Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

Leave a comment

What’s Up with This Old Desk? “Uncle John’s” (John Stott) Connections to Trinity


The library recently received several items from John Stott’s personal study: his desk, bookshelf, and chair. These items are currently being displayed adjacent to the John and Susan Woodbridge Reading Room in Rolfing Library.

A bunch of us seminary students were geeking out (see here and here). It’s pretty neat. I mean, we just received a crate from England containing a bunch of John Stott’s personal belongings! Michael Cromartie once said, “If evangelicals elected popes, they would have chosen Stott.” Well, if that’s true, than I guess that means that if evangelicals had relics, this desk would be one of them!

But maybe you’re wondering, why? Why did we receive these materials? What’s so special about Trinity? How did we manage to make a successful bid to receive these things?

I was not previously aware of this; but apparently John Stott had some significant connections with Trinity, some connections that made Trinity a natural place to display these items.

So, in order to learn more about these connections and share them with you, I visited our very own Dr. Greg Scharf, a student, mentoree, and friend of Stott, who he (among others) affectionately refers to as “uncle John.”


John Stott offered Bible expositions six times at InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference. During this time many Trinity students had contact with Stott and his preaching.

In addition, Stott frequently visited Trinity, preaching numerous times in chapel.

And for one term, the Fall semester of 1972, Stott even taught preaching courses at TEDS.

A claim to fame–TEDS was the first American school to award Stott with an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree (1971). And because Dr. Stott did his undergraduate studies at Trinity College of Cambridge University, Scharf noted that Stott would jokingly refer to his educational experience as “Trinity” from first to last.

In 1974, Stott founded what became the Langham Partnership International (formerly known in the U.S. as John Stott Ministries) which seeks “to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through the ministry of pastors and leaders who believe, teach and live by the Word of God.” Among other things, this organization grants scholarships for Majority World students to receive theological education. Many such students have attended TEDS, furthering Stott’s ties with the institution.

Dr. Scharf himself is a significant connecting point between Stott and Trinity. When Stott came and taught preaching courses in ’72, Scharf was actually one of his students. Later Scharf would accept an internship under Stott at All Souls and even join the church staff for two years. During this time, Scharf was mentored by Stott. And finally, Scharf was on the board of the Langham Partnership for a time and has written for their publishing house.

Thus, when Dr. Scharf made a bid, Stott’s connections with Trinity as well as Dr. Scharf in particular made Trinity a natural recipient for these items from Stott’s study.

A great thanks to Dr. Scharf for helping me with this project, entertaining my inquiries, fact checking my article, and being willing to answer any questions I had.

Leave a comment

Summer Reading: 2014 Caldecott Honorees

If you have or work with the youngsters around campus, or if you’re an Elementary Education major, you’ll most likely already be familiar with the three sets of bookshelves on the left wall as you enter the library. If you’re not, I encourage you to go take a look — even if you’re (supposedly) a grown-up. Our Juvenile collection contains titles that span from pulleys to Pluto, and it continues to grow.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m busy with real research. I’ve got my head stuck in a book for too many hours a day as it is. Plus, I don’t have children. It would be embarrassing for my fellow students to see me reading a kids’ book!” I respectfully beg to differ; I see juvenile books as a way to work a different part of your mind, and a great stress relief when academic jargon gets to be too much to swallow. Think about it this way — it’s the same reason that coloring books find their way into Hawkins Hall during finals week.

Over my next two blog posts, I’ll draw your attention to two special groups of books: those that have won and/or been considered for the two highest awards in juvenile literature. Today I’ll be talking about this year’s contenders for the Caldecott Medal, and next time I’ll talk about the Newbery Finalists.

The Caldecott Medal, named in honor of British illustrator Randolph Caldecott, was first awarded in 1938. Given by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association), it honors the artist of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” You may recognize some of the previous winners and honorees: The Invention of Hugo Cabret (known to moviegoers simply as “Hugo”), The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Polar Express, Jumanji, and Where the Wild Things Are.

2014 saw three honorees and one winner, as listed below. Click on the cover image for holdings information. 

locomotive2014 Caldecott Winner: Locomotive

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

journey2014 Caldecott Honoree: Journey

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

flora-flamingo2014 Caldecott Honoree: Flora and the Flamingo

In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!


mr-wuffles2014 Caldecott Honoree: Mr. Wuffles!

In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.

All our juvenile award-winners and honorees are marked with a star on the spine; if these aren’t available, there are plenty more to catch your eye! Happy reading!

Author’s note: Book descriptions are from

Leave a comment

Bioethics at Rolfing

The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is hosting its 20th Annual Summer Conference this week and through the weekend. The conference will investigate the impact of modern medicine, science, and technology on our individual and common humanity.

Rolfing Library has a growing collection of bioethics books and e-books. In honor of this week’s events at the CBHD, we thought we’d post a few new acquisitions. Enjoy!


Leave a comment

What’s New: Books on Pope Benedict XVI and the Papacy

The Pope has retired, the College of Cardinals are in conclave, and Catholics around the world are waiting anxiously to see a puff of white smoke billow from the chimney affixed to the Sistine Chapel’s roof. In response to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement, we’ve freshened up our history of the papacy collection with some recent publications by — and about — the now-retired Pope.

