By Keeping The Past Alive, Memorial Day Can Help Us Save The Future

By Keeping The Past Alive, Memorial Day Can Help Us Save The Future

Memorial Day is a profound American holiday because it connects the present with so many different points of our past. It was originally known as Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor those who lost their lives in the Civil War—America’s most costly war, taking the lives of at least 620,000 men. Among American holidays, Memorial Day is unique also in that it originated from the vanquished, not the victor.

After the war was over, women from the South—Columbus, Mississippi and Richmond, Virginia—set out to decorate with flowers the gravesites of their fallen Confederate soldiers. But they became so moved in the process that they decided to equally decorate the gravesites of Union soldiers buried alongside their loved ones. That expression was profound, for it showed an amazing forgiveness toward even a merciless Union victor, like Gen. William Sherman, whose scorched-earth military campaigns had committed so many atrocities—ravaging the lives of non-combatants and unnecessarily destroying swaths across five southern states.

Although Abraham Lincoln could have blamed the South for starting the war by seceding from the United States and firing the first shots on Fort Sumter, he expressed no accusation nor bitterness toward the South and held that both sides were to blame for the Civil War. “With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us bind up the nation’s wounds,” said Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address.

Decoration Day would not become a national holiday for nearly a century, until after the two World Wars and the Korean War cost America another 559,000 lives. During the Vietnam War, Decoration Day was renamed Memorial Day to honor all servicemen who died in the line of duty in any war or engagement. It became an official national holiday when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968.

While remembering those who lost their lives serving America in wartime is a central purpose of this holiday, Memorial Day takes on its deepest meaning when we connect it with our heritage and roots. A takeaway from the Civil War era is not only acknowledging the magnanimity and quality of character of most leaders of those earlier times, but also the respect and civility that allowed healing and moving forward as a nation.

One glaring difference between those times and the present is that we have lost much of the civility that facilitated keeping our diverse peoples together in earlier times. The qualities of character and societal norms shaped by Christian influence that were taken for granted through the mid-20th century—which included grace, respect, tolerance, and manners—have been increasingly crowded out by a coarse secular culture, and more recently by a surrogate woke religion that has added to the aforementioned rigid closed-mindedness and loss of spontaneity, humor, and joy.

The deepest meaning of Memorial Day can be found in simply remembering that when Americans sacrificed their lives in military service, it was not just to defend the United States, but it was also to uphold the natural God-given rights of all people that were articulated in the nation’s founding documents. Those established a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. As a result, America became an inspiration for others around the world. Some likened America to being a light to world, like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

One cannot help but see and feel this Memorial Day 2022 that America’s light has dimmed with our country’s leadership losing its way on many fronts and even betraying the people. So, it is fitting to reflect on our past and rediscover the threads that not only hold us together, but also provide strength to the patchwork of our national fabric to withstand the storms ahead.

A discussion of Memorial Day would just not be complete without appreciating the significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, formally established on what was then known as Armistice Day, three years after the end of World War I. The U.S. Congress had approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier who had fallen somewhere on a battlefield in France at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be recognized as the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery—the most sacred military cemetery in the United States. Here, one of the profound ironies of our history is that this hallowed and sacred ground came from vanquished Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who despite his defeat in leading the Confederate cause in the Civil War ended up with the highest unspoken national honor.

That honor unexpectedly came from the great loss of giving up his family’s Arlington House plantation, which he and his wife forfeited to the federal government after they sided with Virginia and the South. The 1,100 acres of that seized plantation land would later become the Arlington Cemetery—the most hallowed ground in America—providing a final resting place for future patriots who gave their lives for the cause of freedom and the American republic.

The selection process for the World War II Unknown proved more difficult than that of World War I since American soldiers had fought on three continents. Then the process was interrupted by the Korean War, which resulted in numerous dead who could not be identified.

Finally on May 28, 1958, caskets bearing the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War arrived in Washington. The caskets were rotated such that each unknown serviceman rested on the “Lincoln catafalque,” a raised platform that held President Lincoln’s casket in April 1865. Two days later on May 30, then the official date of Memorial Day, those Unknowns were transported to Arlington Cemetery, where they were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrades.

With so many “missing in action” in the Vietnam War, it was decided that the crypt designated Unknown for that war would remain empty. It was rededicated to honor all missing U.S. service members from the Vietnam War on September 17, 1999, with the inscription on the crypt reading, “Honoring and Keeping the Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

The inscribed words on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God” are an uplifting reminder that all those who died for the American cause should have a special place in our hearts as they do in God’s. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of weather by special armed Tomb Guard sentinels.

