In the late 1700's, when the US constitution was ratified and the first Catholic diocese was established in the US in Baltimore, the vast majority of Christians in the US were Protestants - only something like 30,000 Catholics called the new country home. This number rose dramatically within a few decades to over a million with the influx of Irish and German Catholic immigrants in the early 1800's. Simmering anti-Catholic feelings that dated back a hundred years or more occasionally boiled over - one of the most notable incidents, the burning of the Ursuline Convent, happened in sight of Bunker Hill in August 1834. [more inside]
To shave or not to shave? That is the question which has divided the Christian Church for 2000 years.
For some reason, no one has written a best-selling book about the real-life 19th-century missionary John Mackenzie. When white settlers in South Africa threatened to take over the natives' land, Mackenzie helped his friend and political ally Khama III travel to Britain. There, Mackenzie and his colleagues held petition drives, translated for Khama and two other chiefs at political rallies, and even arranged a meeting with Queen Victoria. Ultimately their efforts convinced Britain to enact a land protection agreement. Without it, the nation of Botswana would likely not exist today. The annals of Western Protestant missions include Nathan Prices, of course. But thanks to a quiet, persistent sociologist named Robert Woodberry, we now know for certain that they include many more John Mackenzies. In fact, the work of missionaries like Mackenzie turns out to be the single largest factor in ensuring the health of nations.
Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.
Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences Commonly Known as The 95 Theses by Dr. Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. or 496 years ago today. [Original Latin][more inside]
In the 19th century, in Roermond, The Netherlands, lived a man who was Colonel of Cavalry, and a Protestant. He married a Catholic noblewoman (likely quite a scandal in a country which was heavily segregated along religious lines at the time). The husband died in 1880 and was buried on the Protestant side of the cemetery. When his wife died eight years later, she could not be buried next to him, as a wall separated the Catholic and Protestant sides. A novel, and rather touching, solution was found.
Besides Halloween, today also marks another holiday: Reformation Day. On October 31st, 1517 (warning: auto-playing video) Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, Germany essentially starting the Protestant Reformation. [more inside]
On Saturday, Scott Anderson became the first openly gay person to be ordained as a minister by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the nation's 10th-largest denomination. But the ceremony actually marked his second ordination, after he was forced to step down from the pulpit, under threat of blackmail, 20 years before. At the time, Anderson had donated his pastoral stole to the Shower of Stoles Project, including over 1000 items representing LGBT people of faith barred from the ministry. Saturday's ceremony also marked the first time that a donated object was returned to its owner. [more inside]
Mutton pie. An Orange organisation. A portrait size. A delicious confection Desired the world over. The true meat of this post – Inns and taverns of old London. [PDF]
To honor the Greatest's birthday, one could consider his greatest work by reading this excellent post by matteo which touches upon the religious issues facing our confused Protestant hero, the student at Wittenberg, who doubts orthodoxy, cannot decide if he is a scourge or minister, but ultimately accedes to a belief in divine Providence. Or, if you would rather dive into an
intriguing amusing royally f'ed up "unique" analysis of the play, check out this extensive theory (?) [cache] of Hamlet which corrects our accepted and flawed interpretation by explaining that a literal reading of the play tells us, among other things, that King Hamlet was never killed; that Horatio--our narrator--is the King's son and prince Hamlet's half brother; that the guy we incorrectly think of as Claudius is in fact King Hamlet; and that prince Hamlet's father is Fortinbras. Oops. Boy do we have egg on our faces.
Pope Benedict XVI makes his usual Sunday address during Italy's National August Holiday and about two-thirds in points out that "excessive activity" can lead to "hardness of heart", specifically recommending taking time out for prayer. It becomes the highlight of the speech, gets picked up all over, by Reuters and AP, and suddenly he's the Patron Saint of Slackers. Huh? Maybe that's why it's called The Protestant Work Ethic. Meanwhile, Americans are 'giving up' on vacations (voluntarily?) and in parts of Turkey a Muslim Protestant Work Ethic is emerging. And whatever happened to the Hacker Ethic?
Mary, quite contrary The Christianity Today weblog offers a fabulously dense post (pegged to this recent UK news story) about the Protestant embrace of Mary. Lots of fascinating links - including one from the blog of the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - will bring you up to speed on "the 'Protestants and Mary' deluge of the last three years." Hours of provocative reading for anyone interested in Christian sects.
Rebecca's Revival. Rebecca Protten, born a slave in 1718, gained her freedom and joined a group of proselytizers from the Moravian Church. She embarked on an itinerant mission, preaching to hundreds of the enslaved Africans of St. Thomas, West Indies. Weathering persecution from hostile planters, Protten and other black preachers created the earliest African Protestant congregation in the Americas. University of Florida historian Jon Sensbach has written a book about Protten's life -- the interracial marriage, the trial on charges of blasphemy and inciting of slaves, the travels to Germany and West Africa. Later in her life, after she moved to Germany, Rebecca was ordained as a deaconess: "a former slave now administered Communion and practiced other claims to spiritual authority over white women, including European aristocrats." More inside.
Billy Graham is supposed to be passe, a relic of whitebread protestant America, but his sermon at National Cathedral on Friday moved me. He is unsophisticated, plainspoken, sincere, and scandal-free. We will miss him when he’s gone.
Orange you glad I didn't say shamrock? Uhm... don't the catholics and protestants worship relatively the same diety? And didn't this diety say something about ..you know, uh, being nice to each other and stuff? Something like that? And by the way, when is the sequel to The Commitments coming out?