|As seen in The Collegian | Volume 1, Issue 10 -- January 29, 2002|
PROVINE CHAPEL -- If you’ve noticed an increased amount of excitement on campus centralized in the region of Provine Chapel or an extra spring in the step of [our college’s] Christian Studies majors, the reason may very well be the enthusiasm and popularity surrounding two of the department’s distinguished professors-Dr. Harold Bryson and Dr. Ed Mahaffey. Having consistently intrigued students in the past with classes such as Revelation and The History of Israel, Bryson and Mahaffey (affectionately known as “the dynamic duo”) have expanded their range of influence by frequenting popular student hang-outs such as Hampstead’s and the Piazza. In fact, both instructors have received student applause at such events as Homecoming Follies-where Bryson offered the opening prayer-and an exciting Choctaw football game-where Mahaffey took the field in front of the student section, walking hand-in-hand with his fiancée, Sherrie Lynn.
Noting the vivid appeal concerning this tandem of personalities, the Whitt Weekly staff desired to know more and were able to catch up with Bryson and Mahaffey deep in the confines of Provine during finals week.
Concerning their being renown on campus as “the dynamic duo,” the professors agreed that the label was not contrived by themselves. “That name must have come from the outside,” said Mahaffey. “That’s fine, though. It’s a better nickname than some of the stuff we usually get called.”
The very fact that the two have nicknames on campus indicates a positive reputation among their student population. Such a reputation may derive from the professors’ willingness to get out on campus, away from their offices and meet students on a neutral turf. They openly admit that Hampstead’s has actually become their “second office,” yet a place where they can leave the classroom and get to know their students as the people they are-not simply students. With some regret in his voice, Mahaffey admitted that the two have not visited Hampstead’s with as much frequency this semester as they have in the past. Hopefully, that trend will turn around for the spring semester.
As fate would have it, Bryson and Mahaffey are both familiar with The Whittington Weekly - or “the underground newspaper” as they call it. When questioned about the nature and content of The Weekly, Bryson affirmed that The Whittington Weekly might very well constitute “apocalyptic literature.”
“I think a strong argument can be made,” said Bryson. “It fits much of the criteria - contains symbolism, frightening imagery, it's written to bring comfort to students in persecution, and the initiated know the message. Yes, I believe it can definitely be defined as apocalyptic.”
Bryson’s interest in literature is evident in the broad amount of books that he keeps in his office. “People always ask me if I’ve read all these books. I haven’t read them all,” said Bryson. “But I’ve read most of them-or at least used most of them in my studies.”
“Yeah, and he has eight to ten more full bookcases about this same size at home,” added Mahaffey.
Although Bryson and Mahaffey seem to fit together so well as partners, they are quick to explain that their similarities do not come without a share of differences. “For instance,” said Mahaffey. “I would never have a Ford. Bryson would never have a Chevy. That’s a point of conflict.”
Mahaffey drives a 1999 Chevy Silverado, a vehicle that he claims parallels his personality. “I’m half redneck,” explained Mahaffey. “And I maintain that if you don’t have a truck, you need one.”
Bryson said that he drives a Crown Vic, but before he could explain why, Mahaffey broke in and asserted that Bryson needs a car big enough to hold his personality.
Their differing views sometimes extend to their personal religious beliefs and make for some interesting theological discussions-or as they put it, “Yeah, we argue a lot, but that’s normal in this kind of work.”
Interestingly, this duo of professors did not meet at [our college]. Mahaffey was actually a student of Bryson at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “It’s an honor for me to be here with a group of peers, many of whom, like Dr. Bryson, have been my mentors,” said Mahaffey.
In fact, several of the Christian Studies professors have ties that extend further back than their time at [our college]. Dr. Ivan Park, Dr. Mahaffey and Dr. Les Hughes (who left [our college] last year) were all students under the instruction of Dr. Bryson at seminary.
“I think I was probably the wild one of that bunch,” admitted Mahaffey. “Except for when Dr. Park starts jammin’ on his rock-n-roll guitar. He can play that thing.”
It seems, however, that this “wild one” will have to settle down in the near future as Dr. Mahaffey is currently engaged to be married on July 6 this year. He has known his lovely fiancée, Sherrie Lynn of Pascagoula, since 1987 when she worked at NOBTS-the same time he was a student. “I guess we were friends for 14 years, but now we’re more than friends,” said Mahaffey with a smile. In case you’re interested, Mahaffey plans on inviting the entire campus to the wedding.
Bryson and Mahaffey both wanted to leave students with a little bit of advice or encouragement for their time at [our college]. “Students need to remember to keep their studies a priority in college, but don’t forget to have a good time,” said Bryson. Mahaffey responded with an old Chinese proverb that he received early in his life. “I heard this a long time ago, and it’s meant a lot in my life: ‘Beware of the monkey.’” Bryson affirmed Mahaffey’s advice, “YES, BEWARE OF THE MONKEY!” -- E.Z. Cheese