This document is part of the Festschrift in Honor of Charles Speel, edited by Thomas J. Sienkewicz and James E. Betts and published by Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois in 1997. The Table of Contents for this volume can be accessed here. If you have any questions, you may contact Tom Sienkewicz at email@example.com.
To Milan I came, to Ambrose the Bishop, known to the whole world as among the best of men, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did then plentifully dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the gladness of Thy oil, and the sober inebriation of Thy wine. To him was I unknowing led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to Thee. That man of God received me as a father, and showed me an Episcopal kindness on my coming. Thenceforth I began to love him, at first indeed not as a teacher of the truth (which I utterly despaired of in Thy Church), but as a person kind towards myself. And I listened diligently to him preaching to the people.
St. Augustine, Confessions, V.
Translated by Edward B. Pusey. New York: Pocket Books, 1952. Pg. 80.
While Monmouth, Illinois, is not the Milan where Augustine first met his teacher Ambrose, this memorable encounter has been repeated numerous times as students at Monmouth College attended Charles Speel's classes, listened to his "eloquent discourse," encountered his "Episcopal kindness," and were guided by his "sober inebriation" to an enthusiasm for learning, for integrity, and, especially, for God and His Church. As this volume of essays was being conceived, Charles' reputation as "a teacher of the truth" has been echoed again and again by those who have known him as teacher and clergyman, as friend and colleague, as husband and father. During his lifetime Charles has spared no energy in "dispensing to [God's] people the flour of [His] wheat." This volume of essays is bread made from the wheat Charles dispensed. Here those who have known him well join in celebrating the long career of a man of God and a professor at Monmouth College who is "known to the whole world as among the best of men."
Charles was technically already retired by the time I came to Monmouth in the fall 1984. In fact, I heard of him weeks before I met actually him, since he and Emma Janis lingered on their beloved Cape Cod long after the academic year at Monmouth had begun. Many faculty colleagues spoke of him enthusiastically and urged me to introduce myself to him upon his return. I was not disappointed when I did so. From the moment I met Charles I knew that I was receiving a special privilege, an encounter with the passing breed of Monmouth College faculty members who worked tirelessly at the college for many years at long hours and meager pay not because they had no other option but because they truly loved their work and their students. During his long career at Monmouth College, Charles worked with other dedicated teachers like J. Stafford Weeks, Paul McClanahan, Sam Thompson, Garrett Thiessen, Mary Crow, and Garvin Davenport who, like Charles, are now retired or whose voices are now just memories. These are some of the other "best of men" with whom Charles worked and with whom he is known to the whole world of Monmouth College. This Festschrift commemorates all of these Monmouth College greats as it recognizes one of them.
When Charles first came to Monmouth College in 1951, James Grier was president of the college. Daily chapel was still mandatory and there was a theology requirement for graduation. The college's Presbyterian ties were still strong and many students enrolled at Monmouth College with the intention of training for the ministry. During his thirty five years on the faculty, Charles was a constant voice for patience and tolerance. Not only was he instrumental in desegregating the AT national fraternity, but he also fostered ecumenical ties with the Catholic community. When Catholics students at Monmouth College risked being excommunicated by the bishop of Peoria for taking religion classes under Protestant faculty, Charles worked out with Rev. Martin Spalding, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Monmouth, a compromise acceptable to both the bishop and the college. It is not surprising to me that, in the process, Father Spalding and Charles Speel became lifelong friends.
