Christmas History Facts, Santa Claus, and St. Nicholas

Christmas History Facts, Santa Claus, and St Nicholas

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.st-nicholas

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

Origin of setting out stockings

saint-nicholas-childrenOne story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king’s golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children—which became his primary role in the West.

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Christmas Stories: Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Christmas Stories:

Gift of the Magi and the Savior Jesus Christ

Of sacrifice and the Savior

Alex Mac Farland

gift-of-magi-christmas-hairchain2December 2016 – As I was growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, my grade school education included learning about one of the town’s more famous past residents, William Sydney Porter. Perhaps you’ve heard of his pseudonym, “O. Henry.” Porter (1862-1910) left employment in his family’s drug store to establish himself as a writer.

He is best remembered for crafting “The Gift of the Magi,” one of America’s best loved short stories. The story has captivated readers around the globe. A young husband and wife are deeply in love but financially poor. Yet each secretly sacrifices greatly in order to buy the other an extravagant Christmas gift – combs for her hair and a chain for his pocket watch. Their sacrifices provide the irony that climaxes this tender Christmas classic.

Their actions certainly demonstrate sacrificial love, but as a child, I was frustrated by it. It was years before I understood the ultimate act of sacrificial love on which O. Henry’s story was based.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah points to the coming Savior in a number of key passages. Isaiah famously speaks of the one who would someday be “led like a Lamb to slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7), and “by Whose stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). Writing around 750 BC, Isaiah prophesied events from the Savior’s time on earth that we would later read about in the Gospels: He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:34). The Messiah would be God incarnate (Isaiah 9:6, Mark 14:61, John 10:30-33). He would be beaten beyond recognition before being put to death on the cross (Isaiah 52:14, Matthew 27:26-31).

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Here is where the facts about Christmas might seem to be as hard to reconcile as the ending of an O. Henry tale. Clearly, the Father loves and cherishes His unique and only Son, Jesus. So much so that when Christ was suffering for the sins of the world and dying on the Cross, the Father looked away. Though no one fully understands how, for the first and only time in all of eternity, the Father and the Son were separated. As Christ’s horrific betrayal, woundings, and death culminated, it is a wonder that the wrath of God didn’t erupt onto the entire globe.

The irony is that Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Father to bruise Him” (literally, “to crush Him”). How can this be? How could God possibly have been pleased with the vicious execution of the One called “His beloved Son”? How could the hateful and brutal treatment of Jesus been pleasing to the Father?

jesus-rock1The wording of Isaiah and similar passages such as John 3:16 show the compassionate heart of the Father: If it means that you would be saved – restored in this life and saved from hell in the next – the Father’s heart in Isaiah 53:10 is essentially saying to all of us, “I did all of this because I love you.”

Unlike the best human writers, God leaves no holes in the plotline of His amazing drama! Think of it: In Jesus’s coming to earth, the Author wrote Himself into the play. And He invites you, through faith in Christ, to enter into the story. Christ’s presence in the Bible and His work through history truly are the greatest story ever told. In love, God sent His Son. In love, the Son died and arose. And in love, we meet Jesus personally.

What makes this more than just a great story is the element no other author could include: The cliffhanger story of Jesus happens also to be…reality.

Alex McFarland is co-host of Exploring the Word heard daily on American Family Radio. He is author of 17 books, and speaks regularly around the U.S. Learn more at alexmcfarland.com and purchase his books at afastore.net.
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Read “The Gift of the Magi” at https://americanenglish.state.gov

Judeo-Christian Culture: Moral Support for Nativity Scenes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Moral Support for Nativity Scenes

Anonymous donor behind campaign to install Nativity scenes nationwide

‘It is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens’

Bob Unruh

An anonymous donor has joined with the activist group American Nativity Scene and the Thomas More Society in a campaign to provide free Nativity scenes to display at or near statehouses across the nation.

The organizers say now is the time to prepare for the displays because of the process required to obtain permission.

“Indeed, these are for Christmastime display, but October is the time of year to start finalizing plans for a privately funded Christmas display as is legally allowed in traditional public forums such as state capitols, county complexes or city hall lawns,” explained Ed O’Malley, president of American Nativity Scene.

