20th Century, authors, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Lewis Receives Nobel Prize

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Dec 10, 1930
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 Society versions of utopia with 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 with their opportunity to be a louder voice in society? 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 **

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://biblehub.com/romans/12-16.htm

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20th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank Opens

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1908
Master architect Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank, perhaps the most famous small-town bank in the U.S., graces the corner of Broadway and Cedar streets in downtown Owatonna.

One of the first American architects to break free from the influence of revival styles, Louis Sullivan completed a series of eight banks in small Midwest towns during the last years of his career. The National Farmers’ Bank of Owatonna is arguably the best.*

In 1896, in an article in “Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine”, Mr. Sullivan wrote the following:
“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human, and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

It makes me curious why an architect of his stature would embrace the job of designing a small town bank. Just look at this track record. He is called both the “father of modernism” and the “father of skyscrapers”. He is one of the triumvirate of great American architects alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson.**
What would behoove him to design a small town bank in Minnesota?

A clue could be that he was considered to be a hard drinker and past his prime by the time he accepted this task. His client, Carl Bennett, had also died to his dream of being a conductor to attend family duties running the bank. Perhaps this serendipitous meeting fulfilled a need for both men to create again. It’s success does seem to be a merger of each as it is labelled as a “Symphony of Color”.***

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Merciful Messiah, thank You for their dreams. Thank You that, though deferred, they created an everyday temple to commerce that stills sings! Thank You for positioning their relationship and life circumstances to better enable them to savor the moment.

Will You continue to bless the artist and architects of Minnesota? Will You give them the talent that bedazzles the routines of our lives? Will You give our lives form that follows function, and let us trust that that’s enough?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Sullivan
***http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200002/28_buzenbergb_owatonna/

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