Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer #53

Let's see if I remember it all. In over fifty summers, I've sustained a damaged rotator cuff, torn thumb tendon, strained Achilles tendon, sprained ankle, simple orbit fracture, cracked palate, demolished molar [a surf board hit me in the side of the face; not my board, some teenager's], two black eyes [not at the same time], bloodied noses, sprained elbow, jellyfish stings, and forty-eight sixty stitches in various parts of me. Not to mention sunburn [although not since the early 80's], dehydration, ear infection, various minor abrasions, contusions, lacerations, and a profound sinus irritation. Oh, and a barracuda once gave me a dirty look.

One moment sliding diagonally across the face of a perfectly caught wave makes me want to do it all over again.

Go to this link just after dawn and you may see us. I'll be the one underwater.

I'll be gone until the 11th. I will be where computers are non-existent and cell phone coverage is minimal. Besides, I plan on accidentally dropping my cell phone in the Atlantic on Monday. Oops.

Also, when I leave the e-mail account untended for more than a few days, the spam filter gets confused and, without me to tune it, starts to make decisions on its own, eliminating correspondence from vestry members, staff, and the beloved of my flock. So, if an e-mail can wait until I get back, there is a much greater chance that I'll receive it.

I'll try to get back in one piece, but that's rare and unimportant. The wave is all.

From The Dawn Patrol, by Don Winslow:

"The physicists call it a 'energy-transport phenomenon.'

The dictionary says it's 'a disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another location.'

A disturbance. It's certainly that.

Something gets disturbed. That is, something strikes something else and sets off a vibrations. Clap your hands right now and you'll hear a sound. What you're actually hearing is a sound wave. Something struck something else and it set off a vibration that strikes your eardrum.

The vibration is energy. It's transported through the phenomenon of a wave from one location to the other.

The water itself doesn't actually move. What happens is one particle of water bumps into the next, which bumps into the next, and so on and so forth until it hits something. It's like that idiot wave at a sports event - the people don't move around the stadium, but the wave does. The energy flows from one person to another.

So when you're riding a wave, you're not riding water. The water is the medium, but what you're really riding is energy."

Good God, this is a must-read article:  Nuns host gnarly surfing contest in NJ
[BTW, no one actually says "gnarly".]

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Obituary Of Note

Bill Millin, Scottish D-Day Piper, Dies at 88

The End Of Something

Amanda was hired for her dream job the other afternoon only to discover that her new roommates had reneged on their apartment offer, leaving her simultaneously employed and homeless in NYC.

Since she lived at my former seminary for the past two summers during her Citibank internships, and since the seminary has been complaining in its frequent solicitation letters to its alumni about hosting too few students and too many beds this coming academic year, I suggested that she give them a call.  That turned out to be a useless suggestion.

It would have been one thing for the person responsible for such to have simply stated that nothing was available, even though that would mean their solicitations have been inaccurate, but I was profoundly disappointed to hear of the rude manner in which the institution deals with a public inquiry.  So much for that business about how Episcopalians "respect the dignity of every human being."  I suppose it's difficult when one works for an institution that's in financial distress and I am trying to be charitable, as difficult as that may be.

I wrote the following four or five years ago, I forget for what publication, but I came across it yesterday and it reminded me of the like/dislike relationship I've had with my alma mater for the past 30 years:

The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, was asked a question some weeks ago about a memoir that had recently appeared on book lists. Its author was a former administration functionary who was making the rounds of talk radio and cable news shows. Naturally, and like most memoirs written by former administration officials, it was critical of whatever president and/or cabinet member didn’t recognize the author’s “true genius”. In responding, Snow pointed out that every memoir should probably carry the subtitle, “If They’d Only Listened to Me.”

This isn’t a memoir, but I’m in danger of sounding like a former administration member if I don’t qualify what I’m about to write. Or even if I do, I guess. Whenever I sit with brother and sister clergy, usually in a hotel bar and usually after a day of diocesan convention, I think about how all of us could qualify our statements with the verbal subtitle, “Ah, if I were the bishop, dean, canon, bursar, etc….”

In this case I suppose I should say, “Ah, if I were the dean of my seminary….” This is because lately I have been receiving a great many mailings from my seminary appealing to my financial, not necessarily spiritual, generosity. Obviously I have nothing against contributions, especially since my salary is dependent upon them. I have taught and preached about stewardship for enough years to respect the requests, the numerous requests, to “save” my seminary. In ordinary circumstances, I am happy to oblige, even the year that the development office decided to attempt to coerce contributions by designating us as “associate alumni” who had to “pay dues.”

