Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Americans Giving Thanks to God

Below are two passages from a fabulous book called America's Real War, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. I chose these passages more because of the timing of Thanksgiving rather than that they are the most important quotes I could pull from the book. To be honest I found myself wanting to quote at least one part of each chapter I have read, there is so much to like about this book I can't possibly include it all. The book is a wake up call unheeded, copyright 1999, before Americans were awakened to what is happening to our great nation and gets to the absolute core of what made America great and why we are losing that. It is also a very pleasant book to read, it flows nicely and the chapters are short - I prefer to read entire chapters in a sitting rather than stop in the middle of a chapter, but maybe that's just me.

A visitor to these shores comparing two history textbooks, one from the 1940s and one from the 1990s, concerning the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, would probably have difficulty realizing that the same people and observance were being discussed. Fortunately as we near the year 2000, there is no need to guess what was in the mind of the Pilgrims as they landed in the New World. They bequeathed us a written document, the Mayflower Compact, signed just prior to disembarking their ships on November 11, 1620. The compact reads, in part:

"In the name of God, Amen, We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc, Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony..." (emphasis added)

It is difficult to interpret that document as anything other than a Christian statement of purpose. Surely, one would think that this document would form an integral part of school textbooks dealing with this period. In many instances, it sadly does not.

There are other undisputed historical facts of the time, such as that Squanto, the Indian who guided the Pilgrims through their first winter, was not simply a good pagen who happened to help, but was himself a believing Christian. There is no doubt, due to primary source material, that the first Thanksgiving was a day of gratitude to the Almighty - not, as is often taught today, gratitude to the Indians. Yet in the recommended Washington State teacher's guide for teaching about Thanksgiving, the historical facts are set aside in favor of secular revisionism.

The problem is not unique to any one state. In 1995 the National Education Association passed a resolution celebrating diversity in Thanksgiving. There is a school district that teaches children an Indian chant for Thanksgiving, not minding that the Indians who used this chant lived nowhere near the east coast in the 1600s. It is one thing for a Disney movie to leave out the fact that Pocahontas converted to Christianity. It is another thing for our schools to neglect that part of her life. It seems that we would rather teach lies to our children than acknowledge the deeply Christian roots of the settlement of the country. Because we Jews loudly loathe attempts to revise Jewish history, we ought also to be among those denouncing attempts at rewriting American history. If it is wrong to deny the holocaust, surely it is also wrong to deny Christianity's role in the founding of America.
And this one a few chapters past the one above.
Thanksgiving itself is an amazingly Jewish type of celebration. The crops had been reasonably successful. They didn't engage in an orgy of self-congratulation or allow the moment to fade away. They gathered together in order to thank God. What a sublime stone with which to lay the foundation for a nation! Despite several school districts around the country trying to indoctrinate youngsters into believing that the first Thanksgiving was an expression of gratitude on the part of the Pilgrims toward the Indians, most Americans still recognize the truth. The first settlers were profoundly religious and, in a gesture that perfectly matches the Jewish principal of expressing gratitude to God, they established a day of Thanksgiving. This is no different from the prayers said by Jews immediately upon waking each morning which thanks the Almighty for restoring our soul to us. Religious people always seek opportunity to express gratitude, first because it is the correct and moral thing to do. Second, we do so because gratitude is a wonderful gateway to optimism and hope. In a way not found among other nations, Americans are comfortable and not self-conscious about thanking God for our many blessing. This is one of the most obvious examples of the family resemblance between modern America and ancient Israel.
In closing, let me suggest a speech Rabbi Lapin made July 4, 2009 at Cedar Park. Click on the Cedar Park link on the page that opens. If you like the speech you will like the book.

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