Spring/Summer Valedictorians: Changing the world a cap and gown at a time

With the end of the spring/summer terms comes another inspiring graduating class of Cougars.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences boasts some of the best and brightest of the more than 30,000 students who walk across campus each year. This graduation, we celebrate the almost 400 FHSS graduates and their studies, efforts and experiences that are helping families, individuals and communities thrive. From Orem, Utah, to Tokyo, Japan, our graduates act as forces for good across the county and world.

Check out these adventurous, ambitious, and world-changing valedictorians:

Alexander Baxter PictureAlexander Baxter, a psychology major, loves studying monkeys. As a sophomore, Alexander started working in Dr. Dee Higley’s nonhuman primate research lab. In conjunction with Dr. Daniel Kay, he studied mother-infant attachment and infant sleep development. Alexander went on a summer internship to the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis. While there, he collected data for his own project of studying prenatal testosterone exposure. He loved the experience so much that he spent the rest of his time at BYU in Dr. Higley’s lab, and went on the internship two more times to collect data. Alexander presented his research with Dr. Higley at four professional conferences, six undergraduate research conferences, and published two first-authored research papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to studying attachment and social relationships in monkeys, Alexander also studied similar topics regarding humans, under the mentorship of Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Through the connections he made on his internship, Alexander was accepted into the biological psychology PhD program at UC Davis, and will continue doing research at the Primate Center. He is grateful for Elizabeth Wood, his lab manager and friend, and for Dr. Higley, his mentor. He will always remember Dr. Higley’s most important lesson: the people you work with are more important than the data they help you collect.

Berklee Baum PictureBerklee Annell Baum is a teaching social science major with minors in both history and teaching English as a second language. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a mission in Los Angeles, California. Berklee has always had a passion for learning about history and culture. During her education at BYU, she participated in a social work internship in Italy and was able to do historical research in Germany, Poland, and Austria. She was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, which gave her

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Dr. Jay H. Buckley to wrangle western history as new Charles Redd Center director

BYU History professor Dr. Jay H. Buckley has been selected as the new director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. Buckley will serve in this position for a three-year term that begins September 1, 2018.

Buckley will be replacing current director Dr. Brian Cannon who has served as the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies director for 15 years. Cannon has “fundamentally shaped (the center’s) direction” according to Assistant Director Dr. Brenden Rensink. In addition to overseeing countless initiatives and programs, Cannon helped grow the Redd Center’s influence across multiple academic fields and with the general public. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is deeply appreciative of Cannon’s many years of dedicated service and is excited to have him continue teaching full-time in the history department.

Buckley is an associate professor in the history department and the director of the American Indian Studies academic minor. Buckley’s research and publication interests include the American West, exploration, fur trade, and American Indians. He is the author of the award-winning William Clark: Indian Diplomat, and co-author of six other books. Buckley has served on the Redd Center Board of Directors since 2011. He has received multiple Redd Center research grants, worked extensively with students on the Intermountain Histories public history project, and received the Mollie & Karl G. Butler Young Scholar Award in Western Studies. He is also the past President of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

Image result for byu redd centerThe Charles Redd Center for Western Studies was founded in 1972 by Charley and Annaley Naegle Redd. It promotes the study of the Intermountain West (defined as the states of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona) through its sponsorship of research, publication, teaching and public programs. The Redd Center is an interdisciplinary center in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities.

For more information on the Redd Center and its events, visit reddcenter.byu.edu.

FHSS Valedictorians: Setting the Curve

BYU is famous for many things: Cosmo the Cougar, being ranked the number 1 “Stone Cold Sober” school 20 years running, and our awesome chocolate milk. Our amazing graduates however, trump all. The graduating class this year is one of the school’s biggest, which the majority of the females being returned missionaries.  From undergraduate research in Thailand to managing a neuroscience lab, FHSS boasts some of the most accomplished graduates. Check out our incredible valedictorians:

Boone Robins Christianson, of Provo, had no idea what anthropology was when he declared it as a major his freshman year. He wants to thank his parents Marlin and LaDonn for supporting him even though they were equally confused about what he could do with the degree. Throughout his time at BYU, Boone has spent the majority of his studies researching African agricultural development, including conducting research in Malawi and Namibia. In addition, he speaks Otjiherero, a rare language spoken by small groups of people from those countries. Despite his successes in anthropology, Boone has decided to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and will begin his pursuit of this degree at Auburn University in Alabama this upcoming fall. Boone has enjoyed being involved in intermural sports, the Diction Club, and being an active participant in his LDS campus wards. He loves spending long hours playing Boggle and eating cereal.

