The Dutch and the Founding of New (Amsterdam) York

island-center-world-shorto-2004One of my spring/summer reads is Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America (Doubleday, 2004). I’ve often wanted to read more about the history of the Dutch settlers in the New World, and when this book was brought to my attention, I knew it was one I wanted to delve into.

It is a well written narrative, filled with fascinating details and interesting twists. It is based on a remarkable (and abundant!) set of Dutch records that surfaced in the State Library in Albany, New York and that are still being translated by 17th-century Dutch scholar Charles Gehring. It seems the common Dutch characteristics – hard work, cleanliness, strong faith (especially Calvinism), and a penchant for stubbornness and strife (persistence, perseverance?) – marked the early adventurers who signed on to go with Henry Hudson (think of Hudson Bay and the Hudson River) to settle on the island of Manhattan.

In the third chapter (“The Island”) Shorto speaks, for example, of a newlywed couple – Catalina Trico and Joris Rapalje, who having married in the Walloon Church in Amsterdam in January of 1624 at the ages of 18 and 19 respectively, set sail with Hudson for the New World. Here’s how he describes their adventure – and their influence:

Considering the stupendous dangers awaiting them, first at sea and then on arrival, it wasn’t a union a betting man would likely lay money on. And yet, sixty years later, when the English colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland were embroiled in a border dispute and needed evidence of ‘Christian’ occupation of certain lands along the eastern seaboard, the representatives of William Penn found an old woman to testify who was known to have been among the first European settlers. Catalina Trico, now in her eighties, was a widow, but she and Joris had had a long and fruitful marriage. The records of New Netherland show them among the first buyers of land in the wilderness of southern Manhattan, building two houses on Pearl Street steps away from the fort, obtaining a milk cow, borrowing money from the provincial government, moving their homestead to a large tract of farmland across the river in the new village of Breukelen [Brooklyn], and giving birth to and baptizing eleven children. Their first, Sarah, was considered the first European born in what would become New York (in 1656, at the age of thirty, she proclaimed herself ‘first born christian daughter of New Netherland’). She was born in 1625, and the same records duly show her marriage in 1639, to the overseer of a tobacco plantation in what would become Greenwich Village, and in turn, the birth of her eight children. Over the course of the brief life of New Netherland and into the history of New York the Rapalje children and their offspring would spread across the region. …Their descendants have been estimated at upwards of one million, and in the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill, New York, a lane called Rapalje Road is a quiet suburban testament to the endurance of a long-ago slapdash wedding of two young nobodies on the Amsterdam waterfront, which, as much as any political event, marked the beginning of the immigrant, stake-your-claim civilization not only of Mahattan but of America (pp.41-42).


PRC Seminary Spring Journal Now Available!

Spring-2020-coverThe Spring 2020 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal is now available in digital forms (pdf and epub), with the print version soon to follow (our publisher says a few weeks yet).

This new issue is filled with thought-provoking articles and stimulating book reviews, of interest to and beneficial for pastors and officebearers as well as church members. The editor, Prof. R. Cammenga, provides a summary of this issue in his “notes” at the beginning, from which we quote in this post.

To download and read this new issue, visit the Journal page. And while there, perhaps the past issues will also be of interest to you (all 53 volumes!).

To be added to our mailing list for the print version, or the digital editions (pdf and ePub), send us a note at

And now, Prof. Cammenga’s “editor’s notes”:

You hold in your hands the April 2020 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal. This issue completes the fifty-third year of uninterrupted publication of the Journal of the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary. We thank the Lord for His abundant grace and our readers for their support.

You will find in this issue an article by Dr. C. N. “Nick” Willborn entitled “Nineteenth-Century Southern Presbyterians and Their Theological Contributions.” Dr. Willborn is the senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and adjunct professor of historical theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. (Can anyone recall the important role that Oak Ridge had in bringing WWII to an end?) This is the first of two articles that began as presentations that Dr. Willborn gave at the seminary last fall on the theology of the Southern Presbyterians. His lectures focused on the stalwarts of Southern Presbyterianism: Thornwell, Girardeau, Dabney, Palmer, Peck, and others. The lectures were well received by our students and faculty. And we thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship of Dr. Willborn and his wife, Carol. We are grateful for his willingness to have his lectures published in our Journal.

