My Apologies, Dr. Culby

Back to “The Arch” —

The other day I posted a picture from last year’s (2012) Founder’s Week at Moody Bible Institute on Facebook; a friend and I had gone to celebrate our 25th reunion since graduation in 1987. Another of my friends asked me to post the original photo from that year, so I went in search of the old yearbook. Now I was quite involved with the yearbook back then, taking pictures and writing. One of the pieces I wrote got a bit messed up by the printer, so I thought I would reprint it here in the form it was supposed to be in. Reading through it, I remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it… now 26 years ago. And in spite of my brain injury, 6-week coma and other events that have shifted my perspective, the core of my theology remains the same.

In fact, I remember specifically in reference to this piece: at the Universities I’d been involved with previously (mostly the University of Waterloo, Ontario), I’d never really experienced a building named after a person. Most of them… all that I remember… had been named after their function: Physics 1, Chemistry 2, Math and Computer Science. Beyond that: names are important regarding precision, but labels are for convenience. I was fighting internally a struggle that, on the other side of a quarter century, I know recognize as a tension that is for me fundamental to my faith: that between personal relationships and experience on the one side, and authority and tradition on the other.

Some background: Dr. William Culbertson (1905-1971) was the fifth president of Moody Bible Institute, who was in that position for 23 years ( The primary men’s residence on campus at Moody is a 20-story building named after Dr. Culbertson. It was a requirement when I attended the school that most of the students live on-campus. This building was finished in 1969; at the time I was there (1984-87), the first floor was dedicated to residence services and the second floor was the central place for cross- gender social activities; we were not permitted TVs in our room, but the one public television was in a room on 2nd floor. For the nearly 600 students who lived there (>90 of the male student body) our first day at the Institute and our last day revolved around Culberston Hall.

An original scan of The Arch page is at right. (Due to the crease in the binding, it is incomplete: and I was not going to disassemble my yearbook to get a good scan.)

My Apologies, Dr. Culby
I remember once having a discussion with a visiting prof who disliked our referring to Culbertson Hall as “Culby.” Disrespectful, he said it was. He had known Dr. Culbertson personally and felt irritated by our almost discourteous use of a short form in place of the original name. But what he did not understand is that Culbertson Hall is more to us than just a building dedicated to one of our past presidents. It’s our home. For three years we’ve lived here. It has a personality all its own: a relaxed, informal, God-glorifying personality that is perfectly embodied in the name, “Culby”. In this building, six-hundred of us every year learn lessons frequently more elusive than what we’ve found in class. We’ve discovered here how thin the walls are between the rooms, and how thick they can be between our hearts. We’ve seen the intricacies and subtleties that mark emotional expression in the male psyche, and we’ve watched those barriers fall under constant pressure from God. We’ve been through floor meetings, homework, marshmallow fights, fire drills and flagpolings, and they’ve shown us how to laugh, to live and to listen. Somewhere in there we’ve even had time to make a few friends. So, I’m sorry Dr. Culbertson: I don’t mean to be disrespectful. But this building will always be “Culby” to me.

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One Response to My Apologies, Dr. Culby

  1. Pingback: The Arch (Yearbook): Thoughts and Memories | The Geographer's Corner

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