Oberlin Alumni Magazine Spring 2001 vol.96 no.4
Feature Stories
Planet Earth
High Atop Wilder
[cover story] Creating a Scene
You've Got Mail: Now What?
Experience, Exposure & Enlightenment
Body Art
Message from the Board of Trustees
Around Tappan Square
Oberlin Partnership sharpens Economic Development
Composing a Career
President Dye's Sabbatical
Closing Institutional Devides
In Brief
Alumni Notes: Profile
Alumni Notes: Losses
The Last Word
Staff Box
One More Thing

Three Alumni Remember Professors
I am saddened to learn of the passing of Galina Kryzytski, wife of emeritus professor Serge Kryzytski and a dynamic instructor in her own right. My experience in her Russian theater group in 1973 and 1974 continues to influence my own teaching. As a reticent intermediate student in 1973, I was "dragged" into a lead role (never enough Russian students!) in Galina Viktorovna's production of Valentin Kataev's comedy, Squaring of the Circle. Every day for weeks I listened to her coloratura Russian on my cassette player in my room, absorbing the entire play by osmosis as I brushed my teeth and combed my hair. Rehearsals were long and lively; Galina Viktorovna fed us cookies and added a gypsy
chorus of her own devising so she could include a group of first-year students in the production. By the time of our snowed-out performance, I had learned the play, improved my pronunciation, and made the startling realization that I loved portraying someone else! Here at Binghamton University, I run a Russian Theater Workshop every spring. From Chekhov to Kataev and beyond, I hear a certain high voice urging us on. Spasibo, Galina Viktorovna!
Nancy Tittler '74
Binghamton, New York

Editor's Note: When we asked Nancy about her use of Galina's second name, she explained, "Every Russian bears a middle name derived from his/her father's name. Thus, Mrs. Kryzytski was Galina Viktorovna, daughter of Viktor. Her husband is Sergei Pavlovich, son of Pavel. Thus, students referred to this dear couple as Galina Viktorovna and Sergei Pavlovich."
I was saddened to learn of the death of Professor Joseph Wood last June. His influence confirmed that in music, as with any discipline, success is in the details. As a junior organ major in 1979, I enrolled in his intermediate aural skills class. We soon learned it was not a class for the faint of heart, but for those with a brave pedagogic spirit. Armed with only a spiral-bound book that contained some 300 melodies (like the voila line from a Bartok string quartet or a Bach fugue countersubject), we assembled to face our irascible taskmaster for a weekly dose of bricks and mortar. Professor Wood would appear, punctual and serious, carefully and purposefully making his way to the Steinway. A portion of each class involved sight-singing. Randomly, he would select names from the class roster, addressing each as "Mr." or "Mrs." Students would then be asked to stand and "sing"--on any syllable or vowel of their own choosing--the 8 to 12 bar line he had requested. Joe Wood had a sense of humor that was restrained, to say the least. To bolster our confidence, he made it quite clear that vocal quality was not a factor in his classroom. Yet, he could not resist deadpan
ning from time to time that someone might consider a more sotto voce or dryly suggesting that one student "probably should not audition for the Met" that week. He even once used that venerable musical critique, musing to one charge that he "had never heard anything like that before." Nonetheless, everyone got it, and his commentary was ultimately reassuring. As I silently cursed those with pitch while awaiting my turn each week, I would consciously absorb the harmonies and accompaniments he provided. Not only was my sight-singing improving, but my improvisational skills were being awakened. Both serve me well to this day, as a longtime church musician. In fact, I think of Wood's influence often when I work with "professional" singers. Born with a gorgeous instrument, able to toss off 16th notes effortlessly, nailing the high As and Cs, the audition looks good. Then comes the sight-reading portion, a mysterious melody from the hymnal, and their true grasp of the details becomes clear. Wish they'd had Joe Wood. Sure glad I did.
Mark E. Foulsham '81
Centerville, Delaware
Editor's Note: A Memorial Minute for Joseph Wood appears on page 58.
I was saddened to read of Sam Walker's death (Fall 2000). I took an introductory printmaking class with Sam my senior year. I remember both his passion for printmaking and for teaching. He had a very clear way of explaining techniques, which facilitated my learning. He also encouraged me to develop my original, whimsical style. I appreciate his encouragement to this day, as it truly enhanced my growth as an artist.
Eva Schlesinger '87
San Francisco, California

More Finney Observations
Three letters in the Fall 2000 issue alluded favorably to Charles G. Finney and suggested that the current Oberlin represents a repudiation of Finney’s legacy. The ethos of the current Oberlin, however, springs inevitably from Finney’s teachings concerning the capabilities of the human will. Finney is the father of both modern evangelistic technique and modern Pelagian apostasy, which share and act upon the assumption that man has the natural moral ability to make proper moral choices. An excellent synopsis of Finney’s teaching on free will can be read in the chapter on Finney in Willing to Believe--The Controversy Over Free Will by R.C Sproul, for those who may be interested. The illusion shared by both fundamentalists and secularists that humans have the innate ability to make appropriate moral choices is the antithesis of Biblical teaching. The great theologians of the church and the confessions of the Protestant Reformation have proclaimed the reality that the natural man is in bondage to sin, and that only through God’s free, unmerited grace can man be delivered from this bondage.
Douglas E. Freeman ’71
Knoxville, Tennessee

The Alumni Magazine has always been good, and now it is even better. I was especially stimulated by the Letters section (Winter 2000). The extract from the 1850 letter, sent in by Norman Rich, was fascinating. The student explicitly demonstrated the dependence of ethics on faith when he wrote that Oberlin "is congregational and antislavery." Also, Vincent Hart's incisive reevaluation of Charles G. Finney was especially welcome. Hart brilliantly demonstrates that Finney was
not a modern fundamentalist or evangelical. One's faith must always be seen in context. In his times, Finney was as much an innovator as are many feminist and liberationist theologians of today. For anyone to equate today's fundamentalism and evangelicalism with Finney, as many liberals and ultra-conservatives do, is to display a lamentable lack of a sense of history. The "evangelical" religion that one finds today, especially in newly affluent congregations attracted to a "felt-needs" theology that assures them that their faith is the reason for their affluence, is a pitiful parody of the powerful, unsettling, disturbing, and prophetic faith that Finney preached and Oberlin practiced. Also, one need only compare his rejection of many of the traditional powers of a college president when he came to Oberlin to the grasping self-promotion of Jerry Falwell, chancellor of that cathedral of pseudo-learning, Liberty University. My former mentor at Union Seminary, Reinhold Niebuhr, once said, "Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure." All religious fundamentalisms seem to be a frantic attempt to cover an unacknowledged sense of doubt. The New Testament says, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24). A modern faith acknowledges that doubt is an inescapable part of faith, not something to be covered by an intolerant aggressive ideology. Finney preached a faith based on what he felt to be a direct experience of the sacred--a sacred that afflicted the comfortable and comforted the afflicted. Oberlin might still have something to learn about faith, if not specific ideology, from Finney. The greatest irony, however, in the Letters column appears in the correspondence which praises the "refreshingly" error-free nature of the Alumni Magazine. The writer is correct in arguing that Oberlin would have been better served by an independent bookstore rather than by the "behemoth" Barnes and Noble. Princeton's U-Store is far superior to a neighboring Barnes and Noble, although the best store in town is the small but independent Micawber's. One is saddened, however, by the fact that OAM misspelled "Noble" three times!
Charles A. Ryerson '55
Princeton, New Jersey
Editor's note: The editors and proofreaders were saddened, too!

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