The most recent addition to the faculty of PRTS is Prof. Brian Huizinga. This is his first contribution since accepting the appointment and being installed as Professor of Reformed Dogmatics and Old Testament Studies. Prof. Huizinga is presently working on his advanced degree. All will profit from his article entitled “John Calvin and the Reward of Grace.”

The undersigned contributes “A Plea on Behalf of the Biblical Languages.” The article addresses the trend that diminishes the importance of learning and retaining the biblical languages for the work of the ministry. It intends to underscore the importance that Reformed churches have placed on the biblical languages since their recovery at the time of the Reformation. And it makes a plea that mastery of Hebrew and Greek continue to be required of seminary students preparing for the ministry of the gospel. This issue includes two review articles. Review articles are extended critical book reviews. The first is Prof. Douglas J. Kuiper’s review article of A Christian and a Democrat: A Religious Biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt. All will profit from this careful analysis of one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States of America, known especially for leading the nation through most of WWII.

The second review article is by the Rev. Martyn McGeown, who for several years has labored in Ireland and who recently accepted the call from Providence Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI. Pastor McGeown favors us with an insightful review of The Crux of the Free Offer: A Biblical, Confessional, and Theological Explanation and Defense of the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel, by Sam Waldron.

The review first appeared recently in the British Reformed Journal, of which the Rev. McGeown is editor. Seldom do we print two reviews of the same book. The last issue of PRTJ included a review article of this same book by Prof. David Engelsma. But considering the importance of the book and the interaction of its author with the position of the Protestant Reformed Churches on the well-meant offer of the gospel, it was thought worthwhile to print a second review of the book. Our readers will profit from this second review article.

The Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919 and “Churchless Sunday” – Origins Online

Maybe we are weary of hearing about the present flu pandemic, as well as of past ones, such as the Spanish Flu of 1918-19, often mentioned these days (even though there is no comparison in terms of the numbers of those who were afflicted and those who died).

But history is instructive, and the fact is that the church and saints have often had to face such plagues and epidemics. And what believers suffered in those times as well as how they handled those afflictions gives us valuable lessons.

I did a previous post referencing the Spanish flu from the perspective of a former PRC minister, Rev. C. Hanko (when he was a member of the CRC), and that was insightful.

Yesterday, while putting away a recent issue of Origins magazine, the Christian Reformed Church in America’s historical archives periodical, I came across a feature on the Spanish Flu and its impact on the CRC. I checked to see if the article was online, and while the full story was not, this abridged version was.

It is worth pointing to it, so that is our Friday post this week. A serious history lesson with important applications for us too. Below are a few paragraphs from the article; find the full post at the link at the end. [And now, in addition, I followed some links to  the University of Michigan’s online “Influenza Encyclopedia” and found a Grand Rapids Herald news clip about how the CRC churches were suffering. See that below.]

“What’s happening is unprecedented!” I keep hearing people say that about Covid-19 (a coronavirus). Some seem to mean that a pandemic like this is unprecedented. Others mean that the public health response—shutting down schools, sporting events, perhaps eventually churches, etc.—is unprecedented. Neither is unprecedented, really.

Around 650,000 people died in the United States in the flu epidemic of 1918-1919 and 50 million worldwide. Some scholars estimate up to 100 million deaths worldwide. In comparison, 20 to 22 million soldiers and civilians died in World War I, which ended in late 1918, and about 20 to 22 million were wounded.

What did churches experience in 1918-1919? For a broad overview, check out this story on Patheos. The Patheos story also points you to a great website at the University of Michigan on the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.

…To find more material, I turned to the Christian Reformed Church Periodical Index and did some page turning in The Banner from late 1918 and the first half of 1919.

…My quick search yielded one lengthy piece, an editorial in the 24 October 1918 issue of The Banner: “Churchless Sunday and Its Lessons.” The governor of Michigan had ordered the closure of all churches in the state.

