It is the 5th 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 1962.
1962 is likely first and foremost the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both the USSR and U.S. spent the year peppering desolate fields and islands with nuclear tests to show readiness. The standoff between Kennedy and Kruschev resolved peacefully, only after tense moments watching to see if the Soviet ships would break the American blockade of Cuba.
Fidel Castro of Cuba had been excommunicated earlier in the year by Pope John XXIII. The Pope shocked the church by calling the Second Vatican Council, which convened in 1962. Most had thought he was a mere caretaker of the papacy on account of his age.
In 1962, there was no Beatlemania yet. The Beatles started the year by auditioning for Decca records, but they were rejected. They performed on BBC radio and signed their first contract with EMI Parlophone. Later in the year, they met producer George Martin and recorded “Bésame Mucho” with Pete Best on Drums. Days before their first concert, the replaced Best with Ringo Starr. However, when they released “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” later in the year, Andy White was playing the drums.
Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” caused the real mania in 1962. It became a nationwide sensation, although the Catholic church banned it in some places as an impure dance.
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were performing in 1962 as Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. They would begin to record as the Rolling Stones later in the year.
West Side Story the movie won the award for best picture. The soundtrack by Bernstein and Sondheim was the #1 album for 54 weeks.
In sports, the Dodgers played their first game at Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium in the ravine is still their home today and is the third oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. 1962 saw the debut of both the N.Y. Mets and the Houston Colt .45’s. The Mets would go on to lose a record 120 games while the Colt .45s would go on to be renamed as the Astros and then as dastardly cheats when they stole the 2017 World Series from the Dodgers mentioned above.
Several influential and important books debuted in 1962. Among them were Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle,” Ken Kesey’s “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Madeline L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time,” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” a book influential in the burgeoning environmentalist movement.
1962 saw the birth of both authors David Foster Wallace and Chuck Palahniuk. They were born on the same day. Garth Brooks was born in 1962, as was William Bailey, although you know him as Axl Rose. Darryl Strawberry was born in this year as was with Roger Clemens, who was a cheater and played for those cheating Astros.
Several luminaries died in 1962. These included William Faulkner, poet E.E. Cummings, and former First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. And it was on this, the 5th of July in 1962 that preeminent American theologian and ethicist Helmut Richard Niebuhr died.
We’ve discussed his older brother, Reinhold, on this show. Richard was born in 1894 in Wright City, Missouri. He attended Elmhurst College, Eden Seminary, and Yale Divinity School. He went on to receive ordination and work as a pastor until becoming president of his alma mater, Elmhurst College. From there, he went on to teach at Yale Divinity School as professor of Theology and Christian Ethics.
Perhaps his most significant contribution was his attempt to relate religious belief to secular culture. He commented on the peculiar American situation in his “The Kingdom of God in America.” He wrote his famous “Christ and Culture” as a survey of Christian responses to secular Culture. He delineated five models: Christ Against Culture, Christ Above Culture, the Christ of Culture, Christ Transforming Culture, and Christ in Culture in Paradox.
He is also known for his works of theology and historical surveys, such as his “The Social Sources of Denominationalism” and “The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry.” Niebuhr taught at Yale until 1962 when he succumbed to a long illness and died in his summer home in Massachusetts. Born in 1894, Richard Niebuhr was 78 years old.
The reading for today comes from Richard Niebuhr. This comes from a sermon on “Man’s Work and God’s,” a good word about our vocations as Christians:
“Sometimes we feel in the midst of these many tasks in our vast world as though we were laborers in a giant factory where something is being made that we can never see. We are being required to stamp out this piece of sheet metal, to make this handle, to tighten this bolt — and to do all this over and over again without knowing what the whole process is all about … But for the most part, we fundamentally believe that something is going on, something is being accomplished … We dimly see and hope that this is something glorious in which we are engaged. Something which, if we knew what it was, we could take pride in acknowledging as a work we had been allowed to serve.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 5th of July 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man ready to bang the trash lids to indicate off-speed pitches from fastballs … 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.