“There were giants in the earth in those days….” Genesis 6:4
When we think about the 19th Century oilmen who fueled America’s rise to prominence, it’s hard not to compare them to the giants of
old. They towered over both their fellows and their times. Two of those men, John D. Rockefeller and Lyman Stewart not only founded oil companies that are with us today, but each separately fueled national theological campaigns aimed at capturing the hearts of the church and the nation at large.
They left us not only Union 76 and Standard Oil filling stations, but such institutions as the Rockefeller Foundation on the one hand, and Biola University on the other.
We will also meet a group of Presbyterian Revolutionary War spies who became essential to General Washington’s eventual victory. They were called the Culper Spy Ring, and have been the focus of countless books, shows, movies, etc. Just how much the American War for Independence was a Presbyterian affair is illustrated by both the faith and valor of the Culper spies.
You’ll wonder how it is that you’ve heard so little about a missionary named Gardiner. And finally you will, perhaps, wonder why the ubiquitous Professor Bibfeldt continues to fascinate successive generations of theological students. Indeed.
On the Cover
About the Cover: JoAnn Cowans is internationally known as the “artist of the oilfields” for her poignant images memorializing the early oil era of which few visual reminders remain. Cowans received a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from Barton College, formally known as Atlantic Christian College, where she studied with Russell Arnold, a former student of Hans Hoffman. This was followed by postgraduate work
at University of North Carolina State School of Design, UCLA, Otis Art Institute and with Carlo Buonora a portrait artist and teacher. Our cover image is from Cowans’ “Donkey in Silhouette”©, depicting one of the many bobbing “donkey” wells that dotted the Union Oil field behind her house in Fullerton, in north Orange County, California.
In the early 1960s she painted the Venice, California, oil fields as they were being dismantled during the construction of Marina del Rey, representing the most lasting memorial to a bygone place and time, as well a way of life. In 2007, she was awarded the “Keeper of the Flame Award” by the Petroleum History Institute. We are deeply indebted to Ms. Cowans for granting us permission to reproduce an example of her work here. We encourage you to visit www.blackgoldprints.com to see more of these important works.
The Apr-Jun 2015 issue includes these articles:
- Presbyterian, Patriot, Spy: Benjamin Tallmadge and the Culper Spy Ring
- Wildcat Theology and the Birth of Fundamentalism
- Allen Gardiner: A Heart for Missions
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being Bibfeldt
- The Case for Dueling