Happy Thanksgiving

Worked late last night. Tired. Wanted to do sleepin’, but made four pies instead. Stuffing tomorrow. I’d rather do it the night before, but the wall has been hit. The computer was between me and the arms of Morpheus, so this is the last stop.

Saying prayers with the kids, I asked them to thank God for various things. Before they went to bed we talked about the Pilgrims. I told them that we would not have liked everything about the Pilgrims. They would not have liked us, since we are Catholics, for one thing. But we had to respect their courage and their faith in God. They believed they were doing the right thing, worshipping God in their way, and they left everything civilization offered to go across a trackless desert of water, to a wilderness more remote than anything we can now imagine or experience. The Pilgrims were tough and serious people,and they knew how to say “no” — to themselves, to their own weakness, to the temptations of comfort over principle, to fear.

If we are ever put the test like they were, how strong are our own principles? Would we get on that ship? Would we have the spirit to kneel on the ground and thank God upon arriving at the edge of that sea-facing forest, where there was not a chair to sit in or a roof or a wall or a fireplace to warm your hands?

This country was founded by great people. Not perfect people, but people who had an ample supply of the most rock-solid virtues. Be grateful for them, and for what they started, and do your best to hand it on better than it was when you came along.

God bless my fellow ChicagoBoyz and Girlz, our readers, our friends and our enemies. Enjoy the day. Hug your parents, and your children. Have two pieces of pie, just not enormous pieces.

God bless America.

9 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. I am an Episcopalian – once of the best sermons I have ever heard was for Thanksgiving when the priest pointed out that the Pilgrims were fleeing US in pursuit of “religious freedom” (scare quotes because the Pilgrims actually wanted no religious freedom, they wanted THEIR view of religion to be the one in charge). I am sure this has implications in the 1st Amendment debate, but I will limit myself to saying that LEX has it right – we are fortunate to come from such stock.

    Happy Thanksgiving Lex, et al.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! On Lex’s points about the Pilgrims, I heartily reccommend Part I of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.

    Just to give one detail, the first wife of William Bradford, who later became governor of Plymouth, mysteriously slipped over the side of the MAYFLOWER and drowned,while the ship was moored in Provincetown Harbor (which was, of course, named such by the Pligrims). Dorothy Bradford was among the first of the many Pilgrims who would die before they could celebrate the first Thanksgiving. Perhaps Bradford put it best in a poem he wrote near the end of his life:

    Faint not, poor soul, in God still trust,
    Fear not the things thou suffer must;
    For, whom He loves He doth chastise,
    And then all tears wipes from the their eyes.

  3. ” They would not have liked us, since we are Catholics, for one thing”

    True – but as separatist dissenters the Pilgrims were more accomodating than were the Puritans. The Mayflower Compact was an effort at political realism in a situation where sectarian uniformity did not hold. Puritan explusions of those having differing views marked the early failure of authoritarianism as a political model in North America.

    Anti-Catholic prejudice still can be found in some of the rural areas of Britain. An uncle of mine, by marriage, grew up in a small country village where he was told as a young child that Catholics had two heads.
    ” But no one around here has two heads !” he protested.

    ” And it’s a good thing too.” his father replied.

    Happy Thanksgiving Lex !

  4. Well said, Lex. I can hardly do as well, so I will quote …

    Whatsoever we did, or ought to have done, when we lived in England, the same must we do, and more also, where we go. That which the most in their churches maintain as truth in profession only, we must bring into familiar and constant practice; as in this duty of love, we must love brotherly without dissimulation, we must love one another with a pure heart fervently. We must bear one another’s burdens. We must not look only on our own things, but also on the things of our brethren.
    We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.”
    For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.

    — excerpted from “A Model of Christian Charity,” Governor John Winthrop, written aboard the Arbella, 1630 (source)

  5. To be fair to the Pilgrims, nobody in 1620 had a principled belief in freedom of religion. A few places tolerated dissidents out of circumstance, and if you were willing to accept dhimmitude, you could live in the Ottoman Empire — although no Christian group seemed to find that attractive, no matter how mieserable their persecution by fellow Christians. The first venues that practiced truly principled toleration were Baptist Rhode Island and Quaker Pennsylvania — providing tolerance to those who fled the Pilgrims, ironically. Toleration for all was a long, hard lesson for the Anglosphere, and one that many parts of the world have yet to learn.

  6. Jews never fled the American colonies. That’s a pretty good record as compared to most of the rest of the world.

  7. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a Puritan colony, extended the right to vote to “all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and do cohabit within this Jurisdiction.” In other words, no religious test for voting, although there was a test clause for the office of governor. This was in 1639, and I would have to say it was a pretty good start.

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