Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adler, Selig. "The United States and the Holocaust." Abstract

Adler, Selig. "The United States and the Holocaust," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 64, No. 1 (September 1974): 14-23.

Adler cites in footnote 1 several authorities who agree that "the United States could have done more to mitigate the catastrphe" (14). But the U.S. did not because of three factors: (a) Washington's incorrect assumptions about the Jewish plight in Europe and what the U.S. could do in order to alleviate it. (b) The refugee predicament came far behind other concerns of the time, especially the war. (c) The aid which did come was too little, too late (14). Most of the article concerns the political mistakes and misdeeds of the U.S. during the Holocaust which resulted in many, many more deaths.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preachers at the South Thornton Church of Christ, Piggott, Arkansas, 1965-1993

It's now been more than twenty years since I and my young family moved from NE Arkansas to Southern New England. In August of 1993, we said our sad good-byes to members of the South Thornton Church of Christ in Piggott, AR. Then, we spent three days (me driving a diesel truck with my wife and two small children in the cab) making our way to Wallingford, CT, where I became the preacher for the Ward Street Church of Christ.

During the last two years before my move from Arkansas, especially in late 1991, I conducted a good bit of research on the history of the South Thornton congregation. More about that in a future post perhaps. Here is the best information I have about pulpit preachers for the congregation from 1965 to 1993:

C. Ray Miller, July 1965--December 1975
Carroll P. Bennett, June 1976--September 1981
Glen Goss, October 1981--May 1983
Kenneth Burton, June 1983--July 1988
Frank Bellizzi, October 1988--August 1993

Richard Runions, served as an associate minister 1974--1983

Friday, July 04, 2014

The American Revolution: A Brief History by a Top-Flight Scholar

Wood, Gordon S. The American Revolution: A History. New York: Modern Library, 2002.

In the "Preface," to this brief survey, historian Gordon S. Wood suggests that the American Revolution should simply be "explained and understood." And that's what this book sets out to do: to explain  "[h]ow the Revolution came about, what its character was, and what its consequences were" (xxv).

Wood's approach differs from the standard telling of the story. Whenever I hear the phrase "the American Revolution," I naturally think of what I was taught were the high points of "the War of Independence": events like Paul Revere's ride, battles at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and Cornwallis's surrender to George Washington at Yorktown. It's the stuff of old-style history. Great men and events. Kings and wars. And when describing wars, guns and trumpets.

However, historians like Wood want to tell us that, although never incidental, the war was not the essence of the Revolution. It was, instead, something more like a result, or a series of events that accompanied the Revolution. Consequently, only one of the seven chapter titles in this book contains the word "war." Indeed, Wood pays surprisingly little attention to events whose names we easily recognize.

Instead, he tells about the social, economic, political, and cultural forces that created a burden for great change in the British American colonies, a burden that was so compelling that it lead to open rebellion against an imperial king. Even more, Wood describes the new world, with new sensibilities, that came in the wake of the war; an emphasis on the rights and responsibilities of individuals, and what America could and ought to become. Above all, the qualified sense that all men were created equal began to change attitudes toward women, marriage, children, and slaves. Economic questions, international trade, political theory and practice. Nothing, it seems, went untouched by the Revolution. To cap it all off, a spirited debate between Federalists and Anti-federalists resulted in a federal constitution for the United States of America, a document that from the very beginning, recognized the political sovereignty of "We the people."

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Arrrgh! A Book about Pirates

Rediker, Marcus. Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

Marcus Rediker's Villains of All Nations is a cultural and social history of pirates on the Atlantic. By all accounts, the book distills Rediker's previously published writings about pirates, which first began to appear in 1981.

The author identifies the years 1650-1730 as piracy's "golden age." He says those 80 years break down into three distinct periods, each one connected to a particular group: (1) the buccaneers: European "sea dogs" who attacked the ships of Catholic Spain, 1650-80, (2) pirates who worked the Indian Ocean, with their base on Madagascar, during the 1690s, and (3) the subjects of this book, the largest, most successful of the three groups: pirates who terrorized the Atlantic just after the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714)—which had established the perfect conditions for the rapid growth of piracy—until 1726, by which time the war against pirates was won.