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week book cover

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week book cover

We’ve completed our set of Pope Benedict’s three-part series on Jesus of Nazareth: we added The Infancy Narratives (Image, 2012) and Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (Ignatius Press, 2011). Benedict, ever the scholar and theologian, offers here his commentary and insight on the events of the Gospels. The Holy Week volume is an especially compelling read this time of year, and Benedict notes its significance in his foreword: “…only in this second volume do we encounter the decisive sayings and events of Jesus’ life… [I have tried] to consider only the essential words and deeds of Jesus — guided by the hermeneutic of faith, but at the same time adopting a responsible attitude toward historical reason” (p. xvii). These books are so new to the library that we’re still processing them — please ask at the circulation desk if you can’t find them on the shelf!

My Brother, the Pope (Ignatius Press, 2011) is a memoir by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict. Eighty-nine-year-old Msgr. Ratzinger is a Catholic priest, organist, and emeritus conductor of the famous Regensburger Domspatzen, Regensburg’s cathedral choir. In the memoir, he recounts childhood memories of his brother and narrates their shared experiences growing up in the Catholic Church and then answering the call to become priests. In fact, the brothers entered the seminary together and were ordained priests on the same day in 1951. The book spans over eighty years of the brothers’ lives: Msgr. Ratzinger’s memories of the day his little brother was born, his family’s anti-Nazi sentiments, his experiences fighting in World War II, the election of his brother as Pope in 2005, and beyond. The story is ultimately one of two brothers answering the call to serve the Lord, despite the trials and tribulations of National Socialism and war. Pick up My Brother, the Pope to discover the story of the Ratzinger brothers, their childhood in Catholic Bavaria, and their enduring friendship.

Medieval portrait of Celestine V by Niccolò di Tommaso

Medieval portrait of Celestine V by Niccolò di Tommaso

Finally, we’ve acquired Jon M. Sweeney’s The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation (Image, 2012). This book tells the story of Peter Morrone, the hermit-monk-saint who was elected to the papacy on July 5, 1294 and resigned only fifteen weeks later, on December 13 of the same year. Sweeney recounts the mysteries surrounding the pontificate of Peter, who took the name Celestine V, and the suspicious actions of his kniving successor, Boniface VIII. Celestine re-entered the spotlight after Benedict’s surprising announcement last month: newspapers and pundits immediately drew a connection between the 21st-century Pope and his 13th-century predecessor. In fact, many news sources pointed out that Benedict reverently laid his pallium (a Y-shaped ecclesiastical vestment worn over the chasuble) on Celestine’s tomb during a visit to L’Aquila in 2009. Want to learn more about this medieval pope and discover why Dante banished him to the antechamber of Hell in The Inferno? Check out The Pope Who Quit.

Leave a comment

What’s New: God’s Battalions

image of book coverRodney Stark has given one of his latest books, God’s Battalions (HarperOne, 2009), a truly inflammatory subtitle: The Case for the Crusades.

It’s probably no coincidence that that subtitle has a distinctly Lee Strobel-esque ring to it; within the first few pages of the introduction it becomes clear that God’s Battalions is clearly an apologetic, rather than apology, for the Church’s medieval expeditionary holy wars. But since when is being pro-Crusades an acceptable position?

In the one course on medieval history I took in college, the Crusades were treated by our well-educated lecturer as some of the bloodiest chapters of the Middle Ages. Wars waged ruthlessly against people of a foreign faith, and with the blessing and support of popes and other Christian leaders — is there anything more  hateful or hypocritical than that? In fact, there were not-so-distant echoes in the historical accounts we were assigned to read of truly abominable things like ethnic cleansing, imperialism, and even jihad. This is not an uncommon treatment of the Crusades in our day.

So I for one immediately fell prey to the shock factor of God’s Battalions. But, then again, I only knew half the story.

Rodney Stark, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, is known for his brilliance as a sociologist and historian, writing a steady stream of important — and often controversial — books, including the much-discussed volume The Rise of Christianity. He proves no less an able guide and adroit historian in this book.

Stark acknowledges the prevailing modern perspective on the Crusades, during which “an expansionist, imperialistic Christendom brutalized, looted, and colonized a tolerant and peaceful Islam.” But he quickly turns it on its head, arguing instead that “the Crusades were precipitated by Islamic provocations: by centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West and by sudden new attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places.”

And this argument he sustains for nearly 250 pages, along the way teaching readers about the ins and outs of the Crusaders and their kingdoms and regularly seizing the opportunity to debunk what he considers the great myths of the Crusades themselves and of the people — Christians and Muslims alike — who were involved in them.

Whether or not you agree with Stark’s version of the history (and you’ll just have to borrow a print copy or e-book from Rolfing to find out), God’s Battalions is a worthwhile and engaging book, written on a popular level yet a rewarding read even for those who already know something about the subject. The Crusades remain a much-contested chapter in world history, and while Stark’s book probably won’t settle the contest altogether, it does promise to radically reframe the conversation.