Friday, December 18, 2020

A message from the Great Depression years

 Every morning I read the daily readings for Catholics from Magnificat, a small magazine which usually includes, several hymns, one or two passages from the Psalms (one responsive), an Old Testament history reading, the Gospel and usually an Epistle, a story about a saint, and perhaps a reading from the writings of a saint, not necessarily the same person, because some saints were not literate or are known only through the writings of others. Sample copy: Magnificat Request a sample copy There is some comfort (actually a lot) knowing that Catholics all over the world are using the same passages, and that they are also being read and commented on during daily mass.  When I attend mass at St. Andrew I will hear from the pulpit the same passages I read with my morning coffee (actually, my hot chocolate since I don't drink much coffee anymore). If I tune into one of the EWTN radio selections for that day, I may hear another meditation on one of those passages. It is marvelous to see how all these fit together when read that way. (Hear it, see it, say it, do it is the best way for us to learn, particularly elders and small children)

However, as I've mentioned before, this summer I picked up a "like new" book from a Little Library on the Psalms, Meditations in the Book of Psalms, by Erling C. Olsen, (3rd. ed 1952) c. 1967, 4th printing.  New these are about $20, but Little Library is take one, leave one, or take and read and put it back. It's the "best deal" I got all summer. The author's preface and the cover explain the evolution of this 1,050 page book.  It began on February 18, 1934 as radio broadcasts of the Psalms, originally with only the most well known, and then he went back and added in the rest, ending finally on November 27, 1938. Then he edited his scripts and did more research to make sure all the scripture passages and quotes from scholars, listeners and friends were correct. This must have been a Herculean effort--240 radio messages, 68 hours of broadcasting, 1000+ hours of research.  The first edition of "Meditations" was published in 1939 in 2 volumes, 2nd in 1941, 3rd in 1952 (in one volume), the copyright was renewed in 1952, and the 4th printing of that was 1967. And all that explanation, particularly the dates of the broadcasts, is to bring us to Psalm 127, the reading from "Magnificat" for December 17, 2020. In most broadcasts, Olsen comments on something contemporary, but doesn't mention dates, although dates may have been in earlier editions. I'm sometimes caught up short when I am reminded there is nothing new under the sun, and that God has rescued our nation before from the bad decisions of his people. That said, I've read elsewhere that Olsen may have been a dispensationalist, and thought the ending was nigh.

One thing on our minds (at least of patriotic, conservative Americans) is the packing of the Supreme Court, if the Republicans in Georgia don't win the run-off this coming January. This attempt has only happened one other time, if my knowledge of U.S. history is correct.  President Roosevelt tried it during the Great Depression of the 1930s. In order to get all he wanted in the "New Deal," FDR needed to get rid of, or lessen the influence of certain members of the Supreme Court.  They were old and in my opinion, wiser than FDR, considering the things they struck down that he wanted.  The average American retires around mid-60s, but even today SCOTUS members may serve well beyond that (Ruth Bader Ginsberg was 87, and had been in ill health for some time). Roosevelt wanted to appoint up to 6 additional justices for every justice older than 70.5 years who had served 10 years or more which would lessen the influence of those on the court (to decide cases according to FDR's demands). FDR's response to the world wide economic crisis was to lessen capitalism and strengthen socialism. (Sounds like 2020, doesn't it?)  He wasn't successful, but more members of the court did eventually swing his direction.

Which brings us  to Olsen's comments about Psalm 127. He comments that the first verse applies in every sphere "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it" and "except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." was particularly about the U.S. Now here I'm assuming this broadcast was in 1937 when FDR was up to all sorts of mischief.

"Take the problem now up for discussion in our own land: the matter of the Supreme Court.  Some of us have been urged to petition our representatives.  No one can take exception to that.  Our representatives should know what we desire if they are to represent us properly.  There is only one way through which they can accurately determine our wishes, and that is from our own expression.  However, while a petition is desirable, prayer is infinitely more powerful.  I repeat what I said on another occasion; I believe that our difficulties would soon be past if the godly people of this country would earnestly pray. . ."

We are certainly on a precipice right now--socialism is bearing down on us and many Americans are asleep to the danger, or worse, suggesting open rebellion and violence to stop it.  Olsen, back in 1937, had already seen a lot, and he suggested prayer (as well as letting your representatives know your desire).

This Is How FDR Tried to Pack the Supreme Court - HISTORY

Mr. Olsen was not a pastor, he was Executive vice president of The Fitch Investors Service, in New York and in addition to the Sunday morning broadcast, he also hosted a mid-week program where he interviewed knowledgeable guests. In a brief look through the internet, I see that some of these programs are also available. 

No comments: