It is the 14th of June 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1966. The ’60s were in full swing: political anxiety, foreign wars, and nuclear tests combined with landmark achievements in music, literature, and film. Today we will look at a few of the memorable events of the year, and then our focus will be on literature and the question of banning books.
‘66 was the year of protests and riots, famously in Watts, Chicago, and Cleveland. The anti-war movement was gaining steam as president Johnson ramped up both troop deployment and bombing in the Vietnam War.
Time Magazine, attempting to reflect the cultural malaise, published its first issue without a cover picture. There were only three words and a question mark. It read, “Is God Dead?”
In other blasphemy news in 1966, John Lennon famously said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. Despite walking the comments back, it cast the sullen Beatle into the darker counterculture. This incident would become the beginning of the end. The Beatles played their last concert this year at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. John also met Yoko Ono this year. The band would officially break up in 1970.
The Beatles were one of three bands to land two #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. The other two bands were the Monkees and the Supremes. You have two choices for the best album of the year. You can choose “Revolver” by the Beatles or be correct and choose “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys.
1966 saw the publication of Truman Capote’s true crime classic “In Cold Blood,” as well as a favorite of this pod, Shusaku Endo’s “Silence.” In 1966 Alasdair MacIntrye wrote his “A Short History of Ethics,” and Hunter S. Thompson wrote his latest piece of gonzo journalism, this time on the Hell’s Angels.
Some of the scars of the early modern era began to heal. 1966 saw the first birth of a Jewish person in Spain since 1492 and the expulsion of the Jews. The Catholic Church and the Anglican Church met for the first time since 1566. In the same spirit of reform, it was on this day, the 14th of June, in 1966, that the Catholic Church published its “Notification regarding the Abolition of the Index of Books.”
There had been local restrictions on printing since the widespread use of printing in the early 16th century. By 1557 the Papacy had begun publishing its list of prohibited books that were not to be printed in any Catholic land or to be owned or read by any Catholic. In 1564, the Council of Trent authorized a list. With a few exceptions, it would become the basis for deciding if books properly safeguarded the integrity of the faith and morals of the church.
While obvious heretics, from Luther to Voltaire by their accounting, had all their works banned, the church did offer to edit books before their publication to ensure their imprimatur. For purposes of enforcement, many localities published their list of banned books. However, these often mirrored the index of prohibited books. The “Notification regarding the abolition of the Index” noted that the church would no longer enforce its past prohibitions. However, the decree stated that:
“The Holy See will use its right and duty to issue reprimands about these writings, even publicly, to provide for the good of souls with appropriate firmness.”
Today, the church uses an admonitum, which rather than a ban, is a warning that a book might be damaging with regards to faith or morals. However, the Catholic church has reserved these admonitums for Catholic clergy whose writings contradict the interpretation of the church’s official teachings. Today, Christians are no strangers to boycotting, banning, or canceling. It just no longer has the force of coming from the Vatican. And this, because of what happened on this, the 14th of June in 1966, the Catholic Church published its “Notification regarding the abolition of the Index of books.”
The reading for today comes from the book “the Crucified God” by Jurgen Moltmann.
“In concrete terms, God is revealed in the cross of Christ, who was abandoned by God. His grace is revealed in sinners. His righteousness is revealed in the unrighteous and in those without rights, and his gracious election in the damned.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 14th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who knows a thing or two about Banned Books, Christopher 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.