Wednesday, June 3, 2020

We remember the year 1980 and the beginning of Catholic & Orthodox dialogue on Patmos. The reading is "In the Person of His Son" by Catesby Paget.

It is the 3rd of June, 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1980. Another year in the past. Another year when things around the world were tenuous. The Cold War ramped up with America announcing a boycott of the summer Olympics—this after the upset of the Soviet hockey team by the Americans at that year's Winter Olympics.

The cold war began to escalate in what would be its last phase of real tension. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, and the American Embassy in Iran was taken over, and hostages were taken. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was inaugurated as the president. Within the year, the almost decade long war between Iraq and Iran would begin.

Jimmy Carter, who was president, had given his Crisis of Confidence speech—calling out the countries "malaise." He would barely win the nomination from his party for that year's presidential election. Ronald Reagan won the nomination of the Republicans and then the White House. He was helped by discontent with Carter and his alignment with the newly-founded "Moral Majority."

CNN was launched as the first 24-hour cable news network in 1980. Americans were watching the TV show "Dallas" this year, as J.R. Ewing was shot. The top-grossing movie of the year was "The Empire Strikes Back," earning $200,000 domestically, more than twice the second movie on the list, "9 to 5." But the best films of the year were "Raging Bull," "The Shining," and "The Blues Brothers."

In music, the #1 single worldwide was "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" by Pink Floyd. (That's the "we don't need no education" track.) While bands like KC and the Sunshine Band, Air Supply, and Kenny Loggins were popular. 1980 saw the release of the Pretenders debut self-titled album, "Sandinista" by the Clash, "Making Movies" by the Dire Straits and the Talking Heads' "Remain in the Light."

In 1980 the Phillies were World Series Champs, the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the La Lakers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl. Although we're pretty sure they cheated or at least shouldn't have won— go Rams.

In 1980, we said goodbye to Jesse Owens, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Lennon. Born in this year; several people who can't believe they are turning 40. Macauley Culkin was born this year, as was Lin-Manuel Miranda and Michelle Kwan. Claiming to have been born this year was Albert Pujols. He is likely the oldest 40-year-old in Major League Baseball.

The transition from the '70s to the '80s in the church was remarkable. The election of Reagan and the Religious Right helped to invigorate a church that saw its mainline denominations dropping in membership. The Jesus Movement of the late '60s and early '70s was coming of age. Soon the era of the non-denominational mega-church and the church televangelist.

And 1980 saw some remarkable conversations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches on a possible reconciliation. On this day, the 3rd of June in 1980, representatives of the Orthodox and Catholic churches met on the island of Patmos to discuss the theological and ecclesiastical barriers that had historically divided the church.

The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met to lay the groundwork for a series of meetings. Pope John Paul II, in the spirit of Vatican 2, helped arrange the meeting, which was the 1st official meeting between the church bodies since the council of Florence in 1445.

What split the churches in 1054 was the so-called Filioque clause. It's more complicated than this, but essentially the question was: Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father alone or both from the Father and the Son. In the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, it read that the Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Western church insisted the word filioque be added to that clause. Filioque literally means: and the son. Thus, the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.

On this date, the meeting on Patmos set the schedule for a series of meetings surrounding the role of the sacraments for understanding the Holy Spirit and church unity. Ultimately, most theological concerns were alleviated, but the relationship of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, to all other Bishops, patriarchs and church leaders could not be settled. While the dialogue was unsuccessful in reconciling the church bodies, it has led to more conversations about a union in the future. The modern movement to bring these churches together began officially on this day, the 3rd of June 1980.

The reading for today is a quatrain from Catesby Paget, a 19th century English poet. This short reminder of where we find our identity and hope is from her "In the Person of his Son."

"Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I could not be;
For, in the Person of His Son,
I am as near as He."

That reminder comes from the poet Catesby Paget. This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 3rd of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by my favorite brick in the wall: Christopher "we don't need no thought control" Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true… Everything is going to be ok.

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