The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 15, 2018
This time of year is always a big one for our family, with birthdays and anniversaries galore, as well as the usual holiday gatherings. But this year is even more special, because it was forty years ago, on December 16, 1978, that this happy picture was taken at our wedding in Baldwin, Maryland. We honeymooned in Colonial Williamsburg.
I also became a pastor that year, in a little village in the mountains of southern Vermont, at the wise old age of 22. My first preaching series was on 1 Peter…or was it Philippians? I led worship choruses on a Madeira guitar (by Guild).
I (and then we) lived in a house built in 1860, with no heat upstairs and furnished with a white naugahyde sofa and not much else. No TV. An old two-seater outhouse still sat out in the attached shed. Oil heat. I drove a black 1974 VW Super Beetle we named Ebenezer. I wrecked my father-in-law’s car a few weeks before the wedding. We had a cat named Fatty Bolger who had extra toes and claws. Someone had abandoned him near Gail’s parents’ home.
Speaking of Vermont, 1978 was the year Ben and Jerry opened up their first ice cream parlor, in Burlington, VT.
1978 was the year the Blizzard of ’78 hit the Midwest, the worst blizzard Indiana (where we live now) has ever experienced. Almost 31 inches of snow fell in Indianapolis, burying the city for days. In Ohio, 51 people died. Meanwhile, where we lived, in “snowy” Vermont, we had a virtually snowless winter.
In baseball, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds got his 3000th hit (that’s for you, Michael). The Yankees’ Bucky Dent broke the hearts of Red Sox fans everywhere by hitting a homer to win a tie-breaker game and send the Yankees to the World Series, where they defeated the Dodgers. The Cubs finished 79-83.
Other significant sports news: The Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird. A 17 year-old player named Wayne Gretsky was signed to the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. Leon Spinks became the first man to defeat Muhammad Ali in a title match, but later in the year, in a rematch Ali reclaimed the championship belt for a record third time.
One of my all-time favorite films, Annie Hall, directed by Woody Allen, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1978. On television, Dallas debuted and Laverne and Shirley was the most popular show. The best advice of the year was uttered by John Vernon in National Lampoon’s Animal House — “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
Some books published in 1978: Chesapeake (Mitchner), The World According to Garp (Irving), The Road Less Traveled (Peck), Celebration of Discipline (Foster), War and Remembrance (Wouk), The Book of the Dun Cow (Wangerin).
Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby,” was born in the UK. Balloon angioplasty was introduced to remedy coronary artery disease. The Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) was launched. Janet Parker, a British photographer, was the last person to die of smallpox. Microsoft opened its first international office in Japan.
This was the year when turning right on a red light became legal throughout the U.S.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Camp David Accords, facilitated by President Jimmy Carter.
In crime, it was the year of the Hillside Strangler, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and the Unabomber. Larry Flynt was shot. San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City-County Board member Harvey Milk were assassinated (their killer put forward the famous “Twinkie Defense”).
Deaths included Hubert Humphrey, Norman Rockwell, and Margaret Mead. Oh, and Keith Moon.
The New International Version of the Bible was published. Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope, to die only 33 days later. Then came Pope John Paul II, making it the first “Three Pope Year” since 1605. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was produced and signed by 300 conservative evangelical leaders. More than 900 people died in Jonestown Guyana in a mass suicide under former Indianapolis pastor turned cult leader Jim Jones.
Sony introduced the Walkman, the first portable stereo. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours won album of the year. It was a big year for the Bee Gees, with several big hits and Andy Gibbs’s Shadow Dancing topping the Billboard chart. One of the greatest rock concert films of all time, Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz, was released.
CCM Magazine began covering “Contemporary Christian Music” artists, and that’s who I was listening to then: folks like Don Francisco, Amy Grant, Kelly Willard, Phil Keaggy (1978’s The Master and the Musician is one of the finest instrumental guitar records ever), Keith Green, The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Lamb, John Fischer, Dallas Holm, and others.
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Was 1978 the happiest year ever?
The data in this study ends in 2003, but it still points out that 1978 was pretty darn good.
Modern life and its trappings – financial crisis, war, the threat of terrorism and global warming – leaves many hankering after the good old days. And, according to new research, with good reason.
Scientists have discovered that despite an overabundance of polyester flares and bouffant hair, 1978 was the year that the world’s quality of life peaked, after which it has gradually deteriorated ever since.
Australian experts used a novel method to track the social and economic progress of the world, taking into account various economic, lifestyle-related and ecological factors to come to their conclusion.
Until recently the standard method of measuring progress in a society was by assessing its Gross Domestic product (GDP) – basically a measure of all the money spent and earned in a given society.
But, as the new study explained, this has its limits, and can in fact give an inaccurate perspective on the happiness of the planet.
…One alternative measure – and the one they used – is called the Genuine Progress Indicator. (GPI).
GPI starts by using the same figures as GDP, but uses 24 other factors including crime rates, pollution levels, loss of wetland, car accident rates and even the amount of people who volunteer and enjoy housework to give a country its rating.
The study analysed data collected between 1950 and 2003 and followed 17 countries – equating to half the world’s population – to come to their conclusion.
They found that on average, where GDP steadily increased without interruption, GDI peaked in 1978 and has tapered off ever since.
…The only country to break ranks and experience a perpetual rise until the data ends in 2003 is Japan.
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Well, at any rate, it was a doggone good year for me — the beginning of my adult life, my marriage and family, my vocation, this whole blessed and broken journey.
Happy anniversary, honey! I’m up for forty more!