This book focuses on those few thousand outlaws at sea who were active from 1716 to 1726, the decade described by the author as the heyday of piracy. Rediker highlights that, even when standing on the gallows, pirates routinely and defiantly announced that their short lives of crime were at least happy lives. Compared to serving on the crew of an abusive, tyrannical captain, their lives of piracy had been downright “merry.” Essentially, condemned pirates claimed that they had been driven to live as outlaws. Taking their claims seriously, Rediker argues that, in spite of the common image of pirates as greedy treasure seekers, the subjects of his book started out as abused, impoverished working seamen. Upon becoming pirates, they organized themselves in ways that were highly democratic, and they spoke of themselves as "honest" men (and a very few women) who were not seeking loot so much as justice for the common sailor.

As the foregoing suggests, Rediker works with what appears to be a wide array of sources, and seems to have had the primary data under a microscope for a long time.

To see and hear Rediker himself, check out this presentation he made about pirates back in 2007.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Abstract of M.E. Aston article about Lollards

Aston, Margaret E. "Lollardy and Sedition 1381-1431" Past & Present 17 (April 1960): 1-44.

Aston summarizes the main point of this fine, substantial article in her first paragraph: "Before 1381, though the English governing classes had encountered heretics as well as rebels against society, they had never had to deal with either on a large or concerted scale. By the end of May 1382 both had been on their hands, and heresy (in the event) had come to stay.  . . . A heretical movement and a major upheaval among the lower orders of society had arrived, in point of time, together" (1). Having detailed the political aspects of early Lollard history, Aston concludes: "This is not, at all, to deny that there was,  throughout, a very genuine alarm for the salvation of souls, and concern for the maintenance of the orthodox faith; nor to say that this aspect of the Lollard movement was not, and is not, the first to be considered. But the nature of the heresy, of the society in which it spread, and of the government which had to deal with it, were such that its religious implications could not be considered alone. And other happenings of this period ensured that they were not. Sedition and dissent had come of age together" (35-36).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Reading List for Vietnam

The following reading list is for the topic of "Vietnam" in a much longer list for U.S. History after 1877. It includes seven titles. I am an Americanist, but I do not focus on the Vietnam War. So this is a set of books for the topic, geared toward preparation of a nonspecialist for comprehensive exams. Recommendations? Suggestions? Tell me what you think:

Berman, Larry. Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. HarperCollins/Smithsonian, 2007.

Bilton, Michael and Kevin Sim. Four Hours in My Lai. Penguin, 1992.

Milam, Ron. Not a Gentleman's War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War. North Carolina, 2009.

Moyar, Mark. Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965. Cambridge, 2006.

Prados, John. Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975. Kansas, 2009.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. Vintage, 1989.

Vuic, Kara Dixon. Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War. Johns Hopkins, 2010.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

All's Fair in War? Larry Berman's Wonderful Book about Pham Xuan An

Berman, Larry. Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. New York: HarperCollins/Smithsonian, 2007.

This finely-written book tells the story of one of the most fascinating real-life characters ever. If you like history with a bit of mystery, you'll love this.

*Spoiler Alert*

In early 1953 in the southernmost province of Vietnam, the legendary Le Duc Tho presided over a ceremony in which Pham Xuan An, the subject of this riveting story, became a member of the Communist Party. Shortly afterward, the Party determined An's career. They realized he had the intellect and disposition to become a first-rate spy. For many years to come, An would lead a brilliant double life.

As historian and author Larry Berman explains, in the early 1950s, the leaders of the Communist Party fully realized that the United States was in the process of replacing the French colonialists in Vietnam. To the U.S.--in spite of American propaganda--Vietnam was never about the Vietnamese people. It was always about Cold War containment and the incredible task of keeping all of the dominoes in Southeast Asia standing straight.

For their part, many of the Vietnamese people had no interest in being told by the French or the Americans or anyone else that they would not be allowed to determine their own national future. As they had with the French, the Vietnamese would do everything they could to resist the Americans. Secretly, Pham Xuan An and his network would become a powerful component of that resistance.

In 1957, An came to Orange Coast College in California where he learned English, became acquainted with American culture, and developed many contacts inside the U.S. He even worked for the college newspaper where he made several new friends. Upon returning to Vietnam, An was at first quite nervous. Living in Saigon, he wondered, would he be suspected and arrested? Once he settled down, An began to develop relationships with important Americans and high-ranking leaders within the South Vietnamese government. In the years to come, An worked for the Reuters news service, the New York Herald Tribune, and eventually for Time magazine. All along, he was one of Hanoi's most valuable informants. He didn't have to steal information. It was freely discussed and shared with him by people who considered An a colleague and friend.

In short, Pham Xuan An may have been the one of the greatest con men and informants ever. For many years, he lived as both a first-rate journalist in Saigon working for American news outlets, and also as a hero of the Communist government headquartered in Hanoi.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jon Butler on Jack-in-the-Box Faith in Modern American Historiography

Butler, Jon. "Jack-in-the-Box Faith: The Religion Problem in Modern American History," Journal of American History 90 (March 2004): 1357-1376.

Butler observes that historians typically assume that religion was a vital aspect of pre-Civil War American history. Citing U.S. history textbooks and survey courses, he notes that by contrast, religion "has not fared well in the historiography of modern America" (1358). One symptom of this difference is that "[a]fter 1870, . . . religion more often appears as a jack-in-the-box." It "pops up colorfully on occasion . . . But as with a child's jack-in-the-box, the surprise offered by the color or peculiarity of the figure is seldom followed by an extend performance, much less substance" (1359). The question arises, "Was religion important in American public and private life after 1870, and how should historians describe it?" Butler breaks down the question along three lines: "the problem of assuming 'secularization' in America after 1870; religion's continuing importance in twentieth-century American politics and elections; and religion's adaptive capacities in the face of modernity's technological, economic, and intellectual challenges" (1360). For the remainder of the article, Butler provides an historiographical essay in which he demonstrates that historians and observers of America have produced a rich variety of resources so that those who teach and write textbooks should be able to include religion as a vital aspect of American history following 1870.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Visit with Bill Humble

I shared lunch and had a nice visit with Bill Humble today. He'll turn 88 in September. He's lonely without Geraldine, "Gerry," who died in March 2013. They were together for over 64 years. At his home church here in Amarillo, Bill just finished teaching a Wednesday-night series on the Holy Land. He fills in some for the chaplain at his retirement community, and plays "Texas 88" dominoes with some men and women there. A nice new gazebo on the property is being named in Gerry's memory. Bill continues to get out and walk five or six mornings a week. His most recently-read book: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, by S. C. Gwynne. I told him I had recently read his 1965 article on "The Influence of the Civil War." We laughed when he asked me what the article said.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reading List for "Religion and Reform" in U.S. History to 1877

The following reading list is for the topic of "Religion and Reform" in United States History to 1877. For this segment, my professor requires five books (there is an * beside the required books) plus five more chosen from a group of possible electives. The list that I have come up with includes thirteen titles: nine books and four important articles/book chapters. Recommendations? Suggestions? Tell me what you think:

*Butler, Jon. Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People. Harvard, 1990.

*Flake, Kathleen. The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle. North Carolina, 2004.

Givens, Terrence. The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy. Oxford, 1997.

*Hatch, Nathan O. The Democratization of American Christianity. Yale, 1989.

*Heyrman, Christine Leigh. Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt. Knopf, 1997.

Mathews, Donald G. "The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, 1780-1830: An Hypothesis," American Quarterly 21 (Spring 1969): 23-43.

*Moore, R. Lawrence. Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans. Oxford, 1986.

Noll, Mark A. and Luke E. Harlow, editors. Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present. 2nd ed. Oxford, 2007.
  • Harlow, Luke E. "Slavery, Race, and Political Ideology in the White Christian South Before and After the Civil War."
  • Stout, Harry S. "Rhetoric and Reality in the Early Republic."
  • Wilson, John F. "Religion, Government, and Power in the New American Nation."
Pascoe, Peggy. Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939. Oxford, 1991.

Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers, 1815-1860. Rev. ed., Hill and Wang, 1997.

