Thursday, September 24, 2020

The year was 1734, and Pastor George Weiss led the first service of the Schwenkfelders in America. The reading is "The Magdalene's Mistake" by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell.

It is the 24th of September 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1734.

In 1734 the enslaved woman Marie-Joseph Angélique was tortured, hanged, and burnt on a pyre. The government of New France charged the young Black woman from Portugal with willfully setting the city of Montreal ablaze. All that we do know is that Marie escaped with her white boyfriend and was later caught. Stories were told about Marie being erratic and violent as well as threatening to burn her owner's home. Some saw her gruesome death as a symbol of resistance to slavery. She is definitely a symbol of brutality, especially once it was reckoned that she was mostly an easy scapegoat as an escaped slave for the disaster.

In 1734 John Peter Zenger was arrested by colonial officials and charged with libel. Zenger was a German immigrant who was the publisher of the "New York Weekly Journal." He was arrested for publishing anonymous articles condemning the corrupt practices of the royal governor.

Libel in 1734 could be charged for saying anything against the authorities, regardless of whether or not it was true. However, the trial of Zenger would change that, as well as Colonial and American history. Arguing on behalf of Zenger was Alexander Hamilton, who charged the court to prove that what Zenger printed was, in fact, false. Despite the judge's objections, the jury sided with Hamilton, and a new precedent was set for the freedom of the press.

And it was in the colonies, in 1734 on this, the 24th of September, that a small congregation of Silesian Schwenkfelders called the Confessors of the Glory of Christ held their first service, a service of thanksgiving in their new Pennsylvania home.

The Schwenckfelders were followers of the 16th-century reformer Caspar Schwenkfeld. Schwenkfeld was an early adopter with the Lutheran movement, but a falling out with Luther sent Schwenkfeld into the far realms of the so-called "Radical Reformation." Schwenkfeld is fascinating, if not slightly heterodox, but essentially a Christian gnostic. Wait until his birthday to hear more.

His followers, known as the Confessors of the Glory of Christ after a text he wrote of the same name were, hounded out of their Silesian home in the early 18th century when confessional anomalies were considered hazards to public safety. They took the Elbe to Holland, and there went aboard a British steamship bound for America. It took months, but they landed in the land of relative religious freedom, Pennsylvania. Their pastor George Weiss led the first service of the Schwenkfelders in America. It was on this the 24th of September in 1734

The reading for today is a poem entitled "Magdalene's Mistake" by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell. This poem tells Mary's story at the tomb, but before she realized that Christ had arisen.

Magdalene's mistake

"They have taken away my lord . . . and I don't know
where they have put him." —John 20:13

She knew these things: a body doesn't walk.
Soldiers can't be trusted. Gossips will talk.
She made her way there in the early dark.
She knew the stories—Noah and the Ark,
Jonah and the whale, David and the stone,
the things a man can accomplish alone.
Even so, she couldn't quite conceive
how a dead god could just up and leave
his beloveds behind, stricken with grief.
The empty days and nights, however brief,
reminding them of what they'd left behind—
death without rising for all of their kind.
She watched day dawn. Saw the budged rock.
Wept for all the bodies that would never walk.

That was "The Magdalene's Mistake" by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 24th of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at The show is produced by a man who mixes sound like he's running out of time, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. 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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