Search Results for: Mark Foreman

Tribute to Mark W. Foreman: The World is Not Enough

On June 17th this summer my wife and I flew to Asheville, North Carolina, rented a car, and drove to eastern Tennessee to visit a sister I hadn’t seen for a while. The day before, my best friend in Lynchburg, where I’d lived for fourteen years, saw on Facebook that we were coming east. “Too bad you can’t swing this way,” he wrote. I agreed. Unfortunately, it had to be a quick trip, in Friday, out Monday. “But we’ll have to find a way to see each other soon,” I added, to which he replied, “Yup.”

And that was Mark Wesley Foreman’s last word to me—at least for now. The next morning his remarkable earthly pilgrimage came to an end. He died at home in his study at the age of 67. He passed quickly, no goodbye possible, but his wife of 43 years, Chris, and three daughters—Erin Foreman, Lindsay Leonard (Steven), and Kelly Croucher (Jordan)—knew Mark loved them with all his heart. He had told them many times, and they him.

Their loss is incalculable and still fresh, and they could use our continuing prayers. Likewise his grandchildren Cole, Isaac, Thomas, Penelope, and Joey; and his brothers: David (Sandra), Michael (Louise), Dana (Lisa), and Stuart (Phyllis). Born on December 18, 1954, in Lancaster, California, Mark was son of the late Donald E. Foreman and Carol A. Foreman. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Scott Foreman, Paul Foreman, and Patrick “Flip” Foreman.

A humble man of prodigious accomplishments, Mark was a well-known Professor of Philosophy at Liberty University for over 33 years. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music at Westminster Choir College, an achievement near and dear to his heart. Another proud milestone was earning his PhD from the University of Virginia. Mark was extremely active in community theatre, having appeared in or directed over 50 productions. Most notable were his performances as Benjamin Franklin in 1776 and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, both roles he was born to play. He was associated with Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, Cherry Tree Players, Little Town Players, Commerce Street Theater, Wolfbane Productions, Renaissance Theatre, and Endstation Theater, where his Christian witness was always winsome, attractive, and faithful.

With crystal clarity and fluid erudition that reflected his teaching gifts, musical timing, and knack for narrative, he was also an accomplished author. He published four books, including Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians; How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology (with Jamie Dew); and (with his daughter Lindsay) Christianity and Modern Medicine: Foundations for Bioethics. A staple of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Mark read dozens of papers through the years, joyfully occupied several leadership positions, and encouraged and affirmed so many in attendance, including my Worldview Bulletin colleague Paul Copan.

Paul shared this story about Mark: “I always appreciated Mark’s warmth and kindness over the years. For some reason, he attended any EPS session at which I presented at our annual meeting. He was always so kind in distributing my handouts to everyone in the room, though he confessed, ‘Actually, you think I’m being a servant, but it’s somewhat self-serving because doing this guarantees I get a handout in the event there are more people than handouts!’”

Among all of his accomplishments, his most prized titles were Husband, Dad, and Grandpa. Mark was completely devoted to his wife and children and cherished the time they spent together, especially during their many travels nationally and internationally (always including a Disney trip!). He loved spending time with his girls, and he considered no work more important than loving them well.

It’s a little surprising that Mark and I grew to be so close. In several ways we were opposites. He was everything I wasn’t: gregarious, ebullient, and the life of every party. He knew magic and music and movies and mischief, and somehow his infectious laughter and extroversion and my chronic introversion dovetailed, and he became a kindred spirit, more of a brother than mere friend. Three months after losing him, and I remain gutted, like so many others, yet thankful we need not mourn as those without hope and that Jesus has effected the death of death.

One summer several years back, my wife, stepson, and I were in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, and we knew Mark was planning a visit to Chicago. So we scheduled a get-together there. We drove the three hours or so in order to share a meal with him on the Gold Coast. At the time it seemed like the perfectly natural thing to do, even though, I suppose, it would have been considerably easier to see him by walking across the hall from my office to his. No regrets.

In the weeks before his death, Mark and I chatted on Facebook numerous times. He reflected about his retirement just weeks before. (Adding in his high school teaching, he taught for forty years—a biblical generation.) In our last Messenger exchange this was his final entry:

I have mixed feelings about retiring. Part of me is looking forward to not having to deal with the hassle aspect of it all: all the little hoops admin makes you jump through, students complaining about grades, etc.; but part of me is going to really miss being in the classroom. Interacting with students, helping them to see alternatives and deeper truths. I loved being a teacher. It was who I was. And now that person is gone. I will really feel it come August when everyone is going back to school and I am not. I loved my summers off but come August I always had that itch to get back and going back scratched that itch. Don’t know what will scratch it this fall.

I suspect he’s not disappointed.

