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Posted in Bible, Historical articles, History, Religion on Saturday, 15 June 2013
This edited article about William Tyndale originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 299 published on 7 October 1967.
William Tyndale translating the New Testament
Living in the freedom of twentieth-century Britain, it is hard for us to realise that it was once a most serious crime against Church and State to read a Bible printed in English.
And the fate of the first man ever to translate the Latin Bible into the English tongue was to be strangled and then burnt at the stake.
William Tyndale was born about 1492. A native of Gloucestershire, he was ordained as a priest in 1521 and became a chaplain at Little Sodbury.
In those days, England was a Catholic country, and it was the policy of the Church to keep the Scriptures in Latin. But Tyndale believed passionately that it was the right of every Christian to be able to read the Bible in his own language, and accordingly, in 1523 in London, he began the long task of translating the Scriptures.
In the following year, realising it would be safer to leave England, Tyndale went to Hamburg, where he continued his secret work. In 1525, the printing of his New Testament in English was begun in Cologne, and was later continued at Worms.
When the books were ready, a number of copies were smuggled into England. This was done at great risk because Tyndale had refused to obtain authority from the Pope to make his translation.
News of the arrival of the illegal Bibles reached the ears of the authorities, and a hunt for them was begun. When a number had been confiscated, a bonfire was lit in St. Paul’s Churchyard and the Tyndale Bibles were publicly burned. The supporters of Tyndale were driven out of London, many seeking refuge abroad.
Tyndale was betrayed by a false friend at Antwerp at the instigation of Henry VIII who, though he turned England into a Protestant country, suspected Tyndale of sedition. His punishment was to be strangled and his body burned at the stake. This happened at Vilvorde, near Brussels, on 6th October, 1536.
Though Tyndale suffered a cruel death, his work was continued. Later, his Bibles, once outlawed, were placed in the churches and were considered so valuable that they were chained in place so that they could not be removed.
For the first time, Englishmen were able to read their Holy Book in their everyday language.
Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Friday, 14 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 294 published on 2 September 1967.
A few years ago I was motoring up the Nile valley, and late in the evening came to a town called Assiut. I had been given the address of Lillian Trasher, an American missionary there, and was assured that I could count on a room for my family and myself for the night at her home.
Once in the town, I asked a bystander for directions to ‘Miss Trasher’s home’. He smiled broadly and answered in Arabic “You want Mama Lillian? Everyone knows where she lives!”
It was true that her house was the best known in the town, for she had the largest family – nearly a thousand children! Her house was, of course, an orphanage, and it had grown to this huge size as a result of Lillian Trasher’s faith in God and love for the children of Egypt.
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Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Religion, Travel on Friday, 14 June 2013
This edited article about America originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 294 published on 2 September 1967.
Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492, and blazed the trail for a host of traders, settlers and empire-builders. Spain drew massive wealth in precious metals from South America: French explorers sailed up the St. Lawrence River, founded Quebec and extended their settlements down the Mississippi. John Cabot sailed from England to Newfoundland in 1498 (but nobody followed his example – the climate there was not encouraging).
The first major settlement in the New World was that financed by a group of London merchants, who received a charter from King James I authorising them to settle in the area of Virginia. In 1607, three ships arrived there. Weary after weeks at sea, many men died in the first hard months when food was short and labour unceasing in the blistering heat.
The product that was to make Virginia rich – tobacco – was first planted there in 1612. In a very few years the demand was so great that it was even being planted in the streets of Jamestown, the ‘capital’.
Of all the settlers from England, the most famous were the Pilgrim Fathers. Determined to worship God according to their Puritan ideals, they set out from Plymouth in the Mayflower in 1620. The Pilgrim Fathers landed near Cape Cod and called their settlement New Plymouth. They had reckoned without the harsh winter, for which they were not well prepared. But, although their numbers were drastically reduced, under the firm rule of William Bradford, who governed the colony from 1621 to 1652, it survived. A larger group of Puritans founded a colony at Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Their chief town was Boston, named after Boston in Lincolnshire, from where many of the original settlers had come. Off-shoots of Massachusetts were the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut.
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Posted in Africa, Bible, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 292 published on 19 August 1967.
