It is the 20th of September 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1982.
It was only 38 years ago. We will do a flash rundown of the events you may or may not know happened this year as we move to our remembrance today, an event by and in a church that would change the world.
1982 was the year of “E.T.,” “First Blood,” and “Blade Runner.” The movie “Chariots of Fire” won Best Picture at the Oscars upsetting Warren Beatty’s “Reds.” In sports, the play simply known as “the catch” propelled the 49ers past the Cowboys and into the Super Bowl. Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals won the World Series, the Islanders won the Stanley Cup, and the other basketball team in Los Angeles won the NBA title.
In music, it was the year Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came out, so only a contrarian would say another record was better. However, two sometimes underrated gems from the year were Springsteen’s stripped-down “Nebraska” and Dire Straits’ “Love Over Gold.” It was also the year of the jock jam, that is, the following songs all released in this year would become stadium staples up to the present day. They include:
- “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor
- “Eye in the Sky” by the Alan Parsons Project
- “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
- “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
- “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
- “Mickey” by Toni Basil
Time Magazine named its first non-person as its “Person of the Year.” They called the computer the “Machine of the Year.” It was also the year that Sony released its first commercial CD player. The CD, of course, is 4.7 inches in diameter. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be ignored—or forgiven—your choice.
In World politics, the Cold War between the two superpowers was the story of the year. Leonid Brezhnev died in 1982. The longtime General Secretary had favored detente with the United States. The new Secretary, former KGB head Yuri Andropov, represented a more confrontational and hawkish approach to Soviet/U.S. relations.
It was in 1982 that the most massive political demonstration to that time in American history took place in Central Park and Manhattan to protest Nuclear weapons. Between speeches, the crowd heard songs performed by Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, and Linda Ronstadt.
But the event in 1982 that changed as much as, if not more, than leaders or protestors could take place on this, the 20th of September in 1982, in a church in what was then East Germany. On the night of the 20th in his Leipzig church, Lutheran pastor Christian Führer held the first of his “prayers for peace” meetings. The meetings eventually became blended with and became better known as “the Monday Demonstrations.” The secret police tried to block entrance to the church, but this only sparked more protests and prayer.
Over 100,000 East Germans would eventually rally together against totalitarianism during a Monday Demonstration in 1989. The demonstration caused such a panic that the East Germans bungled their response, inadvertently and immediately opened the Berlin Wall for East Germans to travel, and the Cold War, already on life support, would soon be finished. And the spark came from an ironically named German Lutheran “Christian Führer” who led his flock in prayers and peaceful protests that would topple the Soviet Union. And it began on this, the 20th of September in 1982.
The reading for today comes from A.K. Tolstoy, a Russian Christian and second cousin of Leo Tolstoy. This is his “A Peal of Bells.”
Among the groves
The crosses shine:
A five-domed church,
With bells aligned.
Their summons peals
Across the graves
Yet full of grace.
It lures me forth,
Beckons and calls
To native soil,
The blessed land
That I forgot;
And, filled with yearning
And pain unknown,
I pray, repent,
And weep once more,
And I reject
All evil deed.
In wondrous dreams,
Through space I fly
And heaven’s realms,
And my heart joyously
Trembles and melts
Till the peal of bells
That was “the Peal of the Bells” by A.K. Tolstoy, translated by Natalia Sheniloff.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 20th of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by the last known survivor, he stalks his prey in the night, and he’s watching us all, with the eye of the tiger, 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.