Book Report: Early Christianity examined, Minnesota’s soul in words, pictures this week“Somehow, in the bleak hours and days that followed, the crucifixion, a core of Jesus’ followers began to conceive of him as something more than an ordinary mortal. There was talk that his tomb had been found empty and that favoured disciples had seen him risen from the dead. Then, after forty days at most, the appearances ceased, although some believed he would come again.
By: Dave Wood, Book Reviewer, River Falls Journal
“Somehow, in the bleak hours and days that followed, the crucifixion, a core of Jesus’ followers began to conceive of him as something more than an ordinary mortal. There was talk that his tomb had been found empty and that favoured disciples had seen him risen from the dead. Then, after forty days at most, the appearances ceased, although some believed he would come again.
“As the months and years passed and there was no second coming, his disciples began to speculate on whom Jesus might have been…From the earliest days Christians debated and argued among themselves as to how one could find a coherent understanding of Jesus…..
“This picture of Christians in debate may seem startling to some readers. All too often Christian doctrine is presented as fixed and unchallengeable, but even the slightest contact with the history of Christianity shows that this was never so. This book takes it for granted that there were competing traditions within the emerging church and explores the difficulty in ever finding any one ‘true’ Christianity. In fact, it was only when the Roman emperors of the fourth century used the enormous coercive power and patronage at their command to insist on a uniform set of beliefs that one could talk in such terms.”
Thus begins “A New History of Early Christianity,” by Charles Freeman (Yale University Press, $35). It’s a mighty undertaking in such a modestly sized volume, but if you want to understand the reasons for present day schisms, you’ll find the answers in this well-reasoned book.
St. Paul Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin has won lots of awards. He was named 2007 Minnesota Photographer of the Year. He has received first place awards from the Associated Press, the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Newspaper Design.
Before he returned to Minnesota, he was named New Hampshire Photographer of the Year three times.
Now he’s out with a book, “Ant Farm,” foreword by Larry Millett (Nodin Press, $27.95) and it’s obvious why Garvin has won so many awards. In fact, I’d tack on a few extra awards, for conception and for skillful reportage and writing.
“Ant Farm” is a collection of photographs Garvin has taken in Minnesota — a collection which provides a cross section of life in the North Star State. On one page, you’ll see a older white guy and a youngish black guy dancing the polka at the North Star Regional Gay Rodeo in Hugo; on another page, you’ll see two retired farmers chatting about selling their farms while at a picnic.
You’ll see a retired prostitute attempting to influence a younger prostitute to give up her chosen career. You’ll see the forehead of Francis Bonaldo stuck with needles at the American Academy of Acupuncture in Roseville.
You’ll see cattle buyers in South St. Paul, a kid playing a pinball machine and a pretty girl slopping the hogs on her family’s farm.
All these photos are glued together with incisive prose texts by Garvin, who has the talent of letting people tell their own stories. Here’s a sample from the picnic where Garvin caught two farmers, John Broecker and Dell Kendrick talking business:
Broecker: “You were a little smarter than me. You quit in 1975, and I didn’t get rid of the cows until 1996.”
Kendrick: “Ninety-six? You got rid of them that late? Well, I was ready to get rid of them. Well…I wasn’t really at the time, but Bill St. Sauver come around. He just come in the barn one morning. I’s milking and he says, ‘I heard you want to sell your farm.’ I says, ‘That’s news to me.’
“When I was through milking, I says, ‘Come on in and we’ll have breakfast and, you know, talk it over. Tell me what you have in mind.’ That’s the way it started.”
Broecker: “So he just walked in there?”
Kendrick: “Yeah, just walked in. I had no idea he was coming. I had no idea to sell them at that time. What made it pretty good is I didn’t have to sell machinery or anything.”
Broecker: “Didn’t have to have an auction then?”
Kendrick: “No. Just sold it lock, stock and barrel. Not a bad way to do it.”
Dave would like to hear from you. Call him at 426-9554.