It is the 26th 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 1988. You might be forgiven in 1988 if you thought the rest of the decade, and the rest of the century might be more of the same. 1988 was the first year of Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost programs in earnest. The internet traveled across the Atlantic for the first time, and the idea of a World Wide Web was proposed.
The Summer Olympics convened in Seoul, Korea, in 1988. It was the first Summer games to not suffer from significant boycotts since the '70s. East Germany and the Soviet Union were their usual juggernauts. However, it would be the last summer Olympics for both countries as they would cease to exist by 1992. 1988 also saw the swearing-in of Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan's Prime Minister, making her the first female head of state in a primarily Muslim country.
In literature, 1988 saw the publication of Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses." Rushdie's book was a retelling of part of the life of Muhammed, interspersed with magical realism and the story of the so-called "Satanic Verses," those are specific passages in the Quran about pagan Goddesses in Mecca. The book infuriated much of the Muslim world. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie.
Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" was one of the best-selling books of the year. Hawking, the English physicist, wrote the accessible level book for people with little to no background in cosmology or physics. It sold 25 million copies. The Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Toni Morrison for her fictional retelling of a true story in "Beloved." A movie was made of the book starring Oprah Winfrey.
In music, the best-selling album of the year was George Michael's "Faith." The year saw the debut of Guns ‘N Roses, NWA, the Travelling Wilbury's, and Danzig. For this author's money, the best album of the year was "Surfer Rosa" by the Pixies. It was their debut studio album, and it is the link between the 80s and 90s in music. Ask me about it in person some time.
The top two grossing movies of the year were "Rain Man" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Neither holds up. Movies that came out this year that do include "Die Hard," "Big," and Errol Morris' true crime masterpiece, "The Thin Blue Line."
Many people making news today were born in 1988: one-time teammates Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Durant's also one-time teammate Russell Westbrook was also born this year. Grammy-winning artist Rihanna was born in 1988, as was British superstar Adele.
1988 saw several deaths. Enzo Ferrari, the man behind the eponymous automobile, died in this year, as did Pistol Pete Maravich. The hall of fame basketball player suffered a heart attack during a pick-up game. He was only 40 years old.
Jazzman Chet Baker died this year, as did Nico of Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol fame. The Traveling Wilburys, we mentioned, released their first album in 1988. However, one of the founding members, Roy Orbison, died this year as well.
And it was on this day, the 26th of June in 1988, that Hans Urs Von Balthasar died. Balthasar is regarded by many as one of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. He was only days away from being made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II when he died. He was, in some ways, a Catholic counterpart to Karl Barth, as he was neither liberal nor conservative.
Balthasar was born in Switzerland in 1905 and studied in both Vienna and Berlin. In 1936 he took his Holy Orders with the Society of Jesus and became a priest. He would soon, with the assistance of a friend, set up a kind of secular monastery. This was condemned by the Jesuits. However, Balthasar would soon introduce “Secular Institutes” as a new realm for Christian work and thought.
Amongst his most controversial books is his "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved." While not arguing for universalism, Balthasar did what he often did best. He revived Church Fathers to think through the traditions that the church may have hastily discarded.
In 1984, he was awarded the inaugural Paul VI International Award for contributions to theology. As noted, Balthasar died on this day in 1988, two days before being made Cardinal. Hans Urs von Balthasar was 82 years old.
The reading for today comes from Balthasar himself, this from his "Love Alone Is Credible."
"The first thing the Cross does is cross out the world's word by a Wholly-Other Word, a Word that the world does not want to hear at any price. For the world wants to live and rise again before it dies, while the love of Christ wants to die in order to rise again in the form of God on the other side of death, indeed, IN death."
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher "Yippee Kay Yay" 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.