Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On this day in San Diego history...

On August 24, 410, the Visigoths entered the city of Rome, signaling the coming fall of the Roman Empire.  The name "Visigoth" is a creation of historians centuries later to signify an amalgam of peoples that originated around modern Romania and would eventually conquer most of Gaul and all of the Iberian peninsula.  So did pagans defeat the Christian Empire?  No, the Visigoths were also Christians, but they were of the Arian variety.  Arius had disagreed with the conclusions of the Council of Nicea on subjects so obscure and technical as to have no possible measurable influence on anyone's life (Arians argued that Jesus was divine, but of a different substance than the Father, whereas the Nicene Creed declares them to be absolutely the same).  But back then the differences seemed important, and so religion was a factor in the various wars that put Europe into the Dark Ages.  The only prominent Christian group with similarities to the Arian heresy in modern times is the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Back in the 1920's, the president of that group, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, was wintering in San Diego for health reasons and the church built him a mansion for that purpose (they maintained that the funding came from wealthy friends, not the rank-and-file).  Rutherford dubbed the 10-bedroom, 5100 sq ft,  mansion Beth Sarim, and declared that it would house the Biblical princes once they returned to Earth.  Yes, San Diego was to be the headquarters of the New Earth.  But the princes did not turn up and the upkeep was a drain, so the Watchtower Society later sold the property.  You can still see it at 4440 Braeburn Rd. (San Diego Historical Landmark #474)

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