How to Commemorate World War I This Month

As many of you may remember from one of our courses, World War I ended 100 years ago this month — at least, on its most famous front. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns finally fell silent in Belgium and northern France.

If you’d like to take part in commemorating the centennial of that armistice, here are a few events coming up in the Twin Cities:

Silent Night

The Pulitzer Prize-winning opera about the Christmas Truce of 1914 comes home to the Minnesota Opera for a run at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. There are performances this weekend and next, plus the 13th and 15th. (I was part of a panel previewing the production last Monday; here’s a blog post inspired by one of the questions I received: “What misconceptions do we have about World War I?”)

State Veterans Day Event

The Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights will host the state’s Veterans Day event on Sunday morning, 9:30-11:30. The keynote speaker will be Nancy O’Brien Wagner, editor of a new collection of WWI letters from her great-aunt, one of the many women who volunteered for service in the war.

Bells of Peace

Around the country on Sunday, there will be bell-ringing ceremonies to mark the centennial of the Armistice. In addition to local churches, there will be a state Bells of Peace event on the University of Minnesota campus at Northrup Auditorium. The ceremony will start at 10:45am, with 21 bells rung at 11am, and then the reading of the names of all 1,432 Minnesotan soldiers killed in the war. (Presumably including at least a couple of Bethel’s fallen alumni.)

The Great War Symphony

Then at 4pm, Northrup will host the American debut of composer Patrick Hawes’ Great War Symphony (simultaneous with a production at Carnegie Hall in New York). While you’re at the Lest We Forget concert, you can also see David Geister’s mural, World War 1 America, which he painted during the run of that exhibition last year at the Minnesota History Center.

That mural now resides in the library of the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley, which is open Thursday-Saturday and has a special exhibit through next year, In the Fight: Minnesota and the World War.

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Save the Date: The 2019 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

We’re delighted to announce that the Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium will return to Bethel on Saturday, April 27, 2019!

As always, MUHS gives our students and other undergraduate historians from Minnesota and neighboring states a chance to present their research to peers and professors from a variety of private religious colleges. But this time we’re also excited to welcome a keynote speaker from beyond our faculties: Kent Whitworth, the new director of the Minnesota Historical Society, will open our symposium by talking about the future of public history.

Kent WhitworthKent came to MNHS this summer after serving as executive director of the Kentucky Historical Society for fourteen years. While in his previous position, he also helped to found and lead the national History Relevance campaign.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Kent explained that his desire to be a historian started on a childhood tour of the Yorktown battlefield, where “it dawned on me… I could do that as a living.” He went on to earn a master’s degree in history and historic preservation from Middle Tennessee State University, then worked for a time at his undergraduate alma mater, Asbury University (one of our sister schools in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities).

We’ll keep you posted as plans come together for MUHS 2019. But here’s what the event looked like the last time Bethel hosted, in 2016.

How You Can Hear Prof. Gehrz Talk about World War I — and Maybe Opera

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War on its famous Western Front. As part of the international commemoration of that event, the Minnesota Opera will be performing Silent Night, a dramatization of the 1914 Christmas Truce, at the Ordway Center — November 10-18.

As a preview event, the Minnesota Opera, MinnPost, and the University of Minnesota’s School of Music are presenting “Silent Night: A Soldier’s Humanity and the Impact of WWI” — Monday, October 29, 7pm at Westminster Hall in downtown Minneapolis. I’ll be one of the panelists discussing soldiers’ experiences of the war, plus a member of the cast will perform selections from the opera itself. The event is free, but click the link above to register.

To put you in mind of the subject… Enjoy these photos from Monday night’s meeting of our J-term WWI trip participants. Bethel alum Jenna Kubly ’02 joined us to share some of her extensive collection of WWI artifacts, including everything from swords and uniforms to medals and postcards.

Coming to Bethel: Former History Major David Brooks

Join us next Tuesday evening (Sept. 25, 7pm) when New York Times columnist, bestselling author, and radio/TV commentator David Brooks gives a public lecture in Benson Great Hall. (Tickets are free, but must be ordered ahead of time.)