boone baby

John Frederick Bonney, an economics major, is the son of Philip and Georgia Bonney. He grew up in the US, Senegal, and Italy, and served a mission in the Netherlands. John has thoroughly enjoyed working with faculty at BYU, performing research in areas including behavioral, educational, and familial economics and teaching other students about applied econometric research. He is grateful to the economics faculty for their stellar instruction and would specifically like to thank Drs. Lars Lefgren, Joe Price, and James Cardon for allowing him to enhance his learning through research and teaching assistantships. While attending BYU, John has also completed four internships during which he designed market research and forecasted models currently in use by multiple Fortune 500 companies. Within the community, John has enjoyed serving through educational organizations like Alpha and Project Read. John is happily married to Amanda Bonney, who is graduating with a Master of Accountancy. After graduating, John will continue his passion for economic research as a pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

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Grayson Morgan, a geography major with a geospatial science and technology emphasis, is the second child born to Daniel and Michelle Morgan and grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina. Geography has surrounded him his whole life, but it wasn’t until his freshman year that he realized that it was exactly what he wanted to do. During his short time at BYU, Grayson has come to thoroughly enjoy his encounters with the various Geography Department Professors, secretaries, TAs, and fellow students. Certainly, much of his learning could not have taken place without their generous help and overwhelming kindness. His family means the world to him and he would like to thank his wife, parents, siblings, and extended family for their support. Grayson loves serving others, BYU sports, playing with his two-month-old daughter, and learning new things. He is excited to continue learning this fall as he begins a master’s degree and eventual PhD program in Global Information Systems/Remote Sensing at the University of South Carolina.

Morgan

Kaytlin Fay Anne Nalder, a history teaching major, grew up in Alberta, Canada. She is the sixth of seven children born to Byron and Deanne Nalder. Her love for history began in high school, but it wasn’t until she came to BYU that she considered majoring in it. While at BYU, Kaytlin was able to work as both a teaching and research assistant for Dr. Underwood, a job which was one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience. She was also the recipient of two history paper awards including the De Lamar and Mary Jensen Student Paper Award in European History and the Carol Cornwall Madsen Student Paper Award in Women’s History. Kaytlin enjoys skiing, reading, cooking, crocheting, and spending time with family and friends. She would like to thank all of the wonderful mentors and professors she was privileged to work with during her time at BYU, as well as her family and friends for their support and encouragement.

Nalder Picture

Marissa Skinner, a family life major with an emphasis in Human Development, is the daughter of Terry and Lottie Anderson. Although she grew up in Salt Lake City, she is a Cougar fan through and through. She discovered her passion for human development simply by taking a general class and has been hooked ever since. During her time at BYU, she served as a council member for Y-Serve, served a mission in the Philippines, and worked closely with many professors to conduct research projects regarding the topics of gender-socialization and moral development. Marissa also conducted two research projects that she presented at conferences on campus. She is so excited to implement what she has learned in her program and hopes she can make a difference because of it. She would like to thank her husband, family, and faculty members for pushing her out of her comfort zone and helping her reach her goals.

Marissa Skinner

Reed Lynn Rasband, a political science major, is the son of Kevin Rasband and Heather Watts and is the oldest of eight children. He grew up raising sheep in Brigham City, Utah and served a mission in Rancagua, Chile. As an undergraduate, he was able to carry out research for his Honors thesis in Thailand, additional research in the United Kingdom, and an internship with a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. He worked for four years as a teaching and research assistant in the Political Science department. He has also served as the President of the BYU Political Affairs Society, as Editor-in-Chief for the undergraduate journal Sigma, and as a volunteer with two organizations serving the Utah County Latino community. This fall, he will begin work on a Ph.D. in political science, focusing on ethnic and migration politics in the hopes of finding ways to improve intergroup relations around the globe. He is incredibly grateful for the continuing support his family provides him, as well as for the excellent mentorship he has received from BYU faculty.

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Charlotte Esplin, a psychology major with a clinical emphasis, grew up in Basildon, Essex, UK. After serving a mission in the Utah St. George Temple Visitors’ Center, Charlotte came to BYU. The first to attend a university in her family, Charlotte has embraced academics and all that a university life has had to offer.  While at BYU, Charlotte has worked as a teaching assistant for multiple psychology classes, and has performed quantitative research into how personality variables affect marital outcomes with Dr. Scott Braithwaite. This research has resulted in various articles,

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Which Historical Figure are You?

Have you ever wondered which historical figure you are? Take our quiz and find out!

What is your favorite class?

  1. Religion
  2. Clothing design
  3. Electrical engineering
  4. Business
  5. Military science

What would you do if someone disrespected you?

  1. Turn the other cheek
  2. Tell them to eat cake
  3. Think: “I’ve been called a ‘tyrant’ and an ‘uninhibited egoist,’ so I guess it’s no big deal
  4. Tweet about it
  5. Repeatedly get revenge

What is your favorite book?

  1. The Bible
  2. How to be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Derest and Audrey Dewan
  3. Experiments and Observations on Electricity by Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Works by Leonardo da Vinci
  4. Anything I tweet
  5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What do you like to do most?

  1. Following God’s will
  2. Partying
  3. Inventing things
  4. Taking charge
  5. Conquering my enemies

What is your favorite film/TV show?

  1. The Prince of Egypt
  2. Project Runway
  3. Anything but The Prestige
  4. Anything on Fox and Friends
  5. The Count of Monte Cristo

What is your relationship status?

