Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shoeless John de Yepes

Recently, my pastor was preaching about the long dry periods we sometimes experience in our spiritual lives. He, of course, mentioned the 'dark night of the soul", a common reference for this subject and referred to by a few of the more famous in the Christian world who have experienced it, such as Mother Theresa. As he spoke (you can hear what he had to say here ) I could not help but think about the life of John de Yepes, the Christian mystic and poet who coined the phrase. Let me tell you a little about him.

The de Yepes family was not a wealthy Spanish family. They might have been except that John's father Gonzalo had chosen to marry the common woman he loved, Catalina, instead of someone his noble father might have chosen for him. As a result he was disinherited and the young couple found themselves struggling to survive as silk weavers. Gonzalo passed away soon after John was born in 1542, leaving Catalina to struggle even harder to raise her boys. In an effort to find work she moved to Medina de Campo.

Though John studied well at the "poor school" he attended, when he was apprenticed out to a local artisan, it seemed he was incapable of learning anything. Exasperated, his master loaned him out to a Jesuit school where John divided his time between his studies and serving in the hospital for the impoverished. Over the next seven years John felt the call of God grow ever stronger upon him, but not just any call. John was convinced that he was to become a friar in the strictest traditions of the old desert fathers. John felt that 'modern' orders had grown soft allowing themselves far too many of life's pleasures - like shoes.

No... I'm not kidding! John joined the Carmelite order in 1563 taking the name John of St. Mathias. The order had historically been very strict, taking their example from the prophet Elijah. John felt that by embracing poverty and going without food, he would grow closer to God. But he soon decided the Carmelites were not strict enough and made the decision to transfer his allegiance to the Carthusians. Then he met Teresa of Avila.

Like John himself, Teresa felt the order had grown far too soft; however, instead of leaving she was urging Carmelites to return to the original strict poverty of their order. John embraced Teresa's plan, and along with two other men, he moved into a farmhouse which was in such bad shape that even Teresa did not think anyone could live in it. He renamed himself John of the Cross and became the spiritual leader of the new movement.

As a symbol of the strictness of their devotion they adopted the "discalced" discipline (from the Latin for without shoes). This discipline requires it's followers to go unshod, that is barefoot, as a testament to their devotion. The practice was introduced by Francis of Assisi when shoes were considered a luxury item. The followers of the discipline, devoted to a life of poverty either eschewed shoes entirely or limited themselves to simple sandals when conditions warranted - such as in winter.

Sometime later, Teresa invited John to come to Avila and serve as director and confessor to the convent of the Incarnation, of which she had been appointed prioress. During the five years he remained there the reform spread rapidly, and soon those in higher authority began to take a great deal of notice.

Because the movement did not have the official sanction of the powers that be, John was ordered to return to the house of his profession, that is the monastery on Medina. He refused to do so, and soon found himself in prison for resisting commands from a superior. In prison, he was scourged. But after nine months, he managed to escape and reappeared as leader of another community at Ubeda. He spent the rest of his life there, passing away on December 14, 1591.

While in prison, John began writing "Dark Night of the Soul", a commentary on a poem he had written.

On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed, my house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure...

Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me more surely than the light of noonday...

Oh, night that guided me, oh, night more lovely than the dawn...

The poem, called "The Ascent of Mount Carmel" (where Elijah met the priests of Baal) was extensive, originally intended to take up four books; but it breaks off part way through the third. In it and his other writings he sets forth the axiom that the soul must empty itself of self in order to be filled with God, that it must be purified of the last traces of earthly dross before it is fit to become united with God. In the application of this simple maxim he shows the most uncompromising logic. For this reason St. John is often portrayed as a fairly grim character; but personally I've never thought that to be true. He was indeed austere in the extreme, but from his writings I see in him a man overflowing with charity and kindness, a poet deeply influenced by all that is beautiful in God's creation.

John of the Cross moved into that dilapidated farm house, giving birth to the Discalced Carmelite Order on November 28th, 1568 - 439 years ago this week.


1. St John of the cross, Benedict Zimmerman. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. < >
2. Carmelite Order Official Website: Our Saints - St. John of the Cross < >
3: Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Other events that happened this week in Church history:

November 26, 1862: President Abraham Lincoln meets Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist author of Uncle Tom's Cabin and daughter of prominent minister Lyman Beecher. "So," Lincoln said upon meeting her, "you're the little woman that wrote the book that made this great war!"

November 27, 1095: In an effort to end hostilities between waring factions within the church by giving them a common enemy, Pope Urban II addresses the public to proclaim the First Crusade. The goals were to defend Eastern Christians from Muslim aggression, make pilgrimages to Jerusalem safer, and recapture the Holy Sepulcher. "God wills it! God wills it!" the crowd shouted in response.

November 29, 1847: Missionary physician Marcus Whitman, his wife, and 12 others are killed by Cayuse Indians in Washington's Walla Walla valley. Whitman had recently returned from a 3,000-mile journey to convince the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions not to close down one of his three mission stations. He was successful, and returned with a fresh group of immigrants—and the measles virus. Many Cayuse died of the disease, some of them because Whitman gave them vaccinations. Two years after the massacre, five Cayuse elders voluntarily gave themselves up, in order to end further retribution against their tribe. Their leader, Tiloukaikt, said on the gallows, "Did not your missionaries teach us that Christ died to save his people? So we die to save our people."

November 30, 1554: Recently crowned Queen of England, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, restores Roman Catholicism to the country. Nearly 300 Protestants would be burned at the stake by "Bloody Mary," including Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley. Nearly 400 more died by imprisonment and starvation.

December 1, 1170: Banished earlier by king Henry II because he sided with the church against the crown, archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket returns, electrifying all of England. Henry orders his former friend's execution, and Becket is slain by four knights while at vespers December 29. (T.S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral is a fascinating exploration of the event.)

December 2, 1980: Three American nuns and a lay churchwoman are killed by death squads in El Salvador. Some 70,000 Salvadorans are estimated to have died because of terrorists or civil war during the 1980s, including many Catholic clergy.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Archbishop of Oregon Came From Quebec

When Francois Norbert Blanchet was growing up on his parents farm in rural 19th century Quebec, I wonder if he ever dreamed he would one day travel to almost every corner of the world!

Born in September of 1795, near Saint-Pierre, Francois attended the village school for only three years before he and his brother Augustin were packed off to the Seminary of Quebec in 1810. He was ordained a priest 9 years later, and after serving in the cathedral for a year was sent to Richibucto, New Brunswick, as pastor of the Micmac Indians and Acadian settlers. The novice priest had to learn both the native languages and English in order to serve his diverse flock - which also included a small community of Irish settlers. He spent the next seven years traveling by canoe, dog sled, horse, and snow-shoe, enduring poverty, isolation, and innumerable hardships. He risked his own health tending the sick when a cholera epidemic struck the region.

In 1837 he was recalled to Montreal by Archbishop Signay and appointed vicar-general for the Oregon mission, a vast territory never before visited by a priest, that embraced over 375,000 square miles ranging from California all the way North to Alaska, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Blanchet set out from Lachine, Quebec on 3 May, 1838, traveling with the annual express of the Hudson's Bay Company, bound for Fort Vancouver. Their journey covered a distance of about 5,000 miles, and employed canoes, portages, barges, horses and mules (with and without wagons), and small boats. In Red River, they were joined by Father Modeste Demers, who would assist Father Blanchet in his duties. They spent nine days crossing the Rocky Mountains, on the summit of which, at three o'clock in the morning of October 16th, Father Blanchet celebrated Mass. They arrived at Fort Vancouver almost 40 days later.

As he had in New Brunswick, Blanchet took to his duties with a zeal and determination that won the respect and admiration of the majority of the locals. Demers was no slouch either. Over the next four years, working virtually on their own, the two men managed a monumental workload, riding from settlement to settlement, winning new converts and calling lapsed Catholics back to the faith. They established their first mission the year they arrived, the second in 1840, just north of the Columbia River in the disputed territory. Unlike New Brunswick, where his efforts had won Blanchet the thanks and gratitude of even the Protestant population, their success in the west led to bitter charges by angry Methodist missionaries. In 1842 the workload eased some as he was finally joined by two other priests from Canada, the great missionary, Father De Smet, with four other Jesuit priests, three lay brothers, and six Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

In August, 1844, he received letters from Rome confirming his appointment as the regions first bishop. To be consecrated he needed to return to Montreal; however, because it would be several months before the Hudson Bay's next trip east, on December 5th Blanchet boarded a steamer on the Columbia River, which docked at Honolulu, doubled* Cape Horn, finally landing at Dover, England. From there he went by rail to Liverpool, booked passage on a vessel to Boston and once again boarded a train which took him to Montreal, a journey of 22,000 miles.

He was consecrated in the same cathedral, where he had served his first year, on July 25th, 1845. He soon began the voyage back to the Oregon mission by way of Europe, visiting Rome, France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria serving the interests of his diocese. On the way he gathered additional workers, including six priests, four Jesuits, three lay brothers, and seven Sisters of Notre Dame. They sailed from Brest, France in February, 1847, and reached the Columbia River in August. The region was elevated to a province on July 1st, 1846 and Bishop Blanchet was made Archbishop of Oregon City; his brother became Bishop of Walla Walla, and Father Demers Bishop of Vancouver Island.

Arch-Bishop Francois Blanchet was no less zealous about his new office than any of his previous incarnations. The list of his activities would take some time to list; numerous councils, consecration of bishops, a book about his adventures in the fledgling Northwest, and a two-year trip to South America and, after the Jubilee Anniversary (50th) of his ordination, a trip back across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal, this time by the luxury of a steam-powered train.

From humble beginnings on a farm in very rural Quebec, this Canadian blazed a trail through largely uncharted territory to become one of the most significant names in the history of North American Christianity. That fateful day, when he and Demers first arrived at Fort Vancouver, was November 24th, 1838 - 169 years ago this week.


1. Francois Norbert Blanchet, Written by L.W. Reilley. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. < >
November 24, 1838 • Blanchet and Demers Arrived in Oregon ©2007, Christian History Institute, < >

Most people think Cape Horn is this jagged peninsula that juts out from the tip of South America. It isn't; it's actually the southern most island in an archipelago off the tip of the continent. Getting a square-rigged sailing ship around the tip of the continent involved finding a way through this group of islands as best one could given the weather and prevailing winds. Thus the goal was not "rounding" the Horn, but "doubling" it—in other words, sailing from 50 degrees south in one ocean to 50 degrees south in the other. Only then, hundreds of miles north of Cape Horn, could a ship be considered safely around.

Other events in Church history this week:

November 19, 1861: At the suggestion of her minister, abolitionist poetess Julia Ward Howe wrote "some good words to that tune" of the popular song "John Brown's Body." In February, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was published in the Atlantic Monthly and soon became exactly that.

November 20, 1541: In Switzerland, French reformer John Calvin, 32, established a theocratic government at Geneva, thereby creating a home base for emergent Protestantism throughout Europe.

November 21, 1638: A General Assembly at Glasgow abolishes the episcopal form of church government and establishes Presbyterianism, creating the Church of Scotland.

November 22, 1963: British scholar and author C.S. Lewis dies. Because of the popularity of his Narnia series of novels the world might have taken more notice of his passing, were it not for the fact that American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this very same day.

November 23, 1654: French scientist and mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal experiences a mystical vision and converts to Christianity. The creator of the first wristwatch, the first bus route, the first workable calculating machine, and the creator of Pascal's law, which formed the basis for modern hydraulic operations, then turned his life to the examination of theology. In 1657 Pascal published his Provincial Letters which criticized the moral teaching of the Jesuits, the rationalism of Descartes, and Montaigne's skepticism; and which urged a return to Augustine's doctrines of grace. (Additional note: The computer language PASCAL is named in his honour.)

November 25, 2348 BC: According to Anglican Archbishop James Ussher's Old Testament chronology, Noah's flood began on this date.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kings Were His Pall Bearers

The legend of Robin Hood shows King Richard the Lion-heart and his brother John struggling over who should rule England. But while the story of the Thief of Sherwood is indeed fiction, the reality is there was a bit of a thorn in the side of these two members of the 12th century royal family. His name was Hugh of Lincoln.

Born to a knightly family in the Burgundy region Hugh Avalon's life changed dramatically due to his mother's death when he was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old (accounts vary). His mother was the shining light of his Father's existence. When she died he was so overcome with grief he abandoned his castle and took up life in a nearby monastery, taking young Hugh with him. When asked why, he responded, "I will have him taught to carry on warfare for God before he learns to live for the world."

After his father's death, he joined a The Carthusian Order, a community of hermits in the Chartreuse Mountains, living in a cave in strict silence on one loaf of bread a week and wearing a hair shirt. Like many hermits he became more enamored of the wildlife that occupied the forests around his cave than his fellow human beings. After ten years of strict devotion he was promoted to the office of procurator of the Great Chartreuse, head monastrey of the order, a post second only to that of the prior of the house (the order has no abbeys, hence no abbots). He likely would have been made prior when the time came, but God had other plans for Hugh.

Across the channel in England, harsh words against Thomas Becket by King Henry II inspired four of his knights to assassinate the Archbishop. Henry, appalled at his own actions, swore to build three abbeys as penance. In true kingly style he confiscated peasant land to build one of the abbeys at Witham, near Somerset. Those set in charge of the abbey however, had difficulty making it work. Since that particular abbey was the first Carthusian abbey, Henry turned to Chartreuse for help. The prior knew just the man to go to England and resolve the situation - Hugh of Avalon.

At first Hugh resisted, but his devotion to the order wouldn't let him do so for long. At his prior's insistence, he left for England. He was astonished to discover that Witham had not been paid for. Holding Christ's example before the king he made it plain that he would have nothing to do with the site until the peasants who had owned the land were fully compensated. Henry, knowing the monk's reputation for unassailable integrity, paid "to the last penny."

Even though Hugh became a trusted advisor to the king, he never lost his humility. In the royal courts he dressed as simply as he had as a monk. He won the love of the poor, of children, and of lepers. Always a friend to the oppressed, he often tended to lepers and even risked his own life to prevent the slaying of a group of Jews during a riot. Never afraid of hard work, no task was beneath him. Lincoln cathedral had been damaged in an earthquake the year before Hugh became bishop. Hugh founded the present building, and worked on it with his own hands.

Hugh lived up to the expectations of his superiors. During the ten years he was prior at Witham numerous difficulties vanished almost as soon as they appeared. In 1186, again with much resistance, he was made Bishop of Lincoln. Any hope of someday retiring to the religious calm of his beloved Carthusian cell disappeared with this appointment. True to his character, he brought all his determination and untiring energy to the duties of his new station. He travelled endlessly: holding synods and visitations, confirming children, consecrating churches and burying the dead. His sense of justice was legendary and three popes, as well as the King, made him judge over some of the most important legal cases of the time. He even excommunicated the king's own forester who had oppressed the poor. At first Henry was angry, but in the end saw justice and had the man flogged.

Hugh also wrestled with Richard Lionheart, refusing to raise money for his wars. Unable to persuade the determined monk, Richard said, "If all bishops were like my lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could raise his head against them." Hugh also took Richard's brother, King John to task on a number of occasions, but John simply ignored him.

It should be mentioned that Hugh never lost his love of or affinity for nature. On the day of his installation at Lincoln, a swan took to following Hugh around the grounds, it soon became a beloved pet and even today when you see icons or paintings of St. Hugh, he will be accompanied by the swan. It is even said that after his death, in the year following that of King Richard, the bird pined for him the way swans are known to pine for a lost mate.

And the swan wasn't the only one. Though King John rarely followed Hugh's advice it did not mean John had no respect for the Bishop of Lincoln. Both remain royal brothers, King John of England and King William of Scotland, considered it an honor to be numbered among those carrying his coffin. Thus Hugh of Lincoln's pall bearers included two kings, and three archbishops, nine other bishops were also in attendance. St. Hugh was canonized by the Pope Honorius Ill, in 1220; and in 1280 his body was translated, with great ceremony, into the newly-built eastern part of the Lincoln Cathedral - the so-called "Angel Choir."

St. Hugh of Lincoln's funeral took place on November 16, 1200 - 807 years ago this week.


1. Britannia Biographies: St. Hugh of Lincoln. < >
2. The Catholic Encyclopedia, St. hugh of Lincoln, Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York < >
3. Photo Credit: The Grand Chartreuse: Official website of the Carthusian Order <>

Other events this week in Church history:

November 12, 1660: John Bunyan is arrested for unlicensed preaching and sentenced to prison. While incarcerated, he penned Pilgrim's Progess and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, the greatest Puritan spiritual autobiography.

November 13, 1618: The Dutch Reformed Church convenes the Synod of Dort to "discuss" the Arminian controversy. Of course, the synod's condemnation of Arminianism was a forgone conclusion—Arminians weren't even invited for another month. By April, 200 Arminian ministers (known as Remonstrants) were deposed by the Calvinist Synod, 15 were arrested, and one was beheaded for high treason.

November 14, 1976: The Plains (Ga.) Baptist Church, where then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter was a member, votes to permit blacks to attend.

