Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western church, and the Sunday of Pentecost in the Eastern church. The day celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the three Persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Here is the prayer of St. Élisabeth Catez (1880-1906), Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D. (from this site):

"O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.

"O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.

"O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

"O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.
And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased

"O my `Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour!"


Happy 35th Anniversary to us!!


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Happy 200th Birthday, Vandalia, IL

My hometown, Vandalia, IL, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this weekend! So many amazing people have been working to make it a great celebration!

When the first Illinois constitution was drafted at Kaskaskia, the delegates included a provision for a twenty-year location of a new seat of government. In March 1819 the First Illinois General Assembly authorized five commissioners to locate a site for the new town on or near the intersection of the longitudinal third principal meridian and the Kaskaskia River. The commissioners selected a place called Reeve’s Bluff, a corruption of the name of settler Charles Reavis. The June 16, 1819, "Illinois Intelligencer" newspaper at Kaskaskia announced the selection of the town site had been made, and the town would be called Vandalia.

Surveyor William Greenup had suggested the name, connoting the dales and hills of the site and also the vanguard of progress that would take place at a state capital. The name already existed: it was a poetic name for the Andalusia region of Spain (mentioned in "Don Quixote") and also the name for a proposed fourteenth British colony, which would’ve included the present West Virginia.

The state auction of Vandalia lots took place on September 6, 1819, and the town was well established by the time the Second General Assembly convened in December 1820.

Ten general assemblies and several sessions of the supreme and federal courts met at Vandalia, using three different buildings, the last of which is our local pride and joy. The National Road eventually reached Vandalia and terminated there. Springfield was designated the permanent seat of government on July 4, 1839. Some of my ancestors settled in the vicinity when Vandalia was capital, a fact that was one inspiration for my 1992 book on Vandalia's era as seat of government.

A wonderful new book about the town's history has been written, compiled, and produced for the bicentennial!






Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Landscape: Tōshi Yoshida

Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995), "Sacred Grove 1941”


From the Facebook group "Modern Art 20th Century." Copied under fair use principles.

Landscape: Bracquemond

Marie Bracquemond (1840-1916), "Garden Path." Date unknown.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Landscape: Knab

Villa at sunset (1890) by Ferdinand Knab


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lamarck and de Candolle

Here is another interesting science book in my collection: Synopsis plantarum in flora Gallica descriptarum by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) and Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1778-1841). The authors are very important in science history.

In my reading, I kept encountering the phrase "Lamarckian evolution," as a rejected idea but which did hypothesize species variation.

Looking it up, I discovered that Lamarck believed that creatures adapt to surroundings and pass on changes to offspring. His famous example is a giraffe, which stretches his neck to reach leaves. (Of course, neither he nor Darwin knew of genes and genetics.) Darwin, on the other hand, said that organisms that better adapt to their environments have a better chance at reproducing; thus, the giraffes with longer necks survive and pass on that trait to offspring. To put it another way: for Lamarck, organisms acquire a trait or habit and pass it along, but for Darwin, organisms with certain traits mad them more suitable for survival--and survival meant that those traits were passed to offspring. The views of both men were unpopular for a time, but Darwin was able to provide exhaustive evidence for his theory.

https://necsi.edu/lamarck-vs-darwin

http://sciencenetlinks.com/student-teacher-sheets/lamarck-and-darwin-summary-theories/

As for de Candolle: he offered the idea of "nature's war"--the struggle for existence--which was so influential for Darwin's theory of natural selection. He also experimented with the way plant's leaf movements suggest an "internal biological clock." Darwin, too, studied this quality of plants and published two botany books on the subject.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

LA Times Idea

I'm still thinking about this piece--whether I agree or not---but it offers an interesting idea, to have Biden as a transitional president to move us back to a better national place. (But there would also have to be a lot less poison from the right-wing media, and better GOP leadership overall.)

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-joe-biden-clean-up-after-trump-20190428-story.html?fbclid=IwAR0awZE0VbLE2m9MceR_VPexqbilzmpWTKFhbsdGlr8mEga-KPEA6W1bmWo


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Humboldt's Cosmos

My ongoing appreciation of classic books of science includes this set, an eagerly awaited, best-selling work of its time.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was the preeminent scientist and explorer of his day. Although forgotten in popular consciousness for a long time, he has been the subject of recent, appreciative books by Laura Dassow Walls, Aaron Sachs, and Andrea Wulf. (I’m leading a book discussion on Wulf’s book next month.) Humboldt influenced Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Frederic Edwin Church, and many other artists, even Edgar Allan Poe, and he visited dignitaries like Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar. He traveled extensively through Latin America and Asia; his 1804 travel book about South America accompanied Darwin on his own voyage.

Humboldt reclaimed the ancient Greek word kosmos and adapted it for his view of the harmony of the earth and the heavens. He combined a careful scientific method with an aesthetic appreciation of beauty that can together lead to a wholistic, contemplative view of life. One reason, I think, for recent interest in Humboldt is the fact that he predicted human-caused climate change.


His Kosmos – Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung (Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe) was based on his lectures at the University of Berlin and were published in 1845 through 1862, the fifth and last volume a posthumous completion of his notes. It has been translated into several languages. Cosmos was nothing short of a comprehensive vision of the universe via science, history, art, philosophy, and other subjects.  The first volume surveys not only the physical phenomena of the earth—flora and fauna, volcanoes, climate, geography, etc.—but also outer space. In the next volume, he considers how nature has been perceived in different period of history and through the work of artists. Volumes 3 through 5 go into additional detail about geology, geography, and astronomy.

Here is an article by Laura Dassow Walls, “Introducting Humboldt’s Cosmos.”
https://www.humansandnature.org/introducing-humboldt-s-cosmos

Here is an article about Humboldt’s influence on Darwin:
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/alexander-von-humboldt



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Easter Rising, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

It's the 103nd anniversary of the Easter Rising, when Irish republicans sought to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. The day is also Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the day the Ottoman persecution and genocide of Armenians began in 1915.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Toyohiko Kagawa

In the Episcopal and Lutheran churches, the Japanese pacifist and activist Toyohiko Kagawa is remembered today, the anniversary of his 1960 death at the age of 71. Author of over 150 books, he was also active in relief work, labor organization, environmentalism, the women's suffrage movement in Japan, and efforts on behalf of the poor and exploited. One of his books, Brotherhood Economics, described an economic alternative to socialism and capitalism. http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/143.html


Monday, April 22, 2019

Harnack's History of Dogma

When I was a student at Yale Divinity School in the early 1980s, I worked for a time in the Divinity Library. One day, I noticed that a 1909, seven-volume set of Adolph von Harnack’s classic History of Dogma was being pulled and discarded from the stacks. I asked if I could purchase the set and did so.

At the time I had a goal of being a Barthian theologian at a seminary. I thought that Harnack’s set would be helpful—plus, he was one of Barth’s own teachers—and I liked the look of the set. The Lord guided my paths along different lines (although I’ve taught Christian history in undergrad settings). The labels have remained on the books’ spines, which is a nice reminder of that wonderful library as I’ve carried the books through my life all these years. The other day I decided to take the books from the shelves and look through them again. Here is the outline of Harnack’s teaching.

[Volume 1]

Introduction  

Chapter 1: Prolegomena to the study of the history of dogma
1. The idea and task of the history of dogma
2. History of the History of dogma

Chapter 2: The presuppositions of the history of dogma
1. Introductory (the scriptures and the Greek and Roman worlds)
2. The Gospel of Christ according to his own testimony
3. First generation preaching about Jesus
4. Exposition of the Old Testament and Jewish hopes for the future in early Christian preaching
5. Hellenistic Judaism and the early preaching
6. Greek and Roman philosophy of religion
Supplementary section concerning Paul and early ecclesiastical forms

Book I: 

The Preparation
1. Historical survey
2. Element common to all Christians and the breach with Judaism
3. Beginnings of Gentile Christianity
4. Gnostic Christianity
5. Marcionite Christianity
6. Jewish Christianity

[Volume II]

Book 1, Division 1: Laying the Foundations

Chapter 1: Historical Survey
Chapter 2: The setting up of apostolic standards for ecclesiastical Christianity
1. Transformation of the baptismal confession into the apostolic rule of faith
2. Designation of Christian scriptures
3. Transformation of the episcopal office into an apostolic office
Chapter 3: continuation: Old Christianity and the new church
1. Montanism and penance
2. Fixing the Hellenizing of Christianity as a  system of doctrine
Chapter 4: Ecclesiastical Christianity and Philosophy, the Apologists
1. Introduction
2. Christianity as philosophy and revelation
3. Doctrines of Christianity as the revealed and rational religion
Chapter 5: Beginnings of an Ecclesiastico-theological interpretation and reivion of the rule of faith in opposition to Gnosticism
1. Irenaeus and his contemporaries
2. The old Catholic fathers
3. Cyprian and Novatian
Chapter 6: The transformation of the ecclesiastical tradition into a philosophy of religion
1. Clement of Alexandria
2. Origin and doctrines of God, the fall, and redemption

[Volume III]

Continuation of Division 1

Chapter 1: The decisive success of theological speculation in the sphere of the rule of faith.

Division 2: The Development of the dogma of the church
Book 1: the history of the development of dogma as the doctrine of the God-Man on the basis of natural theology 

Chapter 1. Historical situation (western and eastern churches up to Nicene II).
Chapter 2 Fundamental conception of salvation
Chapter 3: Sources of knowledge: Scripture, tradition, and the church

A. Presuppositions of doctrine of redemption or natural theology

Chapter 4: Presuppositions and conceptions of God the Creator as Dispenser of Salvation
Chapter 5: Presuppositions and conceptions of man as recipient of salvation

B. Doctrine of Redemption in the Person of the God-man, in its historical development.

Chapter 6: Doctrine of the Redemption in the Person of the God-man, in its historical development.

[Volume 4]

Chapter 1: The doctrine of the Homoousia
Appendix, the Doctrines of the Holy Spirit and of the Trinity
Chapters 2 and 3: The doctrine of the Perfect Likeness of the Nature of the Incarnate Son of God with that of Humanity (with the several theologians like Athanasius, Leo I, Justinian, and the early councils.
Chapter 4: The mysteries and Kindred subjects (Lord’s Supper, worship of the saints, images)
Chapter 5: Historical sketch of the rise of the Orthodox System

[Volume 5]

Division 2 continued, The Development of the dogma of the church
Book 2: the expansion and remodeling of dogma into a doctrine of sin, grace, and the means of grace on the basis of the Church 

Chapter 1: Historical Situation (Augustine’s period)
Chapter 2: Western Christianity and Theology before Augustine
Chapter 3: Augustine’s historical situation as reformer of Christian piety
Chapter 4: Augustine’s historical position as teacher of the church
Chapter 5: History of Dogma in the West to the beginning of the Middle Ages, 430-604
(including Semi-Pelagianism, Gregory the Great, etc.)
Chapter 6: History of Dogma in the period of the Carlovingian Renaissance

[Volume 6]

Book 2 of Division 2 Continued

Chapter 1: History of Dogma in the period of Clugny, Anselm, and Bernard
Chapter 2: History of Dogma in the period of the mendicant Monks, till the beginning of the 16th century (including the doctrine of the church, Scholasticism, Penance and indulgences, theology of merit, and Thomism

[Volume 7]

Book 3 of Division 2: The Threefold Issue of the history of Dogma

Chapter 1: The historical situation of the Middle Ages and opposition to curialism
Chapter 2: The issues of dogma in Roman Catholicism (including Trent, the decline of Augustinianism, and Vatican I).
Chapter 3: The issues of dogma in Anti-trinitarianism and Socinianism
Chapter 4: The issues of dogma in Protestantism (with a focus on Luther)

Harnack concludes with a long paragraph that summarizes his investigation:

"The Gospel entered into the world, not as a doctrine, but as a joyful message and as a power of the Spirit of God, originally in the forms of Judaism. It stripped off these forms with amazing rapidity, and united and amalgamated itself with Greek science, the Roman Empire and ancient culture, developing, as a counterpoise to this, renunciation of the world and the striving after supernatural life, after deification. All this was summed up in the old dogma and in dogmatic Christianity. Augustine reduced the value of this dogmatic structure, made it subservient to a purer and more living conception of religion, but yet finally left it standing so far as its foundations and aim were concerned. Under his direction there began in the Middle Ages, from the nth century, an astonishing course of labour; the retrograde steps are to a large extent only apparent, or are at least counter balanced by great steps of progress. But no satisfying goal is reached ; side by side with dogma, and partly in opposition to it, exists a practical piety and religious self-criticism, which points at the same time forwards and backwards — to the Gospel, but ever the more threatens to vanish amid unrest and languor. An appallingly powerful ecclesiasticism is taking shape, which has already long held in its possession the stolid and indifferent, and takes control of the means whereby the restless may be soothed and the weary gathered in. Dogma assumes a rigid aspect ; it is elastic only in the hands of political priests ; and it is seen to have degenerated into sophistry ; faith takes its flight from it, and leaves the old structure to the guardians of the Church. Then appeared Luther, to restore the "doctrine," on which no one any longer had an inward reliance. But the doctrine which he restored was the Gospel as a glad message and as a power of God. That this was what it was, he also pronounced to be the chief, nay the only, principle of theology. What the Gospel is must be ascertained from Holy Scripture ; the power of God cannot be construed by thought, it must be experienced ; the faith in God as the Father of Jesus Christ, which answers to this power, cannot be enticed forth by reason or authority ; it must become a part of one's life ; all that is not born of faith is alien to the Christian religion and therefore also to Christian theology — all philosophy, as well as all asceticism. Matthew XI. 27 is the basis of faith and of theology. In giving effect to these thoughts, Luther, the most conservative of men, shattered the ancient church and set a goal to the history of dogma. That history has found its goal in a return to the gospel. He did not in this way hand over something complete and finished to Christendom, but set before it a problem, to be developed out of many encumbering surroundings, to be continuously dealt with in connection with the entire life of the spirit and with the social condition of mankind, but to be solvedonly in faith itself. Christendom must constantly go on to learn, that even in religion the simplest thing is the most difficult, and that everything that is a burden upon religion quenches its seriousness (" a Christian man's business is not to talk grandly about dogmas, but to be always doing arduous and great things in fellowship with God " 1 Zwingli). Therefore the goal of all Christian work, even of all theological work, can only be this — to discern ever more distinctly the simplicity and the seriousness of the gospel, in order to become ever purer and stronger in spirit, and ever more loving and brotherly in action."

1. "Christiani hominis est non de dogmatis magnifica loqui, sed cum deo ardua semper et magna facere."

Here is a link that discusses aspects of Harnack's thought and career, including his role in German nationalism that so offended his former student Karl Barth, that Beth began to work his way into a new approach to dogmatics. https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/02/adolf-von-harnacks-dark-theology/




"Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation"

I love antique books, and during the last few years I've been collecting a few notable science books from the nineteenth century. I like to write about them on this blog, teaching myself many new things in the process.

Here is a book set the stage for Darwin! Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was an anonymously published book of natural history from 1844. It was a best seller, said to have even been read by Lincoln! According to the author--eventually revealed to be Robert Chambers--all thing sin existence developed from earlier forms through what we would now call transmutation or evolution. Although his science (and racist view of humans) are deficient, his notions of development of species and natural law, that were created but not necessarily guided by Providence, were influential at a time when similar theories by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck were not held in high scientific regard.

The book caught the attention of young Darwin, well ahead of his Origin of Species. He was already developing his hypotheses about special development, and because of the popular responses to Vestiges, he was able to foresee some of the controversies that would greet his own work.

Good ol' Wikipedia has a summary of the book's arguments and history of publication: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestiges_of_the_Natural_History_of_Creation






Heartwarming Memory

Shopping on eBay, as I often do, I noticed this thermometer for sale. https://www.ebay.com/itm/FS-gas-station-sign-pole-thermometer-Illinois-Farm-Supply-Service-oil/333165908700?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160908131621%26meid%3D3a882a8616934fbba894e92d2365b9d1%26pid%3D100678%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D7%26sd%3D123333267602%26itm%3D333165908700&_trksid=p2481888.c100678.m3607&_trkparms=pageci%3A3ec7c938-64fb-11e9-9053-74dbd180caf9%7Cparentrq%3A450c2a9c16a0ab673427f399ffffbe37%7Ciid%3A1

Sometimes small things warm your heart, and in this case, I thought of all the Farm Service signs that were common around the countryside where I grew up.  Plus, the Illinois communities Olney, Newton, and Lawrenceville were places Dad visited during his delivery routes.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter History

All kinds of interesting historical information about the ceremonies and customs of Easter, which of course is celebrated today in the Western churches, and next Sunday in the Eastern churches.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Columbine Anniversary

It's the 20th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. I remember that I was just pulling up to the parking lot at Indiana University Southeast, to teach my undergrad New Testament class, when the news came on the radio.

Here is an interesting interview of Columbine-area pastors who reflect on that day and the aftermath:
https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-columbine-shooting-anniversary-pastors-funerals-20190420-story.html


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

David Brion Davis, Historian of Slavery

Obituary of historian David Brion Davis, who wrote, “We must face the ultimate contradiction that our free and democratic society was made possible by massive slave labor.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/obituaries/david-brion-davis-dead.html

Notre Dame and Al-Aqsa

I'm not making any equivalency or contrast in these tragedies, but it's so sad that the fire Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem also had a fire yesterday, with less damage than Notre Dame, in the roof of the prayer room. Al-Aqsa is the third holiest place in Islam, after the Ka'ba in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. As we've been seeing, too, in the burning of African American churches, houses of worship and prayer are deeply meaningful to their respective communities, and in their historical connections as well, which differ depending on the structure. Their damage or destruction is heartbreaking. (Again, I'm not making equivalencies, just thinking out loud generally about different experiences of emotional trauma within religious communities.)  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Ghost Signs: St Louis

Old 66: Gravois Rd. and Tucker Blvd.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Ghost Signs: St Louis

Near Ballpark Village, downtown. 


Friday, March 29, 2019

Barth's Dogmatics, §4, the Word of God in its Threefold Form

My blog project for 2019 is to take notes on Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics. My folks purchased
whole English-language set for me forty years ago, and subsequently I wrote my doctoral dissertation on a portion of Vol. III, part 2. For this blog project, I’ll study the Dogmatics by paragraphs, taking notes. See my December 2, 2018 post for Barth's overall plan for his series.

Paragraph 4 of Church Dogmatics is "the Word of God in its Threefold Form." "The presupposition which makes proclamation proclamation and therewith makes the Church the Church is the Word of God. This attests itself in Holy Scripture in the word of the prophets and apostles to whom it was originally and once and for all spoken by God's revelation" (I/1, p. 88). James Come summarizes: "The even t of God's free self-revelation by his sovereign address to men is his Word. The Word of God never occurs in sheer immediacy. It was objectively and concretely present in Jesus Christ. Proclamation is a recollection of Jesus Christ. Scripture is the precipitate of the earliest proclamation. Both the Written Word, and the Proclaimed Word based upon it, become the Revealed Word when God freely chooses to be immediately present to men through them. So God's speech is his presence in his whole Trinitarian Person" (Barth's Dogmatics for Preachers, p. 89).

The presupposition of the event of proclamation is the Word of God. In this first form of the Word, God's Word is God's positive command, an event in which proclamation becomes real--a new event and an object of human perception. This does not remove the human element from proclamation, but in human preaching and human obedience to God, proclamation is "the even of God's own speaking in the sphere of earthly events," a "new robe of righteousness thrown over" the human words of preaching (p. 95).

