It is the 22nd of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today we will examine the nexus between garden peas and Christianity. I have a lot of thoughts about both, but let me get my “pea-related” thoughts out first.
Split Pea soup is the superior form of a pea for human consumption.
Sugar snap peas are superior to snow peas
Mushy peas, as popular in the UK are an abomination to the Lord.
The divide between frozen and fresh peas is as great a gulf as between any variety of vegetables. Frozen peas are not for eating but are used best as a cold compress.
Why else are peas important? Genetics. And now you might see where we are going. As it was on this, on the 22nd of July in 1822 that the Father of Genetics, Gregor Mendel, was born. And he was literally “the Father” of Genetics as he did his groundbreaking work in his capacity as an Augustinian monk. Once again we see the fascinating intersection of Christianity and the natural sciences in the 19th century.
1. Born OTD in 1822 in what was then the Hapsburg Empire and is today the Czech Republic.
2. Born to peasant parents he worked the family farm before being sent to school.
3. He attracted enough attention from the local priests and schoolmasters that he was sent off to the monastery where he could continue his education for free amongst the Augustinians. He would join the order and take the name, Gregor.
4. While he was brilliant he was often waylaid by Mental illness. His depression caused him to take time away from his advanced studies and then later would sideline his teaching career.
He would however make his legacy by observing the traits of pea plants that he crossbred. Mendel would assert the Law of Independent Assortment. That is, there are independent (and then invisible) factors that affect visible traits. That is genes.
As the world sought to understand its origins it was often working from the Christian scientific community that advanced our understanding of the natural world.
Why is it not this way anymore?
Around the year 1900 everything changed. Modernism, Fundamentalism, Kulturkampff, Culture Wars. A recurring story.
Why was it so often priests and monks that were working in the sciences?
- The universities were church institutions.
- Maybe a little pessimistic: It benefited the church to support advances in the sciences but to also employ the researchers such that they might more easily censor what they don’t like.
- A belief in the “2 Books”- the Word of God in the Bible and the revelation of God in nature
Gregor Mendel was a brilliant geneticist but died with no fanfare. Later his work was picked up by scholars and he was rightly named “the father of Genetics”. Mendel died in 1884. Born OTD in 1822 he was 61 years old.
The last word for today comes from the book of 1st Thessalonians, the 5th chapter:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets,[e] 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 22nd of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who possesses the peas that passeth all understanding: 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.