think that men may witness to this unfailing grace without knowing it, that women may sing the eternal mercy of God unawares.  I find a hymn of praise where none was intended, and expect that God does too.  If we who believe in the Christ child failed to praise, surely the rocks would break out in song, the trees would clap their hands.  So then the words of poets may be heard as praise when their writers thought they were looking elsewhere.   Resolved thus, one Christmas two decades ago I lifted lines from works by nine writers to compose a new poem that celebrates the nativity scene. Here, I hope, is no disservice to the originals; again, with or without knowing it, the work of these writers proves the power of the risen Word.     The writers come from diverse times and places, as did those who knelt before the Christ-child.  Our praise is polyglot, an upending of Babel and the secret of Pentecost. My poem, grabbing from hither and yon, affirms that many languages make up the congregation, and many voices compose the chorus of praise:                     Advent Voices       A cold coming I have of it:             with idle hands and head I sit       In late December before the fire’s gaze,       Punished by crimes of which I would be quit.       Reason, that viceroy in me, me should defend,       But is captived and proves weak or untrue: 268

(though I do not wish to wish these things)

           World broods with warm breast and with Ah! bright

           yet I feel


     If someone said on Christmas Eve,

           Make no mistake:

       •  Come, see

           It was as His flesh: ours.

           the oxen kneel, the camels refractory;

           Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

           warm-laid grave of a womb-life gray;

           For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

           manger, maiden›s knee;

           Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

           Christ and his mother and all his hallows-»

                   embarrassed by the miracle,

     I should be glad

           And crushed by remonstrance.

     (wavering in the twilight)

           But set down

     I should go with him in the gloom,

           This set down

     (wavering in the twilight between birth and dying)


     Hoping it might be so.

           It was (you may say) satisfactory,


           And that has made all the difference.

     And I thought about the Angel of the Lord-


     Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers

The voices here speaking of the Advent are T.S. Eliot, Alan

     Sticking out from under her robe,

Tate, John Donne, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins,

     Yelling at all of us,

Beverly Robinson, Dylan Thomas, John Updike, and Robert


Frost. And mine, in a sense.

        • Hey! (Although I could not hope to turn again)             Unto you (Brute beauty and valor and act)             A child (Although I could not hope to turn)             Is born!» (Oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle!)       And the fire that breaks from thee then,             And the twice told fields of infancy

Mark Wacome Stevick is a poet, playwright and an associate professor of creative writing. He and his wife, Kristina, live with their baby son, Wyn, in Salem, MA. (His poem here was first published in Christianity & Literature.)

     That his tears burned by cheeks             And his heart moved in mine:             And the true       Joy of the long-dead child sang burning             In the sun;             And the mystery sings alive             Still in the water and singing birds.                    And though the last lights off the black west went,             Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward, springs            Because the Holy Ghost over the bent 269

It’s Beginning to Look It’s aBeginning Lot Like .to . . Look a Lot Like . . . Florida—Sybil W. Coleman Florida Sybil W. Coleman

We’re getting older. Really. In fact, the demographic reality in the United States right now suggests an older population that is so significant it’s making history by its sheer size. The entire country of Canada, for instance, has approximately 33 million residents while those in the U.S. now over 65 years old has just reached 35 million. By the year 2023, the United States will probably look a lot like Florida where one in every five individuals is over 65 years of age. In other words, we’ve come a long way from the early 1900s when the average life expectancy was 47. In 1995, it was 76. And the median age has also climbed from 23 years of age in the early 1900s, to 28 in 1970, and 35 in 2000. By 2040, it’s expected to reach 42. But this doesn’t have to be bad news. Yes, many social institutions—and most of us if we’re honest—tend to respond negatively to aging, as if it were comprised only of a series of losses and challenges. Yet, in the process, we can overlook the positive experiences aging can bring and the opportunities it affords all of us. For instance, as our aging population increases, the demands on our society increase as well. A number of recent studies have begun raising concerns about the social, political and even ethical implications for the next generation of leaders in responding to the age issue. Though today’s medical profession has more technology and capability than ever before to keep us alive longer, only one percent of today’s nurses are certified in geriatrics or gerontology. People are not only living longer, they’re working well into their golden years, volunteering or trying to hang on to dear jobs and incomes threatened by the economy. For this latter group who want to remain involved in their communities but are on the brink of potential crisis, a new array of services will be required to help these residents maintain their quality of life. Therein lies an opportunity. Our growing aging population provides great options for anyone looking for jobs. Those entering nursing, social work or mental health professions, for example, can expect to be a part of the fastest growing occupations over the next 15–20 years. But beyond the economic opportunities we have to care for this high percentage of people 65 or older, six percent of who are 85 years and over, we need to ask ourselves some harder questions. How can we foster a celebration of aging? How can we engage those older women and men among us with the younger population and with children? How can we keep the elderly from becoming invisible in a youth-oriented culture often in denial about aging? We could start in those community centers that tend to foster positive perspectives, that is, our churches, synagogues, or temples who can create avenues that publicly affirm the contributions of our older members in front of the next generation. We could ask for their wisdom, invite them to our businesses, classrooms and homes to advise us in our lives and work, to share their stories. We could address them with the dignity and worth we ourselves long for from others. 270

I know of many older people still serving on major boards or remaining actively involved in community efforts. I’m on the board of one nonprofit and some of my colleagues are men who have served well into their eighties. Their minds are sharp, and their personal histories helped us as an organization avoid making quick decisions without looking at the consequences. Admittedly, though, not all aging adults retain their quickness. And so, we also need to be paying attention to the victimization of the elderly. Scams are rampant, identity theft great and many elderly today suffer from both abuse and neglect. These are tragedies that shame a country. In a state rich with social services, how is it possible that a few weeks ago an 80-year-old Boston woman was found dead in her chair because her family had abused and neglected her? She was malnourished, soaked in her own urine and dead for days before being found by authorities. That family members as well as social service professionals—or those purporting to be either—can ignore or con the elderly out of their life’s worth or savings is also proof for the need for advocates in elder law who can provide protection. Perhaps because of media reports in the past we think abuse happens in nursing homes or in elder care. But that’s rare. It is often in their own homes, in familiar settings and with people they’ve known for years that they become most vulnerable. Which is why all of us need to engage the elderly, to celebrate those who are aging, and to protect, empower, and recognize that each of our elders is made in the image of God with dignity and worth that matters until the day they pass on. After all, we’re headed in the same direction. Sybil W. Coleman is professor of sociology and social work at Gordon College. She and her husband live in Beverly, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


A Campus Photographer's Journal: Northern Lights—Dan Nystedt '06


A Campus Photographer’s Journal: Northern Lights Dan Nystedt ’06         I was living in the Wilson dorm and quietly doing my homework one night, when one of my friends burst into the room. His mom had just called from Maine to tell him that the northern lights were out and the brightest she had ever seen--he was about to go see for himself. I grabbed my camera and joined him on the quad, along with a handful of other people. Although I have lived in New England all my life, I had never seen the Northern Lights, so to actually see them for myself was quite breathtaking. Once out there, however, I realized that I had forgotten to charge my camera, and I had very little battery life left. The camera had just enough juice left in it to take one photo at a time. I had to restart the camera after every photo I took, but managed to snap about four shots of the lights before the camera went completely dead. The lights only lasted about 20 minutes.


End Game Bill Harper (email)

This a real message, not a sneering, ironic, nasty,

his latest book, “Large Heavenly Bodies as a

mocking, jokey, cynical message of the usual sort. A

Metaphor for John the Baptist’s Fascination

giant asteroid is headed toward earth and may end life

with with Locusts.”

as we know it (see the Atlantic, May issue).

c. Perhaps Pat Robertson could be induced

Do not panic or otherwise show human vulnerability.

to come and direct the asteroid up the coast,

As people with college degrees and Christian


sensibilities we need to devise a calm, dignified exit strategy. Perhaps it could even take the form of a church service: 1. Opening hymn: “Rock of Ages” (‘meant for me’ etc) seems most appropriate.

