During his 40 years at Anderson University, Barry Callen served as a professor, college dean, and seminary dean at the School of Theology.
If that wasn't enough to keep busy, he found time to become a published author of 34 non-fiction books.
Now retired, Callen recently wrote his first historic novel titled "In Deep Water, An Historical Novel of Violence and Virtue, Fear and Death."
The book is published by Emeth Press and chronicles the fictional life of Merchant Marine Christopher "Rope" McCord, captain of the submarine Barracuda during World War II.
"In Deep Water" takes an in-depth look at the consequences of war and draws parallels to faith and beliefs between the 1940s and today.
"They called Capt. McCord ‘Rope’ because he tied the crew together or he could hang you," Callen explained. "Nearly everyone in the book has a nickname."
Characters drawn from real life
Like many works of fiction, Callen based his characters on people he has known.
The author came up with Capt. McCord after hearing his own father tell World War II stories. "Rope" is fictional but based on his father's experience in World War II.
His father, Robert Christopher Callen, was a Mechant Marine in the war serving as a carpenter aboard a Liberty Ship. He survived a German U-boat torpedo attack. The combat veteran passed away at the age of 55 in 1974.
"I relived the war in my father's shoes," Callen said. "I always heard about the war through my father and watched all of the movies and documentaries I could on submarine warfare. I was very well prepared to write this book."
Though the fictional Capt. Christopher McCord honorably wears a uniform in World War II, his brother Chuckie is a conscientious objector who serves his country by working in a Pearl Harbor hospital.
McCord survives the war unscathed, but Chuckie meets his fate while caring for soldiers in need.
God’s mysterious ways
"If God is God, then where is He on a day so rotten?" Callen said. "In war there are no winners, just lucky survivors."
While enroute to help survivors of the sinking USS Indianapolis, McCord chooses instead to settle his submarine on the ocean's floor to tend to an ailing member of his crew. A medic aboard the Baracuda performed an emergency appendectomy on the man that saved his life.
"Captain McCord saved one of his own men instead of assisting 1,000 men on the Indianapolis," Callen said. "He chose to save one life over 1,000. How could you live with that decision?"
Though "In Deep Water" takes place in the 1940's, Callen believes the story has relevance today.
"I did not set this novel in Afghanistan or Iraq or try to make a political statement," Callen explained. "However, the reader can draw their own conclusion."
When Callen was in his senior year at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Penn., he was a student teacher at Beaver Falls High School.
He remembers a student who kept his head down in class and very seldom looked Callen's way. The perceived "underachiever" was none other than Joe Namath who led the New York Jets to a Super Bowl Championship in 1969.
"One of the characters in the book is ‘Hollywood’ Joe DeMont," Callen acknowledged. "I based DeMont on Namath who has lived an interesting life. I remember Namath doing nothing academically, but he lived to play football.
"DeMont is a free spirit like Namath, but he finds redemption in the book. I often wonder if Namath has settled down or if he would be interested in reading this book to see the similarities between himself and DeMont?"
More to write about
With over 30 books to his credit, Callen shows no signs of slowing down. He is currently working on the history of Christian ministry to AIDS orphans in southern and eastern Africa, and a second novel on religious extremism in modern culture.
He has five grandchildren. One son, Todd, lives in Anderson and teaches English at Northside.
Callen enjoys writing in the quiet solitude of his eastside Anderson home that he shares with his wife, Jan. However, he can be found every morning at a nearby Starbucks typing on his laptop.
"That is how I start my day," Callen said. "I'm at Starbucks for about 30 minutes every morning editing and writing stories. Writers never know when they are going to come up with a good idea for their book. I am not sure how many napkins I have scribbled on during my career as a writer."
Some notes on Barry Callen
- Books Barry Callen is reading:
"Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children" by Dorie McCullough Lawson
"The Last Undercover: The True Story of an FBI Agent's Dangerous Dance With Evil" by Bob Hamer
- Paul "Chick" Herr of the Submarine Chub (SS-329) had this to say about “In Deep Water” in his review on the Emeth Press Web site: "Most of my World War II shipmates are gone and the old sub has long since cut up for scrap, but memories never die and the significance of our service lingers. This book revives exciting times for a Pennsylvania farm boy and proud old submariner. It is a thought provoking sea adventure ... a must read!"
—David Humphrey is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.