November 15, 1885: Mwanga, ruler of Buganda (now part of Uganda), beheads recent Anglican convert and royal family member Joseph Mukasa. Mukasa opposed the massacring of Anglican missionary bishop James Hannington and his colleagues in October. The bloodbath continued through January 1887 as the ruler killed Mukasa's Christian pages and other Anglican and Catholic leaders. Collectively, the martyrs of Uganda were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

November 17, 270 (traditional date): Gregory Thaumaturgus ("The Wonder Worker"), a well-loved bishop in Pontus and the author of the first Christian biography (on Origen) dies. A legend, from a generation later, about the Virgin Mary visiting him is the first account of an apparition of Mary.

November 18, 1874: The Women's Christian Temperance Union is founded in Cleveland. Claiming the power of the Holy Spirit, Protestant members would march into saloons and demand they be closed. It was the largest temperance organization and the largest women's organization in the U.S. before 1900.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

An American Joseph?

I'm sure most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph, the Hebrew slave who, by his faithfulness to God, rose to become the most powerful man in the kingdom of Egypt. By his obedience, the people of God were preserved setting the stage for the creation of the nation of Israel. I'd like to tell you about another slave, who from humble beginnings, also rose to prominence because of his devotion to the same God that Joseph honoured.

Lott Carey was born into a slave family around 1780 on an estate located about 30 miles south of Richmond, Virginia. We know very little about his childhood, as the lives of slaves were not something their masters recorded, only their value and productivity. We do know that while his parents were illiterate, Lott's father was a respected member of the Baptist Church. And his mother, while not known to frequent any particular denomination, was regarded as a Godly woman.

Lott's recorded history begins about the age of 24, when as was often the custom, he was hired out by his owner, William A. Christian, to the Shockhoe tobacco warehouse in Richmond. Removed from the Christian influence of his father, he was soon given to drunkenness and profanity. However, the Lord obviously was watching over the young man as he came under the influence of one John Courtney, and in 1807 Carey converted and joined the Baptist church in Richmond.

The change in Lott was remarkable. He went from being an unreliable drunk, to a hard worker who could be left to his own devices without supervision. On hearing his pastor preach on the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, Carey became so intrigued by the story he determined to learn to read the passage for himself; it was not long afterward he learned to write and do fundamental arithmetic as well.

As time passed his efficiency, faithfulness and literacy earned him a promotion to shipping clerk in the tobacco warehouse. It became commonplace for merchants to tip him a five dollar note, a substantial amount for the day. In addition the owners of the warehouse allowed him to exercise his entrepreneurial spirit by letting him gather and process what was regarded as "waste" tobacco and sell it to his own customers. In this was Lott was able to amass a sum of $850 which he used to buy the freedom of himself and his two children. (His wife had died from illness a few years earlier.)

Carey continued to work at Shockhoe, only now, he got to keep his $800 annual wages instead of turning them over to his owner. He bought a house and was able to afford to educate his children. His value to the company and the community continued to grow. So much so that when he and a friend, Collin Teage (another free black), decided God was calling them to enter the mission field, the tobacco company offered him a raise of $200 a year to stay. He respectfully declined the offer.

In the early 1800's the U.S. government, in cooperation with the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia. The idea was to provide a place for freed slaves who wished to return to Africa to settle and begin a new life. It was to this place that Carey and Teage wished to take the gospel message. They did so with the help of William Crane from New Jersey who assisted Lott in organizing a society to collect funds for mission work in Africa.

In 1822 Lott moved to Monrovia, capital of Liberia, about the same time as Jehudi Ashmun, a white man, who served as the colony's de facto governor. Ashmun was glad to see the two missionaries arrive and granted them permission to establish Providence Baptist Church--the first church in Liberia. Lott preached several times a week and gave religious instruction to native children, using his own money to maintain a charity school. He also established a school at Big Town in the Cape Mount region despite Muslim protests.

He also helped immigrants, mostly freed slaves from the U.S., to establish small farms where they could raise food for themselves. Determined to use the funds provided by the society back in the States for the mission work they were doing, he learned the coopers trade (barrel making) and used the income from this business to support himself. Things started out quite well.

About a year after the colony was founded the citizens of the colony had complaints about the manner in which land was being distributed. A resistance movement rose up against the colonial agent, Jehudi Ashmun, and instead of promoting calm and negotiation as Ashmun had hoped, Carey sided with the resistance. The U.S. sent an armed vessel to deal with the situation in the summer of 1824. After investigation, Jehudi Ashmun was kept on as the colonial agent; the Colonization Society withdrew Lott's license to preach. I know this sounds a little strange to us, but at this point in history every preacher had to be licensed to preach by a governing body almost everywhere in the world.