Brooks, The Road to CharacterEntitled “The Road to Character,” Brooks’ talk builds on his 2015 book by that title,  which contrasts résumé virtues (“the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success”) with eulogy virtues (“the ones that exist at the core of your being”).

He’s one of the most prominent people to speak on campus in recent years, but I wonder how many people know that David Brooks was once a history major.

In an interview with the student newspaper at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, Brooks said that he ended up majoring in history because it somehow seemed more “practical” than his other choice: literature. But even as he moved into the worlds of politics and journalism, Brooks never lost his interest in history and literature.

In the midst of the Great Recession, Brooks dedicated one of his Times columns to warning against the decline of history, literature, and the other humanities as college students were increasingly tempted to think they had “to study something that will lead directly to a job.” He emphasized how history and similar fields train their students to read and write well, to understand emotion, and to make analogies.

But above all, he wrote that history and the other humanities would help students “befriend The Big Shaggy.” Here’s what he meant:

David Brooks…Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior: economics, political science, game theory and evolutionary psychology. These systems are useful in many circumstances. But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don’t lend themselves to systemic modeling. They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy….

The observant person goes through life asking: Where did that come from? Why did he or she act that way? The answers are hard to come by because the behavior emanates from somewhere deep inside The Big Shaggy…

…over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.

Learn more about David Brooks’ Bethel talk at bethel.edu/brooks. His wife, Anne Snyder (a former philosophy major at Wheaton), will be the convocation speaker during Chapel time on Monday.

Save the Date: The Premiere of Prof. Mulberry’s Sabbatical Film on Teaching at Bethel

While he’s technically on sabbatical from Bethel, Prof. Sam Mulberry has actually spent most of his spring thinking and talking about Bethel.

Sam MulberryFor his primary sabbatical project, Sam has been filming interviews with fifteen winners of the Bethel Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching — including 2009 recepient Chris Gehrz. (Sam won the excellence award for service this past August.)

Eventually, those interviews will be available in an online archive, but Sam has also edited them into a documentary film, Why We Teach. If you’d like to see the film’s premiere, come to CC 313 at 7pm on Wednesday, May 23rd. (Earlier that day, Sam will talk about the larger sabbatical project as part of our annual West by Midwest forum on innovation in teaching — 1:30pm in the Bethel Maker Space.)

Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer for Why We Teach, featuring Sara Shady (Philosophy), Dan Ritchie and Joey Horstman (English), Carole Young (Psychology), Ken Steinbach (Art), Leta Frazier (Communication Studies), and Dick Peterson (Physics).

Giving a Cup of Cold Water in Christ’s Name

Join Prof. Magnuson and the other Friends of The History Center for their spring event on Saturday, April 21 at Calvary Church in Roseville. After coffee and refreshments at 9:30am, the program will begin at 10am.

illustrated history of the Klingberg Children's HomeThis year’s featured speaker is Ron Dischinger, retired CEO/president of the Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut (and former Bethel History student — find him on our alumni map). In addition to his nearly four decades at Elim Park, Ron served at the Klingberg Children’s Home. Both institutions are rooted in the historic social ministry of the Baptist General Conference (now known as Converge). (Learn more about Klingberg in the May 2008 issue of The Baptist Pietist Clarion.) In his talk, Ron will trace some of that history, plus the program will feature some creative social ministries being carried out by Converge churches in the Twin Cities. And guests are invited to stop by the oral history table to share their own story of social ministry.

The program is free, but attendees are encouraged to register online and bring a food item to donate.

