It is the 23rd 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 1950.
It was a year of firsts in a few different related forms of mass communication. It was in 1950 that Charles Schultz debuted his cartoon strip, Peanuts. Originally, Schultz wanted to call the strip "Lil' Folks," but his editors changed it. The comic strip would go on for over 50 years, and today there are over 18,000 comic strips, 45 television specials, and a Broadway musical. The franchise has won an Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. The soundtrack to the feature film "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" was nominated for an Oscar in 1969 but lost to the Beatles who won their only Academy Award for the soundtrack to their film companion to "Let It Be."
Charles Schultz was known for his faith and ignored the cartoonist's earlier creed never to allow religious discussions in comic strips. Over 500 of the comics have a religious reference point. The last cartoon was published on the 13th of February, 2000, the same day Schultz passed into his final reward, 50 years after the publication began in 1950.
Also, in 1950, the British comic "The Eagle" made its debut. "The Eagle" was the brainchild of Marcus Morris, an Anglican vicar who wanted to create a Christian comic. According to Morris, American comics were "deplorable, nastily over-violent and obscene, often with undue emphasis on the supernatural and magical as a way of solving problems." The British comic followed Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. The comic influenced those outside the Christian church. For instance, it was Professor Stephen Hawking claimed that it was on account of the intergalactic travels of Dan Dare that Hawking himself entered the field of cosmology.
On this, the 23rd of September in 1950, the oldest and longest-running radio drama made its debut. The show called "Unshackled!" came from the Superintendent of Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission, the oldest gospel rescue mission in the United States.
The Superintendent, Harry Saulnier, had previously hosted a weekly 15-minute radio show during which he would tell the stories of those whose lives had been changed by the mission. When "Unshackled!" debuted on this day, it was a fully scripted and performed radio drama based on real-life stories of conversions to Christianity. The first episode followed the story of Billy Sunday, the baseball player-turned-evangelist.
The live radio program, complete with scripts, actors, and sound effects, is still being produced today. The show has grown to be heard in 15 languages in 148 countries. Episode 3636 aired this past week (it was the second of a two-parter on a woman who hits rock bottom only to find God there). Three thousand six hundred thirty-five episodes ago, on this day in 1950. the radio program "Unshackled!" made its debut.
Today's reading comes from Ernesto Cardenal, a Nicaraguan poet and priest who died earlier this year. Indeed, these words would be affirmed by Cardenas now, on the other side of the great divide. This is "Behind the Monastery."
Behind the monastery, down the road,
there is a cemetery of worn-out things
where lie smashed china, rusty metal,
cracked pipes and twisted bits of wire,
empty cigarette packs, sawdust,
corrugated iron, old plastic, tires beyond repair:
all waiting for the Resurrection, like ourselves.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 23rd of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man once called "deplorable, nastily over-violent and obscene, often with undue emphasis on the supernatural and magical as a way of solving problems," Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. Remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.