*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 20th of June 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
I imagine a conversation in the future “hey, whatever happened to Dan van Voorhis and the Christian History Almanac?” “Oh, yeah… he got an email about the mayday mystery and started down the rabbit hole and eventually disappeared”.
I recently received an email from Joseph from Barrow in Furness (that’s NW England). He wrote to 1517 to ask if anyone here knew about the Mayday Mystery- it has direct ties to the Reformation, and he wondered what we learned.
I’m halfway down the rabbit hole. I might turn around and come back out soon. Let’s break this down.
Since at least 1981, a cryptic ad has been placed every May 1st (May Day) with something like a code or set of clues in the Daily Wildcat. It was brought to attention in the 90s when Brian Hance, then a student at UofA, noticed the ads and, as a member of the newspaper staff, was able to go to the archives and saw that as long as there have been archives, there have been May Day ads with clues.
The ads contain religious and political imagery- commonly, four characters are referenced: Luther, Calvin, Cromwell, and Adolphus. Adolphus is Gustavus, the Swedish Protestant hero. Cromwell is Oliver, the Lord Protector of England after the king was killed, and is seen as a Protestant hero. Luther and Calvin are, of course, Prot heroes, too.
Brian began the website “mayday mystery dot com” to collect the ads as they continued. He was contacted by a man who claimed to be a lawyer working on behalf of a group called “the orphanage” behind the ads. According to them, it is not a game. According to them, it has a “cause” the mystery comes in the UofA paper but isn’t Tucson-centric.
Brian began to hear from members of “the orphanage” directly and sometimes between Maydays with “updates.” If you want to go to the website, you can see the ads- they are reminiscent of “Toynbee Tiles”- cryptic messages in tiles embedded in asphalt worldwide.
The “Orphanage” and their lawyer seem not to take lightly it is called a game compared to other anonymous cultural puzzles. In recent years the internet has caused this mystery and game to spread- remember, it was a pre-internet mystery when hand-drawn ads in local papers and coordinates had to be physically discovered.
The lawyer, whom I am not naming because he seems to be the one very cool with his name being attached to this, seems to be at the heart of this mystery. He went to the University of Arizona and received a Ph.D. in theology. He is a member of Mensa and speaks many languages. He has suggested that perhaps all of this is just him, the rantings of a wild man, but that that would also be a good cover story.
It seems strangely Protestant in the use of those four figures central to Reformation Christianity (to some extent). You’ll find heaping spoons of anti-Catholic messaging in the cryptic and possibly nonsensical clues. Is it the work of a college society? Obscure references to Reformation history seem to me to be the work of someone with just enough knowledge to sound intelligent. Still, unless they can explain more, I am apt to write them off as almost sophomoric. The anti-Martin Luther King and anti-JFK stuff seem old and stale. I bet this would have gone away if not for… the internet and especially Facebook. The Facebook pages for this mystery remind me why I fled from Facebook and never looked back. Think of your favorite recent conspiracy theories and what Facebook did to them. Consider the True Crime Obsession and how Facebook groups obscure facts with dump truck after dump truck of unfiltered ideas.
Is the Protestant messaging (with references to the Augsburg Confession using archaic language meant to obfuscate) part of the core of the mystery? Or is the person or person behind this familiar enough with Church history to through out some names to try and sound wise. I’m leaning towards obfuscation, but you can check it out yourself. Or don’t. I will keep digging around a bit, but if it gets either spooky or lame, I’m out.
Thanks, Joseph from Barrow-in-Furness, and if I disappear, I hope someone emails you first to try and find me.
The last word for today comes from the daily lectionary- from 1 Corinthians 1:
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 20th of June 2022, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a secret chief in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who just now realizes he’s a “secret” chief for a reason. Sorry, man. I’m 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.