18 May 2020

May 18, 1980

An Historic Day

My memory.

I returned to the dorm after church and was headed to the Rotunda for brunch (there were only two meals on Sundays), pausing to watch the darkest storm clouds I had ever seen rolling in. Then, I learned that they were not storm clouds, but volcanic ash. I ate quickly (I suspect) and then bicycled to Dissmore's IGA to buy some film for my camera. That afternoon, my 35mm Minolta was my ticket atop the Physical Science Building, along with a friend ("my assistant"), Vic Mulzac. I took photos of the marvelous "sunset" to the east as the clouds of ash darkened the skies.

Later that afternoon, perhaps 4:00 pm., the ash began to fall. By morning, we had perhaps 1/2 inch of very fine powder--the consistency of concrete mix. Monday morning, 8:00 am classes were held, but the dust clouds grew so bad that the university cancelled classes for the day. A similar routine followed on Tuesday. Then, Wednesday, classes were cancelled for the rest of the week.

There was a lot of drinking in the dorms, but I was trying to study for the last few weeks of the semester. I was only then, at the end of freshman year, beginning to acquire the study habits that were vital to surviving college. But, as the champ at caps (a drinking game involving throwing bottle caps into a glass of beer--I threw only Coors caps, as they were heavier), I was pressured a lot to join the games. I resisted successfully.

17 May 2020

Feudalism, Christianity, America

I present an excerpt from a scholarly article published more than fifty years ago. Who writes like this today?
Despite the fact that Christ redeemed man and revealed to him the central democratic truth that all men have equal value on earth as well as in heaven, the medieval Church developed a hierarchical, authoritarian priesthood and encouraged feudalism, a totally undemocratic and hence anti-Christian system. During the Reformation, however, men like Luther and Calvin reasserted true Christianity by proclaiming religious equality and by insisting that the Bible contained all knowledge requisite to salvation and that every man could know God directly and personally, without the mediation of an authoritarian Church. Although they had thus forever destroyed the religious foundations of feudalism, the institution itself staggered on, even to Bancroft's own day. Because of her separation from Rome in the sixteenth century and the moral superiority of her Teutonic, freedom-loving people, England had realized greater progress towards liberty and equality than priest-ridden, despotic nations like Spain and France; yet in the seventeenth century England herself was so feudalistic as to have forced large numbers of her most morally advanced citizens to flee to North America, where they planted imperishable seeds of religious and political liberty. In the eighteenth century these colonists became convinced that if they were to realize their democratic visions they would have to separate from the mother country, and in the Revolutionary War they won for themselves and all mankind the independence which it was their destiny to translate into the finest and purest democracy the world had ever known. Now they bore the lamp of freedom that would light the world, leading it toward an inevitable democratic paradise, the final Kingdom of God on earth. Before the example of America all forms of tyranny would evaporate, and the mission of Christ and the will of Providence would be fulfilled.
Richard C. Vitzthum, "Theme and Method in Bancroft's History of the United States," New England Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3 (1968), 368-369.
Is Vitzthum writing in the voice of his subjects, employing historical ventriloquism to present seventeenth century ideologies? Does he embrace these ideologies?

On his blog, Vitzthum asserts his atheism. That would favor ventriloquism. Efforts to articulate the views held by people in the past can get one in trouble these days.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP