Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wheaton's Eighth President, Part II

I had the chance last Monday to meet Dr. Phil Ryken, Wheaton’s eighth president, who just took office two weeks ago. I was on campus, working, and decided while en route to call the President’s Office and inquire whether Dr. Ryken had a few free minutes when I could come by to say hello. His administrative assistant, Ms. Polansky was very helpful, and on my way to lunch I stopped by Blanchard Hall for my first-ever visit to the private office of Wheaton’s chief executive.

Though this was my first in-person meeting, I had once corresponded with Dr. Ryken. Upon learning of his selection as president in February, I emailed him, briefly introducing myself and offering my prayers for his family in their time of transition. He replied almost immediately with his gratitude (I guess I caught him at the time of day when he checks email). Since then I have made a point to familiarize myself with his ideas, through reading current interviews as well as one of his published works, Art for God’s Sake (see my post from March of this year, “Wheaton’s Eighth President”).

In person, I found Dr. Ryken to by a very warm and easygoing man (and I will also say that he was taller than I had expected). He welcomed me into his office and showed a genuine interest in my experiences and plans for my senior year, and at the close of our brief meeting prayed for me. I was glad to have those few minutes to interact with him, and I look forward to further interactions with him over the next year as a student and then as an alumnus.

I found out later in the day that Dr. Ryken had been interviewed that morning on Moody Radio Chicago. Dr. Ryken had some good things to say about "his vision for the school and his thoughts on the status of the American church." I encourage anyone with an interest in either topic to listen online.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Reading 2010

Like many people my age, who spend the better part of the year in school, I like to use the longest annual break, summer break, to read for leisure, something for which time is hard to find during the school year. Since returning from my study trip to London (see my previous four posts), I have read three books, with more planned, so another post may be coming before the next school year starts in a month and a half. All of these first three books, by the way, I highly recommend.

The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (1997)
John Ortberg

John Ortberg was the Sesquicentennial Commencement speaker at Wheaton. I had read one of his other books, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat, during high school, and had found it thought provoking, so I was interested to hear him speak at Commencement. Ortberg’s message was equally thought provoking and convicting, even though it was not addressed specifically to me. Upon returning from London, I looked for another of his works to read, and found The Life You’ve Always Wanted. After several chapters discussing spiritual formation in general, Ortberg spends a chapter each on the disciplines themselves: celebration, service, confession, humility, meditation, and perseverance. The two chapters I found the most significant to my own life were “The Practice of Celebration,” a discussion of the role of joy and rejoicing in a Christian’s life, and “The Practice of Slowing,” on the value of living an unhurried life and taking time for purposeful solitude.

Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress (1838)
Charles Dickens

When in London earlier this summer, I saw the 2009 West End revival of the 1968 musical adaptation of Dickens’ famous and second novel. I decided upon returning to the States to read this novel, of which I knew nothing but the iconic line “Please, sir, I want some more.” Oliver Twist is only the third Dickens novel I have read; the others were A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations.

I enjoyed it from the start. I particularly enjoyed coming across references to names of streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks in London that I recognized, having just been there. And I found both the story and Dickens’ writing style very engaging.

The Hand of God: A Testimony of the Lord’s Provision and Protection (2004)
Hudson Armerding

I found this short book among the other books I had packed up at school and unpacked after returning from London. I vaguely remember the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton College or a similar office giving away copies of the book at some point during the school year. The author, of course, is Wheaton’s fifth president, the late Dr. Hudson T. Armerding. This book is a collection of anecdotes and stories from Armerding’s life, grouped as testimonies to God’s provision, protection, guidance, and comfort, with an epilogue of thanksgiving stories. I read it straight through in less than an hour; in addition to finding the stories very encouraging, I enjoyed the insights into the history of a man who had such a profound role on the development of Wheaton College.


This is Rubio, over and out.