It would be hard to imagine a bigger contrast than Guildford and the Gobi Desert. One is a serene country town in England, while the other is a wild desolation in Mongolia. It was from the first of these, where she spent her childhood, that Mildred Cable went out as a pioneer missionary, to spend 15 years travelling between the Gobi oases.
Before doing so she had spent 20 years as a missionary in China, in company with two close friends, Eva and Francesca French. The three were always fascinated by the travellers they met from beyond the Great Wall, some of whom had come all the way over the desert from Russia. There were no missionaries working in the oases which marked the desert route, the Christian message had never been heard in many a village on that way, and the Bible was an unknown book to its travellers. This was a stirring challenge to the three friends.
In 1923, they set out to cross the Gobi desert. Their transport, which they named the ‘Gobi Express’, was a simple cart, with a top speed of about four miles an hour. In it they carried all their possessions, including cooking utensils, bedding, food, medical supplies and books. They slept in the primitive ‘khans’, or wayside inns, sharing the discomforts and even the dangers before which men of the country hesitated.
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Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Politics, Religion, Trade on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about Matthew Perry originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 292 published on 19 August 1967.
Americans arriving in what is now Tokyo Bay on 8 July 1853 by Dan Escott
In the middle of the 19th century, Japan was sealed off from the rest of the world. Her people were still living in the Middle Ages. Her Emperor was regarded as a god, but power lay in the hands of a warrior class, the Samurai.
For centuries these warriors had fought for their masters, the Shoguns. The peasants were little better than slaves.
Though most Japanese were Buddhists, they clung to their ancient faith, Shintoism, which involved ancestor worship and a conviction that Japan was destined to conquer the world.
In the 16th century, the Tokugawa Samurai unified the country after endless civil wars, and for 250 years there was peace. The Portuguese brought Christianity, to Japan, but the Tokugawa hated foreigners and the new religion was ruthlessly suppressed. Except for a few Dutch traders, who had limited rights, all foreigners were driven out. Japan bolted her doors to progress.
Meanwhile the rest of the world, especially Britain, America and Russia, were eager to establish contact with Japan and trade with her. The Americans, who already saw themselves as a Pacific power, were particularly anxious to open up Japan. In 1853, President Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew Perry to establish contact – by force if necessary.
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Posted in Architecture, Historical articles, History, London, Religion on Thursday, 13 June 2013
Brixton Church, London
The Church of St Matthew in Brixton was built in the early 1820s and consecrated in 1824.. It was one of four new churches erected in the Parish of Lambeth, after the Church Building Commission’s far-reaching decision to build as many as seventy-five churches across London to house and distract the populace from the revolutionary fervour and political ideologies which were spreading from the continent and France in particular. It was a Waterloo church like many at the time, conceived as a temple and dignified with a magnificent portico designed by C F Porden. This architect made the inspired decision to site the steeple and clock tower above the altar, which lends an even more imposing air to the great pedimented portico of the facade. It was described by a contemporary commentator as one of the “few chaste specimens of classical architecture” among the recent ecclesiastical building works in the capital.
Many more pictures of Brixton can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Medicine, Missionaries, Religion on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 291 published on 12 August 1967.
A view of the palace at Vellore
The fact that 42 members of her family, through four generations, had between them given a total of a thousand years of missionary service meant just one thing to Ida Scudder when she was a teenage girl. It meant that she must at all costs do something different.
That was certainly how she felt when, in 1890, in answer to a telegram, she left college in her native Massachusetts to sail to India, where her mother was seriously ill.
Ida had not seen her parents since they left her six years before, to return to their missionary work in South India. Ida had been left in the U.S.A. to complete her education, but she now hoped that her stay in India would only last for as long as she was needed to help nurse her mother.
Yet as the weeks passed, the need of India for help became clear to Ida. She saw sick and hungry children by the score, men and women suffering from blindness which could be cured by skilled attention, others patiently waiting for a doctor to treat long-neglected diseases and injuries. At that time there was only one doctor for every 10,000 people in the country. Qualified women doctors were practically unknown, and the rules of their religion did not allow women to be the patients of men.