Monmouth is a different college today. There is no more required chapel, no theology requirement, and only tenuous ties with the Presbyterian church. Times change, but the mark which teachers like Charles Speel leave on their institutions is long-lasting. This mark is especially strong among those who experienced his influence directly in the classroom. The students of Charles Speel who have contributed to this volume span almost his entire career. The earliest are classmates John K. Baumann and Charles Courtney, both MC'57. Together Baumann and Courtney set a pattern for the students of Charles Speel: Baumann became a minister and Courtney a college professor. Janet Forsythe Fishburn MC'58 has been both an ordained minister and a college professor. Gary Willhardt MC'59 followed Courtney into academics and later returned to the college as a professor of English,. Thus, Willhardt contributes here in the unique combination of teaching colleague and former student. Robert Emmanuel Gamer and Charles L. Rassieur, both MC'60, also fit this pattern. Gamer eventually became a professor of government at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Rassieur is both an ordained Presbyterian clergyman and a professional psychologist. 1961 was an annus mirabilis for Charles Speel's students. Graduating in that year were: Linda Baldwin, now a Presbyterian minister; Robert Gillogly, former Dean of Students at Monmouth College and presently serving the First Federated Church of Peoria; Thomas Matthews, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Richardson, Texas, since 1973; and Nelson T. Potter, professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska.
The professional pattern of collar or gown expands somewhat in subsequent years. William T. Irelan MC'62 is now a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and very active in international monetary affairs. William J. Winslade MC'63 is an expert on bioethics at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Health Law and Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. Richard W. Anderson MC'66 has been both a college chaplain and a professional opera singer. Clara Beth Van de Water MC'71, Charles' younger daughter, is now director of adult education at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Timothy G. Keefauver MC'80 holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and is a manager for Tandem Computers. It is a great tribute to Charles' career as a college professor that nearly half of the contributors to this Festschrift are former students.
Faculty colleagues who have contributed to this Festschrift also span Charles' entire teaching career. All also rank themselves among Charles' closest friends. William O. Amy was Dean of the College and a professor of religious studies at the college from 1978 until 1992. Cecil Brett taught government at Monmouth from 1963 until 1983. Paul McClanahan was chaplain and professor of religion from 1964 until 1978. Douglas Spitz, Sr. taught history from 1957 until 1996. J. Stafford Weeks joined the faculty in 1959 and was, for many years, a bulwark of the Department of Religious Studies together with Charles Speel. Stafford retired from the faculty in 1986. Two of Charles' colleagues are still on the faculty in 1996. In addition to Charles' former student Willhardt, who is a beloved professor of English, William L. Urban has been teaching history at Monmouth College since 1966. While his career at Monmouth does not intersect with that of Charles, Robert Cathey has been a member of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies since 1989.
Five additional contributors warrant special note. Bruce Haywood was President of Monmouth College from 1980 until 1994. Janet Smith taught with Charles while he served as Director of the Florence Program of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest in Florence, Italy. Jerry Hazen is pastor of Faith United Presbyterian Church which Charles attends faithfully while he is in Monmouth, Illinois. Charles came to know both R. Douglas Brackenridge and James Smylie while they served together on the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Historical Society.
Six of Charles' acquaintances from Harvard University have contributed to this Festschrift. George Huntston Williams was his thesis advisor at the Harvard Divinity School. The other five are fellow classmates. Charles Conrad Forman was an active scholar and teacher at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Wheaton College for many years. Jack P. Lewis is professor of biblical literature at Harding College. Albert C. Sundberg, Jr., is retired from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Chicago. George R. Plagenz has had a diverse career as a sports broadcaster, mystery novelist, pastor, and syndicated columnist.
Finally, several members of Charles' family have also written contributions, including his wife, Emma Janis, his daughter Clara Beth Van de Water, his granddaughter, Ruth Speel Van de Water, and his grand-nephew Robert Speel.