“We are giving away free Nativity scenes. It’s not really a Halloween treat, but it’s definitely not a trick. We are seriously committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas.”

Tom Brejcha, the Thomas More Society president, said atheist groups “may mock our message, but we will not be silent as it is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens.”

 

http://www.wnd.com/2017/10/anonymous-donor-behind-campaign-to-install-nativity-scenes-nationwide/

Judeo-Christian Culture: Christmas Quotes about Jesus Christ

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Christmas Quotes about Jesus Christ

Theme Quotes for December: Christmas is about Jesus Christ

Without Jesus Christ, there would be no Christmas. He is the Reason for the Season.

Wise men still follow Him.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare him room. ~Isaac Watts

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant! Come and behold him, born the King of angels; Oh, come let us adore him; Christ the Lord. ~John F. Wade

Jesus Christ is the Gift from God. For God so loved the world, He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

I challenge you to …return to [your] Christian faith and to the strong religious foundation that is so essential for peace of mind and real happiness. ~L. Tom Perry

Sometimes the most precious and sacred things are right in front of us, in plain sight, but we cannot or will not see them …I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts, we will see Him, we will find Him—on Christmas and throughout the year. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

At the meridian of time, in a place so obscure and humble that it was overlooked by the wise and mighty of the world, our Redeemer was born. If this same small, innocuous event occurred in our time, we might well wonder if our own eyes would know what to look for; if we would see our Friend, and open the doors of our souls. ~C.A. Davidson

Character Education: Faith, Decision, and Charlie Brown

Character Education: Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

History Facts: George Washington, Thanksgiving to God

Thanksgiving Dinner Topics

Before the mad rush to shop for Christmas on Black Friday, let us pause to give thanks to God–not the government– for our daily bread. Many of our ancestors came to America for liberty. If it weren’t for their hard work and moral character, we would never have reached the prosperity we once knew a few short years ago. Prosperity does not come from Santa Claus; it comes from effort and responsibility.

George WashingtonHere’s what George Washington proclaimed in 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York
the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

~George Washington

‘You want me to count the number of references to God? How about just the first line? “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor.” Let’s see. One, two, three, four references in just that first clause. ~Rush Limbaugh

Socialism and the First Thanksgiving

 Dinner Topics for Monday

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Rush Limbaugh

“Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism.” And they found that it didn’t work.

The true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed.  With all the great expectations and high hopes, it failed.  And self-reliance, rugged individualism, free enterprise, whatever you call it, resulted in prosperity that they never dreamed of.

What is the story of Thanksgiving?  What I was taught, what most people my age were taught, maybe even many of you were taught, the Pilgrims got to the New World, they didn’t know what to do.  They didn’t know how to feed themselves. They were escaping tyranny, but they got here, and the Indians, who were eventually to be wiped out, taught them how to do everything, fed them and so forth.  They had this big feast where they sat down and thanked the Indians for saving their lives and apologized for taking their country and eventually stealing Manhattan from ’em.

But that’s not what really happened.

RushRevere9“The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century … The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.  After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

“On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

“And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found — according to Bradford’s detailed journal — a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote.  There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims — including Bradford’s own wife — died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

“Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives.”  That’s not what it was.

“Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share.” It was a commune.  It was socialism.  “All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well,” not to the individuals who built them.

Socialism Didn’t Work Then, Either

“Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage.”  They could do with it whatever they wanted. He essentially turned loose the free market on ’em.  “Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism.” And they found that it didn’t work.

“What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else,” because everybody ended up with the same thing at the end of the day.  “But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently.

What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. ‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition,’ Bradford wrote. ‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years… that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing — as if they were wiser than God. … For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.'”

What he was saying was, they found that people could not expect to do their best work without any incentive.  So what did they try next?  Free enterprise.  “Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, ‘for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.'”
They had miraculous results.  In no time they found they had more food than they could eat themselves.  So they set up trading posts.  They exchanged goods with the Indians.  The profits allowed them to pay off the people that sponsored their trip in London.  The success and the prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans, began what became known as the great Puritan migration.