  1. Single
  2. Married, but it’s not great
  3. Married, widowed, and remarried
  4. Married with children
  5. Widowed, and I’m not getting remarried

 

If you got mostly 1’s

Congratulations! You are Joan of Arc, fearless French leader in the Hundred Years’ War. Under her command, the nation successfully repulsed the English at Orleans. Eventually, she was captured and executed for heresy. Joan claimed that she was sent by God to help put Charles VII on the throne of France; her faith in God led her to do great things.

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You are a deeply religious person who is not afraid to do what’s right, even when it seems impossible. People look up to you as someone who is strong and courageous. Don’t ever change!

Joan of Arc recently participated in the History Department’s Dead Queens Debate, where she debated current women’s issues. She also appeared on Between Two Ferns.

If you got mostly 2’s

Congratulations! You are Marie Antoinette, doomed queen during the French Revolution. Known for her extravagant clothing and love of parties, this monarch was eventually executed. However, her legacy as one of the most fashionable women of her time has lasted centuries.

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You are a style-savvy individual who knows how to command a room and is the life of the party. People look to you for social approval and you are always on the guest list for the most posh events.

You can learn more about Marie Antoinette by taking HIST 294 The Age of the French Revolution and/or HIST 324 France.

If you got mostly 3’s

Congratulations! You are Thomas Edison, inventor of the “commercial electric light and power system,” the phonograph, and the microphone. The scientist owned 1,093 patents. Edison took advantage of the total solar eclipse of 1878 to test his new invention, the tasimeter, to detect changes of heat during the eclipse. He viewed the eclipse as his chance to prove that he was not only an inventor but a serious scientist as well.

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Like him, you are an extremely intelligent person who sees things differently than others and knows how innovate. People admire your ingenuity and rely on you to make their lives better.

If you got mostly 4’s

Congratulations, you are President Donald Trump! (He’s not a historical figure yet, but he will be.) You have a passion for leading and aren’t afraid to defend your beliefs. You fight for what you want and always bounce back from adversity. Furthermore, your Twitter skills are legendary.

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If you got mostly 5’s

Congratulations! You are Olga, princess of Kievan Rus. After her husband was murdered by a nearby tribe, she took revenge multiple times, eventually subjugating the people of that tribe. Later in her life, Olga converted to Christianity and, after her death, was canonized.

olga

You feel things deeply and are fiercely loyal to those you care about. When somebody hurts them, you are personally offended. Cunning and resilient, you are someone that everyone wants on their side.

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You can learn more about Princess Olga by taking History 300: The Early Middle Ages.

Gifs courtesy of Giphy

Photo credits: Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc, Thomas Edison, and Princess Olga.

Halloween Costumes Based on Your Majors and Minors

It’s that time of year again, where we get to dress up as our favorite characters, monsters, or people. There are so many options that it can be hard to pick your costume. To remedy that, here are costume ideas based on your FHSS major or minor.

History or Women’s Studies

Last year, History professor Ed Stratford hosted two “dead debates,” which were fun events in which various professors acted as “resuscitated” dead U.S. presidents and queens and debated modern political and gender issues. Watch this “Between Two Ferns” parody trailers for the Dead Queens Debate for costume ideas:

 

Geography

Embrace your inner explorer and dress up as Christopher Columbus! To dress like him, you would need:

  • baggy pants, tucked into
  • white knee socks
  • floppy hat
  • long sleeved shirt
  • Long, plain vest

For some ideas on how to create simple spyglasses out of paper cups, check out this post. To see some of the maps the geography department has made of the nation, click here.

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Anthropology

Dressing up like an anthropology major would be very easy, if this post is any indication.

Political Science

Abraham Lincoln or any current or past American president are just a few of the options available for political science students. Here are instructions for creating President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat.

For updates on the political science department, check out their blog.

Halloween doesn’t have to be hard; there are a plethora of people you can dress up as. So why not show some academic pride and dress up as someone from your major or minor?

Photo credits: Christopher Columbus.

95 Things You Didn’t Know about Martin Luther

Five hundred years ago, almost to the day, Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses. Even though five centuries divide us from the famous Reformer, historians, religious scholars, and even laypeople still talk about the impact his ideas had on Christian Europe. Unfortunately, few people know the whole story.

In a new book, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation, BYU history professor Craig Harline tells the story of the man who shook Christianity to its core. Harline’s book, published just recently, is refreshingly readable; he dives into the story and makes it interesting to non-historians. A must for anyone who likes a good storyline, the book’s pacing and suspense make it read like fiction.

FHSS commemorates the anniversary of the day Luther sent out his theses—October 31st—by sharing 95 interesting facts about his life and personality.