Despite her early reluctance, Ida knew she must become a doctor and a missionary. After her mother’s recovery, she returned to the U.S.A., entered a medical college, and qualified within a few years.
Back in India, she at first had a hard time to persuade people to accept her services. But gradually she won their confidence and in the little town of Vellore there began an enterprise which over the next half century was to amaze her fellow-missionaries, and make Dr. Scudder world famous.
She began her medical work in a small room, with two beds. Within two years she had treated 5,000 patients there. Her earnest appeals brought funds for a larger building, and by 1902 she was able to open her own hospital with 40 beds.
Her plans were always far ahead of her achievements. In 1909, she founded a school to train Indian nurses, and, 10 years later, one to train Indian women as doctors. This eventually became a medical college for men and women, and was made a department of the University of Madras.
A wonderful organiser, Ida Scudder was always ready to try something new. She drove a car in the early 1900s, flew for the first time in her sixties, and took her first ride on an elephant at the age of 84!
A few years ago when I visited Vellore, I was amazed to see that the whole town had become a vast medical centre. There were nurses’ homes, students’ hostels, special blocks for research, a training centre for lepers, and an international team of specialists in a dozen branches of medicine. And there, in her ninetieth year, was Dr. Scudder through whom all this had been achieved. Her simple comment on it all was, “God has been good to me.”
Posted in Aid, Historical articles, History, Medicine, Missionaries, Religion on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 290 published on 5 August 1967.
Henry Holland became an expert in treating eye disease by Clive Uptton
Hunting, shooting, and fishing – the traditional activities of an English country gentleman – were the chief interests of Henry Holland as a very young man. Born at Durham in 1875, he spent much of his youth in the border country of Northumberland. His education at Loretto School, near Edinburgh, helped to make him the seasoned sportsman that he always remained.
Shortly after his 18th birthday he decided to become a doctor, “in order to avoid going into the Church”, as he afterwards admitted. His father and grandfather had both been clergymen; Henry, though a sincere Christian, wanted to do something different.
It was while studying medicine at Edinburgh that he began to feel that he ought to become a medical missionary rather than an ordinary doctor. In 1900 he responded to an urgent appeal for someone to go to Quetta, in Baluchistan, so that the only missionary doctor there could go on leave.
In those days Quetta was an important outpost of the Indian army. There was often border warfare, involving the Afghans and the fierce Pathan tribes. Life was very primitive, with plenty of work for the Mission Hospital to which young Dr. Holland was posted.
He soon found that the commonest complaints were eye diseases of various kinds. He had no special training in the treatment of these, but found that ‘experience is the best teacher’. Within a year or two he had become quite expert in the surgery needed to cure the form of blindness known as ‘cataract’. In time he became an authority on this and other diseases of the eye, while dealing with many other kinds of sickness and injury, often under the most primitive conditions. In the hard travelling by horse and mule, his early skill at riding proved a great advantage.
Year after year he spent in this work, extending the hospital and opening up clinics in other centres. In 1935 he survived one of the most terrible disasters ever recorded. A violent earthquake destroyed Quetta; 20,000 people were killed in less than a minute. Dr. Holland was buried in the rubble of his house, but managed to escape, and to take a leading part in bringing medical aid to those in need and particularly in preventing the spread of disease after the earthquake.
Under his enthusiasm and enterprise the wrecked hospital was rebuilt. For another 30 years he continued to organise its work, and was joined by his two sons, who had both become doctors like himself. His great services to medicine were recognised by the conferring on him of a knighthood in 1936, and his reputation as an authority of international standing on diseases of the eye led to his being invited to advise on the condition of the Emir of Afghanistan in 1948.
He retired at the age of 73, but lived to be 90, after giving more than half a century of pioneer service in what is still a remote part of Asia.
Scores of thousands of people owe the recovery or the preservation of their sight to the bravery and devotion of Dr. Holland.
Posted in Ancient History, Bible, Religion, Saints on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
This edited article about St Christopher originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 289 published on 29 July 1967.
Although Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travellers – and millions of people throughout the world wear his medallion or have it on their car-key rings – not very much is known about his life. According to legend he was a very strong, well-built man who was born in Syria in the 3rd century A.D. He began life as a pagan, but as a young man was converted to Christianity by Babylas, Bishop of Antioch.
Christopher decided he wanted to live as a true Christian by serving his fellow men. His home was on the bank of a river over which many pilgrims had to ford. As this part of the river was difficult and dangerous, Christopher carried travellers across on his broad back and in this way felt he was living up to the teaching of his new-found religion.
One day a little child appeared at Christopher’s simple hut, asking to be carried across. With a smile the big man picked up the boy and, placing him on his shoulder, he waded into the river.
According to the story Christopher was amazed to find that he was actually stumbling under the weight of the little boy.
As he went farther and farther into the swirling current, so the weight increased until he wondered if he would ever reach the other side. And then the child said: “Wonder not – I am Jesus and you have the weight of the sins of the whole world on your back.”
When Christopher reached the other bank the child told him to plant his staff in the ground, and that this would be proof of the miracle. Next morning when the amazed saint looked across the river he saw that his staff had blossomed into a beautiful palm tree.
By the example of his devoted life, and because of the appearance of the Christ Child to him, Christopher was the cause of thousands of pagans turning to Christianity. But about the year 250, Roman soldiers, on the orders of the Emperor Decius, arrested him and tortured him in an attempt to force him to renounce his faith. The worst cruelties the Romans could devise had no effect on Christopher, and finally the soldiers beheaded him.
Today his picture usually shows him wading across the river with the child on his shoulder. This was one of the very first woodcut pictures ever to be reproduced on a printing press and, perhaps because of this, Saint Christopher is the patron saint of bookbinders as well as travellers. His feast day is on 25th July.
Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Tuesday, 11 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 287 published on 15 July 1967.
As a young French cavalry officer, Charles de Foucauld spent most of his spare time in the pursuit of pleasure, by Clive Uptton
While the dashing young army officer was entertaining his friends in the cafes of Algiers, he could never have imagined that he would spend much of his life as a hermit in the desert which stretched away to the south.
But such was the strange transformation in the life of Charles de Foucauld. Born in 1858 at Strasbourg, he was brought up in the aristocratic circles to which his family belonged, and inherited the title of Viscount. Later, as a cavalry officer, he was not content with routine duties, and at the age of 24 resigned from the French army in order to carry out a dangerous expedition into Morocco. At that time this was a closed country to Christians, so the young explorer disguised himself as a Jewish Rabbi. Four years later he published an important book about his discoveries.
Even pioneer exploration did not satisfy the restless spirit of Charles de Foucauld. On his return he began to consider seriously the Christian faith, in which he had been brought up, but to which he had paid little heed. He visited the Holy Land, and in 1890 decided to become a monk in the strict Catholic order of Trappists. He lived at monasteries in France and Syria, working at the most menial tasks. In 1897 he left the Trappist Order and returned to France. There he was ordained as a priest, and went back to Algeria, where 15 years earlier he had spent a dissolute life as a young cavalry lieutenant. Now he lived alone in a native house on the edge of the Sahara, teaching, praying, and learning all he could of the customs of desert tribes.
In 1905 he set out for the heart of the desert, and settled in a little-known oasis village called Tanarrasset. Apart from the French army garrison, he was the only European. It was wild country, set in the grim Hoggar mountains, which rise up thousands of feet from the sands of the central Sahara. There, he was surrounded by the little-known tribes of the Tuaregs, an ancient race, unlike the Arabs among whom he had lived farther north.
Gradually he won their friendship and confidence. He not only learned to speak their language, but learned the strange characters in which they wrote it. In time he was able to produce a grammar and a dictionary of their speech, and to translate into it the first Christian teachings they had ever known.
De Foucauld made no converts to Christianity so far as we know, but he was greatly loved and respected by the Tuaregs, and the fact that they did not rebel against the French colonists at the outset of the first World War was ascribed to his influence. Because of this he was murdered in 1916 by agents of the fanatical Senussi tribe, who were revolting against the Europeans in Tripoli. He was buried in the heart of the Sahara, which he loved, and his memory is maintained by two French Missionary Societies which bear his name and carry on his work among the desert tribes.