In the theaters over the weekend I checked out Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The movie is kind of a misnomer because while Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln is amazing, the film focuses primarily on the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We were told that the movie focuses on the last 4 years of his life; however, what plays out is literally a lavish theater portrayal of the moral struggle between those who wish to abolish slavery and those who are fearful of the ramifications of what freedom for the black slaves will mean for the union.
One thing that I know about the Civil War is that most of our recognized “Christian holidays” were established during that time period. The Christmas celebration we observe now was established just after the Civil War and as we observe the Thanksgiving holiday we can thank President Lincoln for that also.
The tradition of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is steeped in myth and legend. Few people realize that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Thanksgiving the next year, or any year thereafter, though some of their descendants later made a “Forefather’s Day” that usually occurred on December 21 or 22. Several Presidents, including George Washington, made one-time Thanksgiving holidays. In 1827, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale began lobbying several Presidents for the instatement of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but her lobbying was unsuccessful until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday.
The day was not set aside to give thanks to any specific religious deity; in fact, Lincoln was not really a Christian. Much of his written attacks against organized religion were burned to protect him politically. The purpose of the day was to quite literally send good gifts to the poor and volunteer for charity work.
There have been many occasions where I receive e-mails telling me that what I talk about is nonsense and that I am spinning mythologies, tall tales and urban legends about a lot of things and that I should have a bit of skepticism when talking about such things. However, it must be said that a true skeptic entertains all ideas without necessarily being dismissive.
Those who say they are skeptics and dismiss an idea or story outright are not skeptics. They have made up their minds and usually their accepted reality is more or less what the consensus accepts as reality.
There is no challenging opinion or challenging thought from those who have rigid thinking and so there are a lot of things that they miss out on with their negative and uncomfortable way of somehow believing they are the ‘reality police’ and always needing to explain that those who believe in what they feel is nonsense are purely delusional and imbecilic.
It comes as no surprise that many people are simply unaware about what happened in the times of the Pilgrims. Every Thanksgiving we are reminded of the gray clad pilgrims that wore large hats and buckled shoes arriving at Plymouth Rock.
I have often argued with callers about the “Forefathers” and God and how most were religious fanatics, deists and a couple of them were more Luciferian in their beliefs. They tell me that I should learn more about what the Pilgrims were about and how The Mayflower Compact was the chief cornerstone of American democracy which all but proved a firm belief in God and government guaranteeing freedom of worship in a new world. It has also been abused in order to rationalize the idea of a nationalist religion in America.
This is why Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been seen as times to drag out the arguments about a philosophical war between agnostics, atheists, Jews and Christians about the so-called politically correct barring of anything Christian during the holiday.
The truth is that it is still a choice in this country to avoid anything Christian during these holidays and while the Christians should feel free to not be persecuted for celebrating the Pilgrim myths about Puritan theocracy and Christ’s birth, there should be an equal amount of reality that is at least acknowledged during these times. The Pilgrim’s fairytale is a mostly myth, and is the creation of patriotic 19th century romantics.
The thing that would surprise most Americans is before the settlement at Plymouth there was the settlement at Jamestown where it is believed that a small group of newly formed secret societies wanted to establish a world order in America. The founders of Jamestown had thoroughly different values than the Puritans and separatist pilgrims. Their Masonic beliefs indelibly shaped America’s future.
Contrary to the impression many people get from popular culture, the Pilgrims arrived in America thirteen years after the Jamestown colonists. The seeds of a socialist order were already being put into play in the new world and while the original colonists had no intention of creating a new country, it happened anyway.
The first couple attempts at settlements in the new world were met with all kinds of trouble and with the colonists attempts at “collectivism” there was resentment and in many cases corruption and crime among the colonists. We are told in the tall tales of the pilgrims that there was a bountiful harvest in 1621 however most historians argue that there was a famine which reduced the colonists to becoming thieves, stealing what they could from their neighbors.
The meals that were shared during the alleged first Thanksgiving were quite literally feasts for condemned colonists that believed that they needed to eat what they could before they would surely die.
Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, when a shipload of settlers arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men; the other four-fifths chose to benefit from the work of the others.
According to a research tome called “The Great Thanksgiving Hoax” by Richard J. Maybury, it is written that the governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”
The truth is that our so called Plymouth Pilgrims were somehow revered as the forefathers of America when the reality is that most of what America is now was first established in Jamestown and, for reasons that are purely Christian-based, history favors the story of the somewhat socialist, french and zealous Puritans.
Jamestown established a colonial assembly; the beginning of what we now call our democracy.
It was later that William Branford established the free market and the story goes the new Pilgrim settlements began to thrive.
There are many who argue that America only does itself harm by identifying with the Puritans. The reason is that we ignore the fact that the Puritans were intolerable zealots and created all sorts of nasty conspiracy theories about the new settlements.
The legacy of the Puritan ideal is all wrapped up in all kinds of foolishness and fanaticism. It is also rarely pointed out that the same Puritan ideals gave us true tales of the warring with Indians and the various burning of witches. In fact, the Puritan Pilgrims left England because they despised King James and yet we are told by many Christians that the Pilgrim principles and their religious freedom were based on precepts detailed in the King James Bible.
This is total myth.
When James the 1st became King of England in 1603 there were two translations of the Bible in use: the Geneva Bible was the most popular and the Bishops’ Bible was used for reading in churches. The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas or Easter. They believed that these holidays were created by man to memorialize Jesus and are not prescribed by the Bible or celebrated by the early Christian churches and, therefore, cannot be considered holy days.
How would those beliefs go over today? We live in times where there is always talk about Christian persecution and the inability to have Nativity scenes or Thanksgiving prayers in government buildings.
When Christian fundamentalists want to defend the political spirituality and the neo-cult aspects of the United States, they often refer to America as a Judeo-Christian nation or a nation built on Judeo-Christian principles.
They tend to forget that when America was being established, when the colonies were being founded by Puritan Pilgrims at Plymouth or secret societal deists at Jamestown, Judeo Christian values were just barely being defined. The bible that most Christians believe in wasn’t even written yet.