Past Tense

Did you know that it is about as long between today and the bombing of Pearl Harbor as between the bombing and the start of the Civil War? I’ve collected a few other “midpoint” juxtapositions that, at least for me illustrate a tension between the past and my perception of the past. Thus, Past Tense.

Stealing Communion Bread in Reformation Geneva

Stealing the communion bread was both a problem for the authorities in medieval Europe, but also quite understandable. But in the context of Reformation Geneva, it unveils an entirely new set of problems.

Child of Geneva or Child of God

The phrases “child of God” and “child of Geneva” had very particular meanings in Reformation Geneva. How those two phrases get deployed elucidates a fundamental tension in Reformation Geneva.

Andrew Beattie, A Cultural History of the Alps (review)

Not a bad book, but if you’re looking for a serious and deep cultural history of the Alpes, or the mountain areas of Europe in general, this is probably not what you’re looking for.

A Dwarf’s Life in Sixteenth-Century Geneva

We don’t have much detail on the life of the dwarf, Michel Die, but one can’t help but notice the concern that he be treated “humanely,” suggesting that outcome was very much in doubt.

John Muir, Antoine Saunier and the Perception of Mountains in Past Times

John Muir spent his first winter as a shepherd on the plains of the Central Valley. His comments merit some comparison with Antoine Saunier’s description of Geneva in his 1538 prospectus for the Genevan school. Taken together, we have a sense of how the perception of mountains changed in the 300 years between Saunier and Muir and has changed again since Muir’s day.