It is the 1st of July 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1942.
You would forgive the world for being distracted by WW2. It was just the previous December that Pearl Harbor was bombed. People on the West Coast were on edge. The Japanese bombarded the Elwood oil refineries in Santa Barbara. There was little damage, but the fear continued as the very next day saw the so-called Great Los Angeles Air raid. Anti-aircraft guns lit up the sky after an unidentified object was seen in the LA night skies. It was revealed later to be a weather balloon.
Several sports events were canceled this year. There was no World Cup. The Nazi’s were set to host. The Tour de France, World Skating Championships, US Open, and British Open, were also canceled. The Rose Bowl was held, but it could not be at the Rose Bowl. Oregon State lost to Duke on Duke’s North Carolina home field. In the World Series in 1942, the St. Louis Cardinals led by Stan Musial and pitcher Mort Cooper beat the Yankees four games to one. The Stanley Cup finals pitted the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings. The Maple Leafs lost the first three games only to come back and win the next four to take the championship. It was the first time that had happened in North American sports, and it has only happened once since. Red Sox fans know what I’m talking about.
It was a good year for popular music. The #1 single of the year was “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby. It is also the #1 single from a musical film and the #1 Christmas song, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. A young Frank Sinatra recorded “Night and Day,” a song that would become a standard for him. Also, Johnny Mercer’s “I’m Old Fashioned” was recorded and published. Here’s a pro tip: check out “I’m Old Fashioned” performed by John Coltrane on his “Blue Train” record.
Many very popular books were published this year. Albert Camus wrote “The Stranger” C.S. Lewis published the “Screwtape Letters,” T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” was released as was an early Steinbeck novella “The Moon is Down.” Fun fact: it was claimed by the producers of the 80s classic Red Dawn that Steinbeck’s book served as the inspiration for their film.
In 1942 John Barrymore, the famous actor from a family of famous actors, died. Grant Wood, the painter behind American Gothic and other scenes depicting the American Midwest, died. Lucy Maud, or LM Montgomery, the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, died as well.
There was perhaps no better year for music in terms of the future stars born in this year. They included Aretha Franklin, Carol King, Lous Reed, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. And with regards to gospel music, it was on this, the 1st of July in 1942 that Andrae Crouch was born. The godfather of modern Gospel music was born in Los Angeles. His father was a pastor in Pacoima. After his father died in 1994, the celebrated songwriter, producer, and arranger took over as pastor of his father’s church with his twin sister. Crouch was a seminal figure in the 60s and 70s for both the new evangelicalism, crossover hits, and for working with names from Billy Preston to Michael Jackson.
Despite being self-taught, he went on to win eight Grammys, six Dove Awards, an Oscar nomination, and he was elected to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Starting in 1965, he began to make a name for himself, being invited onto the Johnny Carson show, performing at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. He and his band toured almost 70 countries. Amongst his most famous songs were: “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Through It All,” and “Bless His Holy Name.” Many secular artists covered his songs from Elvis Presley to Paul Simon.
Later he went on to work with Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, and Elton John. He arranged the choir pieces for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” His choir was also asked to sing at Jackson’s memorial service. He wrote the theme song for NBC’s short-lived “Amen” starring Sherman Hemsley and was the voice of Yertle the Turtle in the cartoon adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book.
He survived four bouts with cancer and finally succumbed to a heart attack in 2015. Born in 1942, the father of modern Gospel music, Andrae Crouch, was 72 years old.
The reading for today comes from the book, as mentioned above, published in this year, C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters.” This book is a religious satire. It is a supposed conversation between an elder demon and a younger demon on how to thwart the enemy, the enemy being God in Christ.
“One must face the fact that all the talk about His [God’s] love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 1st of July 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher Wolverines! 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.