The Things They Carried: Sam Mulberry

“The Things They Carried” is not only the title of a short story collection by Tim O’Brien but also series of articles in Foreign Policy Magazine.  In these articles, a writer at Foreign Policy profiles a person with a unique job in the world of international relations by creating a photo spread of the items that they carry with them as they perform their duties. This series was pointed out to my by my colleague in the Political Science department Chris Moore.  It seemed like an interesting way to use physical objects to tell a a person’s story and to profile who they are and the job they do.  He challenged me to create a similar series on our departmental blog to highlight the people in my department and the work that they do.  I agreed.  As a guinea pig to test how this would work, I started with myself.  Among other things, I am one of the people who teach Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) course.  These are the things that I carry to when I go to give a lecture.

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1. Paper Box Lid – I am often seen walking around campus caring the lid to a paper box filled with the items I need for class or meetings.  People who see my at a distance think that I’m carrying a pizza or a box of doughnuts.  I end up disappointing them with the in-edibility of the items that are actually in the box.  In my office I have a stack of eight extra boxes for when my current box begins to break down.

2. Class Announcements – One of my jobs in CWC is to coordinate the team of Teaching Assistants(TAs) for the class.  At the beginning of each lecture one of the TAs reads the announcements to the class.  This is both to let students know about upcoming events and to get the TAs comfortable speaking in front of 130 students.

3. Lecture Notes – When I first started lecturing in CWC, I would write out the text of my whole lecture.  Now I’ve moved to starting my lectures by building my PowerPoint and then writing out my lecture talking points on a printout of my slides.  My goal is to not have to make reference to my notes while I’m giving a lecture, but it is always helpful to have them with me when my mind inevitably goes blank.

4. Zoom Audio Recorder – For about a decade I have been audio recording CWC lectures – both the lectures give and those given by my colleagues.  We use these lecture recordings to help orient new faculty to the course as they are writing new lectures.  I also listen to a recording of my lecture from the previous semester in morning before class to help me review the content that I need to cover.

5. Printouts of PowerPoint Slides – It is part of my job to manage disability accommodations for the students in CWC.  I bring printouts of the PowerPoints to give to the students who require this as part of their accommodations.

6. Dry Erase Makers – When CC313 – the lecture hall where CWC is taught – was remodeled in the summer of 2015, the chalkboards were removed and replaced with whiteboards. I am not a huge fan of whiteboards largely because I have anxiety about the markers dying on my in the middle of class.  For this reason I bring a box of black dry erase markers for specific CWC use in CC313.  I put blue tape on the ends of the markers to label them as CWC markers. The ones that are bundled in the rubber band and brand new, while the un-bundled markers have been used.  Once a marker starts to fade, it needs to be recycled.

7. Diet Mountain Dew – I am both addicted to caffeine and not a fan of coffee.  So Diet Mountain Dew is pretty ever-present as my caffeine deliver system.

8. iPod Touch – I don’t own a cell phone, but my iPod Touch is a necessary piece of my daily routine.  I rely on in for e-mail, texting, and as my timepiece.  I don’t listen to music much, but I do listen to lots of podcasts. I also use by iPod to listen to recordings of my old lectures in order to prepare for future classes.

9. Keys – My keys are actually an important item to have in class, because inevitably I will forget to bring something to class and will need to run back to my office at the last minute.  There are more keys on this key ring than are necessary.  I actually only know what four of these keys are for.  I’m not even sure where the others came from, but I’ve carried them around for over a decade.

10. “To Do” List – Every morning I start my day by writing a “To Do” list.  It includes all of my daily appointments and all of the tasks that I need to complete.  I carry it with me throughout the day and check off tasks as they are accomplished.  I’m pretty certain I’d me unable to do my job without this regular routine.

11. Pens – I am never without a number of pens, and most of them are green. I do all of my grading in green pen and ask the my TAs do so as well.  This was something that I inherited from my mentor and predecessor Virginia Lettinga.

12. Clicker – I move around quite a bit when I teach and I use a significant number of timings and animations in my PowerPoints. Having a clicker keeps me from being tethered to my laptop.  I got my first clicker as a gift from Mike Holmes.  Although that clicker eventually broke, I still carry keep it in my computer bag because a gift from Mike Holmes is pretty cool.

13. Laptop Computer – I typically bring my computer to class and hook it up to the classroom projector.  I do this because I’m kind of picky about my PowerPoints and I like to use specific not standard fonts at times.  If I run the slideshow off my my computer, then I feel more confident that everything will work.  I also use my computer as a portable podcast and movie studio for other aspects of my job.