Together these thirty four contributors bring together essays which represent the breadth of Charles' professional and personal interests. The contributions are organized in five categories which mirror remarkably Charles' own life. "Religion," of course, is the subject Charles taught for thirty five years at Monmouth College. Under this heading Potter offers some semi-fictional reflections on the topic of religious conversion in "A Fragment of Religious Biography." In "Is the Christian Faith Exclusive?" Amy considers the question of religious truth and the possibility that more than one religion can express such truth. Clara Beth Van de Water has written a scriptural exegesis and reflection of the story of Mary and Martha entitled "Musings on Mary and Martha: Interpretations of Luke 10: 38-42." Williams traces the development of the concept of mercy in human history and applies it ethically to modern ecological questions in "Mercy as the Basis of a Non-Elitist Ecological Ethic." Courtney considers some religious aspects of Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville's Democracy in America (2 vols., 1835, 1840) in "Tocqueville's Third State of Mind as a Model for Open Attachment in American Religious Life." Cathey's contribution, "Three Christian 'Cosmologists:' Karl Barth, Langdon Gilkey, and Kathryn Tanner," was originally presented in Prof. Rajkumar Ambrose's course "Cosmology and Creation" at Monmouth College in March, 1995. In this essay Cathey considers the cosmological writings of three twentieth-century theologians. The last two contributions in this section are scholarly studies of the Bible and church history. Lewis analyzes some biblical language and its symbolism in "Metaphors in Hosea." In "'The Old Testament of the Early Church' Revisited," Sundberg returns to a topic he had earlier treated in a paper entitled "The Old Testament of the Early Church," published in 1958 in Harvard Theological Review. Here Sundberg considers the impact of more recent scholarship on reconstruction of the contents of the Old Testament.
"Ministry," the second section of the Festschrift, reflects another important aspect of Charles' life, his desire to spread the word of God to others. Anderson begins this section with an essay on the meaning of discipleship as a vehicle for church growth. Based upon his experiences at several different churches, Anderson's contribution, entitled "Two Agendas for Discipleship," celebrates individual renewal and witness as the starting point for communal and institutional renewal. In "A Return to Decency: The Role of the Church in Modern Society" Baldwin reflects on her years at Monmouth College and the lessons of morality and hope which she learned in Charles Speel's classes. For Baldwin her professor and her college serve as a refuge of decency in an increasingly indecent world. In "John Calvin as Pastor" Baumann defines ministry in terms of the career and writings of John Calvin, the founder of Presbyterianism. In this piece Baumann focuses not on Calvin as the great religious reformer, but on Calvin as a pastor tending his flock. In "Duncan James McMillan: Missionary to the Mormons" Brackenridge shows a nineteenth-century Presbyterian minister at work among the Mormons of Utah. Hazen uses T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land in "The Church in the Wasteland" as a point of departure for a somewhat pessimistic view of the church in modern America. By contrast Keefauver offers in "Building Vision in the Local Church" some practical ways that churches can revitalize their congregations through an intense process of institutional self-reflection and redefinition of church mission statements. Matthews contributes a sermon on tolerance in "What God Has Made Clean." Matthews uses Peter's encounter with the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10 to reflect on Christian attitudes towards sexuality, especially homosexuality. Plagenz here reprints one of his columns entitled "What?! You Don't Have a D.D.?!: A Hymn of Praise to the Unsung Clergy." In this piece, Plagenz eulogizes the dedicated pastors who labor selfishly, with compassion, and, often, without recognition, in the nurturing of their flocks. Rassieur illustrates another side of ministry as he describes in "Dialogue, the Continuing Imperative" some of the ways he has counseled people experiencing marital troubles and as he advocates dialogue as a Christian vehicle in conflict resolution. In "American Protestant Denominations and Changes in Partisan Voting Since 1952" Speel analyzes how several Protestant groups, including Presbyterians, have voted in several major elections. Ruth Speel Van de Water wrote "Creating an Imperfect Government for an Imperfect Humanity" as a social studies paper in high school and publishes it here in honor of her grandfather. In "The Puritan and the Yankee" Weeks develops some observations which Charles Speel himself first published in an article entitled "Theological Concepts of Magistracy: Constantius, Henry VIII, John F. Kennedy" in Church History in 1963.