Luther’s Theses

  1. Nailing or gluing theses to church doors was a common practice in the early 1500s, but there’s no historical record indicating whether Luther actually posted his own 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
  2. We do know that Luther sent his theses (written in Latin) to two local bishops and an archbishop. A few days later, he began sending copies to his friends, asking for their opinions.
  3. Luther’s theses spread as clergymen forwarded copies to each other. There were no laws against reprinting another person’s work, so someone eventually arranged to print more copies, and those made their way around the Holy Roman Empire.
  4. Printers began publishing German translations of Luther’s theses in early 1518. That allowed laypeople, not just scholars, to access his ideas.
  5. What exactly is a thesis? It’s a claim supporting a larger idea, often defended or attacked in a debate-like setting known as a disputation.
  6. Luther’s bishop discouraged him from holding a disputation, so Luther didn’t defend his theses in the usual forum in 1517 or 1518.
  7. The topic of Luther’s theses? The practice of the Catholic church that offered “indulgences,” or forgiveness of sins a person had committed in exchange for certain actions, such as a specified prayer, the visiting of a particular place, the performance of specific good works, or the giving of alms.
  8. In  particular, he opposed the funding of the construction of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and the paying-off of the debts of the Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz by alms gathered from indulgences.
  9. Luther wrote his 95 theses carefully, but many people interpreted them as attacks on the pope himself.
  10. Pope Leo X read Luther’s theses in early 1518. He sent word that Luther should keep silent on the subject of indulgences, but he didn’t do anything else… at first.
  11. Luther published an eight-page pamphlet, A Sermon on Indulgences and Grace, in March 1518 to clarify and expound on his ideas about indulgences.
  12. Luther’s Sermon, written in German, was even more popular than his theses. The pamphlet went through 14 printings in 1518.
  13. Luther spent much of 1518 writing papers to defend his theses, to refute his critics’ arguments, and to preach on other subjects. He was on his way to becoming one of the most prolific writers of his century.
  14. Luther also wrote a 170-page document called Explanations, which he sent to the pope to elaborate on his 95 theses.
  15. Luther rewrote some of his theses in Explanations, using stronger language against indulgences and saying that “the pope [was] only human and [could] err in matters of faith and morals.”
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Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, as printed in a pamphlet in Basel.

Luther’s Trial

  1.  After reading Explanations, the pope ordered Luther to come to Rome for a trial. Luther feared that a Roman trial would condemn him and keep him from ever returning to Germany.
  2. Prince Frederick, who ruled most of Saxony (including Wittenberg) and carried lots of political clout, intervened and changed the trial’s location from Rome to Augsburg, Germany.
  3. On the first day of the trial, Luther got into a yelling match with Cardinal Tomasso Cajetan, who led the trial.
  4. Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s superior in the Augustinian order of monks where he served, rushed to Augsburg after hearing about the disastrous first day. He convinced Luther to prepare a statement for the following days in court.
  5. In Luther’s written statement, he explained his position and included many scriptures, but Cajetan dismissed everything as “mere words.”
  6. The trial ended with Cajetan threatening Luther with excommunication and telling him not to return unless he was ready to recant.
  7. Rumors spread around Augsburg that Cajetan was going to order Luther’s arrest.
  8. As the highest-ranking Augustinian in Augsburg, Staupitz knew that he could be ordered to arrest Luther, so Staupitz absolved Luther of his vow of obedience. This effectively divorced Luther from the Augustinian order.
  9. Staupitz then fled Augsburg before Cajetan could take further action.
  10. Luther remained in the city until October 20. He posted an appeal to the pope on the church door, then rode out of Augsburg on an unsaddled horse.
  11. Luther rode back into Wittenberg on October 31, 1518. It was the first anniversary of the fateful day he sent out his theses.
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Wittenberg, 1536 (during Luther’s lifetime). Public domain.

Luther’s Tenuous Status in Saxony

  1. Even though Luther was no longer an Augustinian friar, he was still a preacher and a professor at Prince Frederick’s university in Wittenberg. He spent most of the fall of 1518 worrying that he would have to suddenly flee the city to avoid arrest.
  2. Knowing that Luther relied on Prince Frederick’s protection, Cajetan wrote to the prince to say that Luther should be arrested, or at least thrown out of Saxony.
  3. Two months after receiving Cajetan’s letter, Prince Frederick wrote back to say that Luther wasn’t a heretic because he still hadn’t had a real trial and no one had actually forced him to recant.
  4. Enrollment at Prince Frederick’s university increased sharply (from about 400 to 552) in 1518, mainly because students wanted to be taught by the famous Luther. The spike in enrollment is one reason behind the prince’s protection.
  5. The prince might have privately agreed with Luther’s concerns. He was intelligent, and he usually believed expert opinions when he heard them.
  6. But for political reasons, Prince Frederick couldn’t show obvious support of Luther. Frederick feared attack from other German princes (who could use Luther’s “heresy” as a pretext to attack Frederick), the taking of his lands by his own family members, excommunication, and subsequent loss of political power.
  7. Luther’s next big publication hit the press in December 1518: Acta Augustana, his account of the Augsburg trial and his assertion that Cajetan had labelled him as a heretic before the trial even began.
  8.  Pope Leo sent Karel von Miltitz, a Saxon nobleman who ran in the papal circles, to bargain with Prince Frederick over Luther’s fate. Miltitz, an inexperienced delegate, couldn’t convince the prince to arrest Luther, but he did secure a meeting with Luther himself.
  9. Miltitz and Luther met and reached a compromise, but Emperor Maximilian, of the Holy Roman Empire, died just days later. The pope wanted a particular person installed as the next emperor, and Prince Frederick was an elector who got to help choose the emperor, so the two parties shelved their discussion on Luther’s fate until the new emperor had been elected.
  10. Even with the conversation paused, the pope wrote to Luther and said that Miltitz had told him that Luther was willing to recant. Luther replied that Miltitz was mistaken and that he’d only recant if someone could prove he was wrong.
  11. In the meantime, Luther was appointed dean of Prince Frederick’s university.
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Luther’s rose, which he personally designed as a letter seal. It symbolizes his ideology and religious beliefs.