There are some things that have caused me to be a little stingy in regards to my seminary from time to time, though. One reason was that the seminary changed their method of paying tuition while I was in the middle of my three years; going from a kind of “pay as you go” approach [admittedly, not a very good way of doing business, but one that had been in practice since the institution’s founding] to “pay in advance.” This change insured that those of us from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, poor dioceses, or any diocese that believed the seminary was, in essence, the belly of Satan to which they would not offer any support, even to their own candidates, would now have to bear at least a ten year debt incurred through the various student loans that were to be quickly negotiated.

I would have wished that this change had been mandated beginning with the incoming classes rather than with those of us already there; those who had sacrificed jobs, homes, and family stability to carefully balance finances for the three year course of study. But, as the dean explained to us, either one had what it took to attend the seminary or one didn’t. I had originally thought that a reference to our faith and industry. Apparently, it really referred to our bank accounts. Faced now with a $30,000 debt, a staggering amount in those days, especially when one remembers that the average starting salary of clergy was $17,000, it seemed that “having what it took” meant several years of being parsimonious in contributions outside of those to one’s own parish.

Interestingly, when I read the seminary’s annual report today, I notice how comparatively slight the contributions from my class have been through the years.

I suppose I could get really worked up and note that the seminary has never posted a photograph of my graduating class on their website. The graduates before us are there, as are those after us. My class, I lament, is absent. This really isn’t much of a surprise. I remember the photo being taken, but I don’t remember ever being offered the chance to purchase a copy. Since we have lost some of our classmates through the years, to accident, AIDS and age, I wouldn’t mind the chance as I get older to stare wistfully at that photo and those eager, hopeful, young, or at least younger, faces. But to complain about such a thing is the sentiment of middle age, I think, and not charitable. Again, though, I look to the history of giving from that “missing” class and wonder if there is a connection.

A better reason for my concern is that the seminary has grown remote from me; a remoteness that began almost immediately after that missing photo was taken. To an extent this is supposed to happen, as it is the role of any educational institution to prepare its students and then liberate them into the world, or at least the professional arena. However, it seems that the successful professional seminaries and divinity schools are those that spend a considerable amount of capital in creating and developing workshops, seminars, degree programs and speaking series that address the very real needs of parish clergy in all types of congregations, not to mention those who work as chaplains in a variety of institutions.

About a decade ago, when I wished to gain further education in my field, I first looked at the offerings of my former seminary and found them wanting. I shopped around, read a great deal of admissions literature, and chose, of all things, a predominantly Presbyterian school. It was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. Not only did I earn two subsequent academic degrees, but I was now privy to a variety of annual continuing education offerings that were practical, affordable, and convenient. Ironically, it is to that institution that I feel a connection; it is to that institution that I give without a second thought.

Perhaps the most disappointing moment came recently. Call it, if you will, a tale of two parishioners. My former seminary handed out, in the manner of all academic institutions, honorary doctorates to a variety of people, one of whom was a former parishioner of mine; a prominent person. Certainly, he is prominent in many ways, except in attendance at worship and other parish events. In the time I was his rector, I never saw him in the congregation, not even at Christmas or Easter; not eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, not buying crafts at the parish fair.

According to my seminary, he’s now qualifies to be a doctor of the Church.

I had another former parishioner, who died this year, a man of no prominence whatsoever. Except in his parish, of course, where he attended worship every Sunday, where he helped at every parish event, and where he pledged to the work of the congregation. His means were limited, very limited, but he would always fill out a pledge card in the amount of $52; the one dollar a week that he could afford. Every Sunday he would put on his worn dress shoes and his cleanest, neatest t-shirt and sweater, and receive the sacrament. When an usher was absent, he would substitute. When we needed a processional cross for Good Friday, he made one, singular in its beauty, from discarded wood he found in the city dump and in long dormant neighborhood “construction” sites.

If I were a seminary dean, he would have been awarded one of those honorary doctorates. If not him, then one of the many, many like him who grace our parishes. I appreciate that folks like him are not wealthy or prominent and that they will never be able to write a check that will “save the seminary”, or introduce the dean to those who can. But I would also hope, somewhere in the life of this increasingly necrotic church, there would be room to recognize, in the most formal way possible, those who have represented that which Jesus taught in simplicity, purpose, and participation.