The Banner editorial called its readers to “pray earnestly that the scourge may soon be removed” so that churches could reopen. It also suggested “lessons from this appointment of Providence” to learn:

  • “the value of our church privileges,” as we really understand what blessing are when they are withheld
  • “the value of fellowshipping with God’s people,” “the communion of the saints,” which might lead to a renewal of devotion in the church
  • “to appreciate religious literature more than we have done,” as that is what people turn when they cannot come to church

With these lessons in mind, the editorial suggested that the epidemic might be a blessing in disguise. But it also wondered whether “churchless Sunday” was a sign divine judgment on the nation. It pointed to the description of God’s judgement in Revelation. The nation and world had seen famine, pestilence, war, and death, with the recently ended Great War and now the epidemic. It was time for people to repent and to turn to righteousness.

The editorial concluded by emphasizing that Christians respect government and law. It prayed that the burden of churchless Sundays not be too heavy and that the scourge of influenza be lifted quickly.

Source: The Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919 and “Churchless Sunday” – Origins Online


And here is that additional item mentioned above: the news clip from the October 26, 1918 Grand Rapids Herald on how the Spanish flu was affecting the CR churches in that city.

Sunday Closing Order Keenly Felt By Members Chr. Reformed Churches

There are perhaps few congregations in the city feeling the hardship of the church closing order as keenly as the Christian Reformed churches. Members of these churches have been trained from childhood to regard regular church attendance as natural in their lives as eating breakfast, and at each of the two or three Sunday sessions the churches are wont to be crowded.

Church people are glad to do all in their power to help check the spread of influenza, but much dissatisfaction is voiced by both clergy and laymen of the apparently unjust distinction between schools and churches. The schools are in session five days a week and it would seem that if there were danger of contagion anywhere it would be among the physically undeveloped youngsters congregating in the school rooms day by day. On the other hand, in view of the supreme importance of service of the Almighty in these critical times and the need of prayer it would seem that the church would be the last of all institutions to be asked to close its doors.

Family Services Substituted

In the meantime, however, church members are making the best of matters and conducting services in their own homes. Many a father had his family gathered about him last Sunday morning and afternoon and read to them one of his favorite sermons.

Pastors are making good use of their time by taking up some specific studies which have long demanded their attention, and by doing extended pastoral work. Rev. Johannes Groen is spending much of his time visiting the members of his congregation and averages about 30 families a week.

And if you are still interested in more information on this 1918-19 influenza, or the State of Michigan’s new archive collections of COVID-19, you will want to visit this page that came in my email this morning.

PRC Archives: Rev. C. Hanko’s Recollection of the 1918-19 Pandemic

Our PRC Archives item this Thursday relates to the present pandemic sweeping the world, COVID-19. But in 1918-19 a far greater pandemic swept the world, taking away one fifth of the wold’s population. How did this affect the life of God’s people and His church then?

Less_Than_the_least-CHanko-2017Rev. Cornelius Hanko’s book of memoirs contains his personal remembrance of the disastrous worldwide flu (Spanish influenza) of 1918-19. Hear his story as the church and her saints dealt with a great affliction in those days too:

And then, to make matters worse, the influenza epidemic hit in the winter of 1918-1919. Once more schools and churches were closed for six weeks. Almost no one went to work. Nearly every home had one or more sick with the flu. Doctors could not keep up with the calls that came in. They worked day and night. But the worst of all was that they knew no cure. They tried the usual medicines, and they tried the most caustic medicines, all to no avail. Hundreds died. Funeral services were held outside. Very few went to the cemetery.

A little girl in our neighborhood died also. Her coffin was placed by the front window for the neighbors to see. The minister preached the funeral sermon in the street.

A gloom hung over all. Everyone wondered, ‘Will it strike us next?’ There were some homes in which the whole family was stricken, and one home in which there were five deaths. My future mother-in-law, Mrs. Alida Griffioen, gave birth to a child in a room shut off by sheets while others in the family had the flu.

