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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19th Century, Civics, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Nininger Founded Oct 1, 1856  

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Minnesota is booming with grandiose plans and get-rich-quick schemes. John Nininger and Ignatius Donnelly establish the town of Nininger—on the south bank of the Mississippi River, five miles up river from Hastings—in the summer of 1856. Their town exists only on paper, but in their dreams it is a great metropolis, a center of commerce and culture, a rival of Chicago. Active sale of land and building operations begin about October 1, 1856.

Donnelly promotes Nininger across the nation. In February 1858 the legislature grants a charter to the town, and the town has shops, churches, a dance hall, a poor house, a school, and a population of perhaps as many as 1,000 persons. The dream town of Nininger declines steadily after the financial panic of 1857 that causes banks across the country to call in loans. People move away. Buildings disappear. The town eventually disappears from the map.*

Lord, we are looking for heaven… but usually the one of our own design. You have given us imagination to organize society and solve civic problems. We often lack the humility to remain in relationship when we are hurt, or to forgive and resolve problems. Forgive any judgments of Donnelly and Nininger towards the residents of Nininger and each other. Forgive any counter judgments of the people of Nininger. Will You continue this process until full restoration?

Also, I acknowledge the financial judgments made in the panic of 1857: Eastern banks judged Western farmers, small business judged large business, etc. Lord, we have sinned against You by the judgments of the panic of 1857! Many have paid debts unfairly placed on them, and made counter judgments towards banks, businessmen, lawyers, city, county, and state officials etc.

Unfortunately, we are bound by our judgments of banks, as well as state and federal laws! Free us as a Minnesotan people! Heal our economy and our hearts that easily are swayed into discontent! We have coveted our neighbor’s property! We have coveted our neighbors’ real and imagined legal freedoms! We often submit to debt out of envy! Hear our prayer! Heal our land!

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm  or visit http://www.mnhs.org.

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19th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Hutchinson Founded by Singing Family Nov 19, 1855  

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Wishing to start an utopian community, three Hutchinson brothers—Asa, Judson, and John—travel west to Minnesota. On the Crow River they help found the town of Hutchinson and commit it to the values of education, equality, and temperance. The popular Hutchinson Family Singing Troupe promotes these same principles as they tour.

Abby, John, Judson, and Asa—4 of the 13 brothers and sisters—are the Hutchinson Family Singers. Called “the best known troupe of family singers in the country,” the Hutchinsons sing and compose songs about American life that often carry a social message.*

Lord, thanks for the memories of this family. Thank you for their persistence in using their gift of song and entertainment for good, rather than their own fame. May You release many of this generation to be so moved and committed to You! Thank you for the good You do for us through both the enjoyment of making and listening to music!

Father, forgive the judgments we’ve made towards each other on the basis of position towards alcohol. Especially during this era of temperance, Minnesotans who drink have judged non-drinkers, and vice versa. Will You forgive our disrespect of the positions of others and their cultures of origin? For example, the Germans of southern Minnesota had no conflict or fear of drinking beer. Many agreed with Martin Luther’s famous quote that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Will You give us the power to not use alcohol abusively in this generation, but to savor it properly? Will You give us faith that You are our brother’s keeper, so we don’t have to jerk his chains?

Will You release us from the bitter roots of alcoholism, and the effect it has had on the individuals, families, cities, counties, tribes, and nations that make up our state? Will You release from any residue of the self-righteous judgments of those who led the temperance movement from a heart of legalism and pride over real love for their neighbors? Sometimes we do good with a bad heart. Will You give us humility to deal with the sensitive spots in the conscience of our fellow man according to Your merciful example?

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;” Isaiah 42:3

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .

 

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