Monday, January 17, 2022

Today on the Almanac, listener Sandy asks, “Can you explain the different pictures that are on your cover photo for CHA?"

*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 17th of January 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at; I’m Dan van Voorhis.

It is a Monday, so that we will go to the mailbag- we’re going to take a simple question sent from a listener and expand a little bit on it.

Sandy writes from Central Florida, “Can you explain the different pictures that are on your cover photo for CHA? I’ve listened to the podcast for some time but before tonight never really paid much attention to that picture. The skull caught my eye!’

Sandy then asks about a general history book that would parallel both church history and secular history.

The second one first- I love visual timelines of history, and there is one book called The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun- it has been updated since it was published in the 1940s but takes you back to ancient Egypt and runs through science, religion, literature, etc.… check out the notes online for this episode. You’ll find the link in the text.

As far as the CHA logo- that is the work of Brenton Little, who is a graphic designer par excellence at 1517. Since he’s been with us, you can see our books, logos, etc.… really jump out at you.

Let’s take a look at the cover of this pod and work from the skull. This is a standard item in many ancient and early modern paintings- it was put in then, as now, as a “Memento Mori,” that is, a reminder that you are going to die. This is not your home.

How often do we lose sight of what is essential when we forget to look at all of life under the banner of eternity and eternity in a new heaven and earth.

From there: Microphone and books- this is my life now.

You then see a likeness of a painting of Martin Luther as a young man- a replica of a famous painting of him as an Augustinian monk.

You’ll see a calendar and several astronomical symbols because this is an almanac, and Brenton wanted to pay homage to that genre.

After that, you’ll get a lamb and a dove. Below it, you see a wounded hand- that of Christ, the same he showed to doubting Thomas.

On the right of the hand, you’ll see quill and parchment. I use my old MacBook and Pages and Logic Pro… we’ve updated.

Below that is an old radio (kids, they used to look like that), and it stands on a greek column that bears a striking resemblance to a tattoo I have on my right arm.

The last pictures are bread, wheat, a cross, and a chalice- standard Christian symbols.

And this got me thinking about how vital symbols have been in the church’s history. Once again, you don’t have to speak one particular language or even be literate to be a Christian. And so symbols have become Important. I have worshiped with Christians in China, Japan, Mexico, and Cuba, and how did I get through? Symbols. Common images.

You probably know many of them- but let me run through some less common symbols you might find in different churches.

The seashell? Baptism. Something that could carry and dump water (of course, if you’re full immersion, you’re going to need a bigger seashell)

How about the Pelican? It was thought the Pelican could feed its brood, if necessary, by piercing its breast and feeding its young blood. So- you get it?

How about the Peacock? I’ve seen these all over old churches. One, they are pretty. Their tale seems to have an eye on it- like God watching you (or is that Sauron?), and the ancient greeks thought its body didn’t decompose after death.

How about the Unicorn? This was a favorite in medieval Europe- because everyone loves a unicorn? They were just skinny rhinoceroses, but they were seen as very rare and represented chastity. Hence as devotion to Mary became popular, so too did this image.

And the letters- an A next to a weird almost O that looks like it’s wearing a collar? That stands for Alpha and Omega. They represent the first and last Greek letters of the Alphabet, and it is what Christ calls himself in the book of Revelation.

What about a P wearing an X for a bowtie? That would be the greek letters for C and R- the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ.

There are so many more- and hopefully, we can cover them on upcoming shows.

The last word for today comes from Revelation 22 and the words of the risen Christ

12 “Look! I’m coming soon. My reward is with me, to repay all people as their actions deserve. 13 I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14 Favored are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right of access to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 17th of January 2022 brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by 1517’s own unicorn- Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who predicts a peacock- Zion Williamson will become a Knick. I’m 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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