It is the 28th of November 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1902.
Today we will look at some firsts and lasts in this year. We will look at what was being introduced and what was becoming history.
In 1902 an article was published in Colliers by Lincoln Steffens under the headline “Tweed Days in St. Louis.” The article was a staggering takedown of political corruption in the city. This article is widely recognized as the first of its kind. It even got a name: muckraking journalism. In this progressive age, many journalists sought to expose corruption through techniques that were perhaps lacking in virtue. The term “muckraker” was coined by President Teddy Roosevelt in a speech wherein he compared the scurrilous actions of some reporters with the character “The Man with the Muck Rake” in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” The Muckraker meets the pilgrim but is obsessed with raking the “muck” in front of him. He is unable to take his gaze off what others find vile.
A couple of other firsts in 1902. If you’ve seen any of the 16 or so movie versions of
“Brewster’s Millions” you may not know that the story of a man who must give away a million dollars to receive his inheritance was a book published by George Barr McCutcheon this year. If you’ve seen any of the six or so movie adaptations of the “Four Feathers,” you might not know that it is also based on a 1902 book by A.E.W. Mason.
1902 was the last year of the Philippine-American War. This was a 4-year battle between the U.S occupying forces in the Philippines to tamp down the rebellion in the islands, which were now officially a colony of the United States.
Also, ending this year was one of the most significant labor strikes in American history. Anthracite miners in Philadelphia struck for better hours, safety, and pay from May to October. This resulted in Teddy Roosevelt finally interceding lest the country has a coal shortage in the coming winter.
We had several famous people coming and going in this year as well. John Steinbeck was born in 1902, as was poet Langston Hughes, artist Ansel Adams, and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh.
1902 saw the death of the man whose trousers would become ubiquitous, Levi Strauss. Emile Zola, the famous French author, died as did Women’s Rights Pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton. On this day, the 28th of November in 1902, the Victorian non-conformist, orator, and 2nd most famous preacher of his day, Joseph Parker, died.
Joseph Parker was born in England in 1830 to Teasdale Parker, a stonemason and. Teasdale was also a deacon at the congregational church when controversy struck. Arminian theology, especially soteriology (that is, an emphasis on free will and choosing), led to division in the otherwise Calvinist leaning church. The Parker’s left the church on account of the Arminian teaching and started attending a Methodist church with a Calvinist preacher.
Parker gave his first sermon in 1848 and was enrolled on the Methodist preaching circuit. Parker would become famous for his controversial open-air preaching and his insistence on theological education for those who could not afford it. He held sizeable ecumenical lunchtime services for city workers, and he famously preached through the entire Bible, extemporaneously and on every verse. His City Temple was only second in popularity to Charles Spurgeon’s New Street Park Chapel. Spurgeon was more popular, but some thought Parker was the better orator, while Spurgeon was the better theologian.
Today, Parker can be read in his massive 41 volume Bible commentary known as “the People’s Bible.” Well, it’s more the notes from the extemporaneous sermons through each book in the Bible. It was very popular in the early 20th century, but its lack of engagement with critical theories and dated language makes it a rather quaint series. But in its day, it was popular, and so was its author, Joseph Parker, born in 1830 he died on this, the 28th of November in 1902.
The reading for today is the briefest in Almanac history. It is a one-sentence quote from Joseph Parker. It is both an answer to how he became so incredibly popular and where his mind was as he preached for over 50 years.
“Speak to the suffering, and you will never lack an audience. There is a broken heart in every crowd.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 28th of November 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie, who is certain that the Pryor/Candy “Brewster Millions” is easily the best of the lot. 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.