Abraham of Ur and I have something in common. Both of us were born in 1948. I am not making this up.
Alert readers (ARs) who are Biblical scholars may already know that Abraham, the father of monotheism, was born in the year 1948 of the Creation of Heaven and Earth. This would have been around 1800 BC aka BCE. I was born a few millennia later in 1948 AD aka CE. This was the same year the modern state of Israel was founded, specifically on May 15, 1948. I was born a few months later on October 28, 1948, 24 days after Rosh Hashanah had marked the beginning of the year 5709 according to the Jewish calendar.
On the day I was born Jonas Salk was celebrating his 34th birthday. ARs will recall that Dr. Salk is recognized for having discovered and developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. I was part of the first generation of American children to receive this vaccination in elementary school. In 1970, the year I graduated from college, Jonas Salk married Francoise Gilot, the former mistress of the much older Pablo Picasso, by whom she had borne two children. Suffice it say that Gilot’s liberal arts education was a lot more liberal, artistic and educational than mine.
Bill Gates was born the day I celebrated my seventh birthday. Between us we have a collective net worth over $90 billion and two university diplomas. (After graduating from college I went to law school.) So much for the economic benefits of my liberal arts education.
Bruce aka Caitlyn Jenner was born on my first birthday. Between us we have one Olympic gold medal, six children by three ex-wives and multiple gender identities. His/her name once appeared on boxes of Wheaties. Mine still is on bottles and cans of beer.
The most famous celebrities with whom I share a birthday aren’t in fact people. They’re national monuments: the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, which was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and the Gateway Arch on the St. Louis riverfront, which was completed on October 28, 1965.
On the day I celebrated my tenth birthday, Angelo Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice, was elected Pope and chose the name John XXIII. According to many Church historians, the highlight of Pope John’s papacy was convening the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), whose mission was bringing the Church up to date (aggiornamento). Some ARs of a certain age may recall Tom Lehrer’s musical tribute to the Council titled “The Vatican Rag,” which was released shortly before the completion of the Gateway Arch.
The papal conclave of 1958 needed eleven ballots to elect John XXIII. As far as I know, there have been no claims of Russian or Soviet interference in this election. It was on the 58th anniversary of the election (October 28, 2016) that FBI Director James Comey announced that classified emails sent to and from Hillary Clinton had been found on a laptop used by serial sexter Anthony Weiner. Hillary (whose 69th birthday was the day before) later claimed that Comey’s announcement had cost her the 2016 presidential election.
As significant as the Second Vatican Council might have been, it’s important to remember another important papal accomplishment six centuries earlier, when Pope Gregory XII brought an end to the Wroclaw Beer War of 1380. The war was fought between the Silesian town of Wroclaw, which asserted a monopoly over selling and taxing beer, and Bishop Wenceslaus of Legnica, who had authority over a monastery on Cathedral Island in the Oder River, where monks operated a brewery outside the town’s jurisdiction. The townspeople preferred the monastic beer. In order to protect its monopoly the town sent troops onto the island, where they engaged in drunken looting and pillaging. Pope Gregory ended the war with a papal bull that restored the town’s monopoly and restricted sales of the monastic brew to residents of the island. This peace, however, was short-lived. In 1418 townspeople, who were tired of paying excessive taxes on their beer, stormed the Town Hall, killing six Councilmen and the Mayor. The newly elected Bishop Konrad had given them absolution ahead of time for the murders they were about to commit.
Speaking of beer, scientists from Stanford University recently discovered evidence of brewing in Raqefet Cave in present-day Israel. The evidence led these researchers to conclude that people of the Natufian culture were brewing beer in the region perhaps as long as 13,700 years ago. Put another way, Natufians created beer in the land of Israel nearly 8,000 years before the God of Israel created heaven and earth.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery