Monday, March 30, 2009

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Five students from all parts of the globe spoke during chapel, broadening their fellow students’ perspectives on how those crossing cultures may feel. The five students—three from Hungary, Taiwan and Zimbabwe, one from Dorchester, and another who studied abroad in Ugand—shared the challenge of knowing what to call home. “It takes a long time to make a place home,” said Jonathan Reilly, senior, international affairs major. Julie Ray, associate dean of First Year Experience, encouraged students to remember where their eternal residency lies.


Underground Creativity at Gordon College

Computer guru by day, inventor by night, Anita Coco, media production manager under Gordon’s Center for Technologies (CET), leads the double life. “All of my friends know me as a scheme dreamer . . . every week there is a new scheme.”
Coco’s latest scheme of creating a throat lozenge is becoming a hot reality. It’s a small, chestnut-brown colored candy no bigger than a thimble. It has a soft, buttery, caramel flavor that comforts the taste buds at first, but then comes the nose running, eye watering and spicy after-effect caused by an invisible burning in the back of the throat. They’re called fire drops. The hot kick comes from the secret ingredient—cayenne pepper—a spice that is not usually found in a throat lozenge. But desperate times call for desperate measures, especially for someone who has chronic sore throats, and when Coco started this adventure, the cold and flu season was just beginning.
“Every year when I get a sore throat,” said Coco, “I lose my voice.” This is a problem for a church singer. And because she prefers natural treatments for her ailments, Coco began looking for alternative ways to cure her throat. She discovered the Earth Clinic Folk Remedies website (, and under the “sore throat” tab cayenne pepper is listed as the second most popular remedy.
The recipe she found was in the form of a gargle, something that was not convenient for Coco, who works all day; so she kept looking, hoping to find a lozenge recipe involving the pepper but having no luck. When she did not find one, she decided to create her own drop.
Using a basic lollipop recipe, a simple mold and the pepper, Coco can make a batch of 60 drops in about 20 minutes. Many like them and others find them too hot to handle. For those with sensitive taste buds, Coco has a milder version with half the pepper. But do they work?
Coco is still in the testing stage. She used herself as a guinea pig and was happy with her results. She felt the beginning stages of a sore throat and started popping the lozenges, and, “Twenty-four hours later the sore throat was significantly less,” and her cold was over in four short days.
So what’s her next plan?
“I am a schemer, and I try to figure things out as I go.”


Friday, March 27, 2009

Boston Globe Photographer Covers Gordon Event

Last Wednesday’s seminar “Personal Finances during a Recession,” led by economics and business professor Ted Wood and sponsored by the Alumni Office, drew students, alumni and faculty members—and a photographer from The Boston Globe. The discussion focused on how to maintain a Christian perspective on finances during tough economic times.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

From Gordon College to the State Supreme Court

When Richard Bell started his undergrad career, he had no intentions of being a lawyer. In fact, like most freshmen, he didn’t have a set career path in mind.
Bell graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in history and biblical studies, and still no set plan on a professional goal. After taking some time off, he attended Law School at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1998 magna cum laude, and began his legal career as a law clerk in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
After two years as a clerk, Bell spent six years at a private practice and found himself back at the Supreme Court in 2006, where he is currently a staff attorney. “I had enjoyed my time as a law clerk and was intrigued by the possibility of returning to work for the court.”
Bell says his time at Gordon prepared him well for law school. “The number of papers I was required to write as a history and Bible major helped develop my writing skills, which are critical to the work I do now,” he says.
The academic core requirements gave him a strong foundational base for the political, philosophical and historical context of the law. “The curriculum at Notre Dame was exceedingly challenging, and I did very well compared with classmates who had done their undergraduate work at Ivy League schools and other nationally renowned universities.”
Bell currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife, Diane, and their two daughters, Jessica and Emily.


Preparing for Veterinary School

Amy Little ’05, doctor of veterinary medicine, says the moment she stepped on Gordon’s campus she knew it was the place for her. “My biology classes and health profession seminars helped me prepare for veterinary school, but it was my nonscience classes that helped me understand how career, family and faith all work together to create a fulfilled, meaningful life.

