Maybe I like Solzhenitsyn because he is just like me; a two-hearted and two-minded male. Enjoy this quote which destroys the self-righteous beliefs of an “ism”, and shows how evil short-circuits every life: past, present, and future. Will You give us the gift of humility to recognize the lies we aim at ourselves today?
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Courtesy Charles M. Schulz Museum. “The New Yorker” October 22, 2007
“St. Paul cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” appears in papers and soon becomes the most popular comic strip in the United States. Clearly drawn from the “Li’l Folks” cartoons he penned for the St. Paul Pioneer Press between 1947 and 1950, Charlie Brown and company eventually take their adventures to books and television specials.” *
Commencing on October 2, 1950 this comic strip’s first publishing marked the fulfillment of thirteen years of effort. Schulz endured and yet thrived through many challenges in this span. What can we learn about his life previous to this time that enabled him to create, perhaps, the greatest and most ubiquitous cartoon of all time?
Citing a few facts from the Charles M. Schulz Museum’s website, we find some insights. ***
1940- He decides to take correspondence courses from Federal Schools based on their emphasis on cartooning.
1942- At age 20, he is drafted into the United States Army and serves in World War II. (He observed later in his life that “The army taught me all I needed to know about loneliness.”)
1943- His mother, Dena, dies of cervical cancer shortly after his induction to the service.
1945- From February through July 1945, he served in Germany.
1946-1947- He lived with his dad above a barbershop in St. Paul, Minnesota, and gained employment through his former art school, now known as Art Instruction Schools, Inc. He corrected students’ work for the cartooning division of the school, and developed his tastes and talents as to what kind of work he most wanted to produce.
1947-1950- Charles scores his first round of success publishing work for magazines: ‘Collier’s’ and ‘The Saturday Evening Post’, and for newspapers in the ‘Minneapolis Tribune’, and the ‘Saint Paul Pioneer Press’.
Now we pivot to You; the Master Illustrator and Storyteller of the Universe. We remember the Messiah’s ability and use of parables to convey in emotional pictures the deep things of our hearts. Dear Holy Spirit, how we need You today, as everyday, to come and bring revelation. Will You let us erase strife and remember the eternal joys You hold out to us right now? What do You want to say about the everyday heroism of Mr. Schulz, and his beloved storytelling through the characters of “Peanuts”?
As we reflect on this chapter of history with You, we look for a root motive from its author. The main character of Peanuts is an ordinary boy, Charlie Brown, who never stops trying to succeed, but is often hampered with failure and humiliations. His observations about life range from the humorous to the serious. His nature is just like ours; simultaneously plagued with self-doubt and yet unquenchable hope that one day he will be victorious. Let’s go to the mind of the author and see what he had to say about, perhaps, the most beloved and known character of a story of the entire 20th century?
“Charlie Brown has to be the one who suffers, because he is a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than we are with winning.” Charles Schulz **
An omnipresent symbol for generations of readers is summed up in his interactions with Lucy playing football; she holds the ball, he does a tremendous run up for the kick, and at the last second, she pulls the ball away, and he goes flying landing flat on his back. Yet, he never gives up on the notion of making a huge kick-off.
(Allow us an aside to pray this point, Sovereign Lord? Will You forgive the ways we have broken faith in You, ourselves, and others as children? Will You search our root arrogance and character deformations made in our childhood vows? Will You forever make Minnesota a place where the innocent beliefs and hopes of children are returned by their peers and communities? Will You make adults more visible and present in the lives of our future generations?)
Additionally, we see Charlie Brown living in a world of children and their pets. Adults, to my recollection, are never visible. “Peanuts” pulls back the curtain on the lives of his neighborhood kids, and demonstrates that even the very young have strong temperaments and unique character to their personalities. Maybe, this is part of what makes this story stand apart from legions of its competitors; even the small universe of a community or ordinary neighborhood is still a microcosm of our future?
So, we bring You adoration for Charles M. Schulz and the world of “Peanuts”. We thank You that he overcame so many times in the decade before his first publications and successes. He lost his mother, and yet dutifully went to the war. He, subsequently, lost his home, yet adapted to living with his father above a barbershop. He stoked the fires of his dream with commitment to his craft and desire for more for a decade. He shared what he learned with others. He believed in the characters of Peanuts, and we were blessed by his insights into their very small but exceedingly important world(s).
As Minnesotans, we thank You for the fun and “5 cent Psychology” stand lessons of Peanuts! We thank You for a man who, like Charlie Brown, never broke faith on his dream to tell an Odyssey-sized story four cartoon panels at a time. Will You bless our artists, observers, and story-tellers to have the persistence of Schulz? One day, they will win, they will have a glorious kick-off because You are holding the football!