Get a Preview of Prof. Gehrz’s New Project on Charles Lindbergh

Join us next Thursday (April 12, 11:15am) in the Bethel University Library as Prof. Gehrz gives a Not Ready for Prime Time talk previewing his new project: a “spiritual, but not religious” biography of the famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lindbergh gravesite in Hawaii
Lindbergh died in 1974 in Hawaii and was buried on the grounds of a Congregationalist church. His gravestone quotes Psalm 139: “…if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…” – Wikimedia

If you can’t make it, you can find video of that talk — and our professors’ and students’ many other appearances in the Library — at our YouTube channel. Or read some of Prof. Gehrz’s recent Lindbergh posts at The Pietist Schoolman and The Anxious Bench:

Student Presentation on Living in Uganda

Please join us next Thursday (March 29th, 11:15am) in the Bethel University Library for a presentation by junior Social Studies Education major Rachel Land, “Uganda: Learning to Live, Love, and Find a Home Outside My Comfort Zone.”

Rachel Land '19 during her stay in Uganda

Part of the Global Perspectives of Students series sponsored by the Office of Off-Campus Studies, Rachel’s presentation will cover her experience in Uganda and Rwanda, and “address the changes she experienced in her faith and worldview, her new-found understanding of community, her experience with reverse culture shock, and many other aspects of her time abroad.”

Learn More about Our January 2019 World War I Trip to Europe

Interim 2018 is barely in our rear view mirror, but it’s time to start thinking about January 2019… when Prof. Mulberry and I will take our fourth group of Bethel students to Europe for the travel course HIS230L World War I!

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Here’s the course description:

An experiential study of the history of the First World War built around travel in England, Belgium, France, and Germany, including visits to battlefield sites, cemeteries, memorials, and museums. Students will learn what it was like to experience and remember total war and to appreciate this particular conflict’s larger significance for American and European culture.

The itinerary is still taking shape, but will roughly follow this schedule:

  • Depart MSP: Dec. 31, 2018
  • Stay in London (with a day trip to Oxford): Jan. 1-8
  • Battlefield tour of the Western Front and Normandy: Jan. 9-12
  • Stay in Paris (with a day trip to Versailles): Jan. 13-15
  • Stay in Munich (with a day trip to Dachau): Jan. 16-20
  • Return to MSP: Jan. 21, 2019

Yes, this year we’re cutting a day out of our stay in Paris in order to extend the battlefield tour to include some sites from the Second World War. It’s a topic we’ve always touched on — especially during our last leg in Munich — but wanted to expand a bit as we mark the 100th anniversary of the peace conference that ended WWI and started the clock ticking on WWII. (It’s also a chance to preview my actual WWII class — HIS231L — next offered in Spring 2019. On campus, that is.)

Current students: if you’re interested in joining the trip, here’s how you can learn more.

  • Find our course page on the new Bethel Study Abroad website
  • Stop by our booth at the annual Interim Abroad Fair: Wednesday, March 28, 11am-2pm in the BC Atrium.
  • Attend our first informational session: Tuesday, April 10, 11:15am-noon in CLC 109.

And you can read reflections from students on the 2017, 2015, and 2013 trips here at AC 2nd.

Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy

Congratulations to Prof. Amy Poppinga on the success of last month’s undergraduate leadership conference: Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy, which sought to help college students address inter- and intra-religious rifts in American society by “equipping ourselves to tell our own stories and learn to listen to the stories of others with clarity, charity, and hospitality.”

Amy PoppingaAlong with her Bethel colleagues Sara Shady (Philosophy) and Marion Larson (English), Prof. Poppinga helped coordinate the event, which drew about 80 students (15 from Bethel) to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. (Bethel and St. Thomas co-sponsored the event with Augsburg University.) The conference was the latest in a series of interfaith collaborations for the three Bethel professors — and an extension of themes from Prof. Poppinga’s research and teaching (in courses like HIS212U History of Islam, HIS328G Muslim Women in History, and HIS356 Modern Middle East). In addition to coordinating, Prof. Poppinga led a breakout session on Moving into One Another’s Stories.

“Because the conference was workshop-based, students were engaging with peers, not just listening to experts,” she told Bethel News. “They had the opportunity to connect shared experiences, concerns, commonalities, despite coming from multiple campuses.”

The conference was funded by a grant from Interfaith Youth Core, whose president, Eboo Patel, will speak at Bethel on Monday morning, April 9.