It is the 27th 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 1906. It was the year of the Great Earthquake in San Francisco, estimated at 7.9 on the Richter scale. The quake and subsequent fire destroyed 80% of the buildings and an estimated 6,000 people. Down the road from San Francisco, in 1906 the first services held at the First AME Church of Los Angeles. This was the beginning of the famed Azusa Street Revival.
Across the United States, it seems president Teddy Roosevelt was everywhere. He was the first president to win a Nobel Peace Prize. He won it for mediating the peace in the Russo Japanese War. Roosevelt also became the first sitting US president to leave the country when he traveled to Panama to check in on the progress of the Canal. Roosevelt also signed the bill that led to the creation of American Monuments. The first to receive this appellation was Devil's Tower in Wyoming. You might remember that as the mountain that Richard Dreyfuss made out of mashed potatoes in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Under the direction of Roosevelt, the USA also passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Many see part of the impetus for this the publication of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," earlier in the year. The Jungle was a novel that served as a window into the brutal and unsanitary conditions in America's packing industry.
It was a year of firsts. 1906 saw Aloysius Alzheimer gave his first public paper on "a particular and severe disease process of the cerebral cortex." Within a year, this disease would take Alzheimer's name. Reginald Fessenden's name wasn't attached to anything famous, but perhaps it should be as the Canadian American was the first to broadcast a live show over the radio. He did so on Christmas Eve of this year. The show was a collection of songs and readings.
Another first in 1906 was the first feature film, "the Story of the Kelly Gang." This silent film about Australian outlaws ran for over an hour and was first shown in Melbourne, Australia. 1906 also saw the first country in Europe to enshrine universal suffrage to all adults by law. That country was Finland.
1906 saw the first performances of both Gustav Mahler's 6th and Rachmaninoff's 2nd. But it was still the golden age of ridiculous song titles. Some 1906 hits included: "Kiss, Kiss, Kiss (If You Want To Learn To Kiss)," "Captain Baby Bunting Of The Rocking Horse Brigade," "That's The Reason Noo I Wear A Kilt."
The aforementioned "The Jungle" was published in 1906 as was "The Education of Henry Adams" by Henry Adams and Jack London's "White Fang." In 1906, Paul Cezanne died. He was the famous French artist who went beyond the impressionism of Manet. Playwright Henrik Ibsen also died as did activist Susan B. Anthony. Born in 1906, we have an eclectic crew headlined by theologian Diedrich Bonhoeffer, gangster Bugsy Seigel, and comedian Lou Costello.
And, it was on this, the 27th of June in 1906 that Christian and poet Vernon Watkins was born in Glamorganshire, Wales. He lived in Wales for most of his life. However, he did attend Cambridge and took a post at the University of Washington shortly before his death. He was a member of the Kardomah Boys, a Swansea-based group of poets that included Watkin's friend, Dylan Thomas. Thomas' meteoric rise to fame overshadowed his friend. But a collection of Watkins and Thomas's correspondence was published that helped bring attention to the lesser-known Welsh poet.
He is considered a metaphysical poet in the tradition of Donne. Although Watkins was not tied to any one form and wrote both prose and poetry, he credits his interest in Christianity from both his pious home as a youth and also after a mental breakdown, allowed him to strip himself of pretension. He believed that he was able, post-sanitarium, to live as a prophet and Christian through his writings. He claimed to have been visited by "bright shoots of everlastingness," and that gave him an eternal perspective. He was a romantic metaphysical poet in a post-romantic age and a Christian in a secular age.
Despite wanting to spend the rest of his life in Wales, financial struggles led to his taking a teaching position at the University of Washington in 1967. It was there, during a 4-hour tennis marathon that Vernon Watkins collapsed and died. Born on this, the 27th of June, Vernon Watkins was 61 years old.
The reading for today comes from Vernon Watkins. his poem "Infant Noah."
Calm the boy sleeps, though death is in the clouds.
Smiling he sleeps, and dreams of that tall ship
Moored near the dead stars and the moon in shrouds,
Built out of light, whose faith his hands equip.
It was imagined when remorse of making
Winged the bent, brooding brows of God in doubt.
All distances were narrowed to his waking:
"I built his city, then I cast him out."
Time's great tide falls; under that tide the sands
Turn, and the world is shown there thousand-hilled
To the opening, ageless eyes. On eyelids, hands,
Falls a dove's shade, God's cloud, a velvet leaf.
And his shut eyes hold heaven in their dark sheaf,
In whom the rainbow's covenant is fulfilled.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 27th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Captain Christopher Gillespie and his Rockinghorse Brigade. 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.