Wigger, John. American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists. Oxford, 2009.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Church of Christ in Altus, Oklahoma: Some Photos from the Archives

Ground-breaking for the Hudson and Elm Church of Christ building, c. 1925. The fa├žade indicates the building was completed in 1926. From left to right: 1. ?  2. Hilton Stacy  3. ?  4. J. C. Chisum  5. not wearing a hat, J. A. Cullum, preacher for the congregation  6. D. C. Oliver  7. W. A. Chisum  8. J. R. McMahan, who reportedly donated the land.
Silas and Willie Howell, c. 1936. Silas was then preacher for the congregation.
A closer look at Silas and Willie Howell

October 2, 1966. The photographer's notes on the photo identify two people. Wallace Gooch, preacher for the congregation at the time, is on the first row, second from the left (head tilted to his right side). Don Hayes, song director, is on the first row, first to the left of the aisle.  Full-time preachers for the congregation included the following:
1927-34 W. Claude Hall (left when invited by N. B. Hardeman to come back to F-HC)...
1934-37 Silas Howell
1937-41 Glenn Green
1941-43 Frank B. Shepherd
1943-46 Wallace Layton
1947-50 G. C. Abbott
1950-53 W. S. Boyett
Mack Lyon
Claude Robertson
Don Kern
L. N. Moody
Wallace Gooch
Gary Colley
Gene Gilmore
Wayne Price
Bill Osborne
Others who preached from this pulpit: Foy E. Wallace, Jr., G. C. Brewer, Ernest Highers, O. C. Lambert, V. E. Howard, Maxie Boren, Wayne Price, Jimmy Allen, S. H. Hall, J. D. Tant, Horace Busby, Jesse B. Sewell, Delmar Owens, N. B. Hardeman, Roy Cogdill, Homer Hailey, John Bannister, C. E. McGaughey, George DeHoff, Perry Cotham.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Report on Forrest M. McCann, "Changes in Worship Music in Churches of Christ"

McCann, Forrest M. "'Time is Filled with Swift Transition': Changes in Worship Music in Churches of Christ," Restoration Quarterly 39 (Fourth Quarter 1997): 195-202.

This article was originally a speech, delivered at Abilene Christian University in 1997. Forrest McCann, a musician and historian, identifies and describes distinct episodes in the musical history of the Churches of Christ. According to him, they are as follows:

The Nineteen Century: The Campbell Tradition

No surprise, Alexander Campbell was the most significant influence on the worship music of the Disciples movement during the nineteenth century. Campbell had been raised a Presbyterian. Consequently, he favored the "metrical versions of the Psalms" well-known among the Presbyterians. His original hymnal of 1828 was republished a number of times. And, it served as the basis for hymnals produced by the American Christian Missionary Society between 1865 and 1882.

First Major Transition: Competition

In 1882, James Henry Fillmore published a song book that was much the same as the one produced by the ACMS. But, Fillmore's book was cheaper! Consequently, Campbell's dream of the the united Disciples having just one hymnal was crushed. Too, a new era of song-book competition began. Standard Publishing produced a hymnal in 1888, and in 1889, the Gospel Advocate came out with a hymnal whose lyrics were overseen and edited by E. G. Sewell. Interestingly, there was evidently no one among the Churches of Christ at the time who was qualified to oversee the music for the Gospel Advocate hymnal. So, a Methodist musician, Rigdon M. McIntosh who was on the faculty at Vanderbilt, did the job.

Second Major Transition: Advocate Books

Following the official separation between the Christian Churches and the non-instrument, non-society Churches of Christ in 1906, hymnals produced by the Gospel Advocate always had a non-instrument, Churches of Christ text editor. But, again, there was apparently no one in the group who was qualified to oversee the musical part of the hymnal. Consequently, an "instrumental" brother or someone like the Methodist Rigdon McIntosh edited the tunes. "The sad fact is that since the 1906 separation, Churches of Christ have never been a part of the mainstream of church song in America" (196).

Third Major Transition: Competition Again

Just as there was competition among Disciples hymnals in the 1880s, the emerging Churches of Christ witnessed similar competition. There were the Gospel Advocate hymnals, which competed with hymnals produced by the Firm Foundation, plus a large number of hymnals produced by independent editors. None of these hymnals featured songs whose words and music were consistently good.