d. Barack Obama would demonstrate how to negotiate with reasonable asteroids. 5. Select Lamentations From the Sociology Department : “We Deserve It As Punishment For Our Excessive Carbon Footprint, “Asteroid Equality

Is So— Wrong”, “We Told You Capitalism Was End Game­ Bill Doomed”. anticipate such an occasion, so free prayer will be Harper permitted. 2. Prayer: Unfortunately, the 1979 BCP did not

6. Closing Musical selection: “From a Distance” (by

3. A performance of “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, accompanied by liturgical dance.

7. Benediction: “Every mountain and hill shall be

4. Sermon: Here, regrettably, there are potentially

made low, and the crooked shall be made straight,

divisive choices to be made.

and the rough places plain(sic)”.

a. Someone from the Church of the Advent

Planning of this sort is so terribly draining that a

could assure us there is NO PROBLEM.

modest hydration reception will be laid on for all

b. Paul Borgman could read a selection from


permission of Bette Midler ) the usual time and place. §

All the President's Pens 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham MA 01984-1899














All the President’s Pens During his 35 years in leadership roles at Gordon, Jud Carlberg has used a lot of pens. Favorites include: 1


Reproduction of an early fountain pen, the kind Mark Twain championed Omas fountain pen used to sign faculty contracts


Regatta pen by Monte Verde (Jud loves the sea)

4 1970s pen used to sign faculty appointment letters 5 and 6 Everyday utility fountain pens by Pelican 7

Limited edition of Churchill’s WW II pen by Conway Stewart


First pen used as dean of the faculty

9 Gift pen 10 Indigenous peoples pen: Native American, by Delta 11 1940s mechanical pencil with four colors, used by Jud’s father to write his sermons 12 Michigan State University commemorative pen


Recovering the Season— Tracy Kuperus and Arlyne Sargent



“Actually, Lucy, My“Actually, Trouble Lucy, is My Trouble is Christmas.”—RiniChristmas.” Cobbey Rini Cobbey

Snowmen, reindeer, decorated trees, singing carolers . . . and a desperate man staring at his own gravestone in fear and anger. Ah, Christmas. Yes, a man confronted with his own death on a dismally cold night, and we watch—again—as the television plays the favorite holiday flick. We snuggle in close with loved ones on the couch, sipping eggnog, piles of presents nearby waiting to be unwrapped, and recite the film’s lines. Because we can. Some of the best Christmas movies are more than a little melancholy. Certainly, all good stories include their share of trouble, obstacles giving the protagonist’s journey toward her goal some rise and fall. But, good grief—shouldn’t the movies we consume in this most wonderful time of the year be a little more full of peace and joy, showcasing protagonists who can be in a good mood once in awhile? Couldn’t they feature a few less ghosts, or at least not confront us with suicide attempts right off the bat? I’m a fan of Christmas. I say let’s stretch it out, invite it in, celebrate Christmas early and often. I welcome its bustle, its lights, its gifts and songs, travel and cheer. But, I resonate with Charlie Brown when he tells the good doctor Lucy that the holiday brings its share of trouble. Like Chuck, Ebenezer Scrooge, and George Bailey, I also know the busyness, loneliness, financial and relational stresses that can come in the confusion of Christmas. So, I celebrate the role these movies play in acknowledging this reality. After all, the story of Christmas, as Linus reminds us in A Charlie Brown Christmas, is infused with not only the mundane but also the exceptionally hard. It is, remember, a story about immigration, taxes, and death—as well as life. In fact, the inclusion of death along with birth in popular Christmas narratives runs throughout history. The Christmas ghost story predates Dickens’ mass popularization of it in A Christmas Carol, and its essence informs It’s a Wonderful Life. We watch these holiday favorites and listen to Christmas tunes to get in the mood, implying that the season resists its own “proper” sentiments somehow, and needs a little nudge. Yet, it’s not just happy feelings we seek and repeat as yuletide traditions. Featuring—and legitimizing the worldview of—an almost interminably depressed and socially challenged little boy, A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the most successful and long running annually repeated shows on network television. And more than a dozen versions of A Christmas Carol play at nearly all times on some channel in the weeks before Christmas. These movies are not only about Christmas, but have become a part of the Christmas ritual itself in American culture. Many of us have our long-established rules and timelines, certain settings and ways in which we repeat our engagement with a familiar popular text. For multiple generations this has included watching It’s a Wonderful Life on NBC on Christmas Eve. And watching someone watch this movie for the first time is a gift in itself. It delivers when it shouldn’t. The movie is old, black-and-white, scratchy, and let’s face it, a little socialist-leaning in the season of Capitalism Gone Wild. But this is, perhaps, one of the keys to its success, its relevance and power. Christmastime epitomizes its source religion’s paradox. In the language 278

of Christianity, we are “caught in between the now and the not yet,” between being Scrooge and a reborn George Bailey, tinged with cynicism and yet full of hope. Eventually each of these popular treatments of our seasonal moods gets around to the Christmas spirit in the end. Although Scrooge’s change of heart seems full and lasting, I always imagine he faces some lingering effects of his prior personality; Tiny Tim’s leg is not healed; George Bailey’s friend floats him a line of credit, not an outright gift of millions, suggesting his days of working hard at the Building and Loan are not over; and Charlie Brown, well, he doesn’t become Snoopy. But in keeping with the fundamental Christmas message of incarnation—that is, loving others so much that one sacrifices power and comfort to be fully present with them—each of these ‘darker’ Christmas movies actually achieves the Christmas spirit. They help us picture togetherness, even in the truthful context of brokenness. Ebenezer Scrooge makes time to be with his family, George Bailey’s neighbors come to his rescue, and Charlie Brown’s friends meet him halfway between austerity and excess, bringing about the miracle of the perfect Christmas tree and party. So this holiday, as the lights on the tree brighten and dim, and the shows come on, may God bless us, every one, with a little merry, without banishing the melancholy. Rini Cobbey is an associate professor of communication arts at Gordon. She lives in Lynn, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


December Sun: A Christmas December Sun: A Christmas Reflection—Greg Carmer Reflection Greg Carmer

December in New England can be bleak. Gray skies, bitter cold, barren trees. Yet when the Sun comes out, its light across the ocean or freshly fallen snow can inspire even the saddest of souls. For centuries, people have found the Sun an irresistible image for representing what is highest, truest and most pure. Plato evoked the image of the Sun to communicate what the Form of the Good is like: the cause of generation and growth. Its power makes other things knowable, but itself is beyond knowing. Yet, Plato argued, one could know the Form of the Good indirectly through the use of logic and reason. Likewise, the Greek philosopher Plotinus compared the source of all—the One, the Good, Life, Intellect, the Real, Divine Mind—to the Sun. To Plotinus knowledge of such purity and being could be grasped only through mystic insight. And during the first centuries after Christ, a mystery cult of Mithra sprang up in which one, by means of secret rituals, could lead his soul through the seven planetary spheres back to the place of abundance and light—the Sun. The god Mithra was likened to the Sun and solar events marked special religious holidays, especially the ‘date’ of Mithra’s birth, December 25. Whether logic and reason, mystic insight, or secret religious rituals, people throughout history have used a variety of means to seek the source of true life and light according to ancient religions and philosophies. It seems as if human beings are wired for such pursuit. For those who hold to the traditional Christian message of the Gospel, though, the true life and light of humanity was not a philosophy or an insight or a ritual, but a man who lived among his people. His name was Jesus. And each December we celebrate his birth into the world. The Gospel writer John described him this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” When Christ came, the light he brought, John says, was not understood. The Greek term used here is katalambano, which means to comprehend, take possession of, grasp, or get a handle on. In other words, that which John described as the source of life and the light of men is beyond our ability to get our heads around. Yet, because light itself is such a powerful, life-giving force, it is also a helpful metaphor here, revealing to us a glimpse of both the humanity of Christ’s life as well as his divinity. Just as we cannot imagine life on earth without the energy of the Sun, we cannot imagine a world where the light of the Gospel hope was not born anew each year at Christmas. Indeed, the person of Jesus Christ—the one man who radically shaped human history—is the light of life who also inspired millions through bleak periods of their lives—and still does. 280