Luther’s Long-Awaited Disputation

  1. In early 1519, a scholar named Johann Eck began preparing for a disputation that seemed to target Luther’s ideas, even though Eck only invited Luther’s friend and ally Karlstadt to participate. Luther wasn’t sure if he’d be invited to debate Eck or not, but he prepared just in case.
  2. The disputation was important to all of Christian Europe, and Luther knew how influential its outcome would be. That’s why he put so much effort into preparing, without even knowing if he could participate.
  3. While Luther was preparing for the disputation, his ideas became even more radical. He studied the topic of the pope’s authority and said he wasn’t sure “whether the pope is the Antichrist himself or whether he is his apostle.”
  4. In May 1519, Luther published a thesis hinting that the pope’s authority wasn’t supreme. Luther wrote that scriptures and church history and the church’s fathers all proved that the pope didn’t actually have as much authority as he claimed.
  5. Luther’s friends asked him to drop the subject of the pope’s authority, but Luther said he knew Christ was with him, or else he already would have been burned at the stake.
  6. With less than a week to go before the disputation, Eck still hadn’t invited Luther to participate, but Luther made the 50-mile trip to Leipzig (the disputation’s setting) anyway. About 200 Wittenberg students followed his wagon.
  7. Just three days before the disputation, a fight broke out between the students who supported Luther and the students who supported Eck. Luther’s side took the heat for the encounter, so Leipzig officials stationed 34 guards near the Wittenberg group’s lodgings.
  8. On June 27, the first day of the disputation, Eck finally asked Luther to debate him after he’d finished his disputation with Karlstadt. Luther agreed.
  9. The first round of the disputation (between Eck and Karlstadt) lasted days, but Luther called it “wretched.” The two men only debated free will, not indulgences, papal authority, or any of Luther’s other favorite subjects.
  10. Luther kept a couple of good-luck charms nearby during his own portion of the disputation: roses and a silver ring that probably contained an amulet in a capsule.
  11. During the disputation, Luther argued that scriptures—not church fathers—were the most authoritative source of doctrine. He also explained that scriptures like Matthew 16 (“you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”) had always been misinterpreted.
  12. Eck discredited Luther by comparing him to notorious and widely-feared heretic Jan Hus. Luther fell into the trap and responded that some of Hus’s teachings weren’t so bad, so Eck immediately attacked him for that. From then on, Luther’s critics often compared him to Hus.
  13. Luther left Leipzig as soon as the disputation was over, departing before he could even find out who would judge the winner, let alone who would be declared winner.
  14. It took months to declare the winner; the university scholars appointed to judge the disputation didn’t want to touch such a controversial topic. Eventually, other scholars from the Universities of Cologne and Leuven condemned Luther’s writing.
Statue of Martin Luther outside the Frauenkirche, Dresden, Germany.

Luther’s Excommunication

    1. The pope finally put a commission together to draft a bull, or decree, threatening Luther with excommunication. Shortly afterward, the pope invited Luther’s rival, Eck, to join the commission.
    2. The bull named forty-one of Luther’s teachings as evidence against him. It said he had sixty days, from the time the bull was posted in Wittenberg, to recant, or else he’d be officially labelled as a notorious heretic.
    3. Two men, Eck and a church official named Aleandro took the bull into German lands. Aleandro met the brand-new emperor in the Netherlands and convinced him to proclaim the bull, as well as order burnings of Luther’s books.
    4. Eck had a much harder time convincing Germans to post the bull in their cities, and he feared for his safety as he did so. In the end, he paid militiamen from Leipzig to take the bull into several Saxon cities, including Wittenberg.
    5. The university rector in Wittenberg refused to post the bull, but he showed it to Luther right away, marking the beginning of the 60-day grace period.
    6. Wittenberg University’s enrollment immediately dropped. A quarter of the students left, fearing that they would be condemned alongside Luther if they didn’t get out right away.
    7. Even after reading the bull, Luther remained firm. He wrote to a friend that he would never be reconciled to Rome and that he’d burn their books if they were burning his.
    8. Throughout 1520, Luther called for drastic reform within the church, even before he read the bull against him. He published a book calling on German nobles to lead the church, which many Germans viewed as a call for greater independence from Rome.
    9. In early October, Luther published a book that criticized the church’s sacraments and openly called the pope the Antichrist.
    10. On the day that Luther’s 60-day grace period expired, he organized a book burning, in which he personally threw the pope’s bull into the fire.
    11. Luther was excommunicated in another bull dated January 3, 1521. But Aleandro feared certain political consequences and didn’t publish it until October, so no one knew about it until then.
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The papal bull that excommunicated Luther on January 3, 1521. Public domain.

