Today in history . . .


“A revolution is not a dinner party . . . or doing embroidery; it is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

With those words, a young insurgent and the founder of the Communist Party of China reported on a peasant uprising in Hunan.  The year was 1927. Within a few years, territories under Communist rule were consolidated, the Red Army was on the move, and Mao Tse Tung reigned supreme as both head of state and head of government.

Over the next four and a half decades, Chairman Mao ordered the mass execution of more than 65 million Chinese. He was — without dispute — the greatest mass murderer in the 20th century.

More so than Stalin.  More so than Hitler.

When Mao wrote in 1927 of the peasant uprising in Hunan, he observed how the poor feudal servants broke into the homes of their wealthy overlords, slaughtered their livestock, consumed their grain, and even took turns lying in the ivory-inlaid beds that belonged to the evil gentry.

Some protested the peasants had gone too far.  Mao responded:

“Such talk may seem plausible, but in fact it is wrong . . . It was necessary to overthrow the whole authority of the gentry, to strike them to the ground and keep them there. To put it bluntly, it is necessary to create terror for a while in every rural area, or otherwise it would be impossible to suppress the activities of the counter-revolutionaries. Proper limits have to be exceeded in order to right a wrong, or else the wrong cannot be righted.”

His agricultural policies resulted in widespread famine as he used deceitful rationing and declarations of food shortages to force submission. And then, when he feared the unsettled masses would defect, he announced the Great Cultural Revolution.

During that last decade of his life, Chairman Mao boasted that he had buried alive as many as 46,000 scholars. College professors were forced to wear dunce caps, paraded through the streets, and tarred and feathered.  Some were beaten to death.  Some were eaten.  The lucky ones were sent into any of one thousand forced labor camps spread across the Chinese mainland.

By September 9, 1976 — the day Mao Tse Tung assumed room temperature — his eyesight had nearly failed, his body was wracked with the constant tremors of advanced Parkinson’s disease, his lungs were blackened from years of nonstop smoking, and his heart was weak from the numerous heart attacks that had struck him with increasing frequency and intensity.

Today, Mao’s embalmed corpse lies in a crystal coffin at the center of a mausoleum built in Tiananmen Square near the main gates of the Imperial City. As many as 30,000 people visit the tomb every day, making it the number one tourist attraction in Beijing. Some come to honor the Great Helmsmen. Many come to mourn the  tyrant’s victims.

Either way, Mao’s mark on both China and the world is certain. In the 82 years that his fetid breath gave his body life, Mao Tse Tung gave history every reason to hate him.

But why all this talk about Mao on the anniversary of his death, you ask? Something we found this week in the publicly-available Pressler Papers in the archives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In the Spring of 1975, Dorothy Patterson was completing her book, The Sensuous Woman Rebornand she needed some help getting the First Lady of Texas, Betty Jane Briscoe, to write a forward for the book. Suspecting that Judge Pressler could be helpful in gaining access to the Governor’s mansion, Dorothy wrote and asked for help.  Pressler wrote a letter to Austin, put in a few calls, and before long Dorothy was corresponding with Betty Jane.

Then on May 30th of the same year — in what has become a difficult day on the calendar for the Pattersons — the young president of the Criswell Bible Institute wrote a thank you note to his friend in Houston:

“Thank you so much for the letter of May 22 and for every effort that you made to assist Dorothy in gaining access to Mrs. Briscoe. You know, of course, what an operator Dorothy is, and she seldom gives up. I really think she could talk her way into a place of prominent leadership in Mao Tse-tung’s cabinet if she had half a chance.”*

“Her husband praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'” Prov. 31:28-29.


*Paul Pressler papers, Archives and Special Collections, Library at Southeastern, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.



3 thoughts on “Today in history . . .

  1. “You know, of course, what an operator Dorothy is, and she seldom gives up. I really think she could talk her way into a place of prominent leadership in Mao Tse-tung’s cabinet if she had half a chance.”*

    I am convinced that she wears the pants in the family despite her strong complementarian views. Why else would Paige need to prove his manhood by killing animals? I have listened to her through the years and her words simply do not line up with her actions.

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