Theologian's Almanac for Week of September 22, 2019
Welcome to SALT’s “Theologian’s Almanac,” a weekly selection of important birthdays, holidays, and other upcoming milestones worth marking - specially created for a) writing sermons and prayers, b) creating content for social media channels, and c) enriching your devotional life.
For the week of Sunday, September 22:
September 22 is the day in 1961 the U.S. Congress approved a bill to establish the Peace Corps. Many had opposed the idea, especially Republicans, some of whom argued that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for what one senator called a "utopian brainwash." But Republican representative Marguerite Stitt Church, having traveled extensively throughout Africa, stepped up to the podium and made a compelling, historic speech: “Here is something which is aimed right,” she said, “which is American, which is sacrificial - and which above all can somehow carry at the human level, to the people of the world, what they need to know; what it is to be free; what it is to have a next step and be able to take it; what it is to have something to look forward to, in an increase of human dignity and confidence.” Her argument persuaded many Republicans to support the bill, which passed on this day with wide bipartisan support.
September 23 is the first day of fall this year, the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the point at which the Sun is directly above the equator, making the hours of day and night nearly equal (hence “equinox”). In the Southern Hemisphere, today marks the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.
September 23 is also the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City.
September 27 is the second of two youth-led “climate strikes” related to the U.N. Climate Action Summit. Both strikes are inspired by the “Fridays for Future” climate strikes pioneered by the 16-year-old Swede, Greta Thunburg (pronounced “TOON-berg”), calling for swift, wise action to address the climate crisis. Millions around the world, in more than 150 countries and counting, will participate in the strikes. The stakes - and the anxieties - are almost unimaginably high. Read SALT’s “Climate Crisis and the Bible” here.
September 27 is also the day Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring was published in 1962. A marine biologist, Carson was also a nature writer who had already published three enormously popular, lyrical books about the sea, one of which - The Sea Around Us (1951) - won the National Book Award. Silent Spring was an expose about the ways chemical pesticides were harming plants, wildlife, and people; its title warns of a future dystopia, a spring morning without birdsong. The book was a sensation, both controversial and influential: after reading it, President Kennedy ordered his science advisors to investigate her concerns about DDT. Carson wrote the book while living with breast cancer herself, and didn’t live to see the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency - each of which owes a significant debt to Silent Spring, the book many credit with helping to inaugurate the modern environmental movement.
September 28 is the feast day for Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, born in the year 907, and best known from the Christmas carol that bears his name, “Good King Wenceslaus.” He was said to have a kind, generous nature, and those virtues are memorialized in the carol: the good king wanders out into a bitterly cold winter night, bringing gifts of food and warmth to a poor peasant, pressing into the snow footprints that radiate his warmth - so that other good souls may follow.
September 28 is also considered the birthday of Confucius, the teacher, philosopher, and political thinker born in what is now Shandong Province, China, in 551 BCE. In his teachings, he emphasized self-discipline and always acting on the principle of “ren,” or “loving others.” He wrote: “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”