Luther’s Writings

  1. Luther was a prolific writer whose books and pamphlets brought good business to printers. Publishing exploded in German lands during the 1520s, in large part thanks to Luther.
  2. Between 1520 and 1526, Luther’s writings accounted for 20 percent of the pamphlets published in German lands.
  3. Most scholars refused to write at a level that laypeople could understand, but Luther didn’t mind doing so. He had always preached simply, and he adopted the same style in his writing.
  4. Luther didn’t just publish works that attacked the pope or church practices. He also wrote pastoral works for laypeople on topics like prayer, good works, and the Ten Commandments.
  5. Luther’s writings were popular because he seemed to give answers to real-world problems, including political, social and economic issues.
  6. Luther was meticulous about the way his books and pamphlets looked: he insisted that his printers use good fonts, and he preferred interesting cover designs.
  7. With an overall literacy rate of 5 percent in German lands (30 percent in towns), most people didn’t learn about Luther’s ideas by reading them. Instead, preachers read Luther’s books aloud, or people heard Luther’s ideas through word of mouth.
  8. Luther’s writings made good money for printers, but the author himself never took a cent of the money.
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Luther’s translation of the Bible, published in 1534.

The End of Luther’s Story

    1. In spring 1521, Luther finally had a hearing in front of the emperor. He apologized for the tone of some of his writings, but he refused to recant.
    2. On May 5, 1521, Luther was on his way back to Wittenberg when two horsemen kidnapped him and took him to Wartburg.
    3. The catch? Prince Frederick owned a remote, little-used castle in Wartburg. Knowing he needed to protect his citizen from harm, Frederick cooked up the plan and let Luther in on the secret before he set out for Wittenberg.
    4. Luther remained in hiding at Wartburg Castle for months. He went by “Knight George” during his sojourn there, and barely anyone was even aware that someone was staying there. Only five men knew his true identity.
    5. Luther continued to write during his time at Wartburg. He sent his manuscripts to print through the men who knew his real identity.
    6. During that time, Luther wrote out against monastic vows, and the response was immediate: many monks and friars quit their offices for good.
    7. While hiding at Wartburg Castle, Luther translated the New Testament into German. It wasn’t the first German translation to hit the press, but Luther translated it into everyday, idiomatic German.
    8. Quiet Wittenberg became a hotspot of religious reform during Luther’s absence. Preachers made major changes to the Mass, even though Prince Frederick asked them to keep their reforms in check.
    9. Prince Frederick wanted Luther to remain in hiding, but Luther returned to Wittenberg on his own, determined to be the shepherd the city needed.
    10. Although Luther advocated for reform, he wanted change to take place slowly and peacefully. He wanted to make sure that his followers’ hearts changed before their religious practices did.
    11. Luther quickly restored order to Wittenberg, then gradually reformed Mass and other religious practices.
    12. Throughout Luther’s career as a preacher, he gave 4,000 sermons (more than 100 per year). Today, we have records of about 2,300 of them.
    13. Luther wrote and published an average of 1,800 pages per year.
    14. Luther also translated the Old Testament into understandable German, and his translation was eventually published in the same volume as his earlier translation of the New Testament.
    15. He married a former nun in 1525 and had six children with her (four of whom survived to adulthood).
    16. He died in 1546 after years of suffering from bad health.
1529MartinLuther
Martin Luther; 1529 painting from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder.

 Luther’s Character and Personality

    1. Luther originally planned to study law, but he dropped out to become a friar because, as he told everyone, “God gave him no choice.”
    2. He was highly critical of himself, especially in his early years as a friar. He often punished himself for sinning.
    3. Luther was fairly timid and humble when he first sent out his famous 95 theses, telling Archbishop Albrecht that he knew he was just a “speck of dust.”
    4. Luther became bolder as he wrote and spoke against church practices. He wrote what he thought and didn’t care about the consequences, believing that he was doing God’s will and that nothing else mattered.
    5. He was stubborn and often ignored Prince Frederick’s advice, even knowing that he needed Frederick’s protection.
    6. Luther was a highly skilled preacher and writer, always teaching people on a level they could understand.
    7. Luther said he married his wife for three reasons: to please his father, to spite the pope, and to practice what he preached about marriage. It was not a romantic union.
    8. Luther’s temper had never been good, but it worsened toward the end of his life. He wrote out caustically against Catholics and Jews; even if he didn’t believe in killing Jews, like many of his contemporaries did, he thought they should be deported and their synagogues burned.
    9. The last words Luther ever wrote were, “We are beggars. That is true.” Those simple phrases characterized his religious beliefs and attitudes well.