Really Cool Stuff

One of the benefits of serving as director of archives is overseeing the acquisition of some really cool stuff for the History Center collection. And yes, “really cool stuff” is technical jargon in the archival world. In recent years the History Center has received a number of objects that not only strengthen the collection but also enhance our ability to tell meaningful stories about Bethel University and Converge Worldwide.

  • Bethel Alumni Coffee Club mugs. The “coffee club” alumni fundraising campaign began in 1984 and continues to this day. The History Center has a nearly complete collection. We are missing the mug from 1986. Is it in your cupboard?
  • Nancy Lundquist’s briefcase. Nancy Lundquist was the wife of Bethel College president Carl Lundquist. Beginning in the 1960s and well into her retirement, Nancy was a sought after speaker for conference women’s events and retreats.
  • History Department sign. This metal sign hung outside the History Department House, 1446 Arona Street, located near the old Snelling Avenue campus in St. Paul. After the move to Arden Hills, the sign was displayed inside GW Carlson’s office until his retirement.
  • Lantern projector, glass slides, microscopes, and pull down science charts from Bethel’s Department of Biology. Teaching technology has certainly changed over the last one hundred years!
  • Bethel College president Carl Lundquist’s academic robe and wooden lap desk. These items give testimony to Dr. Lundquist’s public and private academic life.
  • The class of 1925 donated funds for a brick gate at the street entrance to the Bethel Academy building, located at Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. The “Class of 1925” stone that was integrated into the gate is now part of the History Center collection.
  • Corbels from the Snelling Avenue Bethel Seminary chapel.  Even these small architectural elements have a big story to tell.
  • Bethel’s 2007 Regional Emmy Award for “Audio-Post Production, Bethel University Festival of Christmas.”  Bethel University won an Emmy?!  Who knew?  The golden Emmy statue came in a beautiful box too!
  • A small carpet square from the original carpet installation in the Bethel University library.  Gold was a popular carpet color in 1972!

If you are thinking to yourself, “Gee, I’ve got a ———, I’d love to donate to the History Center,” please contact me before bringing your treasure to the archive. Our space is limited, and you may be surprised to find out we already have the item you wish to donate!

—Diana Magnuson

Happy Trails? Welcome Back?

“So the Midwest nourishes us … and presents us with the spectacle of a land and a people completed and certain. And so we run to our bedrooms and read in a fever, and love the big hardwood trees outside the windows, and the terrible Midwest summers, and the terrible Midwest winters …. And so we leave it sorrowfully, having grown strong and restless by opposing with all our will and mind and muscle its simple, loving, single will for us: that we stay, that we stay and find a place among its familiar possibilities.”

-Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Many of you know that I grew up in a tightly-knit, largely Dutch, Calvinist community in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I did feel nourished by that community, the people did seem completed and certain, and my mother probably saw my leaving as almost a kind of betrayal.  My immediate family remains in Grand Rapids, and sometimes when I think of “home,” it’s Grand Rapids rather than Northeast Minneapolis that springs to mind.  I remain grateful for that place, the people, and the identity that community helped me to create.

I hope Bethel has nourished you, but I guess I think it’s okay if our community doesn’t always seem completed and certain.  And, while I miss you, I’m glad to see you leave.  It would be selfish to keep all of you, with your attendant gifts, to ourselves.

Still . . . I really like it when you come back, and I hope that sometimes you inadvertently think of Bethel, too, as a kind of home.

Katie McEachern and Hilary Ritchie (both class of 2013) visiting in Northeast Minneapolis before their respective departures to Fuller Theological Seminary and Princeton Seminary in September 2016

Homecoming at Bethel this year is scheduled for October 1.  We hope to see many of you on campus.  In light of our tremendous losses over the past academic year, we are planning what I like to call “the Memory Project.”  Come to campus, share your favorite memories of Professors G. W. Carlson and Stacey Hunter Hecht, and then join us afterward for a walk to the Royal Gardens where will dedicate a pair of apple trees to their memory.  None of this will bring them back, but it does help remind us that they are an integral part of the cloud of witnesses we share.

The End of the Summer

Professor Emeritus Kevin Cragg always used to tell me that the summer was basically over when we reached the 4th of July. That always seemed about right, but there’s also the tradition of summer ending at the closing of the Minnesota State Fair. This year, however, Bethel begins its semester before Labor Day. So, while it doesn’t seem quite right that students can attend class one day and the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” the next, that is the reality.