“1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. 3“Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.” ***** Matthew 18:1-5 BSB
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
“Sauk Centre’s Sinclair Lewis, who satirized small-town complacency and back-slapping boosterism in such novels as Main Street, Babbitt, and Elmer Gantry, becomes the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930.” *
Sinclair Lewis may well have had great insight into small town Midwestern life, but did he have a great outlook? Help me ponder this man and the impact of the Nobel prize on Minnesota and the outside world. What is the blessing of this event, and how could this impact future generations of those outside the immediate influence of cities and suburbs?
We give You thanks today for the life and writings of Mr. Lewis! We remember what he got right about the Midwest, and the authenticity of his observations. We commend to You the fact that his characters, even heroes, were a balanced with positive and negative characteristics; human just like us! Maybe even the boring middle of “Main Street” could have been a stylistic choice to emulate the stillness of a remote village. We give You thanks that, though critical, he still put the spotlight on the burgs, settlements, and unincorporated townships across Minnesota and the greater Midwest.
Conversely, we observe with You the things he may have overlooked, or gotten wrong. His critics find that “Main Street” is one of the most merciless novels in American history, and posit that it was motivated by revenge. Surely, he latched onto all that he saw as negative in Midwestern life in this story: narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, and resistance to change.
Will You forgive his bitterness, and his literal and figurative children that chafe against a simple, small town life? Will You forgive his judgments based`on his intellectual intelligence that could not recognize the practical intelligence of farmers, housewives, and tradesmen? Truth be told, the Midwestern farmer, both then and now, cannot be a pushover in the brains department. He needs to know: agriculture, machines, weather, sales, and transportation. But further, he needs a tremendous work ethic and energy to get it all done!
Did he misconstrue the common sense libertarianism of Main Street because he spent too many hours in the salons pondering Fabian versions of utopia H.G. Wells? What if these folks were resistant to change simply because they were content? Is it wrong to desire autonomy after being pushed, prodded, and starved out of Europe? What if the greater hypocrisy was on his part, and he was agitated by their inner peace? Forgive us all, Lord, where we have judged, or disrespected another’s pursuit of happiness.
Will You be the balance of 61 Petty France, K Street, Wall Street, and Main Street? Will You temper our designs for contentment and advancement? Will You help us love and understand our small town neighbor? Will You take the judgments rooted in the false gods of education, culture, and elitism up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Will You remove their counter-judgments coming from outstate towards the cities of Minnesota?
We thank You for the Nobel Prize of Sinclair Lewis. We thank You for all future writers that dare to go against the grain, to speak the truth as they see it. Will You give them a sense of humility as one’s with a louder voice? Will You bless the contentment of our citizens, wherever they live? We are all the recipients of Your eternal noblesse oblige!
Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:14-16 NIV **
“Artist Wanda Gág writes and illustrates Millions of Cats, which becomes a book for children. She goes on to publish nine more children’s books and Growing Pains, diaries of her teen-age years in New Ulm.” *
It seems like Wanda Gag wanted to make a book that posed the following question to kids;“How do you choose when you have so many good options?” The book is considered a classic children’s story, and is also beloved for its pictures. ** I think she just knows how to pique imagination.
So we pray to the Lord! Thank You for the imagination and commitment by Wanda Gag to make “Millions of Cats” that has caused kids to wonder for generations. Will You bless her and her generations of artists and writers in Minnesota? (I think its great that even her name is a fun pun!)
Will You make our society a place for contemplation, and especially in the precious minds of its’ youngsters? Will You forgive us where we have quashed the vivid colors of childhood thoughtfulness, cognition, resourcefulness, and inventiveness? We give You gratitude for minds that do not snap to the grid, but defy boundaries at times! When You bless us with many good choices in life, may we gratefully think, ponder, and choose well because our elders have prepared us to do so!
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV
“Ole Rølvaag, a Norwegian-born professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, publishes Giants in the Earth, his brooding, epic novel of immigrant pioneer life. The book becomes a huge success both in Norway and the United States.” *
“The infinitude surrounding her on every hand might not have been so oppressive, might even have brought her a measure of peace, if it had not been for the deep silence, which lay heavier here than in a church. Indeed, what was there to break it? She had passed beyond the outposts of civilization; the nearest dwelling places of men were far away. Here no warbling of birds rose on the air, no buzzing of insects sounded; even the wind had died away; the waving blades of grass that trembled to the faintest breath now stood erect and quite, as if listening, in the great hush of the evening….”