However, I am not a seminary dean, and I do not begrudge him his position or his duties. If the deans, bishops and other leaders of the church are those who must recognize with grand honors indifferent “members”, then those of us in our quiet parishes may see, and lift up, the works of those who are there to worship and work.

This year, though, I think I’ll send my former seminary $52. It seems fitting somehow.
 Actually, they'll be lucky to get that much this year.

Update:  A friend forwards some remarkably pungent observations from Walter Russell Mead.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Amanda just called to tell me that she accepted a position as a sales associate for Glamour magazine.  I probably shouldn't have asked what her salary is to be.  I wonder if I can get a job at Glamour?

Thanks for your prayers, folks.

[Does anyone know of someone looking for a roommate or apartment sitter in NYC for the next two weeks?

Maybe It's Because It's Late August...

...or maybe I just need a vacation, but I haven't been keeping up with postings as well as I do usually.  Ideally, something should be posted every day so that the readership maintains the habit of checking the page, but I just haven't found that much to which to link in the past week or so.  Certainly, I have run out of what Hunter Thompson used as the final element in his journalistic trinity of "total coverage, full credit, final wisdom."  While I was sitting in the barber's chair this morning, I began to think about waves and water and boats and all the things that I'm going to miss as soon as summer ends.  I was so lost in those thoughts that I didn't notice that the barber had finished.  [Well, it only takes 3-5 minutes for me to get my hair cut, so it doesn't quite qualify as a coma.]

So, I'm leaving this weekend for two weeks.  Our Sunday School/Christian Education program will be planned and ready to begin on September 12th, a day on which we also have a vestry meeting which will begin our planning for the remainder of the year.  As I will note in our September newsletter, we had a very productive summer with signs of measurable growth, and there is much about which to be thankful.  So, since I've taken off only one Sunday in the past twelve months [out of contracted allotment of five], I think this a good time, before I run out of things to say on a Sunday morning.

I usually take a hiatus from the weblog during this time, but this year will offer an occasional notice or observation.  For those who read The Coracle once a day, I think once a week will be okay until the 11th. 

Now, to set the mood, some Dick Dale and the Del-Tones:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Week In History

August 22, 565: Celtic missionary and abbot Columba reportedly confronts the Loch Ness Monster and becomes the first recorded observer of the creature. "At the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified," wrote his biographer, "and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes".

August 22, 1670: English missionary John Eliot founds a church for Native Americans at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

August 22, 1800: Edward B. Pusey, author of Tracts for the Times and a leader of the Oxford Movement to renew the Anglican Church, is born. He wrote several works promoting a union between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but the Vatican I Ecumenical Council (1869-70) dashed his hopes when it declared the doctrine of papal infallibility.

August 23, 1723: Increase Mather, one of Colonial America's most famous clergymen, dies.

August 23, 1572: Catherine de Medici sends her son, young King Charles IX of France, into a panic with threats of an imminent Huguenot (French Protestant) insurrection. Frenzied, he yelled, "Kill them all! Kill them all!" In response, Catholics in Paris butchered the Huguenots who had come to the city for a royal wedding. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants died in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

August 24, 410: Alaric and the Goths sack Rome. Pagans blamed pacifist Christians and their God for the defeat. Augustine, in his massive City of God, repudiated this claim and blamed Rome's corruption instead.

August 24, 1456: The second volume of the Gutenberg Bible is bound in Mainz, Germany. This act completes a two-year project to create the first complete book printed with movable type.

August 24, 1759: William Wilberforce, philanthropist and vocal abolitionist, is born in Yorkshire, England.

August 24, 1662: The deadline arrives for all British ministers to publicly assent to the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The Act of Uniformity, passed on May 19, 1662, also required the BCP to be used exclusively from this date forward. The act remains on Britain's Statute Book, though it has been modified over the years.

August 25, 1560: Led by John Knox, the reformed Church of Scotland is established on Protestant lines. The Scottish parliament accepts the Calvinistic Scots Confession, forbids the mass, and declares the pope has no jurisdiction in Scotland.

August 26, 1901: The American Standard Version of the Bible is first published by Thomas Nelson and Sons. The A.S.V. spun off from the 1881 English Revised Version, the first nondenominational English revision since publication of the King James Version in 1611.

