Category Archives: STUNG! A Theophilus Hornby Mystery
~~ Ch. 15 ~~
Tuesday morning’s class was one of Hornby’s favorites. In reality, all of his classes were his favorites, for he considered shaping young minds an incredible privilege.
“Theological Methods and Issues” was an upper-level research class in which students learned how to investigate an issue and write persuasive, evidence-based papers on their chosen topic. And the topics were quite varied. Some chose to take on the issue of abortion and cultural values. Others worked on the topic of male leadership in the Scriptures. And still others investigated unusual subjects that they had thought about for a long time.
Hornby saw his job as helping the student sharpen his or her research question, pursue the best sources for information, and respond to the issue in a culturally-relevant manner. Each year as he taught this particular course, he was impressed with the excellent work of most of the students. In fact, last year he had self-published the top ten papers in the class as a book entitled “Thinking about Theology.” It had become a best seller — among the students’ parents and relatives!
But not all his students were eager to receive his wisdom in sharpening and researching their papers. One older female student proposed writing her paper on the Gullah people of South Carolina. Dr. Hornby, who knew a bit about that Low Country people group, suggested several ways in which that topic could a bit more focused.
“I remember that conversation as if it were yesterday,” Hornby said outloud to himself. “My student listened to my ideas, then looked at me and said, ‘If I followed your advice, Dr. Hornby, that would be your paper, not mine!’” Oh, well, he thought to himself. You can’t help everyone.
Hornby prided himself on his ability to find (and fix) every grammatical error in a student’s paper. He not only dealt with dangling participles and split infinitives, but simple matters such as punctuation errors, comma splices, and unclear antecedents.
He thought back on an email he received from one student who was considering taking his “Theological Methods and Issues” class. He wrote the student, welcoming her into the class, and added that he was death on grammatical errors and she should be prepared to proof-read her final paper several times.
He got back the following email: “Dr. Hornby, I read what you said about your correcting grammar mistakes, and I want you to know that you hurt my feeling.”
Hornby didn’t know how to respond. He wanted to write, “I’m sorry you were offended, and I believe you wanted to say ‘you hurt my feelings’, but I will do my best to help you compose the best paper you can.” Instead he left out the correction and assured her he was looking forward to working with her.
Some students thought that the FBC faculty did not carefully read student papers, but just skimmed them and assigned grades. “Ha!”, Hornby laughed to himself, as he recalled reading a rather lengthy paper on “The Mystics of the Middle Ages” by Kathy, an excellent student in his class. In the middle of her discussion of the philosophical foundation of mysticism, she wrote in a small footnote, “Dr. Hornby, if you are reading this whole paper, I will buy you a Burger King Whooper Meal Friday night at midnight!”
She and her friends were shocked to see Hornby enter the local Burger King at 11:59 pm on Friday night wearing a Burger King crown with a Burger King napkin tucked into his dress shirt and carrying a fork and a knife! That was one delicious meal, Hornby thought to himself!
~~ Ch. 14 ~~
Henry Delganey was so proud of his son Michael. It had taken Michael a while to adjust to the move from Chicago, and he had seemed reluctant to start making friends.
But Henry and his wife Miriam had settled into a comfortable life near Faithful Bible College. They had been able to purchase a nice mountain cabin about twenty miles from the campus.
Miriam said, “Henry, is Michael doing okay with his studies? Any idea how he’s liking the dorm? Is he making any new friends? He really could do a better job keeping in touch with his mother!”
“Michael has texted me a couple of times. He’s still quite upset about his uncle’s death. But he’s told me some about his classes. His favorite professor is a Dr. Hornby. What a strange name!”
Miriam replied, “I just looked up that name on the internet and there was a famous Frank Hornby who was an English inventor back in the early twentieth century. He actually used his mechanical skills to create toys like the system called ‘Meccano.’ And he made a fortune from his model railways and the brand ‘Dinky Toys.’”
“Well, I don’t know if this Dr. Hornby is related to that toy guy or not,” Henry said. “I’m just glad Michael is enjoying his studies. Perhaps they will help him come to terms with our move — and the loss of his beloved uncle.”
“‘Beloved uncle?!,” Miriam said. “He was a criminal. And I’m glad we got out of Chicago!”
“Of course you are right, Dear. And I really don’t know how much Michael knows about Uncle Bubba. You and I have prayed for that side of the family for years. And we specifically prayed for Bubba’s salvation after I had that long talk with him last Christmas.”
Miriam said, “Did Bubba really call you a ‘religious wimp’?”
“I’m afraid so, Dear. I just pray that he got right with the Lord before, you know, his accident.” Henry looked at a photograph of Michael when he was eight and Uncle Bubba with Michael on his back.
Miriam put her arm around her husband. “You tried, Honey, to reach Bubba with the gospel. But I guess he was too blinded by the money he was making with that side of the family.”