All Posts By

James C. Schaap

Essay

Beauty in Ruin

It's still there. Maybe. I haven't been out there for some time now, but as long as that abandoned place is circled by a substantial grove it remains pretty much hidden from passers-by. Apparently, whoever owns it isn't thinking about…
Essay

The Legends of Jedidiah Smith

Harvey Dunn, Jedidiah Smith in the Badlands Don't know whether he actually carried the Good Book through the west in those early years. The story goes he took carried a copy of the Journals of Lewis and Clark, but whether or…
Essay

Where is thy sting?

In another day and another time, the buildings crowded on the block made all kinds of sense. The school's own precious history makes clear that once upon a time the staff was entirely religious: "The Sisters of St. Francis of…
Essay

The Algona Nativity

Eduard Kaib The first one was twelve feet wide, still quite a production because Jesus, Mary, and the babe were mud-sculptured, then baked, then painstakingly painted. Back in Germany, Eduard Kaib had been an architect. That's not to say his hand-made…
Essay

This Gizmo

It was my idea to bring in an expert. For a couple of years in the 90s, I was chair of a board that ran a media ministry, and I thought it might be a good idea to bring in…
Essay

On this night, back then. . .

What do we know about her? She was just a kid really, no more than two years old, but she was cutting edge, a propeller-driven steamer built for the Great Lakes in Buffalo, NY, where thousands of European immigrants would…
Essay

The Purple Church

St. Charles Borromeo Church, St. Francis, Rosebud Reservation, SD It's purple. Well these days, some twenty hot years of Dakota sun later, St. Charles Church looks a bit pink; but originally it was purple. May well be the only purple…
Essay

The Ruth Suckow Park, Earlville

One of the cement plates standing in the park holds an image of the house she lived in here in Earlville, a little white house long gone, although things likely haven't changed much in the small town where Iowa novelist…
Essay

The Pastor’s Guns

Religious visions were everywhere in the years preceding the Civil War. Boom towns out west here may have been hell holes for a time, but they were also peopled by starry-eyed believers who claimed their marching orders came from on…