Ministers were in a quandary as to what to do. Rev. Groen was so afraid of catching the flu that he refused to visit any one. Rev. Peter Jonker Jr. of Dennis Avenue Christian Reformed Church was out almost day and night visiting the sick. He would place a ladder next to an upstairs window in order to visit someone upstairs. He wore himself out to the point where he could hardly preach. The consistory allowed him to preach old sermons for awhile.

Our family was spared. We sat at home, trying to seek a bit of entertainment amongst ourselves. But sitting home day after day can grow very wearisome. I remember walking along Wealthy Street just to get out, but the streets were void of pedestrians. The street was ‘like a painted ship on a painted ocean.’ [a line from a poem of Samuel T. Coleridge] It hardly seemed real. The break came on Sunday when we had our home service in the morning. To prevent further spreading of the sickness, no more than seven people were allowed to meet together; but we did invite in a few neighbors. These were times when prayer was no longer a mere formality, but a cry of the anxious soul pleading for the sick and bereaved.

As the nation struggled to deal with this public health disaster, it also had to contend with sick and crippled men returning from the front.

Taken from Less Than the Least: Memoirs of Cornelius Hanko, 2nd ed. (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, pp. 42-43.

It may be necessary to note that though I begin this post with the title “PRC Archives” because C. Hanko became a Protestant Reformed Churches’ member and minister of the Word, the history recalled and recorded here is really “pre-PRC” (the PRC did not begin until 1924-25) and took place when Cornelius was a lad of 11/12 years old (he was born in 1907) and still a member by baptism in the Christian Reformed Church. Hence, the reference to the CRC ministers also.

Stay-at-Home Activities, Like Reading, Etc.!

During this time of CV-19 lock-downs and stay-at-home orders (such as here in Michigan), many websites and blogs are offering practical help regarding activities for families and individuals involving all ages. Let me add my own suggestions, while relying on some of these other ideas.

Of course, you will expect me to say that READING should be at the top of your list! By all means let this be a time when we as grandparents, parents, and children spend “extra” time diving into books and renewing our love for the soothing activity of reading. March is, after all, National Reading Month (Make sure to read some Dr. Seuss to your children – it’s in honor of his birthday)!


Many physical bookstores that had been open are now closed, but they are open online and offering curbside service and free shipping, including Baker Books, Barnes and Noble (in the Rivertown Mall, Woodland Mall and Holland), and Schuler Books here in Grand Rapids. While the Reformed Book Outlet is closed, their website is also available for orders. The RFPA is also taking online orders. Don’t forget Monergism’s website too for great book ideas and many free ebooks.


If you are looking for other books ideas online, especially for children, let me recommend Really Good Reads and Redeemed Reader.


There are a number of great Kindle deals right now, including many classics and free ebooks. One I purchased this week is a wonderful devotional on prayers in the Bible from the pen of pastor Gordon Keddie (his commentaries are ALL worth while!): Prayers of the Bible is available free through today.

I’ve been hearing that puzzles are making a comeback and puzzle makers are doing a booming business. Wonderful – a great personal or family activity! My own wife has her card table set up in front of our large living room window and is currently busy with a 1000-piece one.

Speaking of puzzles – word puzzles, that is – Another fun activity our grandchildren enjoy is the “Scrambled Scriptures” Bible word search from Creation Moments (other good things on their website too!). You can subscribe to receive the weekly edition, or print off any available at the link provided. Give it a try and see what the kids think.

Watching videos and documentaries also has its place. And there are many valuable educational and inspirational things out there.

Ligonier Ministries is offering all their teaching videos free during this time. This is a great way to feed your soul and expand your mind right now – Bible studies, church history, Christian doctrine are all open to you.

Christian History Institute is offering their “RedeemTV” beta version free right now. This includes videos on church history and documentaries on world history.

Other activities online may be found at the National Archives website (a wealth of history, etc. there!) and your local state history website. The Michigan Historical Society website has all kinds of ideas for children.


Of course, for those of us missing March madness basketball and the start of the MLB baseball season (Cubs!), there are plenty of classic games being broadcast right now. Yes, sports has its place – just keep it in its place (Indeed, I need that reminder too.).

Better yet, get outside and play your own games, take bike rides, and walk. Some of us West Michigan pickleball players got our first 2020 outdoor game in this week. It was only 50 degrees and breezy, but it sure felt great to be out playing! 🙂

Feel free to pass along your own suggestions in the comments section!

*Update: I forgot to share this bookplate I came across in some books I was sorting through this past week.



The Hollanders in Roseland (Hope), IL

A few weeks ago, bookseller Gary VDS brought over a few more treasures for the PRC seminary library, including another rare book covering the history of the Dutch in America, this time in Roseland, IL (the town was first called Hope, as it reflected the strong faith of the Reformed Christians who settled there). Since I had the flu all last weekend, I took the book home and had extra time for reading. And what a treasure this story of these Hollanders is – I had a hard time putting it down!


I knew the Dutch had settled early (mid-1800s) in the mid-south area below Chicago (also known as the Calumet area, along the ridge from 100th-120th Sts. and including Michigan Ave., State St., etc., including farther south – South Holland, where my Uncle Menno and Aunt Sadie Smit lived, he being  a truck farmer like many in those early years, and where my wife and I lived for nearly 8 years in the 1980s-90s), but I really did not know this history – certainly not Roseland, though the name was familiar enough. But I am learning a lot from author Marie K. Rowlands who tells “The Story of Roseland” in the packed book Down an Indian Trail in 1849.

The book was originally published in the Roseland, Illinois Centennial Issue of the Calumet Index (Monday, June 20, 1949), but was reprinted with wonderful pictures from various historical societies by the Dutch Heritage Center (ed. by Ross K. Ettema), found at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL.


According to the editor’s introduction, Mrs. Rowlands (author) “is particularly well qualified to write this Story of Roseland…. Of Holland ancestry, she is a daughter of the late Henry R. Koopman, who was Roseland’s first photographer.” But more interestingly, her grandfather “was the Dominie of the First Reformed Church of Roseland from 1870-1877.”

The story begins in the town of Schoorl, North Holland, the Netherlands, where in April of 1849 sixty-two pioneers left on the ship “Massachusetts” for the New World. On the trip over, cholera hit the group and 17 died at sea, leaving 45 to settle in America. The Dutch names are familiar: DeJong, Jonker, Kuyper, Eenigenburg, Dalenberg, and more. So was their faith. According to the author, “The dreary weeks that followed [the death of those at sea] put the faith of these man and women to a severe test, but since adversity always strengthens a strong faith, they emerged far more consecrated. With dogged persistence they argued that, although God had led them through dark waters, He was still their God and would eventually bring them unto the promised land. With renewed fervor they recited the Catechism and sang the beloved Psalms” (p.10).

We’ll return to this story again to share some more of the Dutch faith, hardiness, and humor as newcomers to America.

dutch-chicago-swierenga-2002For more on the Dutch in Chicago area, visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago. To read another major study on these Hollanders, turn to Robert P. Swierenga’s Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City (Van Raalte Institute/Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002).


Potato Salad (Lake Wobegon Tales)

Yes, it is winter in West Michigan and a big storm is bearing down on us, but shall we just forget about that for a bit and focus on celebrating the Fourth of July and enjoying a great picnic – with homemade potato salad? Our location is Lake Wobegon, the fictional town of Garrison Keillor filled with Nordic Lutherans and tales that resonate with us Hollanders, Germans, and pretty much every other kind of nationality, as long as you are Americans.

Here is part of a great story Keillor weaves involving the town’s Fourth of July celebration and the need for simple pleasures – like good potato salad, fried chicken, and sparklers. Listen on and laugh away – it’s good therapy at the end of the week.

Potato salad. Don’t get me started. People are asked to bring potato salad to the picnic and instead stop at a convenience store and get some plastic tubs full of mushy potatoes, salad dressing, and mustard to give it that eerie yellow color. Why insult us? Do you think we’ve never had real potato salad and we can’t tell the difference? Do you think we’re not Americans and don’t know potato salad? Do we look Canadian to you? Is there something Icelandic about us? Potato salad. No big mystery about it. It has hard-boiled eggs, fresh chopped celery, chives, green onions, real mayonnaise, maybe a little sour cream, plenty of dill, and on top you spread some sliced boiled eggs with a sprinkling of paprika. [that was my mom’s version!] The great potato salad makers of the world are passing from the world, and you and I should emulate their art lest this country slide into barbarism and ignorance and decay. Standards must be upheld.

…Every child has the right to real potato salad and to hold a sparkler in his or her little hand and wave it around. What magic, to trace your little arc of light against the dark. Surely there have been thousands of men and women who gave their lives to art, to music, to the gaiety of language, who felt the first stirrings of artistry when they helped Grandma make potato salad, a great potato salad that had texture, had some crunch, had the green onions working with the egg yolks and the paprika and dill and the richness of mayonnaise, which cries out for accompaniment with a fried drumstick, still warm with crackly skin and flaky meat. Oh, this is art, to take the humble potato salad and the stupid chicken and ennoble them with the craft of cooking – and is this not the meaning of our country, to take what is common and make something beautiful of it? To stand on the lawn in the twilight and wave your torch and draw big loops of light and slashes and make bold, brilliant strokes? Happy Fourth of July, everybody.

Taken from chapter 25, “Potato Salad, in Garrison Keillor’s Life Among the Lutherans, pp.156-57.

Best Books of 2019

It is that time of year (the end!) when we find not only great book sales but also great book lists – the favorites of writers, publishers, and readers for this year. Many of these lists are being posted on blogs and published on websites, and so it is a good time to call attention to some of the good Christian ones as well as others of general value and interest. This is a great way to find those hidden treasures and your next great read – and perhaps spend that gift card you received.

The one I have linked to here is pastor Kevin DeYoung’s, which held many surprises for me. Many new titles there are here that were not on my radar, and while I might not gravitate toward many of them, nevertheless, it is healthy to gather ideas from others.

Here’s a couple from the middle of his list that stood out as relevant and useful in our frantic world:

7. Cal Newport. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Portfolio). After reading Newport’s earlier book on Deep Work, I was eager to get this follow-up volume on reducing digital distraction. Newport wisely observes that we are succumbing to screens not because we are lazy (though that may play a part), but because billions of dollars have been invested to push us into digital addiction. The call for digital minimalism, therefore, is not about efficiency or usefulness, but about autonomy. Like Newport’s book on work, I find this one easier to agree with than to put into practice.


6. Robert Caro. Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing (Knopf). Fascinating from start to finish. I confess I have not read all of Caro’s famous work on LBJ, but I have read enough to know that as a researcher and political biographer, he has no equal. This little book is a snapshot into the subjects of his big biographies—Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson—as well as a glimpse into the method behind Caro’s own brilliant madness.

Another good source is Tim Challies, whose recent post, “The Collected Best Christian Books of 2019” is filled with worthwhile reads. Here are a few:

We will begin with the titles that found their way onto at least 3 best-0f lists:

And he follows that up with links to other lists of best books, so follow the link above to find many others.

Another book reviewer list (secular) to pay attention to is Kirkus, which produces fine lists of the latest publications in all categories. Here is the link to their lists for 2019.


And while many of us (I include myself) are sometimes critical of the way Amazon has monopolized bookselling and hurt authors and publishers, yet one has to pay attention to the best book lists it produces too. Here is a link to its 2019 lists, which you can also search according to category (history, non-fiction, etc.).

Source: Top 10 Books of 2019

The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

Have you ever heard of this special Bible, now part of the Museum of the Bible collection? It is called the Lunar Bible, and it is part of a fascinating story, one I was not familiar with until yesterday (Nov.19), when on the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing of Apollo 12, the Museum of the Bible sent out this note:

The story of the Lunar Bible is a fascinating tale of tragedy and triumph. The saga began in 1967 with Apollo 1 astronaut Ed White telling reporters he wanted to take a Bible to the moon. Sadly, an accident during a test run for its launch took the lives of the Apollo 1 crew.

In their honor, the Apollo Prayer League was formed to pray for the safety of future astronauts and to honor Ed White by taking a Bible to the moon. Using technology developed by the National Cash Register Company, Reverend John Stout, founder of the Apollo Prayer League, had a microfiche version of the King James Bible produced measuring only an inch-and-a-half square.