Graduation F2016 Crop 2
Spring 2016 Graduates

The end of the summer. When I think about endings, the graduating class of 2015-2016 comes to mind. Every year, it seems, we lose our best students. Many of you are out there now, about to start teaching in your very own classroom for the first time. Some of you have gotten married. Others are off to graduate school. Wherever you are, I hope you are thinking critically about the world around you and your place in it. I hope you are reading books. I hope that you see the beauty of the world around you even as you are sensitive to its pain.

The end of the summer also means a sabbatical for Dr. Chris Gehrz. If you stop by his office, you’ll notice that hanging on his door is a photo of his temporary digs for the fall semester out there in the wilds of Virginia. Even as he rests, however, I am certain he will keep busy. If you miss him, you can always “follow” him at his blog. And, don’t worry: he’ll be back in time to join Professor Mulberry to take students to Europe for the WWI course in January. Then, there’s always Christianity and Western Culture, Introduction to History, and World War II with Dr. Gehrz in Spring 2017.

Typically, endings also mean beginnings. This academic year brings Dr. Charlie Goldberg to our department. It brings the beginning of a new major: Digital Humanities. It brings us our returning and new students, our best students of the future.

Beginnings also represent opportunities for fresh starts. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer [BCP] that guides my religious life contains a litany for “Morning Prayer,” which offers me a chance to dedicate my soul and body to God’s service anew at the beginning of the day:

AND since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The litany helps me see each day as a fresh start. The beginning of the academic year represents a fresh start on a grander scale. Maybe this is the year I am kinder. Maybe this is the year I am more patient. Maybe this is the year I get all my work done in a timely and efficient manner. Maybe . . . .

Of late, I’ve been listening to an artist named Mason Jennings.  I find it helpful to adopt theme music from time to time. This year, I think Jennings’ “Instrument” will be in heavy rotation. This is no B minor mass by Bach, but I sort of find its sincere simplicity fetching. Maybe you will too.

Prof. Gehrz Joins Patheos Evangelical History Blog

Chris GehrzThis blog generally stays pretty quiet during the summer, as our students and faculty scatter and busy themselves with summer research, work, and travel. But our own Prof. Chris Gehrz maintains his usual blogging schedule at The Pietist Schoolman, posting three or four times a week on “Christianity, history, education, and how they intersect.” (Yesterday marked the fifth birthday of that blog.) Now, you can also read Chris once a week at a much more prominent site.

Starting last week, he joined The Anxious Bench, a group blog on the Patheos Evangelical channel where “historians of broadly evangelical faith share their reflections on contemporary faith, politics and culture in the light of American and global religious history.” The Bench also includes Philip Jenkins (author of The Great and Holy War, among many other books), John Turner (The Mormon Jesus), David Swartz (Moral Minority), and Beth Allison Barr (The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England).

Anxious Bench logo

Taking the spot of Baylor historian Thomas Kidd, Chris will both administer The Anxious Bench and write posts every Tuesday morning. Today he shared the story of a former Bethel dean whose Baptist principles led him to oppose school prayer in the 1960s. Last week he debuted with a post on British Christian responses to the “Brexit” debate and a call for Christians to love their LGBT neighbors by learning their history.

The WWII Film Festival

This afternoon in HIS231L World War II: the first of a two-part film festival, as student groups presented ten-minute documentaries about topics from the war. Today we learned about everything from the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland to the German atomic weapons program, Hitler Youth, and attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in July 1944. On Thursday we’ll watch films about Holocaust rescuers, Navajo code-talkers, African American pilots and soldiers, and the postwar refugee crisis.

Mitch De Haan introducing his group's documentary film
Mitch De Haan ’17 introduces a film on the legendary Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä, made in a group with fellow History/Social Studies Ed major Brandon Sebey ’17 and Biokinetics major Andrew Zwart ’18

It’s the third time I’ve assigned this kind of project — once before with HIS231L, and then the last time HIS230L World War I was taught on campus — but the first time it’s happened over a full semester, rather than during J-term. It was inspiring to see the quality of student work in a 200-level gen ed course: both the depth of research and the quality of digital storytelling, as students integrated narration, primary source readings, “talking head” interviews, still photos, newsreel clips, and background music.