Among the many hymnals published in the early 20th century, The Wonderful Story in Song (1917), by F. L. Rowe, was more substantial than most, and had some staying power (197). Some of the song books produced by the Churches of Christ in the first half of the twentieth century were of very low quality.

West of the Mississippi, Churches of Christ typically used the hymnals produced by the Firm Foundation headquartered in Texas. Hymnals were edited by G.H.P. Showalter, editor of the Firm Foundation magazine. The content of these hymnals was heavily influenced by F. L. Eiland, "the most prominent singing-school teacher among the Churches of Christ in Texas" and his proteges (197). Eiland's own Trio Music Company and subsequent Quartet Music Company produced several small, paperback hymnals, none of which lasted very long. These were filled with the words and music of Eiland and his students, songs which no one had ever sung before (and hardly since). Especially in the west, Churches of Christ were going their own way musically. This was a regional, mediocre tradition which produced very few songs which have lasted. Eiland's best-known book was The Gospel Gleaner (1901).

(FVB's guess is that two best-known songs from this time and place are F. L. Eiland, "Time is Filled with Swift Transition," and a song by one Eiland's students, Will Slater, "Walking Alone at Eve").

Fourth Major Transition: Great Songs

In May 1921, E. L. Jorgenson, a trained musician, completed Great Songs of the Church. Commendations poured in and were published in Word and Work, which had produced the new hymnal. Among Churches of Christ hymnals, the quality was unprecedented. And, this hymnal "reconnected the Churches of Christ with the great historic tradition of hymns and spiritual songs" (198). The book was a combination of Christian history and more-recent music produced by the Restoration Movement. Here was the best music from Christendom and from Restorationism. The musical isolationism of the Churches of Christ was coming to an end.

In producing Great Songs of the Church, Jorgenson was heavily influenced by the lesser-known W. E. M. Hackleman. For example, like Hackleman (and Fillmore), Jorgenson divided his collection into "Hymns" and "Gospel Songs."

Fifth Major Transition: The Dominance of Great Songs

The Gospel Advocate was silent about Great Songs, which was published by Word and Work, associated with R. H. Boll and premillennialism. Nonetheless, Great Songs became the standard everywhere, apparently because of its quality and despite its connections to "Bollism." By 1958, Jorgenson could say, "Nearly three million souls, in some 10,000 churches, now sing the Saviour's praises from its pages" (200). In the 50s, Jorgeson sold his standard-note edition of the hymnal to the Christian Standard, and the shaped-noted edition to Abilene Christian University. "The result of these transactions was that for the next decade and a half the heirs of the Stone-Campbell Movement again approached Alexander Campbell's dream of one hymnal for the churches" (200).

Sixth Major Transition: Imitation

Beginning in the mid-50s, producers of song books began simply copying songs straight from Great Songs of the Church. Sometimes the new books were 50 percent reproductions of songs from Jorgenson's work. They did so with impunity and apparently came to imagine that what they were doing was right. "His work, which has greatly elevated and standardized our hymnody, is now in its death throes because of inveterate copying. Perhaps my speech today is its requiem" (201). (Seems like this section should be called "Duplication" not "Imitation").

Seventh Major Transition: Current Events

McCann clearly saw the 1990s as an era of decline. A summary of his observations:

1. Only seventeen years later, it is astonishing to read McCann's assumption that part of the answer is to keep the best hymnals in print. (How many Christians sing from a printed hymnal anymore? They sing words projected onto a screen. In many cases, there is no musical notation).

2. Publishers of song books operate on the premise that more songs makes for a better book. McCann notes that by that time, there was a hymnal with over 1000 selections.

3. The advent of "so-called praise songs."

4. A trend toward performance music, music written for choirs and other trained musicians, not for "the average worshiper" (201).

In his conclusion, MaCann hints that the introduction of more-complicated music makes the adoption of instrumental music more likely. He quotes approvingly from a 1861 article by Isaac Errett in the Millennial Harbinger, which discusses the importance of music and singing.