History’s Turning Points: Tentmaker from Tarsus

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. We examine history’s turning points: the tentmaker from Tarsus.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: He began life in his own words as “a Jew of the Jews.” Paul of Tarsus was a member of the Pharisees, a school of Judaism known for its zeal for orthodoxy. His early encounters with the emerging Jewish sect that would eventually separate into Christianity revealed his zealotry by going after the growing number of adherents of Jesus who were claiming that the crucified and very dead Nazarene had come back from the dead. Commissioned to attack the followers of Jesus in the city of Damascus, he wrote later that on the way he was felled by a bright light and what he described as the transforming voice of Jesus himself. This son of Judaism switched loyalties and was soon proselytizing alongside, though barely tolerated by, the understandably suspicious original disciples, those who had actually known Jesus. And in this came one of history’s turning points.

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History’s Turning Points: History’s Tricks

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. This series on A Moment in Time examines history’s turning points.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In his first volume of Reason in Common Sense, the Spanish-born Harvard philosopher Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, more popularly known as George Santayana, was attempting to explain the true nature of progress. He asserted that retentiveness is an essential part of change, bringing something of value from the past. Absent the coach of experience, change, much less progress, cannot lead to improvement in the future. Misquoted and paraphrased in countless ways over the years, his most famous aphorism describes life unprotected by the values of past experience as like unto that among savages where infancy is everlasting. He wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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First Ladies: Sarah Childress Polk

Lead: The wife of the tenth President of the United States was the ideal political spouse: devoted, principled, and ambitious.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1823 James Knox Polk was stuck in what he considered a dead end job as a clerk employed by the Tennessee legislature. He asked Andrew Jackson, just beginning his first run for the Presidency, what advice he would give for success in politics. Jackson told him, "stop this philandering...settle down as a sober married man." "Which lady shall I choose?" asked Polk. "The one who will never give you no trouble," replied Jackson, "you know her well." "You mean Sarah Childress?" Polk asked, thought a minute, went out and asked her to marry him. He never regretted the choice.

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Oneida Community II

Lead: Accused of immorality, followers of radical perfectionist John Humphrey Noyes fled to sanctuary near the Canadian border on the banks of Oneida Creek.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Noyes believed in perfectionism, the idea that by Christ’s grace, Christians have no sin. He rejected monogamous marriage and accusations of free love forced the group to leave their home in Putney, Vermont to settle in remote Madison County, New York. Eventually, 31 adults and 14 children moved to Oneida. By 1849, there were 100 members of the community. That number had grown to approximately 300 in 1880.

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Oneida Community I

Lead: The 1800s were a time of intellectual and religious ferment. As a part of this excitement, Perfectionists established a community on Oneida Creek in New York.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Emerging from the American revivalist movement of the early 1800s, a group of Christian thinkers began to adopt an extreme form of perfectionism. They believed that the grace of Christ conveyed to them true perfection and a few very radical thinkers believed that perfection was permanent and irrevocable. One of these radicals was John Humphrey Noyes, a seminary student at Yale. In 1834 he asserted to his fellow students that he was without sin and was freed from the restraints of biblical law. His position led to bitter controversy on the Yale campus and he was forced by the faculty to give up his license to preach. He left.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief II

Lead: The use of the stirring, heroic melody, Hail to the Chief, was ritualized by First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, dealing with her husband’s public relations problems. The story behind the tune, however, is not very good news for a politician.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk, Eleventh President of the United States, was short, usually unkempt and wore cheap, ill-fitting suits. He and Sarah were not universally popular in Washington society and he could walk into a room and be completely ignored. To call attention to his presence and increase respect, Sarah Polk decreed that he should have a theme song. Whenever he entered the room, the Marine Band was instructed to play Hail to the Chief.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief I

Lead: Frustrated that her husband was being ignored at social and political events, the First Lady determined that the president needed a theme song. Of such are traditions born.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk was an unprepossessing man. He was short, he usually sported a bad haircut, and he wore cheap oversized suits. Often the President of the United States was ignored when he entered the room. In short, he was a public relation expert's nightmare. Nevertheless, Polk had a secret political weapon. It was his wife, Sarah.

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Nat Turner, Slave Rebellion III

Lead: In the summer of 1831, Nat Turner, a religious mystic convinced that God had called him as a prophet, led a group of followers on a bloody rampage through south-side Virginia in the most serious slave rebellion in U.S. history.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Nat Turner was a gifted and powerful, mesmerizing slave preacher. Nearly all his life Nat Turner could read and write. His owners from the early days encouraged him to read those portions of the Bible that tell slaves to live lives of dutiful and submissive obedience. Yet, he also read subversive portions of the scriptures that gave him hope that one day he might achieve freedom. By the mid-1820s, Nat Turner was attracting large groups of slaves to his preaching services on Sundays near Cross Keys in Southampton County or down near the North Carolina border.

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