Monday, March 13, 2023

Today on the Christian History Almanac podcast, we head to the mailbag for a question about who gets featured and why.

It is the 13th of March 2023 Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at, I’m Dan van Voorhis.


A happy Monday to you- I hope you had a good weekend. I got to see my Clippers beat the Knicks- I try not to get my hopes up, but… I really like this team.

First- I was going to do this show based on a question from Eric in Ohio- a longtime listener. Eric- I got so deep into your question about that one guy that he has become the topic for next week's weekend edition.

Secondly, the mail has been nuts lately- thank you so much, I love getting your questions and comments- from the early days when just a few would trickle in now and then, I really do enjoy hearing your thoughts, responses, ideas, and getting questions. Janice in Amarillo, Texas, recently wrote and asked a few questions- one in particular and then a few that echo other emails throughout the years.

So- first, AmariLLo? But it’s for the Spanish word for yellow- that’s Amarillo. And we eat tortillas, not tortiLLas, right? Of course, how to pronounce stuff is really central to what I do (talking and all), and sometimes we anglicize, and sometimes we don’t. So, before you go full “well, actually,” just let people be. No one ever made a friend by correcting someone (but I would say that friends can certainly correct friends when it comes from a place of love).

Ok- Amarillo- you’ve got me thinking about Dylan’s Brownsville Girl that does a namecheck for your town in that long rambling song. I’m thinking of the wonderfully named Amarillo Sod Poodles- a AA team for the Diamondbacks who have recently had prospect supreme Corbin Carroll.

So- the first question from Janice was, “on the recent weekend edition, you made an offhand comment about someone ‘you would never do a show on’ can I ask who that was?” And then she asks, “are there other people you wouldn’t do a show on?” And then, she asked a few personal questions about my own theological convictions.

You got me thinking, Janice- on the weekend edition, when I counted down ten women in Church History you should know and made a comment about someone I’d never do a show on- it was somewhat tongue in cheek (my wife listened to that show and asked me the same thing) the person was Sun Myung Moon the Unification Church- the so-called “Moonies.” I said this because I have this big blank space in my brain when it comes to them- I don’t know why. It seems interesting, but it’s also daunting. I think part of it is that I’ve heard stories of people being harassed who came looking around- maybe that’s true. Maybe not. But sometimes, when certain people or groups have very engaged bases making public statements can be asking for trouble.

As far as people, I wouldn’t do shows on- well… I don’t need to agree with someone to try and tell their story as sympathetically as possible. That’s not what all historians do, and it’s not what I’ve always done in my vocation as a historian. But that’s what this show is- I will be broad and ecumenical because I see myself as telling the story of our collective family tree. I have my “Gene Scott All-Stars” for people that might make us collectively groan.  I will make a caveat if someone is decidedly non-Nicene in their theology (the Nicene, or technically the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed from the 4th century, is a standard confession of faith that is really strong on who Jesus is- God incarnate- and it follows a nice Trinitarian model, confession what we believe about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I’m surprised how often I’m asked specific questions about my own beliefs- I’m happy to leave it at “I’m some kind of Protestant mutt who has a really good home church with fellow believers.”

And, while I always break the rule, I tend not to like telling the story of living people- and if I do, I tend to say, “this is the story of them from X to X.” Because people change. If my story ended in 2017, the movie would be very different from what it’s become. Especially if someone is notorious, I want to hope they change what I think about them before I tell you in 6-8 minutes (or longer on the weekend).

So, thanks, Janice in Amarillo- the largest city in the Texas Panhandle. You can write me at


The last word for today comes from the daily lectionary and Psalm 81:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket.

In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!

You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.

I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.


This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 13th of March 2023, brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by a man whose Purdue Boilermakers are looking at a number 1 seed in March Madness. He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who realizes that yesterday was Selection Sunday- so we already know, but I’m recording this on Saturday night… so, put me down for Houston, Alabama, Kansas, and UCLA- 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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