It is the 15th 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 1606.
It was in 1606 that a relatively obscure pastor in Saxony, Johann Arndt, published the first four books of his book "True Christianity." The Lutheran pastor attempted to blend Lutheran theology and medieval piety, which he defended as being parallel to early Luther. While many orthodox Lutherans criticized this book, it would become one of the best-selling books of the century.
1606 saw the creation of one of the more iconic flags. King James, from the Scottish Stuart line, had come to the throne after the death of Tudor queen, Elizabeth. Wanting to unify the northern and southern regions of his realm, King James devised a new flag that combined the Scottish blue and white Saltire, or X-shaped cross representing St. Andrew, and the English White and red cross representing St. George. Those cross and colors laid upon each other create the famous Union Jack flag. In 1801, when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom, an additional red saltire was added to represent St. Patrick.
1606 was a remarkable year for the theatre. William Shakespeare staged both Macbeth and King Lear for the first time, both with an audience of the King James mentioned above. It was also a big year for Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson is to Shakespeare what the LA Chargers are to the LA Rams. Sure, they are in the same ontological category, we just don't pay much attention to the former, and for some good reasons.
Nevertheless, it was a big year for Jonson as he staged his "Volpone." Volpone, the name of the main character, is also Italian for "fox." It is a comedy lampooning the greed of the wealthy class. It was performed at the Globe theatre by the King's Men and would become Johnson's most famous play.
In 1606 Charlotte Duplessis-Mornay died. She was the famed author of first-hand accounts of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Guy Fawkes died in 1606 as did his convicted co-conspirators in the famed Gunpowder Plot.
In 1606, Tristram Coffin was born near Plymouth. He would later sail for the colonies, where he became one of the fathers of Nantucket. Leonard Calvert was born in 1606. The son of Lord Baltimore, Leonard, would become the first governor of Maryland.
And it was on this, the 15th of July, in 1606, that Rembrandt von Rijn was born in Leyden into a reasonably well-to-do family. Rembrandt was able to study at the University of Leiden and apprentice under painters until he was able to open his studio. First by painting portraits and then moving on to biblical scenes, he would become one of the premier painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
Rembrandt's faith was nurtured and informed by his Roman Catholic father and protestant mother. This uncommon practice produced a man who would float between patrons and their confessions. Despite his talent and fame, He lived a life filled with tragedy. His first children did not survive infancy, and when his wife finally gave birth to a son, it killed her. Rembrandt was consistently living beyond his means. Furthermore, his amorousness with local women caused him a great deal of embarrassment.
Rembrandt took many of his failings and faith and filtered them through his art. This can be seen in his painting of the story of the prodigal son. The prodigal son in this painting is a self-portrait. In a depiction of the crucifixion, he placed himself, in contemporary Dutch dress nonetheless, as one of those who crucified Jesus.
Rembrandt would become a national hero and a colossus of Dutch culture. His work in light, shadow, and movement revolutionized western art. But behind the work was a man as certain of his sinfulness as he was of his savior. Some of his best paintings reflect this. Rembrandt died in 1669, born on this day in 1606. Rembrandt van Rijn was 63 years old.
The reading for today comes from another denizen of my ancestral lands. This is a quote from Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck:
"Christ is not the founder of Christianity, nor the first confessor of it, nor the first Christian. But he is Christianity itself, in its preparation, fulfillment, and consummation.”
That was from Herman Bavinck's "The Philosophy of Revelation."
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 15th of July 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by the "Chiaro" to my "Scuro," 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.