– Chris Gehrz

Watch the CWC at 30 Birthday Celebration

This morning, our own Profs. Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz hosted a special presentation in the Bethel Library in honor of the 30th anniversary of GES130 Christianity and Western Culture (CWC). If you missed it, you can find video of the event on the Library’s YouTube channel:

Mostly, the event consisted of Chris interviewing CWC faculty from different eras: Mike Holmes (BTS), one of the course’s four founders; late 80s/early 90s faculty Dan Ritchie (English) and Paul Reasoner (Philosophy), who went on to teach in the Western Humanities program; and current faculty members Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Amy Poppinga (History). Live on tape, we also heard from former history prof Neil Lettinga and his wife Virginia (long the coordinators of the course), plus philosopher David Williams. There was also a brief tribute to Stacey Hunter Hecht, who taught CWC during most of her career at Bethel and passed away last December.

The presentation concluded with Chris performing a rare live, unplugged version of his updated version of the “Augustine Rap,” originated by Dan Ritchie and then-CWC instructor Greg Boyd back in the first decade of the course. (Of course, there’s also a music video version of that rap — Chris said he found it less embarrassing to rap live than to show that video, but there’s nothing stopping you from clicking here now.)

If you want to dive deeper into the history of this foundational course, Sam has worked with digital library manager Kent Gerber to create a significant, growing collection of media and digitized artifacts from CWC. In addition, earlier this year Sam conducted an oral history project among some of the course’s many former teaching assistants, including five former History majors and minors. It’s available via a digital timeline(click on the image to see the full timeline)

Screenshot of CWC TA Oral History timeline

History Major Emma Beecken Wins 2016 Library Research Prize!

Congratulations to Emma Beecken ’16, history, elementary education, and social studies education triple major, nationally recognized speaker, and, most recently, winner of the 2016 Bethel University Library Research Prize for her Senior Seminar paper, “Hannah More’s Moral Imagination: Fiction that Reformed a Nation.”

In addition to being the best-selling author of the Georgian era, Hannah More worked closely with William Wilberforce to evangelize Great Britain and was one of the most influential women of the British abolition movement. Emma has described her as both a “great lynch pin of history” and as a “brilliant woman of God who did amazing work for the Kingdom, serving as both a fascinating woman to research and a great role model.”

You can learn more about Emma’s research on Tuesday, April 26th at 10:20 AM in the Bethel Library, where she will discuss her project and the research prize trophy will return to the History Department for the fourth time since the competition began in 2010.


MUHS 2016: Academic Freedom

The closing session of this year’s Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium featured a faculty roundtable on academic freedom. Professors Tycho de Boer, from St. Mary’s University, and David Sellnow, from Martin Luther College, also spoke. The following were my remarks:

AnneMarie speaking at MUHS 2016In October 2015, the Atlantic Monthly carried a story about the ways in which sex-harassment policies were being used to “diminish” free speech on a variety of college campuses. The article claimed that compromised free speech was due, at least in part, to pressure from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights which has helped perpetuate the idea that “illegal sexual harassment extends to campus speech with any sexual content that anyone finds offensive.” Professors, consequently, have found themselves under attack to the extent that professors at Harvard are apparently “jettisoning teaching tools that make any reference to human sexuality.”

As a person who both researches and teaches in the field of sexuality and gender within American history, I found the article interesting and yet not surprising. The refrain of sexual misconduct and/or sexual scandal on college campuses is by now rather commonplace. From my vantage point, the arguments surrounding academic freedom and sexuality are minor compared to the problems confronting students in their navigation of the treacherous concept of what passes for “consent” with regard to their sexual activities. But. Here we are.

The Atlantic Monthly article noted that the harassment policy which seems to have diminished free speech has at its heart the goal of protecting students from exposure to ideas that make one uncomfortable and that such a goal is antithetical to education. It is unfortunate that even in the larger academic context, ideas surrounding sexuality and/or gender tend to be ones that are linked to creating a particularly uncomfortable situation. But it also makes me feel a little better about the peculiar context of talking about sexuality here at Bethel.

A couple of years ago, Bethel University had a conversation about a proposed gender studies minor. The pressure against the minor came not from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights or from students but from a number of faculty who expressed skepticism about the minor. One colleague, for example, asked if it was possible that those working in the field really had the “academic freedom” to “work from within a framework of biblical sexuality, as Bethel understands it,” a reference, I presume, to Bethel’s Covenant for Life Together which claims that sexuality is one of God’s good gifts but states that “monogamous, heterosexual marriage” is the proper context for “sexual intercourse and other forms of intensely interpersonal sexual activity” and condemns pornography, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior as well as sexual harassment.

