A 19th Century doctor who may have saved your life

Abortion, far from being a modern medical procedure, was rampant in the past, including in the 19th century.  After the jump is an interview with Frederick Dyer, the author of a biography of Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer, the physician responsible for passing anti-abortion laws.  He stopped so many abortions that, statistically, he may have saved the life of one of your ancestors, without whom you would cease to exist. [Read more...]

The Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer

Nathan Busenitz gives a vivid account of the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, who was greatly influenced by Luther and who is the literary genius who gave us the Book of Common Prayer, the English rendition of the liturgy that have shaped the language of Lutheran liturgies as well. [Read more...]

The mother of all attack ads

I was 12 years old when I watched Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ad that showed a little girl picking daisies followed by the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast.  Even at the time, I understood the message:  Don’t vote for that extremist Barry Goldwater!  He will start a nuclear war!

Yes, the ad, if you thought about it was utterably lame (a little girl? daisies?), but it had to have contributed to LBJ’s landslide victory.  Drew Babb analyzes the political commercial, which aired as a paid advertisement one time only on September 7, 1964 (after that, it was endlessly re-run by the three networks who covered the ad itself as a piece of news).  He calls it the “mother of all attack ads.” [Read more...]

Has DNA evidence identified Jack the Ripper?

DNA evidence may have solved the mystery of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who brutally murdered 11 prostitutes in Victorian England.  A shawl that was reportedly found on the body of one of his victims had blood that has been identified as having come from one of women he killed and semen that has a DNA match with a descendant of one of the original suspects, Aaron Kosminki.  But the findings are being challenged. [Read more...]

1,500 year-old confession of faith

Scholars have discovered a 1,500-year-old papyrus from ancient Egypt that contains a remarkable Christian confession, including an early description of Holy Communion.  Reportedly, the writing was rolled up in an amulet, a Christian version of the amulets-with-protection-spells worn by pagan Egyptians.

The article on the find says that this is an example of Christian “magic,” but the text says nothing about protection or anything spell-like.  The ancient Hebrews of the Bible would also wear little cases that contained Bible verses (Deuteronomy 11:18).  The ignorance of the news story in saying that this is one of the “first” references to the Last Supper–the early Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus who died in 202 A.D., referred to it all the time–casts further doubt on the “magic” claim.  This instead sounds like an example of Christians following a cultural practice while giving it a new meaning.  Anyway, read the text after the jump. [Read more...]

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated autobiography

I remember well our teacher reading to us fifth graders the novels of Laura Ingalls Wilders, which were based on the author’s childhood on the American frontier.  Her descriptions in The Long Winter of the blizzards, the isolation, and Pa surviving in a snow bank by eating oyster crackers still come to my mind whenever there’s a heavy snow.  The series of novels on her family’s moves all over the West are classics of children’s literature and masterful works of art by any standard.

Her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, which tells about  the actual experiences that the novels were based on, was published a few years ago.  In November, it is coming out in an annotated edition, which will spell out all of the connections to the novels, as well as specifying the differences between the novels and the reality.  The edition will also include a wealth of pictures and unpublished material from her diaries and notebooks. [Read more...]


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