December 31, 2018
Commemoration – James Kiefer (1935-2015)
Note: This is the first entry in a new column for this website. Since Mr. Kiefer was instrumental in inspiring the development of this column, he is our first “saint” to be highlighted in this column. An explanatory discussion precedes his brief biography. Notes and Links follow after.
Mission St. Clare’s “The Daily Office” website has, for many years, been the material of my morning and sometimes evening meditations. A daily office is the early, traditional Judeo-Christian practice of daily set times of formal community prayer and Bible reading. MSC’s service of hymns, prayers, and readings follow the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican lectionary, generally. The desire of the developers of MSC was to provide a complete “daily office” online gathering using already uploaded components.
The Daily Office includes a Christian history component called Commemoration. It came to their attention that a Mr. James Kiefer had already been doing the hard work of writing well-researched biographies of Christian saints (“BIOs”) and these were already published online (see Notes). Kiefer’s biographies were then incorporated into the Daily Office.
Mr. Kiefer began writing an ongoing series of saint’s biographies as a daily e-mail listserve in his spare time. This list became published by the Society of Archbishop Justus (Anglican) and again by Don Westblade at Hillsdale College, Michigan, and Darren Provine at Rowan University, New Jersey (see links). One can learn about a new saint each day at Mission St. Clare, or one can go straight to the complete (and appended) list of saints at either of these compendium sites.
Mr. James Kiefer. Mr. James Kiefer, born April 29, 1935, had a day job working in a research lab at the National Institute of Health (NIH) as a mathematician for “about 40 years”. He wasn’t a missionary on a foreign field, and he wasn’t a pastor of a church. He was a man whose appreciation for our shared Christian history spilled out in generous outpouring of his own research, on his own time, and for free to any who would come drink of it and learn.
He also, as a Christian mathematician, developed an argument for the existence of God entitled “Objectivism and Theism” (see Links), and wrote other essays on a wide variety of Christian topics. One could say that he was an early Christian apologist as well as “amateur” hagiographer and mathematician!
Mr. Kiefer passed away April 18, 2015 in Maryland, in the love of his family and in the body of Christ at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, having done his own part in securing our Christian heritage in his hagiographies. Though he has been called an amateur (one who is unpaid for his work), it is without the modern connotation of “less skilled or inept”. Rather, he exemplified the original meaning of the word: “one who performs his work for the love of the craft” (Fr. from Latin “amare” – “to love”).
It is with Mr. James Kiefer’s dedication in mind, recording the lives and contributions of these saints for us in his spare time, that I begin this column of commemorations.
copyright 2018 by readpsalm119.com.
LINKS and Resources for information on James Kiefer:
James Kiefer’s Christian Biographies. Rowan University. Biographies according to
Liturgical Calendar (select the appropriate month),
Alphabetical listing, or
Chronological List (select the century A.D.)
“Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past” Society of Archbishop Justus. Biographies also in Chronological, Calendar, and Alphabetical order.
“James Kiefer, known to Christians for his hagiographies of Church figures, passed away on April 18th, 2015“, June 15, 2015, Episcopal Cafe.com. For biographical information.
James Kiefer’s Argument for the Existence of God. Presented in four audio files and in print form with ongoing discussion, thanks to Ronald N. Neff. See also “Other Writings” link on this page for “The Objectivist’s Prayer”.
The Christia Library (other essays by James Kiefer)
Sketches in Church History by James Kiefer (http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/chbook.html).
The following is a reprint of this page:
Some of the readers of my biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past have asked whether there is available on the internet a short, simple, introduction to Church History. I call their attention to a book called Sketches in Church History , by Canon J. C. Robertson. Long out of copyright, it is stored here in the Christian Classics Electronic Library (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/robertson/history.html) and is also available online here(http://bible.christiansunite.com/schindex.shtml).
The Canon is a Victorian clergyman of the Church of England, writing for young readers (evidence: he speaks of “pirates,” and explains that the word means “sea-robbers”), probably intending his book to be used in connection with a catechism class. He covers the period from 33 AD to 1500 AD, stopping just short of the Reformation. I assume that there is a sequel, but I have not seen it. In presenting the various disputes that have occurred in the Church from time to time, the author never hesitates to tell his readers which side is right and which is wrong. (Hint: the closer we get to 1500, the likelier the Pope is to be wrong.) However, he seems to have his facts straight. If anyone finds factual errors, please let me know. (Letting the author know is another matter.)
The Daily Office includes live audio for a few of the hymns which encourages the feeling of being in communion with the other saints also coming to the site to worship–almost like a church service.
NOTES ON DENOMINATIONS AND CREEDS IN “COMMEMORATION”
This website “gleans” from the work of Christians saints throughout history, taking what is aligned with scripture and allowable through the wide lens of Christian brotherhood, and not highlighting differences in biblical interpretation which may or may not be essential to the Christian faith. It is the responsibility of the reader to evaluate the doctrines espoused by any “saint” featured in these pages or their writings. My responsibility and pleasure is to bring to your attention men and women of Christ who have sought to be faithful to the Bible in its completeness, however incomplete that saint may be or have otherwise been in some area of understanding of various elements of scripture and of Christ. We all are imperfect translations of our perfect Christ. The Holy Scriptures stand as our guide.