Unlike speculative philosophy and secret religions, the good news of Christ is remembering—especially at this time of year— how he made his dwelling with and among us; that God subjected himself to the very conditions of human existence. It is by living in the light of his testimony and Spirit that we can come to know the source of abundant life. The epitaph on the tombstone of Joseph von Fraunhofer of Bavaria (1787–1826) reads, “He brought closer the stars.” Von Fraunhofer was the father of spectroscopy, that scientific process that allows us to determine the chemical composition of distant stars by analyzing the light which shown from them. By studying light, distant worlds are brought close. It would be fitting to say that Jesus brought closer the light and life of heaven, and that in ‘studying’ him, we can know true life. This December as the Sun casts its brilliance across our lives, may the Christmas light guide us again, no matter how bitter cold or dark the world may seem.   Dr. Greg Carmer is dean of the chapel at Gordon. He and his wife, Laura, and their three sons live in Beverly, Massachusetts. This essay originally appeared in FAITH + IDEAS = an e-conversation with the faculty of Gordon College.


Too Much Light—Mark


Too Much Light Mark Sargent

light is often a metaphor for beauty— for wisdom, insight, truth. But all of us have times when we have too much light. To be honest, it is hard to sort out the constant flood of light from my computer screen from the metaphorical sense of “too much light” in our lives. In many ways, with the Internet and satellite television—along with the explosion of knowledge in a global society—we can be engulfed by data, by images, by words. all that information— and the technologies that carry it—will only expand exponentially. Much of this is wonderful: greater access to information, greater light on injustice, quicker connections with the people we love. But I’m not sure we are prepared, physically and spiritually, to find a balance between the constant radiation of information and the restorative darkness of rest and renewal. When doing a little research for the Provost’s Film Series, I can easily get lured into the rabbit hole of blogs people write in response to film reviews—some perhaps written in the middle of a sleepless night. Blogging (on films, politics, etc.) can be an expression of democracy but also an endless diet of intellectual fast food. We can neglect the richness of wellcrafted, prudent, well-researched, elegant writing and settle instead for information that is simply accessible, convenient and provocative. We do need the spiritual discipline not to lose ourselves simply in what is convenient and neglect that which is substantial. I wonder what Jesus would have done if he had come to live among us in the time of Facebook. How would he have managed all the people who would

have asked Him to be their friend? But even though there was no Internet in first-century Palestine, there were constant pressures on Jesus: people who pressed around Him to touch Him, to brush against His robes, to hear Him speak. Yet the Gospels tell us Jesus would, on occasion, go away to be alone, to pray, to renew His spirit. as you may recall, he was even asleep when His boat was tossed by the storm. I take heart in this: that the Savior of our world often sought out some silence, sleep and restorative darkness. That he promised comfort and rest, not just labor. My hope and prayer is that we would learn to be careful about overindulging in that which is diverting, spontaneous and simply convenient, and spare more of our minds for what is carefully, beautifully well-crafted and wise. That we would give each other greater gifts of time and space, being careful about the ways we fill one another’s lives with obligations and demands for attention and response. That we would find times of restoration—sleep, of course, but also the early morning walks, times for prayer, reflection, silence and solitude. and perhaps most of all, I pray we will discover how to find balance between compassion and care. Between patience and purpose. That we will learn the difference between hasty rushing into every cause that may diffuse our effectiveness, and the need to prepare ourselves for the times when God will provide opportunities to be busy but to make a profound difference. From chapel address September 16


STILLPOINT | Fall 2009


Acknowledgements: Heartfelt thanks to the authors and original publishers for their kind permission to reprint their work; to Jo Kadlecek for the splendid FAITH + IDEAS = series; to Pat McKay and Anne Harper, previous STILLPOINT editors, for all the great stuff we raided from the archive; to Matt Schwabauer for his careful and capable design and production work; to the Design Center staff for their assistance with templating and printing; to Anne Pelikan for her lovely bookbinding. And most of all, to Jud and Jan for their incalculable contributions over the past 35 years to this Gordon life.

This Gordon Life  
This Gordon Life