It is the 30th of August 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1938.
Dark clouds were gathering over Europe. In 1938, the Munich agreement signed by the major European powers gave the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. This appeasement is best remembered in the famous promise from Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, that this would lead to “peace for our time.” By the end of the year, Germany would have invaded Austria, and Kristallnacht would mark an escalation of anti-Jewish terrorism from the Nazi party. Also, in 1938, Time Magazine named Adolf Hitler as its “Man of the Year.”
The Naval Act of 1938 authorized the growth of the U.S. Navy by 20%. It would mark the first time in over 17 years that new American battleships would be built.
In 1938, Pimlico was treated to a special two-horse race between Triple Crown winner War Admiral and underdog Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit, who shocked the champion by beating him by four lengths, would go on to become the winningest thoroughbred in the 1940s.
Orson Welles broadcast the first of his radio adaptations with the Mercury Theatre on CBS Radio in 1938. The first performance was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Later in this same year, he would broadcast “War of the Worlds,” which caused nationwide hysteria and helped make Welles a star.
In 1938, Dupont introduced its new synthetic yarn. They called it “nylon.” Also, the ballpoint pen was invented in Hungary in 1938, and Nescafe sold freeze-dried coffee for the first time, and unfortunately, not the last time.
In 1938, “Doc Brown” aka Christopher Lloyd was born as was Evil Knievel, Kenny Rogers, and Ted Turner. In that same year, the world said goodbye to blues guitarist Robert Johnson (who was poisoned), rubber magnate Harvey Firestone (who was a jerk), and Mustafa Attaturk (who established a secular Turkish state in the aftermath of WW1).
And it was on this day, the 30th of August, in 1938, that Estefan Nehme, a Lebanese monk in the Maronite order, died. By 2010, he would be officially recognized by the Catholic church as “Blessed.”
Born Youssef in 1889 in Northern Lebanon, he studied at a local school run by the Lebanese Maronite Order. After his father died in 1905, Youssef entered the novitiate for the Maronite order and two years later took his religious vows. He took the name Estefan after the patron saint of his hometown.
The Maronite church was formed by Syrian Christians tracing their lineage back to St. Maro, a friend of St. John Chrysostom. The small catholic community that worshipped with its own Eastern rite was driven into the mountains during the Islamic conquests in the middle ages. Living in an isolated community, they developed their traditions despite being in union with the Pope and Western Catholic church since the 12th century.
Monastic life is what attracted Nehme, who found himself especially keen on acts of service. A so-called “working monk” His tireless work in his community and amongst the poor made him famous. During World War I, he fed the hungry who faced famine as a result of the fighting. He was known for his almost constant state of prayer while working in the fields and for his simplicity of life. In 2010, over 70 years after his death, over 50,000 Lebanese, including the President and Prime Minister, came together in his hometown to celebrate his official beatification by Pope Benedict. Born in 1889 and dying on this day in 1938, Estefan Nehme was 49 years old.
The reading for today comes from the 4th century Syrian Christian, St. Ephrem, an excerpt from him on Adam, Eve, and the cross.
“Since humanity fell into Sheol because of a tree, it passed over to the place of life upon a tree. And so, on the tree where bitterness was tasted, sweetness has been tasted, so that we might learn who it is who has no rival among his creatures. Praise to you who suspended your cross over death so that souls could pass over on it from the place of the dead to the place of life.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 30th of August 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher “Freeze-Dried or Bust” 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.