History Book: First U.S. space station, and Iranian protests

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Monday, July 8th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up on The World and Everything in It … the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, America’s first space station falls to Earth over Australia. Plus, 20 years ago, student protests in Iran. But first, the birth of a French boy who would become one of the foremost Protestant Reformers. Here’s Paul Butler with the story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: In the 14th and 15th centuries, Roman Catholicism reigned supreme across Europe. But church corruption and the rediscovery of ancient Biblical languages set the stage for big changes—upheaval we call the Protestant Reformation.

On July 10th, 1509, Gerard and Jeanne Cauvin give birth to a son they name Jean. Gerard works for a powerful bishop in Northern France and raises his son to become a priest. At age 14, Jean begins studying theology at the University of Paris. He earns a master’s degree in three years—and later a doctoral degree in law.

KEVIN DEYOUNG: Somewhere in this time period he had a conversion. He said that by a sudden conversion, God subdued, and brought my mind to a teachable frame. He was converted to the faith of the reformation.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition’s 2017 reformation conference.

In 1533, Cauvin flees Paris fearing for his life due to his reformation ideas. He spends a few years in Switzerland, where he writes the first edition of his most influential work: “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” In 1536, he joins another reformer in Geneva and becomes pastor of Saint Pierre Cathedral.

Jean Cauvin preaches many times each week. He introduces many reforms: drafting a confession of faith, and restricting the Lord’s Supper from those living in open sin. Resistance is severe. The people run him out of town within two years.

But after three years away, the Geneva council invites Cauvin back, where he ministers faithfully for two decades.

During his Geneva ministry, he preaches more than 4,000 sermons, working verse by verse through much of the Old and New Testaments. Biographer, Steve Lawson:

LAWSON: He believed that when the Bible speaks, God speaks. So he was never away from the text. And he was always coming back to the central proposition of this passage of scripture.

Geneva becomes a center of the Protestant Reformation: Providing safety for Catholic dissenters, and a training ground for future reformers. And today we know this reformer by his anglicized name—John Calvin.


Next, 40 years ago this month, the world is looking up.

NEWSCAST: Tonight’s check on the 85 tons of Skylab shows the space lab is less than 120 miles up and will fall out of the sky late tomorrow, or early on Wednesday…

Audio from the BBC. On July 11th, 1979, America’s first space station, Skylab, burns up as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

NEWSCAST: Skylab was launched in 1973 to explore the problems of men living for long periods in space. It was occupied by three crews, nine men in all. The longest living aboard for 86 days…the Americans hoped it would never come down at all…

Skylab orbited the earth nearly 35,000 times. Over six years, crews occupied the station for fewer than 200 days. But during that time, astronauts conducted many valuable experiments—setting the groundwork for future space station design and extended space flights.


And finally, 20 years ago this week, student protests erupt in Tehran.


The unrest began on July 8th, 1999, after the Press Court of Iran closes a reformist newspaper The Salam.

A few hundred students rally to voice their disapproval of press censorship. In response, dozens of plain clothed Iranian police ruthlessly attack a University of Tehran dormitory. They set rooms on fire, and even throw students from balconies.


The violence sparks much larger pro-democracy protests. Some 10-thousand people soon fill the streets. Authorities arrest more than 1-thousand, and at least 70 completely “disappear” after Iranian authorities seize them.

Later, the Iranian governing body known as the Council of Guardians pass laws prohibiting any peaceful or violent act against the regime. They also outlaw “any contact or exchange of information with foreign organizations … or media … judged harmful to Iran’s independence, national unity or the interests of the Islamic Republic.”

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(NASA) Skylab

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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