August 27, 1660: Charles II, newly restored to the throne, orders the works of poet John Milton (who supported the Parliament) to be burned by royal decree. Milton, though imprisoned for a short while, continues work on his masterpiece, Paradise Lost.

August 27, 1727: Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf's Moravian community at Herrnhut, Germany, begins a round-the-clock "prayer chain." Reportedly, at least one person in the community was praying every minute of the day—for more than a century.

August 27, 1910: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu is born to an Albanian couple in Yugoslavia. At age 18, Agnes entered an Irish convent. She later became known worldwide as Mother Teresa.

August 28, 430: As Vandals invade Roman North Africa and overwhelm Hippo refugees,Augustine dies of a fever. Miraculously, his writings, including City of God survived the Vandal takeover, and his theology became one of the main pillars on which the church of the next 1,000 years was built.

August 28, 1828: Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist and social reformer, is born. Though the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him in 1901, his later works emphasized Christian love and the teachings of Jesus.

August 29, 29: Since the fifth century, tradition has this as the date for the beheading of John the Baptist.

August 29, 70: Romans burn the gates, enter the Temple courtyards of Jerusalem, and destroy the temple by fire. Within a month, Jewish resistance ends.

August 29, 1632: John Locke, English philosopher and author of The Reasonableness of Christianity, is born. He emphasized reason over the supernatural and argued that the essence of Christianity acknowledges Christ as the Messiah who came to our world primarily to spread the true knowledge of God.

August 29, 1792: Charles Grandison Finney, the father of modern revivalism, is born in Warren, Connecticut. The Old School Presbyterians resented Finney's modifications to Calvinist theology. The revivalistic Congregationalists, led by Lyman Beecher, feared that Finney was opening the door to fanaticism by allowing too much expression of human emotion. Others criticized his "scare tactics." Nevertheless, Finney paved the way for later mass-evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Jeremiah learns that youth is no excuse, Paul explains the stability of the New Creation, and, for the third week in a row, Jesus calls people names again, albeit while healing a woman whom no one else could heal.  All this plus the infamous "rabbi fines" and how Christian devotion is now defined by receiving Bible verses on a Blackberry.

The lections may be found here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Feast Of William Porcher Dubose

One of the Episcopal Church's premier theologians from the latter portion of the 19th century.  If you haven't heard of him, it's because Yankee difficulty with the Confederate States of America, the army of which Dubose served as a chaplain during the War Between The States, prevents him from being too dramatically acknowledged lest his early service distract from the preferred historical narrative of our tradition.

However, some of his books are still around.  As is a well-received biography

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Almost Heaven, Part II: A Race Track With An Archaeological Site

Ancient temple complex discovered near Le Mans

Last month it was a surf beach with a site.  Is it possible for there to be a surf beach/auto racing venue/archaeological site somewhere waiting?  When that day comes it's goodbye, Roxbury.

[Above is a photo of an ancient idol, apparently unknown to those born after 1987 A.D.]

Another Short-Lived Bassist

Gap Band bassist Robert Wilson dies at 53

I've been trying to master this riff for years [Warning: If you play this, it will get stuck in your head and you will be intolerably funky for the rest of the day.]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Oh, dear.  I knew I had forgotten to do something yesterday.  The lections may be found here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some Days Of Note

As I was away on Tuesday and Wednesday, I missed some interesting feast days of the church.  A short explanation of each is offered below:

August 10 - St. Laurence, a deacon, served as the "treasurer" for the Church of Rome.  In 258, he was ordered by a Roman prefect to surrender all of the treasures of the church.  Laurence was allowed three days to complete this task and, when he returned with the sick, poor, the widows and orphans, announced that these were the "treasures of the church."  The prefect rewarded Laurence for his cleverness and clear presentation of Gospel-based theology by having him roasted to death on a gridiron.  [By the way, that's why Laurence is the patron saint of football teams.]

August 11 - St. Clare, after hearing a sermon by St. Francis of Assisi in the year 1212, surrendered her inheritance and joined the founder of the Franciscans, establishing a religious order for women that exists to this day in both the Roman and Anglican Churches.