Rolvaag, named after his birthplace five miles from the Arctic Circle, was born one of seven children in 1876. He worked as a fisherman with his father and brothers for six years until he was recruited to be a farmhand in South Dakota at age twenty. After a few years, he went after his education graduating from: Augustana Academy in 1901, Saint Olaf both in 1905 (B.A.), and 1910 (MA). His rugged life experiences gave authenticity and realism to his recollections of the struggles of Norwegian pioneers in the Midwestern United States.**
We remember, with You, the plight of the pioneers from Norway to the Midwest. We remember that this earth is Yours, as well as all its peoples and resources, and that in Your forbearance You move them where You choose. So we give thanks for the example of these aliens, and that within their hardships of displacement that they were perfectly placed to thrive by the King of the Universe!
We give thanks to You for the life and extreme austerity experienced by Ole Rolvaag. He knew both the frigid waters of Norway’s Lofoten fishing area, and the burning sun of South Dakota. He battled the elements for the privilege to enrich his mind, and truly took in the discipline and lessons of both.
We recognize the tribulations of the Norwegian characters of “Giants in the Earth”, and reflect on their lessons for all peoples at all times. Each immigrant must wrestle the elements of his environment, a culture that is unfamiliar, and the loneliness for home. We also ponder the judgments of aliens against Your Sovereignty.
Will You forgive our ancestors their environmental judgments against their new home land? Will You forgive the thoughts and words this wave of Norwegians made in their attempt to tame the “amber waves of grain”? Will You forgive our judgments in this era of them? We have forgotten what pestilence means: losing whole crops to blight, grasshoppers, and fire.
Will You forgive Norwegian Americans their judgments and false assessments of their neighbors? They encountered foreigners, also from Europe, who though racially similar held no common culture or language. They met Native Americans who led migratory lives following the buffalo. Again, somewhat relatable to fisherman following their catch, but different. For all their cultural struggles we seek Your mercy.
Granted, these are stalwart, hearty people who endured much more than our present generations, but even giants have hearts of flesh. Because of Your kindness, will You forgive the inward struggles of these pioneers? It’s understandable that one would ask, “Who am I?” while at home, but even more so, “Who am I in this new place?”Will You forgive their sins of fear and doubt related to their identity stemming from Norway rather than the Maker of Norway?
We, like them, are displaced from the heritage of our Creator. Much of our travail is that our identity is based on geography, ethnicity, and culture, but these are comforting false gods. Will You give us an unshakable sense of place that can only come from the Cornerstone of the Universe and Your unchanging Word?
17″You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18″But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 19″When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.…
“Saint Paul’s ‘Western Appeal’ newspaper becomes a voice against discrimination and proscriptive legislation and an important advertising medium for black businessmen.
Editor and owner John Q. Adams leads Saint Paul’s growing black community in its struggle for equality through the 1880s and ’90s. “No wrongs are ever righted,” he writes, “except by protest.” “ *
I thank You for the life and discipline of John Q. Adams. I thank You for giving him the desire to write and convey the ideas in his heart that brought a new awareness and significance to black Minnesotans. I thank you that he viewed himself as a man made in Your image and worthy of respect!
O Father, will you forgive the city of St. Paul, and the State of Minnesota, its judgments of John Q. Adams, “The Western Appeal”, and black Minnesotans? Will you forgive any counter judgments by him, his paper, or the black community of St. Paul, and the State of Minnesota? We often fear other cultures and sub-cultures because we are afraid to know them and experience the vulnerability of allowing ourselves to be known! Christ have mercy on this fear! Past, present, and future! What blessings we have not received here, specifically for this geographic region known as Minnesota, because we have not honored the Christ within our brothers and sisters!
Today, because of Your grace and truth, I ask: “Will You bless the generations of John Q. Adams? Will You bless the black community of St. Paul? Will You bless all African-Americans in this state? Will You reverse the curses of the Enemy on this State of Minnesota? Bring out those who will write the stories of this generation of black Minnesotans! Bring out those who will write in Your image of grace and truth! May we learn to record OURhistory as those who have been betrayed, have betrayed others and ourselves, and most importantly, have betrayed You! May we remember how we have received mercy, have extended mercy to others and to ourselves, and received a perpetual inheritance of mercy from You!
Lord, because John Q. Adams was an author, I also want to pray a blessing specifically on the impact of his words, and the awareness of his writings and newspaper to all Minnesotans. May they be rediscovered and be a source of continual edification to this state! Amen.
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
“Hear no evil, speak no evil-and you’ll never be invited to a party.” Oscar Wilde
March 15, 1882
“The quotable Oscar Wilde takes his American lecture tour to the Twin Cites. The young Irish writer’s affected speech and knee breeches fail to impress local newspaper reporters who label him an “Ass-thete.”