Because of the Scripture Canon, the church is not left to its own words. The Word of God as Scripture "it does no seek to be a historical monument but rather a Church document, written proclamation (p. 102). The Church is measured by and comforts to the prophetic and apostolic proclamation of God. Ideally, exegesis lets the canonical text speak. Scripture is a human word of people who anticipated and later saw the Word of God revealed in Christ, and the Bible becomes God's Word in the event of revelation. "The Bible is God's Word to the extent that God causes it to be His Word, to the extent that He speaks through it" (p. 109).

The Bible, then, is not God's past revelation but bears witness to past revelation through the event of God's Word. The Bible's authority is that it points to God's revelation as, in Grünewald's "Crucifixion" (above),  John the Baptist points to Christ. The Bible "must continually become God's Word" because of God's freedom to make Godself known (p. 117).

Finally, the unity of God's Word as revealed, written, and preached find analogy in the triunity of God (p. 121). Barth takes on Protestant Orthodoxy's views of scripture in the ensuing fine-print discussion.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Humboldt's "Personal Narrative"

I love antique books, during the last few years I've been collecting a few notable science books from
the nineteenth century. I like to write about them on this blog, teaching myself many new things in the process.

The last time I wrote about one of my science books was the August 7, 2017 post. Here is a book that I intended to take on my recent Galapagos trip: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, During the Years 1799-1804, by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland, published by M. Carey in Philadelphia in 1815. This translation was first published in London. Darwin had brought a copy with him on his long Beagle voyage, and I thought it would be a fun and very nerdy thing to do, too. Thank goodness I didn't, because my bags were already heavy, and the trip was physically tiring.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a German explorer and naturalist and a pioneering scientist in geography, biogeography, and ecology. His multi-volume work Kosmos was a very
popular account that drew together several fields of the physical sciences. I will write about those books, too, eventually. The Humboldt Current off the South American coast, and many places and institutions are named for him, although he isn't well known today.

Darwin and artist Frederick Edwin Church were inspired by Humboldt to journey to South America, where Humboldt had crafted accurate maps, the envy of cartographers. I formerly admired Humboldt,
I now almost adore him, wrote Darwin. Alfred Russel Wallace, explorer John Muir, and  many others drew inspiration from the German scientist.

Here is a good article about the book: http://naturalhistorynetwork.org/journal/articles/1-alexander-von-humboldt’s-personal-narrative-of-travels-to-the-equinoctial-regions-of-america/

On Humboldt and his influence, I've been reading Laura Dassow Walls, Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). See also Aaron Sachs, The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism (New York: Penguin Books, 2006). On Church and his painting The Heart of the Andes, see Stephen Jay Gould, “Church, Humboldt, and Darwin: The Tension and Harmony of Art and Science,” in Franklin Kelly, with Stephen Jay Gould and James Anthony Ryan, The Paintings of Frederic Edwin Church. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1989. 94-107.

Here is an upcoming meeting in Ecuador--at the university that facilitated our Galapagos trip this month--in celebration of Humboldt's 250th birthday in September. https://humboldt250-ecuador.org

*****

Here is the antique book that I actually did take on the trip. It's an 1890 printing of Darwin's Origin of Species, which had gone on someone's trip to Columbia in 1950. I incorporated the book in to my poetry book Backyard Darwin and thought that I had to take this Origin to the Galapagos! I kept it safe from sun screen, however.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Visiting the Galapagos

Because of other commitments--and the fact that my new CPAP machine cured me of the insomnia that used to provide me extra writing time--I've fallen off on my blog posts for quite a while. I'll try to be more regular, especially now that I've finished a major trip.  

On March 8-17, I accompanied a Webster U biology class to the Galapagos Islands. I'm no biologist but I've had a longtime interest in Darwin and evolutionary theory, especially as it influences the religion and science discussions. Here are a few photos from that wonderful journey!  
 Sally Lightfoot crab 

Lava lizard


Yellow warbler 

Lounging sea lion

Male frigate bird 

Sunning iguana 


An older tortoise 
Albatross egg (but no mom in sight)
Cactus finch nest

San Cristobal Darwin
Frigate birds in flight
Blue-footed boobies