August 12 - An unofficial feast day, as it has not been properly ratified by the PTB*, is offered today for Florence Nightingale.  The reason for the hesitance is that she tended to the pantheistic in some of her personal writings and was also rather liberated in her personal relations.  [How's that for a euphemism?]  However, her reformation of the British nursing system turned it from a practice employing alcoholics and "reformed" prostitutes to a profession that stressed education, hygiene, and vocational competence.

August 13 - "Jeremy Taylor was born at Cambridge in 1613 and ordained in 1633. In the years between 1633 and the ascendancy of the Puritans in 1645, he was a Fellow of two Cambridge colleges, and chaplain to Archbishop Laud and to King Charles. Under Puritan rule, he was imprisoned three times, and forced into retirement as a family chaplain in Wales. After the Restoration, in 1661, he became Bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland."

[* Powers That Be]

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Week In History

August 8, 1471: Thomas a Kempis, Dutch mystic and devotional author of The Imitation of Christ, dies at age 91. In his classic, Thomas wrote, "We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ."

August 8, 1492: Albrecht Durer's art is published for the first time when one of his woodcuts serves as the title page for St. Jerome's letters. In a few years, he became one of the most famous painters and engravers in Germany.
August 10, 70: Roman troops, sent by Emperor Vespasian to put down a Jewish rebellion, break through the walls of Jerusalem and destroy the temple. Some said that the event occurred on the same day of the year as the earlier destruction of Solomon's temple by Babylonians.

August 11, 1253: Clare of Assisi, a Benedictine nun known for her spiritual relationship with St. Francis and for founding the Poor Clares, dies. In 1958, citing a legend that Clare once saw and heard Mass being celebrated miles away, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the patron saint of television.

August 11, 1519: Johann Tetzel, the German Dominican priest whose peddling of indulgences inspired Martin Luther to write his 95 Theses, dies. Throughout Germany he infamously preached, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs."  [A good stewardship motto, eh? - ed.]

August 11, 1890: John Henry Newman dies. Ordained an Anglican in 1824, he later helped lead the Oxford Movement, aiming to restore the Church of England to its high church principles. [And about time, too. - ed.]

August 13, 1587: Members of Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition to Roanoke baptises Manko, the first American Indian convert to Protestantism.

August 13, 1667: Jeremy Taylor, English scholar, theologian, and author of Holy Living and Holy Dying, dies at 54.

August 14, 1248: Construction of the Cologne Cathedral begins. Workers completed it on the same date in 1880.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Religion In The 21st Century

How Christian history appears to a fellow writing in Marketing Week:

"Organised religion developed some of the first truly great global brands. They created powerful, globally recognisable symbols such as the cross, told great brand stories, used the mass media of churches, used brand ambassadors (clerics, missionaries), created a sense of identity by attacking rivals through various holy wars and created a sense of awe and spectacle through grand cathedrals and major festivities." - SEAN BRIERLEY

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

This week Abram receives the words of faith and comfort, of which the Hebrews are reminded in their letter, and Jesus commands his disciples to "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit" [or, as we once knew it in a more literate translation, "Gird up your loins and set your lamps burning"].  All this plus my homemade boarding school calendar.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another Sure Sign Of Summer

A 7-year-old runs afoul of a petty bureaucrat:

Lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate

A delightful update: Lemonade stands get reprieve: Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen apologizes for health inspection shutdown

I Know This May Seem Early...

...but I want to start planning for an adult education program on Thursday nights in the fall.  I'd like to do something of general interest such as the Biblical archaeology sessions that we enjoyed during Lent.

One of the things that I've done in the past is historically to trace the movement of Christianity from the 2nd Century A.D. all the way through the Roman Empire, to Britain and, eventually, its colonies, to the settling of the congregation I was working with at the time.  For our purposes, this would be "From Jerusalem to Roxbury".

The individual sessions would cover a lot of the unknown portions of Christian history that explain why we do what we do in worship, what has made our tradition different from others, and, like the archaeology class, introduce you to some of the great characters of our shared history.  My guarantee is that all will find something of interest.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to let me know.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Update From Haiti

Back in February, as parishioners will recall, we held a benefit concert for Haiti featuring members and friends of Christ Church.  We raised $7200 for Episcopal Relief and Development, an achievement that is noted on a handsome plaque that is featured on our "wall of fame".  [Some day I hope our own diocese will acknowledge our effort.  I know, I'm a dreamer.]