And they shared their bounty with the Indians.  Actually, they sold some of it to ’em.  The true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed.  With all the great expectations and high hopes, it failed.  And self-reliance, rugged individualism, free enterprise, whatever you call it, resulted in prosperity that they never dreamed of. []

The Pilgrims left the Old World to find freedom of religion in the New World. Today, even in America, there is evidence of efforts to stifle the freedom of Christian worship. If we want to preserve our Judeo-Christian culture, we can only do so by teaching it in our homes. This collection of Christian Dinner Topics helps parents transmit Judeo-Christian traditions every day. Learn more

Thanksgiving Stories: Pilgrims and Mayflower

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

William Bradford

from History.com

plymouth-colony-A   William Bradford (1590-1657) was a founder and longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony settlement. Born in England, he migrated with the Separatist congregation to the Netherlands as a teenager. Bradford was among the passengers on the Mayflower’s trans-Atlantic journey, and he signed the Mayflower Compact upon arriving in Massachusetts in 1620. As Plymouth Colony governor for more than thirty years, Bradford helped draft its legal code and facilitated a community centered on private subsistence agriculture and religious tolerance. Around 1630, he began to compile his two-volume “Of Plymouth Plantation,” one of the most important early chronicles of the settlement of New England.

Born of substantial yeomen in Yorkshire, England, Bradford expressed his nonconformist religious sensibilities in his early teens and joined the famed Separatist church in Scrooby at the age of seventeen. In 1609 he immigrated with the congregation, led by John Robinson, to the Netherlands. For the next eleven years he and his fellow religious dissenters lived in Leyden until their fear of assimilation into Dutch culture prompted them to embark on the Mayflower for the voyage to North America.

Did You Know?

William Bradford’s descendants include Noah Webster, Julia Child and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

The Pilgrims arrived in what became Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621 with a large number of non-Separatist settlers. Before disembarking, the congregation drew up the first New World social contract, the Mayflower Compact, which all the male settlers signed.

bradfordwilliamBradford served thirty one-year terms as governor of the fledgling colony between 1622 and 1656. He enjoyed remarkable discretionary powers as chief magistrate, acting as high judge and treasurer as well as presiding over the deliberations of the General Court, the legislature of the community. In 1636 he helped draft the colony’s legal code. Under his guidance Plymouth never became a Bible commonwealth like its larger and more influential neighbor, the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Relatively tolerant of dissent, the Plymouth settlers did not restrict the franchise or other civic privileges to church members. The Plymouth churches were overwhelmingly Congregationalist and Separatist in form, but Presbyterians like William Vassal and renegades like Roger Williams resided in the colony without being pressured to conform to the majority’s religious convictions.

After a brief experiment with the “common course,” a sort of primitive agrarian communism, the colony quickly centered around private subsistence agriculture. This was facilitated by Bradford’s decision to distribute land among all the settlers, not just members of the company. In 1627 he and four others assumed the colony’s debt to the merchant adventurers who had helped finance their immigration in return for a monopoly of the fur trading and fishing industries. Owing to some malfeasance on the part of their English mercantile factors and the decline of the fur trade, Bradford and his colleagues were unable to retire this debt until 1648, and then only at great personal expense.

PilgrimsembarkationRobert_Walter_Weiroverall“Embarkation of the Pilgrims,” by Robert Walter Weir. William Bradford is depicted at center, kneeling in the background, symbolically behind Gov. John Carver (holding hat) whom Bradford would succeed.[1]

Around 1630 Bradford began to compile his two-volume Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, one of the most important early chronicles of the settlement of New England. Bradford’s history was singular in its tendency to separate religious from secular concerns. Unlike similar tracts from orthodox Massachusetts Bay, Bradford did not interpret temporal affairs as the inevitable unfolding of God’s providential plan. Lacking the dogmatic temper and religious enthusiasm of the Puritans of the Great Migration, Bradford steered a middle course for Plymouth Colony between the Holy Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the tolerant secular community of Rhode Island.

The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.