The Trustee Proposals 137
For the next six weeks the Recorder's letter columns were full of
denunciation of Brantley and his book, some from writers who did not
claim to have read it. Typical were the letters from Rev. Dennis W.
Hockaday of First Baptist in Durham, who recommended "that we
completely ignore this book lest it become divisive," and from H. L.
Ferguson, pastor of Charlotte's Thomasboro Church, who commented
that "a little man has written a little book."
Not all of the notices were critical. David E. Daniel, pastor of First
Baptist in Zebulon, Brantley's home town, wrote, "It is a wonderful
book, honest, sincere, and powerful, chocked full of truth about us
Baptists." And in a Wake Forest chapel speech, Rev. W. W Finlator
of Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist Church said, Jonathan Beam
was "a refreshing, fascinating, and valuable book" and that "Russell
Brantley has given us an authentic novel and in so doing has
punctured a lot of ecclesiastical pride. We needed to have this novel
written for us."
At about that same time, Wendell Davis returned to the battlements
with a demand for trustee action against Brantley. He did not specify
what the action should be, but he clearly wanted Brantley fired. He
said the book conceivably could cause Baptists to withhold their
support from Wake Forest.
As if that controversy were not enough, another was also raging. It
involved The Student magazine, oldest of Wake Forest's campus
publications, at times dull and lifeless, at times brilliantly edited. In
March 1962 The Student, under the editorship of Sylvia Burroughs,
had already outraged many Baptists by publishing excerpts from
Jonathan Beam. A succeeding issue made fun of prayer at athletic
events by reviewing a fictitious book, Prayers for All Athletic Occa-
The real shocker came in a humor issue edited by Bruce Bach, who
wrote in a foreword, "This issue of The Student magazine was kind of
put together between laughs around this place. It is not really very
good except that some of the parts are pretty obscene. We did not try
to make it that way. We just have ‘dirty' minds. This does not really
make any difference to us because our motto is, ‘A Dirty Mind Is a
Healthy Mind'." There followed a parody of a visit to the campus by
Rev. Billy Graham, who in March had led a three-day revival in the
Under the headline, "We To Forsake Sin," the article said that "a
fire-eyed, arm-flailing, Bible-thumping evangelist hit the Wake
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