When it came time to apply to veterinary school my mentors helped me through the application process and conducted mock interviews. So many people on campus were willing to help—from the Career Office to the Writing Center to my professors in the Biology Department."


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Student Leads a Walk for Cystic Fibrosis

Sophomore Kristen Entwistle, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), will host the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis on Saturday, April 4. The fundraiser will raise money for research and increase awareness in the local community. Walkers will raise support by asking for donations from friends and family to give CF patients a chance at living longer. Registration for the walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the Gordon College Bennett Center, 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, Massachusetts, and the walk will start at 10 a.m., rain or shine.
About 30,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and other major organs. Having CF makes it difficult to breathe and, for many, hard to digest food properly and gain weight. There are many other complications involved, including frequent lung infections, diabetes and a life expectancy of 37 years of age. New drugs are being developed to help CF patients live longer, but there is no cure for the disease.
“A few years ago I participated in a study for a new CF drug that has been very beneficial to many CF patients,” says Entwistle. “The money we raise for this walk will go toward new drug research. It would mean a lot to me personally if people came to support the walk—seeing people care about something that they may not know a lot about will make a long-term impact on CF patients.”
For more information, to register or to donate, email


Monday, March 23, 2009

Discussion: Personal Finances in a Recession

Wondering what to do with your finances during these troubling times? Ever ask yourself what role your faith plays in how you manage your money? Is there such a thing as a uniquely Christian view of finances?
Wednesday, March 25 (7 p.m. in the Chairman’s Room of the Ken Olsen Science Center at Gordon), economics and business professor Ted Wood will discuss Christian perspectives on finances during tough economic times—or any times. No easy answers are promised, but you are invited to bring your thoughts and questions to this open discussion on earning and spending, giving and saving. All are welcome.
For further information call 978.867.4226 or email
To read Professor Wood’s article “On the Economy: What Would John Wesley Do?” click here.


Gender, Christianity and Feminist Theology

Who and What: Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College, will speak on “Gender, Christianity and Feminist Theology.”
Where and When: Thursday, March 26, 4:30 p.m., Ken Olsen Science Center, Chairman’s Room
Sponsored by: the Gordon College Philosophy Department
For more information:


Friday, March 20, 2009

Unemployment and Poverty: Clashing Views

Who and What: Dr. Roger Johnson, visting professor at Gordon and labor economics expert, will discuss the controversy surrounding the unemployment issue—Is unemployment involuntary? The outcome of this debate has obvious implications for public policy.
Where and When: Monday, March 23, Jenks 406, 4:30–5:30
For further information contact


A Doctor in the Making

Shana Gleeson ’07, a medical student at Penn State, says she was prepared well at Gordon College. “I had the requisite knowledge, study skills and work ethic I needed to start med school well. At first being from a small liberal arts college and not from an Ivy League school was a little intimidating. But a dean at orientation encouraged me, telling me that just because many of my peers attended Ivy League schools it did not mean they have an advantage over me. He was right—I’ve been getting honors in all my classes so far. I’m grateful to Gordon for preparing me to do that.


Across the Seas, but Close to Home

“Rebellious, quirky and vibrant, Lithuania (Lietuva) is Europe’s best-kept secret,” writes Vivek Wagle, editor of Lonely Planet Travels. This deems true as Gordon College’s exchange program to Lithuania Christian College (LCC) is not one of the more popular choices for Gordon students.
However, Sergiu Rusu, junior exchange student from LCC, proves this should be otherwise. “[LCC] is a great program to study abroad. You see a lot since the countries are so close together in Europe,” Rusu said. “During spring break the students see more in one week than an average traveler would in one month. You experience so much culture.
LCC, located in Klaipeda, Lithuania, near the Baltic Sea, was founded in 1991 by request of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science. Around 600 students attend from 21 different countries. LCC’s mission, according to their website, is “to engage students in a transforming educational experience in order to create a generation of leaders for Eastern Europe who think critically, promote democratic ideals, develop a market economy, and rebuild the network of civil society within the context of a Christian worldview.”
Rusu, one of two students studying at Gordon from LCC, misses the traditional food and friends back home but is enjoying his time on the North Shore. “I want to find out what’s missing in my life, and what I take for granted,” Rusu said. “This experience will prepare me for my future and the decisions that I will be making.” Rusu is from the Republic of Moldova, about 900 miles south of Lithuania. Coming from Europe, Rusu notes several cultural and traditional differences to the United States. “It’s easy to start friendships in America but hard to keep them,” Rusu said. “It’s hard to start friendships in Europe, but once you do they are friends for life.”
Rusu, along with the rest of the student body has only seven weeks left. “I’ve learned a lot through this experience,” Rusu said, “but overall it’s good to be home.” Although Lithuania may be Europe’s best-kept secret, LCC may be Lithuania’s best-kept experience. For more information concerning the LCC exchange program go to their website, or contact the Global Education Office,


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Staff Members Awarded for Consistent, Unique Service

Earlier this week Gordon’s provost, Mark Sargent, awarded the 2009 Provost’s Awards to Phil Williams ’89, director of development operations, and Cami Foerster ’98, resident director of Nyland Hall, for their substantial contributions to students’ learning on a consistent basis.
For almost 20 years Phil Williams has been leading student trips to Latin America—mainly Guatemala—encouraging students to grow in language and ministry. “An avid Red Sox fan, you might expect to see baseball memorabilia all over his office,” says Sargent. “But what I have seen on his walls are not Major League stars but the faces of Guatemalan children.”
“His connection to Guatemala runs deep,” says Kirk McClelland, former director of service learning and missions.” When he says ‘mis hermanos,’ or ‘my brothers,’ he really means it.”
Sargent described the other recipient, Cami Foerster, as “someone who listens, is generous with her time, is willing to spend long hours with students who need encouragement and counsel, and someone who cares deeply about students’ spiritual lives.” Her supervisor, Terry Charek, associate dean of students for resident life, praises her for serving “students without looking at the clock and counting hours, making a huge impact on students’ lives.”
Read more.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Archives at Your Fingertips

If you’re looking to get your hands on 19th-century Boston-area newspapers and publications, or you want to read some interesting facts about Billy Graham, the Gordon Archives may be a good resource for you.

As part of a College Communicatons project, Dan Hayner ’09, a history major with a communication arts minor, has been diligently writing descriptions about what is in the archives that lives on the first floor of Jenks Library, digitizing relatively untouched information and making it more accessible to the public.
Read about the wealthy, widowed Bostonian, Martha Dodge Frost, who in faith felt compelled to support Gordon College financially. She once lived a lonely life, but after contributing to the College her life was full as she welcomed faculty and students into her heart as her family.
To read more visit the Archives.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Heaven in a Nightclub

Who knew a white professor of apologetics from a suburban seminary could pound the keys to create great jazz? But Dr. William Edgar of Westminster Theological Seminary—the convocation speaker on Friday, February 20—wowed students, staff and faculty alike with his piano playing integrated into his talk “Heaven in a Nightclub.” Edgar provided a compelling history of jazz, alternating between lecture and piano examples to explain the development of the uniquely American musical form. Exploring each of what he called the “rivers that fed into the creation of jazz”—spirituals, minstrel, ragtime, marching bands and blues—Edgar noted the theology and biblical images evident in each. “Jazz is a music of swing; it’s a call and response,” Edgar said. “But it has to tell a story. It’s the narrative that moves from deep misery to inexplicable joy.” Listen to his talk and performance...


Monday, March 16, 2009

Spiritual Tourists, or Spiritual Pilgrims? An Upcoming Opportunity

Recently a New York Times article covered the burgeoning phenomenon of “spiritual tourism.” Spiritual tourists take eclectic journeys to religious or New Age sites in places as diverse as India, Tibet, Peru or Sedona, Arizona, collecting bits of this meditational technique or that cultural myth for personal pleasure and enrichment—like Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the bestselling Eat, Pray, Love), whose quest took her to Italy, India and Indonesia.
But Gordon alumni John and Susie Skillen (pictured with daughter Isabelle) are convinced there is a fundamental difference between spiritual tourism and what has long been known as Christian pilgrimage.
The Skillens have spent many years in Italy under the shadow of great medieval saints who lived in Umbria and Tuscany (John directs the Gordon in Orvieto semester program and the Studio for Art Faith and History; Susie is an Anglican priest and spiritual director). Having themselves been inspired by the saints’ lives, John and Susie several years ago developed a pilgrimage retreat based in Orvieto that offers to American Christians a way to absorb the wisdom and passion for God of these saints.
In the 13th century St. Bonaventure wrote “Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum”—or “The Soul’s Journey into God.” Bonaventure’s journey is not about acquisition of “spiritual” techniques or experiences. Rather, he speaks of pilgrimage that leaves behind, letting go of, attachments to things that come between us and God.
Benedict of Norcia, considered the father of Western monasticism, teaches about healthy Christian community through his Rule. Francis of Assisi’s life demonstrates radical obedience to the call of the gospel, and his follower Clare of Assisi shows the true riches of spiritual poverty. Catherine of Siena’s life, devoted to serving the poor and the suffering during the ravages of the bubonic plague, teaches about Christian service. Aquinas and Bonaventure show the beauty of brilliant intellects surrendered to God.
American Christians may not only be geographically isolated from the historical roots of the Church. We often also find ourselves spiritually isolated in our own time and place. Returning to the places of the saints in the early and middle centuries of the Church reminds us of our connection to all those throughout many centuries who have devoted their lives to following Christ. We can be strengthened and encouraged in our own “soul’s journey into God” by seeing how God has worked in the lives of so many others in their own time and place, just as he is at work in our own. We are not alone but are, as it says in Hebrews, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” Going on pilgrimage to see where these “witnesses” lived and gave their lives fully to God helps to inspire us to do the same.
[Those interested in joining the Skillens on a pilgrimage retreat at the end of June may email them at or]
A Prayer of St. Bonaventure.
Lord Jesus Christ,
Pierce my soul with Your love
So that I may always long for You alone
Who are the bread of angels
And the fulfillment of the soul’s deepest desires.
May my heart always hunger and feed upon You,
so that my soul may be filled with
the sweetness of Your presence.
May my soul thirst for You, Who are the source of life,
wisdom, knowledge, light,
and all the riches of God.
May I always seek You and find You
And do all things for the honor and glory
of Your holy name.
Be always my only hope, my peace, my refuge and my help
In Whom my heart is rooted so that I may never be
separated from You.


Friday, March 13, 2009

At Barrington Center for the Arts: Recent Work of Grant Hanna '06

Grant Hanna writes:
"When someone asks me what I am working on and I tell them the subject matter of my most recent paintings, their inevitable question is, “Why rabbits?”
A saying by Camus comes to mind: “A man’s work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” For me the choice is almost reflexive rather than conscious; rabbits are one of the several images which will spontaneously flow from my pencil if I am doodling. I grew up with rabbits as pets, and I suppose they have burrowed into my neural pathways. Apart from this natural predilection, my approach to the rabbits is twofold: first, to explore and develop a personal understanding of the rabbit’s physical form, and, second, to portray the rabbit as an iconoclastic depiction of the Other.
The earliest work on display here is the Little White Rabbit. Completed in 2006, this is the series’ first permutation of rabbit anatomy: the deep-chested, greyhound-like body, the exaggerated sharpness of the head, and the unfurling sails of the ears. Little White Rabbit, along with Predator/Prey, completed around the same time, served as a template and launching point for the rest of the rabbits in the series.
The arc of my formal exploration goes from pure questions of representation—how will I adjust the natural anatomy of the rabbit through my own creative lens?—through to the use of anatomical exaggerations and distortions as emotional descriptors—limbs multiply; ears expand like the hoods of cobras; complex horns, threatening or defensive, appear—and finally, in Snared Rabbit, brings the rabbits back to a physical world where they must deal with the literal consequences of their metaphysical transformations.
The second approach examines the place of the rabbit in contemporary culture. Rabbits these days exist almost exclusively in their incarnation as “bunnies”: cute, defenseless, banal, limited to candy merchandising and When taken apart from this context, the associations are hardly better: the rabbit is known to be flighty, cowardly, weak and proverbially promiscuous.
In long hours at the studio I pondered how many of these attributes have been held over other groups more deserving of notice than the rabbit: women, gays, ethnic minorities; these and other groups are constantly objectified, condescended to, dismissed. I determined that my goal in these paintings would be to challenge the idea that these rabbits could ever be seen as mere bunnies. The bunny is a two-dimensional figure with no potential either for humanity or greatness. Here, the rabbits are simultaneously humanized and apotheosized. Exalted by extravagant physical characteristics reminiscent of mythical Asian animals, they can also be wounded or suffering, calling out for an emotional connection with the viewer.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gordon College Alumna to Speak at United Nations General Assembly

LinkSradda Thapa '08--who studied international affairs and will share her experiences March 18th at the U.N.--says her Gordon education made all the difference. Read more . . .

Sradda Thapa poses here with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, global expert on extreme poverty, whom she met last year in Washington, D.C.


Addition + Subtraction = Lessons from Scripture

Dr. David Mathewson, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at Gordon, spoke in Chapel February 23 on the warning at the end of the book of Revelation never to add to or subtract from Scripture. He posed the question for his listeners: Are you guilty? Mathewson reminded us to watch out for “something else [being] at the center of our focus—we think we can divide our allegiance.” Divided loyalty can diminish the authority of Scripture in our lives—effectively “adding” and “subtracting” from the Word. Listen to the podcast...


Friday, March 6, 2009

Piano Hero--and Piano Heroes

Michael Monroe, music faculty, writes:
“If you missed last week’s Piano Hero performance (a continuing series in Phillips Recital Hall), the idea is that pianists Michael Monroe and Nathan Skinner sight read (more or less) a symphony originally intended for orchestra but arranged for one piano, four hands. Such arrangements date from the 19th century when the lack of home audio equipment meant this was the best way to hear Beethoven’s latest at home. So these performances are intended to be rather informal, which means that Michael and Nathan have agreed not to practice too much. That’s what gives the experience a bit of a Guitar Hero feel—at least for the performers...”
View trailer of a recent Piano Hero performance.
Keep updated on future Piano Hero events.


Beauty in the Night Sky

Comet Lulin came into view in the Southeast sky at the end of February and beginning of March. Dr. Dale Pleticha’s astronomy class will study it.
“The comet looked like a faint white smudge very near the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo the lion,” Pleticha said. “Regulus was at the bottom of a set of stars that look like a sickle. Earlier in the evening you could see Venus very near the crescent moon in the Western sky. Venus and the moon were the brightest things in the sky.” More details are available here and here.
Image source here.
Pleticha is professor of physics and Natural Sciences Division moderator at Gordon. His interests include physics education research, mathematical models for mechanical systems, and astronomy. He recently has worked on research projects involving orbital motion and special relativity.


I Like to Be with Dreamers

Stephen Van Wyck ’87 is an English teacher in Asia, and a poet. We asked if we could share one of his poems, “I Like to Be with Dreamers”:

I like to be with dreamers.
After coming out
Of a time
Doing nothing,
And becoming more sour inside each moment,
I walk in a land I should have enjoyed
Years ago.

Let me change my clothes!
I want dreams for despair,
Crossed a great nation to follow their
For a person who hid from life in a costly prison.

Give me the young people of a nation,
Who have so high hopes, and
A kindness that is ravishing.
Give me
Not resolution.

Is this a place where I can be happy and enjoy life?

I buried my dreams and lived in anger.
I tried to be
Someone I am
And became angrier, more bitter, more sterile.
If this be the resurrection of dreams, then they are sweet.

If this be resurrection, then it
Is sweet.


Understanding Lent

February 25 was Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the 40-day liturgical season of Lent. Chapel was led by the Rev. Susan Skillen, a 1975 Gordon alumna and Episcopal priest. Since Gordon students represent a broad range of church traditions, Skillen used her chapel talk as a teaching opportunity, particularly for students from non-liturgical backgrounds. “Lent helps us say and live out what we believe to be true all year around, that we are people in need of renewal and repentance,” said Skillen. Students were invited, though not required, to come forward for the imposition of ashes.