Some of the results of that contribution may be read about in this article:

Episcopal Relief & Development head finds cause for hope during recent trip to Haiti

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Hollies

The plants, that is, not the disco boys.  Consider this yet another small improvement.  Also consider it yet another one of those exercises where Mrs. Rector and I test our marriage.  We may be getting a little too old to wrestle 150 pound root balls onto and off of the pickup and into 3x3 4x4 ft. holes that we dug through New England rock and stiff soil.  Then again, nah.  It's actually fun. 

Has anyone seen the Motrin?

The Rectory Phone Is Working!

Gosh, thanks A.T. &T.  Turns out other houses in the neighborhood were out, too.  It only took the phone company six days to stop blaming the customers and discover the fault was with their own equipment.

Why does this remind me of "The President's Analyst"?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Week In History

August 3, 1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain for the "Indies." Though the explorer was in part driven by a quest for gold and glory, he also saw himself as a missionary. He thought, if there were a shortcut to the East by sea, missionaries could be sent there faster, thus enabling Christians to meet the provision for world evangelization before the Lord could return.

August 4, 1792: By order of revolutionaries, all houses of worship close in France.

August 4, 1892: English medical missionary Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell arrives in Labrador, Newfoundland. He labored as a physician and missionary for 42 years and was instrumental in building orphanages, hospitals, cooperative stores, and other community organizations. [What? A missionary could be a physician/scientist? He could actually perform demonstrable acts of good? That certainly doesn't fit the contemporary secular narrative, does it? -Ed.]

August 5, 642: Oswald, the king of Northumbria who first began the official establishment of Christianity in England, is "martyred" in battle against the pagan Penda of Mercia. Converted at Iona, Scotland, Oswald erected a wooden cross before one of his earliest battles and commanded his soldiers to pray. When he defeated the English king in that battle, Oswald commissioned the Irish monk Aidan to begin establishing Christianity.

August 5, 1570: Spanish Jesuits, intent on converting the Native Americans [that's what non-aboriginal Americans call American Indians], arrive in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Six months later, the Indians massacred the group, and the Jesuits ended their work in the region. [The Jesuits' tactics for conversion were less intellectual than their reputation would suggest. Their attitude towards Indian women, for example, was found distasteful by the aboriginals. -Ed.]

August 5, 1604: John Eliot, the "Apostle to American Indians," is baptized. He succeeded in converting over 3,600 Aboriginal-Americans, publishing the Bay Psalm Book (the first book printed in America), and forming the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. [The SPG was the Church of England in the colonies, of which Christ Church's congregation would be a part. -Ed.]

August 5, 1656: Eight Quakers from England arrive in Boston, where Puritans [forerunners of today's Congregationalists] of the Massachusetts Bay Colony immediately imprisoned them without trial. They were held until the ships that brought them were ready to take them back to England. [Apparently, the Congos thought one could never be too sure about the Quakers. They might pray without Puritan permission or something. -Ed.]

August 6, 258: Emperor Valerian executes Bishop of Rome Sixtus II, who was preaching a sermon in a cemetery. The emperor originally tolerated Christians, but switched to persecuting them because he believed they were responsible for the plagues, earthquakes, and other disasters that disturbed his reign.

August 6, 1221: Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominicans), dies. He left this "inheritance" to his followers: "Have charity among you, hold to humility, possess voluntary poverty." A mere five years earlier, he had six followers. At his death, he had thousands.

August 6, 1801: Revival hits a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Within a week, 25,000 were attending the revival services. It was the largest and most famous camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening.

August 7, 317: Constantius II, Son of Constantine the Great and Roman emperor from 337 to 361, is born. During his lifetime, he outlawed pagan sacrifice. But Constantius was also a devout Arian (a heresy his father had condemned at the Council of Nicea) and strongly opposed Athanasius.

August 7, 1409: The Council of Pisa, convened by the cardinals to end the Great Schism that had divided Western Christendom since 1378, closes. The council deposed both warring popes as schismatics and heretics, and elected Alexander V. It didn't end the schism (as there were now three warring popes), but it paved the way toward a solution at the Council of Constance in 1417. [Typical of committee work: they try to turn two popes into one and wind up creating three. This is the moment when the idea of Protestantism began to take hold. After all, anything would be better than this nonsense. -Ed.]

August 7, 1771: Francis Asbury answers the call of the Church of England's John Wesley for volunteers to go to America as missionaries; Asbury would become the father of American Methodism.