After we heard the news while in Tennessee, Marybeth and I decided to take leave of my sister and drive to Lynchburg the next morning. That evening we attended a hastily arranged dinner with the old philosophy and theology department from Liberty at La Villa, the same restaurant Mark and I usually ate at on Monday evenings. For years I’d order the “Katy Special,” and did so again this night. About twenty showed up. Several brought their wives, and Mark Foreman’s wife Chris and daughter Lindsay came as well (and two of Lindsay’s kids). It was a poignant, bittersweet time of rekindling old friendships, catching up, and celebrating Mark.

We went around the circle and reminisced. I told the story of how Gary Habermas was once discussing near death experiences, and Mark quipped, “I have a near death experience every time I hear you give a paper.” And how another time I overheard Mark discussing Viagra with some fellows when he said, “If mine lasts more than four hours, I’m not just telling my doctor, I’m telling everybody!”

Mark was a marvel, and losing him was devastating and surreal. This was the guy who sang three times at my wedding and reception. Decked out in a classy tuxedo, he and his friend Sally Southall sang “The Prayer” during the wedding itself. Afterwards, simply because I asked him to, he put on a dress and did a Marilyn Monroe impression singing Happy Birthday to my dean, Emily Heady. Then, on his own initiative, he donned a different dress and wig to impersonate Karen Swallow Prior singing his own version of “Matchmaker.” Anyone who knows him will know he brought the proverbial house down. And he left us with a few priceless images seared into our brains forevermore.

Together he and I saw John McEnroe play tennis in person; we attended Phantom of the Opera in London; we toured Oxford University; we saw Shakespeare plays together in Staunton. He organized my bachelor party at the local ballpark; with friends we walked the streets of Washington, D.C. while he regaled us with tales of Watergate. I attended his dissertation defense—he had written on Gilbert Meilaender and the relevance of religious convictions in the public square. He, his family, and I shared Thanksgiving and Christmas meals more times than I remember. And for nearly fourteen years, every Monday night, we watched the most violent film playing that week after dining and talking at length over Italian food.

We shared so many conversations through the years that in retrospect they easily blend, but their cumulative effect over the years was considerable. We had occasion to discuss just about anything and everything under the sun. Including death, quite a number of times. He was the one who’d told me Robin Williams had died, and after Jerry Falwell, Sr. died, we sat in Macado’s and decompressed and processed it all for hours. Once I remember him saying, “I know some people say they want their funerals to be celebrations. I do not. I want there to be tears and wailing.”

In a sense our weekly pilgrimage constituted our shared ritual, something we came to rely on and that invariably shaped us. It really was a liturgy of sorts. Christians have always taught that there is something deeply sacramental in a shared meal, a vivid example of how we can catch a glimpse of the eternal in the everyday, the transcendent in the immanent, something sacred in the quotidian.

Mourning makes me thankful for Romans 8:26: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

The loss of a dear friend like Mark is a poignant reminder of the value of people, in general, by reminding us of the value of this person in all his particularity and uniqueness. What a remarkable life Mark lived, and how exceedingly valuable he was as a human being. And of course he’s not alone. Each and every person has infinite value and dignity and worth. In “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” It’s just that Mark made this eminently easy to believe.

We’ll see Mark’s wife and daughter Lindsay again soon as they are planning to rent a truck and drive his remaining book collection here to Houston Baptist so the Center for the Foundations of Ethics can have them. I’m eager to see them and reminisce in person. And I can hardly wait to see Mark again, which is possible because the gospel really is gloriously good news, because God is a God of perfect love, and because love is more powerful than death.

And he already told me the first thing he’ll say when we meet again: “Let’s eat.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Mark’s name to Little Town Players, 931 Ashland Ave, Bedford VA 24523, or Commerce Street Theater, 1022 Commerce Street, Lynchburg, VA, 24504.

To hear Mark’s inimitable voice, here’s a song he sang in 1989.

A picture of Foreman looking awesome (and me awkward):

The Phantom, Notre Dame, and Fish Eyes

In late May of this year my wife, step-son,
and I—along with a group of students and faculty from my school—went on a tour to
London and Paris. It was my fourth trip to London. Before my mom died, she and I
had gone there and to Oxford twice, and then my wife and I went a year ago, when
we were actually able to spend our first anniversary amidst the towering spires
of Oxford.

Save for sharing
a brief summary of

C.S. Lewis as philosopher
, I had no official duties as chaperone on this year’s
trip, so I could relax and just take in the sights—and sites. From seeing

(with EPS vice president
Mark Foreman)
Phantom of the Opera,
to attending Evensong at St. Margaret’s next to Westminster Abbey, to visiting Oxford—an
embodiment of the nobility of the intellectual tradition, as my buddy
Jerry Walls
puts it—England was wonderful as always.

Not the food so much,
with their penchant for adding beans to every plate for inexplicable reasons and
refusing to remove fish heads before serving them—though I suppose even this is
one of England’s many charms.

was just breathtaking, its aesthetic eclipsing even that of London, perhaps because
Paris was not bombed as London was during WWII. Seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral,
my wife’s favorite stop on the trip, was nothing less than transportive. The Gothic
structure took 200 years to build, and I couldn’t help but wonder, as I stood mesmerized
before it, what sort of worldview could inspire such an accomplishment? Surely nothing
as drab and arid as materialism.

David Bentley Hart
likes to point out that what is certain is that, to this
point, most of the unquestionably sublime achievements of the human intellect and
imagination have arisen in worlds shaped by some vision of transcendent truth.

My step-son’s favorite
part of the trip was Versailles, especially the Hall of Mirrors, where World War
I officially came to an end. As a history major he was practically moved to tears
there after having been a bit of a reluctant tourist until then.

My favorite was the Louvre, and recently reading

C. S. Lewis’s

An Experiment in Criticism
proved a great help in developing my appreciation
for the experience. It’s a book I should have read much sooner, teaching us not
just how to be better and more discriminating readers, but how to appreciate nature
more, listen to music, and look at art. Really looking and listening, allowing the
literature or scenic beauty or musical performance or artwork to capture us, speak
to us, and do its magic: it takes patience to listen and look carefully enough to
penetrate appearances and see and hear what’s there beneath the surface.The paintings
I looked at spoke about the sublimity of the everyday, the importance of self-examination,
the echoes of beauty in the provincial, the intimations of eternity in the temporal.
Seemingly ubiquitous nudity in the art led to reflections on the distinction between
art and pornography—with some more help from Lewis, this time his “looking at” versus
“looking along” distinction, which can help explain the original scandal of the
ornate and risqué artwork outside the Paris Opera House.

Whenever I go to places like London or Paris
or Rome with their venerable, storied, and protracted histories, I’m always amazed
at the mixed bag those stories offer, from the ignoble to the sublime and everything
in between. I couldn’t help but think that the process of sifting through history
to learn its lessons, to bend our ear to its voices, to celebrate what’s worth commemorating
and mourn what’s worth lamenting, requires that we bring more to our examination
of history than the sensibility of a faithful chronicler.

Historians have to
choose what to accentuate from among the plethora of historical details, but as
human beings, all of us have to distinguish between the tragedies and triumphs of
the past. And history itself doesn’t provide the tools for such discernment. History
records what happened, but the rest of the humanities—most certainly including philosophy—are
necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, the virtuous from the vicious, the
beautiful from the ugly, the kind from the cruel.

After seeing the
fifth site of a beheading or hanging, reported in perfunctory and sanguine fashion
by a tour guide treating it as casually as a gelato stand, I couldn’t help but worry
about a creeping callousness of heart. Enjoying the Jack the Ripper walking tour
as much as I did exacerbated my fears all the more, I have to confess.

Outside the British Library, where the
Magna Carta
is on display, I sat down and wrote a bit about this issue, of which this is an

When we study history without including
the necessary evaluative components, the problem seems to be not just bland
storytelling, but a narrative lacking humanity. Sometimes I think this is what
can bother me about certain tours in which abysmal human failures and tragedies
are used as punctuation marks, attention-grabbing or even entertaining aspects
of the experience. The danger of desensitization looms—only intensified by the
historical distances involved. The study of history, then, needs evaluation.
Good history needs to retain its humanity, which requires it contain a critical
stance whose force comes from beyond the confines of history alone. Good history
isn’t possible without the other humanities.

So a wonderful trip overall,
and, like everything else, great fodder for a bit of philosophical reflection. One
more of which, if I may: Going to France made me regret not keeping up with my French.
In general I wish I’d taken my language studies in the past—New Testament Greek
and French—more seriously. Learning a language, far from being a mere hoop to jump
through, is a great discipline. It requires we conform to

than it accommodate

, and going abroad
is a poignant reminder that it’s not just an academic matter. Proficiency in a language
provides a window into another culture and an opportunity for another real eye opener.

Recommended EPS-ETS Panel Discussion (WEDNESDAY): Theistic Foundations for Morality

Book Symposium: Theistic Foundations for Morality 
by David Baggett and Jerry Walls

3:00-6:10 pm
Parc 55 – Market Street
Room B3

Mark Foreman
(Liberty University)

David Baggett
(Liberty University)

Jerry Walls
(Houston Baptist University)

Paul Copan
(Palm Beach Atlantic University)

William Lane Craig
(Talbot School of Theology)

Read an EPS interview with Dave Baggett and Jerry Walls about their book by going here.