It took a few tries to get the Bible to the moon. Fifty years ago, today, the Apollo 12 lunar module, manned by Commander Charles Conrad and pilot Alan Bean, landed on the moon. Unfortunately, the astronauts left a microfiche Bible on the command module, which meant the first book to land on a celestial body would have to wait.

The Apollo 13 mission tried again, but an explosion on board the spacecraft thwarted the attempt. The astronauts returned safely but were not able to land on the moon. Finally, on February 5, 1971, Apollo 14 returned to the moon, at last bringing 100 copies of the “Lunar Bible” to its surface.

At the MOB website, you will find a small collection of Lunar bible artifacts, which includes this description of its history (just viewed a little differently).

Prior to his death in 1967, Astronaut Edward White II (Apollo 1) told a reporter he hoped to carry a Bible to the moon. In his memory, the Apollo Prayer League formed in 1968, in part to fulfill that desire. Several missions attempted to land the Bible on the moon. Alan Bean (Apollo 12) was the first, but due to a mix-up the Bible only orbited the moon. Apollo 13 carried 512 copies, but an explosion prevented a lunar landing. Finally, in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell carried 300 copies of the Bible with him (100 in the lunar module, 200 in the command module, and 212 also secretly stowed in the command module). On February 5, 1971, Antares, Apollo 14’s lunar module, touched down on the moon, bringing with it the Bible.

View the link below to visit this small collection with a large story. Amazing where God’s Word has gone!

Source: The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

Branch Rickey and the Jackie Robinson Story


This is a January morning in 1943 and Wesley Branch Rickey is standing outside his house at 34 Greenway South in Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, New York City. …Rickey’s face shows eagerness and excitement even after all his years in baseball. He has asked God for help and believes that is exactly what is happening now.

…He waits in cold, fresh air for his ride to downtown Brooklyn, where he runs the Dodgers baseball team. [Yes, that now LA Dodgers team!] While this does not sound so vital, especially in time of war, today he is doing the work of the Lord with all his heart and mind and these large, gnarled hands he waves. He is going to a crucial meeting with the banker who holds the mortgage on the Dodgers baseball team.

Rickey carries with him a Midwestern Christian religious fervor as strong as a wheat crop, and a political faith in anything Republican. Already he is a familiar figure at his new church in Queens, the Church in the Gardens…. On Sundays, Branch Rickey brought with him to church a prayer book and a background of Methodist studies from Ohio Wesleyan University, and sometimes he delivered the sermon. In one, he announced he was here to run the Brooklyn Dodgers and to serve the God to whom they prayed, and the Lord’s work called for him to bring the first black player into major league baseball.

You held the American heart in your hand when you attempted to change anything in baseball. If a black was involved, the cardiograms showed an ice storm.

…In no calling, craft, profession trade, or occupation was color in American accepted. The annals of the purported greats how that everyone was paralyzed with the national disease: color fear.

But here on this street corner stands Branch Rickey, a lone white man with a fierce belief that it is the deepest sin against God to hold color against a person. On this day he means to change baseball and America, too. The National Pastime, the game that teaches sportsmanship to children, must shake with shame, Rickey thought. Until this morning in Forest Hills, there has been no white person willing to take on the issue. That is fine with Rickey. He feels that he is at bat with two outs and a 3-2 pitch coming. He is the last man up, sure he will get a hit.

Taken from the first chapter in the powerful story of this professing Christian and his singular goal to integrate baseball with black players. The book is Branch Rickey: A Life by Jimmy Breslin, and it is my second baseball read this summer (another of those thrift store finds that turns out to be a gem!). The pages quoted here are 5-7.


Branch Rickey is the one who introduced the great Jackie Robinson to the major leagues, finally breaking a barrier that opened the door for many other great players. Many may forget the Christian background to the story (Robinson was also a professing Christian), but Breslin tells it straight. You may also be interested to know that when he was a player, Rickey himself refused to play on Sunday, keeping a promise to his godly mother. Yet, sadly, he broke it later as a manager.