The third part of the Festschrift deals with more general issues of education. In "Theological Education: A Reformed Imperative" Fishburn urges some major changes in the way modern Christianity has been educating its believers. Smylie offers a more historical view of Christian education, especially in the United States, in "Educating the Public: Reformed History, Commitments and Strategies." In "The Magic of the Mountain: A Metaphor for the American College," Haywood, a one-time professor of German literature, applies a metaphor used by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain to his vision of a small liberal arts college in the late twentieth-century. Anyone interested in understanding Monmouth College during the Haywood presidency should look closely at this article. A different view of the college is offered in "Monmouth College in a Multicultural America: An Essay" by alumnus Irelan who considers how changes in American and world demography may require Monmouth College to change significantly as it enters the twenty-first century. McClanahan describes some features of a course he taught on death at Monmouth College for many years. In "Death and the Young" McClanahan includes many unforgettable quotes from papers in which his students describe their own encounters with death. Winslade's case study about an elderly man with a gangrenous leg examines issues of sickness, death, and dying from the perpective of bioethics and argues for a personalized, caring approach to these difficult issues.
Charles Speel has always held an international view and has had a particular interest in Southeast Asia. The year he spent as a visiting professor at a school of theology in India has left an indelible mark on him and his family. The contributions in "The East," the fourth part of the Festschrift, address this interest. Brett begins with an essay on Chinese philosophy and world view entitled "The Importance of Learning in the Ancient East Illuminated by Confucian Aphorisms." In "Religious Belief and Asia's Economic Growth: The Hong Kong-China Connection" Gamer builds on his many visits to China and Southeast Asia and considers some religious aspects of the political and economic problems which the region faces. Emma Janis Speel offers some vivid personal reminiscences on her experiences in India in "The Impact of India on a Westerner in 1964-65." When she showed me this essay on a visit to the Speel compound in Bass River, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1995, I knew at once that it belonged in this collection. Emma Janis is a humble, unpretentious woman. She is one of many devoted spouses who made possible the selfless dedication of Monmouth College professors like Charles Speel in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's. Finally, Spitz traces the rise of Hindu militancy in India in "The RSS and Hindu Militancy in the 1980's." Originally a scholar of British history, Spitz developed a growing interest in Africa and India during his teaching career at Monmouth College. This interest eventually led to several trips to India, where he met members of the RSS party and collected much of the information which made this contribution possible.
The last part of this Festschrift, "Literature and the Arts," is a reminder that Charles Speel, like his colleague Spitz and many other liberal arts professors, has broad and eclectic academic interests. For many years Charles taught a popular course on biblical archaeology at Monmouth College. His interest in religious art eventually led him to Florence as director of the ACM Florence Program. The first contribution in this section is a direct result of this year in Florence, where Charles worked with Smith, who remains the mainstay of the ACM program. Smith, an art historian, is so knowledgeable about Florentine art and history that she is often called the "Queen of Florence" by her students. In "The Convent of Santa UmiltÓ in Florence, she uses an altarpiece to trace the career of an important religious woman in thirteenth-century Florence. In "Practicing Immorality: Notes from Some Soul Searching," Gillogly considers some scientific, philosophical, and literary concepts of soul. Urban offers an interpretation of a play used several times in Freshman Seminar at Monmouth College in the 1980's. In "Parallels in A Doll's House," he reflects on the unsatisfactory ending with which Ibsen concludes his masterpiece. In "Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood: the Search for Authenticity," Forman analyzes a novel by a major American writer and religious thinker of the twentieth-century. Willhardt concludes this section and the Festschrift with a delightful reflection on some of the classics of British literature in "Let Us Mix Metaphysics and Short-hand and Port."
Some suggested to the editors that this volume might be called Speelschrift or Festspeel, but, yielding to our conservative inclinations, Jim Betts and I have opted for a more traditional title. This volume mixes religion, ministry, education, Asian studies, and literature. It is, indeed, a feast of writing in which colleagues and students, family and friends, honor of Charles Speel. For many years they have "listened diligently to [Charles] preaching to the people." Now it is his turn to listen. Read, and enjoy, Charles.
Thomas J. Sienkewicz
Minnie Billings Capron Professor of Classics
Speel Festschrift Table of Contents
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