Nautical Ear Worms

I’m in the process of going through various video sources to augment the notes I’ll give students over WWII. Let’s say the quality of what is available . . . varies widely. And some things can’t get through various filters.

So, I was hunting for newsreel footage of some things, and started hearing music playing in my head. And grinned, because I hear that music every single time I start talking about WWII in the Pacific. [Waits for OldNFO to flee] Continue reading

Toward the New Century: Protestants in America Part Four

The Civil War marked a shift in Protestantism. For one, denominations and associations that parted ways before the 1861-65 war didn’t always go the same theological direction during the years that followed. For another, the country saw a shift in immigration that brought in more national denominations, and more Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Changes in science and political philosophy added tension to the religions scene in the US (and England and Europe), eventually leading to the creation of Fundamentalism. WWI left religion in the US relatively untouched, and split us away from Protestantism in Europe, a divide that has grown wider in the century that followed. Continue reading

The Great God Pan

Somewhere, the ancient Greek god of waste places and the wild, Pan, is smiling. The wild, irrational fear that he caused in those who angered him has swept North America.

Pan was one of the oldest of the Greek gods, in the sense that, like Zeus, his name traces back to an Indo-European root and has cognates in Sanskrit, Persian, and in the Latin and English word “pasture.” It is a different root than “pan” meaning all or entire, unless a link is found in the sense that for the Indo-European speaking horse nomads, all the world was a pasture, and so all came under the gaze of a pastoral god. Continue reading

The Great Fear of 1789 or Similar Song, Second Verse?

The past few weeks I’ve been trying to find a historical parallel to the mood in the US media. Tulipomania came to mind, especially while watching the stock market. Then I got to thinking about panic and uncertainty, two things the markets hate. What panic had not been associated with financial bubbles? The Great Panic (or Fear) in France from July-September of 1789. Rumors swept over the country with a speed that later historians doubted possible, causing peasant uprisings, people fleeing into the woods, and rural upset across the entire country. Given the lack of transportation and the huge number of dialects and languages spoken in France at the time, it’s amazing how quickly the mood engulfed France.
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The Burned Over District and Beyond: Protestants in America Part Three

Last week we looked at the trials and expansion of Protestantism in the United States during and after the American Revolution, focusing on the US South. This week I’ll focus on the northern states, especially Upstate New York, Ohio, and the Old Northwest. I’ll start with the Revolution and go on to the Civil War and the splits in denominations that came from that conflict. One of the major changes we’ll see is the rapid growth of “ethnic denominations,” groups like the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Reformed, and other national-church denominations.

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Market Hysteria and the Extraordinary Madness of Crowds

I watched the financial markets on Monday and shook my head. Russia and Saudi are having a spat over oil prices. As a result of that, plus an new-to-the-population upper-respiratory virus, the markets went bonkers in a panic, dumping value. People who ought to know better were running around with their hair on fire, so to speak. Note, this is covered by the same media that got unhappy over the weekend when physicians pointed out that the influenzas A and B this year killed several thousand people, and the press didn’t go ape over that. (With apologies to primates everywhere.) Continue reading

More Celtic than an Irishman?

I’m referring to The Highwaymen, the country—quartet? quadrelateral? collision?—of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Chris Kristofferson. Fund raising season is upon the regional PBS station, and so since this is March, they had the Obligatory Irish Tenor on TV before running The Highwaymen – Live in Concert. Dad didn’t mute the Irish crooner fast enough. The guy had a six note range, and focused on what I’d call Irish lounge music. I could easily imagine Frank Sinatra or Perry Como singing this stuff in a nightclub, and based on the age of the audience, the folks at the concert probably had heard Sinatra live, when Sinatra was young!

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