We’ve done our best to share Luther’s story concisely, but the truth is that it’s almost impossible to do it justice in 95 bullet points. (And given his love for writing and commitment to churning out dozens of publications a year, Luther himself would probably agree.)

We highly recommend A World Ablaze; in fact, we guarantee that it’ll be the best nonfiction you read this year.

The book is available from Oxford University Press, on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Christianbook.com, and eBay.

 

Celebrate Reformers at the Dead Reformers’ Debate

Five hundred years after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of a church, he is known as the leader of the Reformation. John Calvin was a Protestant reformer whose doctrines gave birth to Calvinism.  St. Teresa of Ávila was a Spanish nun who pushed for Carmelite reform and eventually founded and oversaw seventeen convents in her native country. All three have taken their places in history as reformers who changed the direction of their societies, the ripple effects of which are still felt today. On October 30, our History Department will feature their “reincarnations,” as well as that of William Tyndale, in its third annual Debate of the Dead: the Dead Reformers’ Debate.

We hope that people will gain a sense of the historical Reformation, some doctrine, but also have some laughs,” said Professor Ed Stratford, who will serve as moderator of the debate. The event will celebrate the Reformation, and take place on the day before Luther put his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Though the particular day was far less dramatic than it has come to be remembered, we’ll have some fun with it.”

The Reformers

For Martin Luther’s role in the Protestant Reformation, he was dubbed “one of the most influential figures in the history of Christianity” by Britannica Academic. In 1517, he wrote the Ninety-Five Theses, which proposed a debate on certain religious practices. The theses were disseminated throughout Germany, resulting in a massive religious upheaval and reformation. Professor Stratford called him “an obvious choice” for inclusion in the debate.

william Tyndale
William Tyndale

William Tyndale was an English scholar who, in 1525, completed an English language translation of the New Testament. He was executed before he could finish translating the Old Testament. John Calvin was highly esteemed by the puritans of his time, who brought his teachings with them to America. St. Teresa of Ávila was the author of many spiritual works in the late 1500’s. She was elevated to the position of Doctor of the Church and considered to be a powerful Roman Catholic mystic. She pushed for Carmelite reform and eventually founded and oversaw seventeen convents in her native country. 

Previous Debates

calvin
John Calvin

The previous debates—the Dead Presidents and the Dead Queensfocused on modern political and gender issues respectively. In the former, which took place prior to the 2016 presidential election, Presidents Jackson, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Lincoln debated Trump’s and Clinton’s stances regarding foreign and immigration policies, what their strengths were, and whether or not Trump was justified in having hurt feelings.

teresa
St. Teresa of Ávila

The queens at the latter debate were Joan of Arc, Empress Cixi, Martha Ballard, and Hurrem Sultan. They discussed women’s role in the politics, the workforce, and whether or not women were better off in modern society. At the conclusion of the debate, the women offered advice: “Joan admonished that it is ‘important to listen to what God wants you to do.’ Hurrem said to overcome obstacles and ‘believe in yourself.’ Martha encouraged women to keep journals, and Cixi offered sage advice about addiction: “[It] is bad. Pursue your education.’”

The Dead Reformers’ Debate will be held on October 30th in the Varsity Theater at 4pm.

Photo credits: Martin Luther, St. Teresa of Ávila, William Tyndale, and John Calvin.

Stanford Professor to Present on the Legacies of Laura Bassi and Galileo

If ever there were an interesting story to be told, it would probably be that of Laura Bassi, an Italian woman in the early 1700s who became the second woman ever to receive a university degree and the first to be offered an official teaching position at any university in Europe. She was also a wife, and mother to twelve children, five of whom survived. Paula Findlen, who has written about Laura’s work, will tell some of her story at an upcoming lecture on the BYU campus.

Dr. Findlen will deliver a presentation titled: “The Scientist and the Saint: Laura Bassi’s Enlightened Catholicism and Galileo’s Legacy” on Thursday, October 5, at 11 a.m. in B190 JFSB. Students, faculty, and members of the general public are invited to this event, conducted as part of our History department’s annual De Lamar Jensen lecture.

Dr. Findlen hails from Stanford University. “I have taught the early history of science and medicine for many years,” she says, “on the premise that one of the most important ways to understand how science, medicine and technology have become so central to contemporary society comes from examining the process by which scientific knowledge emerged. More generally, I am profoundly attracted to individuals in the past who aspired to know everything. It still seems like a worthy goal.” She is the author of three books, including Gusto for Things, in which she creatively uses account books, inventories, wills, and other records to examine early modern attitudes toward possessions, asking what people did with their things, why they wrote about them, and how they passed objects on to their heirs.

JensenLecturePoster_V2The De Lamar Jensen lecture seeks to help students understand global history. The lecture is named after Dr. De Lamar Jensen, a former faculty member in the Department of History, who was an expert on early modern Europe. Dr. Jensen began teaching at BYU in 1957, served as chair of the History Department and dean of the Honors Program, and in 1979 received a Guggenheim fellowship. He retired in 1992, but found another passion: painting murals in his backyard, which allows the nonagenarian to continue “traveling” to places he visited as a professor.

BYU History Professor Awarded Department’s First Endowed Professorship

BYU’s History Department is making its own history this year. The department will be awarding its first endowed professorship to Dr. Craig Harline, a historian specializing in Reformation Europe. The formal announcement of the professorship will take place next Thursday, October 5th, at 11 a.m. in B190 JFSB. It will precede a lecture by Paula Findlen, the Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History at Stanford University, who will be presenting the De Lamar Jensen Lecture, entitled “The Scientist and the Saint:  Laura Bassi’s Enlightened Catholicism and Galileo’s Legacy.”

Dr. Craig Harline
Photo by Bella Torgerson/BYU/BYU
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The De Lamar Jensen Professorship of Early Modern History was established after more than a decade of fundraising effort. The professorship is named after Dr. De Lamar Jensen, a former faculty member in the Department of History, who was an expert on early modern Europe. Dr. Jensen began teaching at BYU in 1957, served as chair of the History Department and dean of the Honors Program, and in 1979 received a Guggenheim fellowship. He retired in 1992, but found another passion: painting murals in his backyard, which allows the nonagenarian to continue “traveling” to places he visited as a professor.

According to department chair Dr. Eric Dursteler, the new professorship is named after Dr. Jensen “to honor one of the founding fathers of BYU’s history program. [He]…was both an excellent scholar and an inspiring teacher.”

Dr. Harline, the first recipient of the professorship, studies religious life in western Europe during the Reformation. He received his undergraduate degree from BYU in 1980. He earned his master’s degree in 1984 and his doctoral degree in 1986, both from Rutgers University. He has taught at BYU since 1992, where he offers courses on Reformation Europe and the history of Christianity, among others. A prolific author, his latest book, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation, was just published to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses.

 

 

 

California: A Sum of its Parts

“Just as in the human body, where no atom or cell can act individually without affecting its surrounding elements, the history of nations has been written and shaped both by the most incongruous farmer and the exceptionally boisterous politician,” said Dr. Sam Otterstrom in his new book From California’s Gold Fields to the Mendocino Coast. In it, he examines the growth of the Golden State, it’s migration and settlement patterns, and the people who forged it.

The Basics

To understand California at its most basic level, one has to start with the individual in the context of the following groups:

  • Family
  • Neighborhoods and communities
  • Counties/cities
  • Regional system

gold-ingots-golden-treasure-47047 The way that individuals acted in these settings determined how and where the state grew. For example, families would move to California in search of gold, forming rough mining communities. These were often short-lived however, as miners were continually on the move: looking for better opportunities or ways to escape their harsh lifestyle. Cities were formed around the mining industry, particularly Sacramento and San Francisco. “In this way, all of northern California was intertwined and interrelated in the nearly living regional organism that matured into and economically innovative and increasingly dynamic spatial system,” says Dr. Otterstrom.

 Individual People

“Amidst this mass of historical data is an intricately woven tapestry of interrelated people and events that literally created this dynamic state,” said Dr. Otterstrom. Who are these individuals? They included: 

  • people-vintage-photo-memories Samuel Brannon, a high-profile business man and leader of the Brooklyn, a ship sailing from Eastern America to California, and
  • John Augustus Sutter, whose 40,000+ acre ranch “became a key center throughout the 1840’s for Alta California and the focal point of the gold rush form 1848 on.” 

More often than not however, these trailblazers went unknown. In California, people had the opportunity to find gold and become wealthy; an ordinary man could transform his life almost overnight. Such seekers forever altered the land and forged California into the Golden State. 

Connection to Christ

One may find connections between the examination of California as a unique entity that is part of a greater whole and Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians regarding their particular value as part of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12: 12 reads: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body.”

Migration

This concept is further exemplified by California’s migration and settlement patterns. They can be broken down into four interdependent categories that mesh in a number of ways, as illustrated by the following venn diagram:

cali gold venn

While some mining towns faded from maps and memories, others developed into cities that still thrive today, despite constant and rapid in- and out-migrations. “The towns that survived and that have sizeable populations today were the ones that, very early on, fulfilled a variety of economic functions and thus were less dependent on mining,” said Otterstrom. Their resilience was due, in part, to their economic diversity, but also, he found to the number of post offices each town contained. Again, this demonstrates that, no matter where individuals found themselves geographically, they sought connection and viewed themselves, at least subconsciously as part of a greater whole.

The Sum of its Parts

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference,” said Jane Goodall. Nowhere is exemplified better than in Dr. Otterstrom’s From California’s Gold Fields to the Mendocino Coast.  In it, one comes to understand the vital role of the individual in molding California into a singular state, one that is truly a sum of its parts.