You might think that this was the end of Carey's involvement in the colony, but such was not the case. Even though he could no longer occupy the pulpit, he still proved his worth. Letters written by Ashmun to his contacts back in the U.S. indicate that he fully understood why Carey would take the stand he did. They also indicate that the colonial agent considered Lott Carey an invaluable resource. Which is why he and Lott quickly reconciled and got back to the task of making the colony work.

He made Carey his vice-agent, and assigned him the task of readying a local militia to protect the colony from the surrounding tribes and the Spanish slave-traders who objected to the existence of a free black anything. On one occasion, when a slave ship attempted to trade for food and water under the guise of a wheat ship, Carey fired a well placed cannon shot across the ships bow and gave its captain one hour to get out of the range of his guns. The captain did.

Carey proved himself to be something of a polymath, that is a person who succeeds at a number of divergent endeavours. Already proving himself to be an able businessman, preacher and administrator, he now took on the challenge of being a doctor.

When the ship Cyrus arrived from the U.S. with one hundred and five emigrants, seemingly in good health, and within four weeks, all were smitten with an unknown disease, Lott Carey stepped up. The colony did not have a permanent physician of its own. Wrote one observer, "in this deplorable state of things, the only individual who could act the part of a physician, was Lott Cary, whose skill resulted entirely from his good sense, observation, and experience. He had gained much knowledge of the human frame and of medicine, from scientific practitioners, who had, at various times, visited the colony. His attentions were rendered successful in the restoration of almost the whole number."

In 1828 Jehudi Ashmun returned to America, leaving Liberia's management in Lott's hands. Ashmun urged Lott to become the permanent agent for the colony. But before Lott could do so, he was mortally wounded in a munitions explosion, while preparing to undertake an expedition to rescue one of the outlying settlements from raids by hostile Muslims. He died two days later.

On hearing of Lott Carey's death, Jehudi returned to the colony and continued to govern it until his death in 1841. At this point Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the colony's first black governor took over. Liberia declared its independence from the United States in 1847. The American government officially recognized the new African Republic in 1862.

The munitions explosion that ended the life of Lott Carey, a man born a slave who rose to the second highest position in what would become a free and democratic republic, happened on November 10th, 1828 - 179 years ago this week.

1. Taylor, James B. Biography of Elder Lott Cary, Late Missionary to Africa. With an Appendix on the Subject of Colonization, by J.H.B. Latrobe, #p92. < >
2. "Liberia." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 7 Nov. 2007 <>.
3. Photo credit: <>

Other events this week in Church History:

November 5, 1605: Guy Fawkes who, with a number of others, sought to destroy the government of Britain by planting explosives in the basement of the House of Lords, is discovered and arrested before the plan can be carried out. A Catholic, Fawkes and his co-conspirators felt the Protestant domination of politics spelt the end of a free Britian. They hoped that by destroying parliament on the day of the throne Speech, they would send the nation into sufficient disarray that a Catholic coup might succeed.

November 6, 1935: American revivalist Billy Sunday, a baseball player who became one of America's most famous evangelists before Billy Graham, dies at age 73. More than 100 million people heard him speak at his evangelistic crusades, and about 300,000 of them became Christians.

November 7, 1837: Presbyterian minister and abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy is murdered in Alton, Illinois. A newspaper editor whose press was destroyed by vandals three times, he was accused of inciting slaves to revolt when he defended a black man burned at the stake by a mob. When another mob tried to burn down his warehouse, Lovejoy was shot trying to save it. His death helped to galvanize the abolitionist movement.

November 8, 1308: John Duns Scotus, the hard-to-follow Scottish theologian who first posited Mary's immaculate conception (that she herself was born without original sin), dies in Cologne, Germany. Mary's immaculate conception was declared dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

November 9, 1522: Martin Chemnitz, theogian who drafted the Formula of Concord, a document that eased rifts between various factions of the Lutheran movement, thus saving Lutheranism from falling apart, is born.

November 11, 1855: Danish Christian philosopher Síren Kierkegaard, regarded as the founder of existentialism, dies at age 42. Trying to "reintroduce Christianity to Christendom," he believed that Christianity was far more radical and difficult than did his Danish contemporaries.