I first met Roger Lundin during the summer of 1980. He was reading in the English department of Blanchard Hall, and my first impression was of a very tall, broadly smiling young scholar, filled with excitement about teaching and a love of literature.
He began teaching in an English department that had held such legendary figures as Dr. Clyde Kilby HON, Dr. Joe McClatchey HON, and Dr. Beatrice Batson ’47, themselves forces of nature who approached the study of literature with passion, conviction, and unabashed delight. Roger caught the literary vision from these master teachers as an undergraduate and became a highly sought after teacher.
His classes were always overloaded with students and his office hours an endless series of conferences with a professor who made a lasting imprint on their lives. How many times have I read in the course evaluations written by students in his classes: “This course changed my life.”
Roger was the paradigm of the Christian scholar/teacher/servant. His scholarship was elegantly written, theologically astute, and reflected his razor-sharp intellect but also his compassion and tender heart. He adored his family and students. His energy and spirit are alive in the books he wrote with precision and care—books on Emily Dickinson, on doubt and faith in a secular age, on Emerson, on hermeneutics, and on literature through the eyes of faith.
At the heart of everything he did and said was his faith. On the last page of his last book he writes of “the wonder of God’s faithfulness, the beauty of his promises, and the mystery of his ways.” It is difficult to imagine Wheaton College without him.
Additional tributes from:
Dr. Jeffrey Barbeau, associate professor of theology
“Roger will always hold a special place in my heart. For the rest of my life, I will cherish his love for learning, unparalleled memory, and commitment to his students. He could move around the classroom in a whirl of energy, speaking with the distinctive voice of an expert teacher, weaving between tables, verses, and his own remarkable commentary. Roger was, quite simply, one of my favorite people in this entire world. He filled a room with his towering presence, but to talk to him over a meal or over coffee was to sit with a sage and a shepherd, a man who cared about me as a person.”
Dr. Leland Ryken, professor of English emeritus
“When Roger came to teach at Wheaton, one of the first things that impressed me was his loyalty to his family. Not everything that a professor imparts is classroom teaching, and one of Roger's contributions to his students was being an exemplary family man. As a colleague, I will remember Roger preeminently as someone who served as an emissary for Wheaton College to the outside world.”
Dr. Christina Bieber Lake, Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English
“Roger was not only a dear friend and a valued colleague, his work was my introduction to serious Christian literary scholarship. Before I readThe Culture of Interpretation: Christian Faith and the Postmodern World (Eerdmans, 1993) in 1996, I had never read anything that approached American literature and intellectual life through an avowedly Christian lens. He was a pioneer, an intellectual giant, and a warm-hearted brother in Christ. I will also miss the various little jokes we shared as fellow ‘Americanists,’ and the model he provided of compassionate and committed teaching. To say the least, he is irreplaceable.”
Professor Joel Sheesley, professor of art
“When Roger Lundin died this past November I lost an important mooring line connecting me to my own culture. Roger’s mind was a storehouse in which that culture was sifted and sorted, its hidden connecting points found, and its content viewed through a theological lens. Friendship was one of Roger’s passionate longings. It is hard to imagine our friendship now in the past tense. Now for me, memory of his friendship offers a different mooring, a ‘tie that binds.’”