I think it is, and while I certainly strive to be transparent about my own beliefs, preferences, and feelings about sexuality, I also believe my commitment to a truly liberal arts education means that my students and I together confront ideas that make us uncomfortable. It is sometimes uncomfortable, for example, to acknowledge that in spite of Bethel’s commitment to a particular sexual ethic, Christians do not agree among themselves what “biblical sexuality” is. Views differ among individual Christians, by denomination, by culture, by time period even. Acknowledging those differences is often more uncomfortable than, for example, studying the history of homosexuality, pornography, venereal disease—all topics which we discuss in the History of Sexuality in the United States course. Studying the history of the sexual landscape of the past, knowing it too had its own pitfalls and complexity, I think makes us better equipped to enter into dialogue about how to approach the current sexual landscape—one that we share with a diverse group of people and communities, not just Christians who subscribe to Bethel’s interpretation of biblical sexuality.

I think that we do a great disservice to ourselves if we believe that silence and avoidance of uncomfortable topics or subjects will cause them to go away, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to engage in frank discussions with students about such topics. I am also grateful that the students taking my class seem to see the value of developing historical empathy for a range of views that don’t necessarily align with their own. Part of the success of the course, though, relies on what I think the original intention of the sexual harassment laws may have been, namely, to treat the people around you, with respect. Again, Bethel approaches this goal from a fundamentally different direction from the Department of Education. I doubt, for example, that the concept of imago dei appears in any of their documents, but possibly we may be trying to create what could amount to a similar learning environment which seeks to create a safe space for all people to learn together even while working through uncomfortable, even earth-shattering and heartbreaking ideas.  Because, really, as much as the world is beautiful, it is often, too often, one that breaks our hearts. And that is more than uncomfortable, it is tragic. We won’t be better at coping with tragedy, however, by pretending it doesn’t exist.

– AnneMarie Kooistra

Sankofa: The Past is Alive Within Us

Amanda Soderlund ’17 is an international relations major. She recently accompanied a group of Bethel University students and faculty on the Sankofa trip, and has graciously agreed to write about her experiences.

Over spring break, a group of 29 Bethel students and faculty participated in an intensive learning experience about the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples. We visited sacred sites and engaged in a process of cultural learning, historical understanding, and racial reconciliation.

We encountered many narratives of historical injustice against the Dakota in Minnesota on our trip. Stories of genocide, being robbed of land, stripped of language and spirituality, dehumanized and forgotten. Some major events we studied included the US-Dakota War of 1862, the hanging of the 38 Dakota in Mankato, and the forced march of 1,700 Dakota people to a concentration camp at Fort Snelling, in which 600 people died.

We experienced history through the eyes of Native Americans. We abandoned our notion of seeing history as linear, which distances ourselves from the past. Instead, we adopted the Native practice of considering history as alive in space and time. With this viewpoint, the very ground is a witness to history, and the past exists in that space. Through this paradigm shift, I could no longer remove myself from the pain and injustice of the past because of a great chasm of time. “The Earth remembers,” as our leader Jim Bear would say.

It was painful and eye opening to hear their history and the immense tragedy that accompanies it. I felt betrayed by the American school system, and the ugly, hidden truth of our state’s history. The version of history I was taught in school emphasizes American patriotism while hiding its crimes. At best, we hear about certain events of injustice against Natives, but these events are either quickly mentioned, one-sided, or are told with a gross lack of moral sensitivity. Teaching about historical oppression with detached passivity is not conducive to healing the generational trauma that oppressed communities feel today.

Going forward after this trip, I am sure of a few things. The first is that we have a responsibility to teach what really happened to the Dakota people in Minnesota in 1862. This also means bringing to light the racist actions of celebrated figures like Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, or Andrew Jackson. Lincoln himself signed off on the execution of the Dakota 38 in Mankato, which still remains the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

I also ask that we strive to find ways to honor our neighbors and their sacred practices. The Ojibwe and Dakota have a very strong connection to the earth, and taking away their land is like taking away a part of who they are. The current struggles they face include developers destroying sacred lands and the constant violation of treaties. The government has already taken so much away from the Dakota and Ojibwe; it’s time to ask our government to protect and uphold treaties and sacred land.

I want to encourage Bethel students and faculty to go on Sankofa the next time it is offered. It was an immense privilege to learn about Native American culture and history outside of a classroom context.

-Amanda Soderlund