“Speaking at the Opera House, his subject “”was ‘art,’ consisting of a sort of lament that there was so little ‘art,’ especially in this country…. He was shocked by our buildings, by the mud in the streets, and especially by the rooms and furniture in the hotels….
The lecture was well worded, and at times quite poetical. It was certainly harmless and does not entitle Mr. Wilde to either abuse or ridicule. It was simply the smooth sentences of a languid poet, which strike the ear somewhat melodiously without arousing any overwhelming enthusiasm or creating sufficient excitement in the listener to cause him or her to burst a blood vessel.””
-St. Paul Daily Globe, March 17, 1882″ *
Lord, thank you for poetry and writing! Thanks for the “music of the spheres” and of the universe of words! Thank You for the talents of Oscar Wilde!
We often love our heroes, perhaps even worship them, and then are disappointed when to find out they’re human. Was this the case when Wilde toured here? Lord, will You forgive the artists and writers of Minnesota any judgments of Mr. Wilde? Will You forgive his assessments of our state, art, and writers?
Lord, I confess that we as a people love to put artists on a pedestal. We invest lots of time, energy, and treasure in those who move us. I believe You are the first artist, and that those who are talented in that arena move us because they wake our slumbering spirits. Jesus, we have made artistic brothers and sisters into gods. Will You forgive us this offense?Will you bless the artists of this state, their generations, and their creations?
“Icelander Gunnlogur Petursson relocates to Lyon County, laying the foundation for the second largest Icelandic colony in the United States. Its residents acquire land in surrounding Lincoln and Yellow Medicine counties, but Minnesota becomes the center of the Icelandic colony’s business, social, and cultural activities.
Many of the Minnesota Icelanders’ are highly literate farmers who love to read and who fill their modest homes with books they brought with them across the Atlantic Ocean. Icelanders establish the Lestrarfjelag (Reading Society) and publish Vinland, a monthly Icelandic-language newspaper with a literary focus.” *
Thanks for Gunnlogur Petursson and the Icelandic peoples of Minnesota! I am so happy to hear that over a century ago, they were common farmers with an enjoyment for learning and reading. Thank You, Lord, that You do not limit us the way our societies sometimes do. You give us a curiosity to know, and reward our searching. Why do we fritter away so much time on entertainment and other amusements; You have something even better to teach us each day if we can focus and listen!?
I want to bless the heritage of this Icelandic colony, their generations, their dwellings, and property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! May Lyon County and all Icelandic descendants know You in all Your beauty in the present, and experience Your Majesty throughout their future! Amen.
“Seven-year-old Laura Ingalls and her family settle 1.5 miles north of Walnut Grove along the banks of Plum Creek. Charles and Caroline Ingalls settle on the property in May 1874, declaring their intent to homestead it. After three consecutive years of crop failures they decide not to complete the homestead process and instead purchase the land in July 1876 from the U.S. government and immediately sell it and move to Iowa.” *
In 1932 Laura Ingalls Wilder writes the story of the time that she, Pa, Ma, and sister Mary spent in their dugout house at Plum Creek. **
It may strange to say, Eternal Father, but almost nothing helps me see You more than the story of another human being. How many readers have had their minds opened to this era because an ordinary girl recorded the stories of herself, her family, and their everyday life!?! To me, Ms. Ingalls-Wilder demonstrates that every life is an adventure, each day is a universe, and that You are there profoundly in the simple moments. ***
I praise You for Laura Ingalls; both the author and her story! Will You bless our writers in each generation to see the value of their lives, and to tell their tales with such similar and stark honesty as she? Thank You for shaping her Minnesota experience, and blessing her with a heart to share her story!
“Ralph Waldo Emerson braves sub-zero weather in an open sleigh to lecture in Winona. The poet and essayist–known to many as “the wisest American”–gives four other speeches in Minnesota before returning to Massachusetts.” *
“Mr. Emerson leaves to the world no system of philosophy, no orderly presentation of new or great truths; but he has done a a great and usually salutary work by stimulating the thought of two generations and by helping courageously to clear away the intellectual rubbish which the centuries had gathered. . . He has done the needed work of the iconoclast in so kindly and decorous a way as to hurt as little as possible the enduring good.” ** Minneapolis Tribune April 28, 1882
Lord, I have not experienced much of Emerson’s wisdom, but I ask that You bless him, his generations, dwellings, and property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! May we follow in his footsteps to do the intellectual work You have for us in this life. May we bless the future of Minnesota with “enduring good”!