Among the Magi

This memoir by Society member Martin Sponholz recounts his experiences at Plateau Station and the Japanese Showa Station in the 1960’s. It has never been published, but has appeared on other websites in the past. We thought it deserved a home with the Antarctican Society, with Marty’s permission.

p. 138: Some of us also did much reading. This was a long standing tradition. Robert Falcon Scott, on each of his marches toward the South Pole in 1901 and 1911 took the lead reading to his men. Darwin’s Origin of Species was commonly read. It was the first time in my life that I was given an opportunity to read the Bible from cover to cover in a reasonably short (only a few months) time. I was amazed at its consistent message from Old to New Testament – the Messiah to come and the Christ of fulfillment sacrificing for me and for us all. Rob at one time asked me if I would conduct a weekly devotion. Today I wish I had not refused.

In 1966 I was still branded with my denomination’s schism over prayer fellowship. I really wish I had learned to read the whole Bible as a high school student at Wisconsin Lutheran but school training only stressed interdenominational dangers without the whole council of God as I came to learn it on the polar plateau. I suppose I did not take stock of real sins in my youth but the religious schools I attended stressed proper behavior and not enough unconditional forgiveness. When I would walk out from camp to measure my snow stake fields and get away from the camp by as much as a mile or more, the stars and the silence became overwhelming. Except for the screeching of the snow while it drifted past me, no noise penetrated my ears. As a sinner I was struck with total fear grabbing for a weapon or a sword. For what? The Russians? Bears? No, I feared my almighty God. And over the Antarctic He placed His Southern Cross with a bloody star in its side. I knew I was forgiven of my sins.

Chapter VIII: Life in Winter. Most of the winter activity centered on movies and an aborted attempt to make their own monopoly game.