Anyone who visits the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier cannot but be humbled and even tearfully reminded of what Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Memorial Day reminds us that U.S. military personnel are asked to put their lives on the line. Defending the nation and fighting wars is the most serious and important job of all. There should be no acceptance of political and military leadership ineptitude, such as what led up to throwing away a long and hard-fought victory in Iraq by withdrawing all U.S. forces in 2011—enabling the rise of ISIS; or what led up to the hasty retreat from Afghanistan in August 2021, which unnecessarily cost 13 American soldiers and left behind some $80 billion of U.S. military equipment in what was effectively a surrender to the Taliban.

Similarly, there should be zero tolerance for policies or programs that divide and demoralize our troops such as critical race theory indoctrination, which has been the willful policy choice of Joe Biden’s secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In sum, this year—2022—Memorial Day takes on a greater two-fold meaning than it has previously. We are called to remember those who died in military service to the country and recommit to the conviction that those lives lost shall never be in vain. Equally important, we should remember and deepen our appreciation of a heritage that began with a courageous, brilliant, and faithful group of founders and those that followed who were willing to give their lives to establish, preserve and protect the United States and what it stands for.

While many of us now feel that the light from the City on a Hill has grown dim, our Constitution still stands, and we the people are still in charge. In the face of internal and external enemies seeking our demise, we cannot falter or retreat. We have much to do.

Let us go forward with the biblical admonition that “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will…forgive their sin and will heal their land.”


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Jackie Robinson’s Great Personal Sacrifice Made America A Better Nation

Jackie Robinson’s Great Personal Sacrifice Made America A Better Nation

On rare occasions, the secular and sacred elements of culture converge in poetic symmetry. Today, as Christians around the world commemorate Christ’s passion and death, Americans celebrate 75 years since baseball’s color line finally fell.

When churches today read from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, whose song of a suffering servant presaged Christ’s crucifixion, we can also recall how Jackie Robinson suffered to make America a better society, and Americans a better people.

Unlike Isaiah’s servant, Jack Roosevelt Robinson did have a “stately bearing to make us look at him,” and an “appearance that would attract us to him.” A four-sport letterman at the University of California at Los Angeles, Robinson starred on the football team while winning the national championship in the long jump. During World War II, he was accepted into Officer Candidate School and commissioned as a second lieutenant.

But breaking baseball’s color line required a skill far beyond physical dexterity—one Robinson did not know whether he could muster. He admitted that “all my life I had believed in payback, retaliation.”

When in the Army, he had faced court-martial for refusing to move to the back of a bus. He was eventually acquitted, but could someone who considered his dignity “the most luxurious possession, the richest treasure,” agree to, as Robinson put it, “sell [his] birthright?”

Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey made Robinson promise not to retaliate against any racist taunts, jeers, or threats for his first three years in the majors. To win over a baseball establishment highly skeptical of integration, Robinson faced the same treatment as Isaiah’s servant: “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.”

The prejudices he faced said much more about American society than Robinson, again echoing Isaiah: “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured.” Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman spearheaded such vicious bench-jockeying that Robinson later wrote he wanted to explode with rage. Yet when the abuse led to a backlash that jeopardized Chapman’s job, Robinson graciously agreed to pose with a man who had baited him with racist taunts.

The insults didn’t just come from the opposing dugout. Robinson’s own manager with the minor-league Montreal Royals in 1946, Clay Hopper, used a racial epithet to ask whether African Americans were even human beings.

But at a time the armed forces remained segregated, and Martin Luther King Jr. was still in college, Robinson’s on-field achievements despite these indignities began converting the hearts and minds so critical to the civil rights movement’s success. Longtime Dodger broadcaster Red Barber spoke for many Americans when he admitted, “Robinson did more for me than I did for him,” making him recognize that “I had to change my outlook on racial equations… I had to begin thinking differently.”

Once he had successfully integrated baseball, Robinson would regain the voice he had temporarily sacrificed. Later in his life, he criticized black separatists as too radical—and the NAACP as too timid. He kept pushing for his vision for civil rights, based on “the ballot and the buck,” at a time others might have rested on their laurels. After the price he had paid, he could not do otherwise.

But the stress had taken its toll. Staying silent “ate him alive,” as one historian put it. Red Barber believed the abuse, and Robinson’s inability to respond to it, hastened his demise: “They said that Robinson died from diabetes and other things. I think he died from the load he carried.”

His Kansas City Monarchs teammate, Sammie Haynes, put it more bluntly: “He knew he had the whole black race, so to speak, on his shoulders. So he just said, ‘I can take it. I can handle it. I will take it for the rest of the country and the guys.’ And that’s why he took all that mess. And it killed him.”

“If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.” Fewer Americans epitomized these words from Isaiah more than Jack Roosevelt Robinson, and fewer to more profound effect.

As Christians worldwide hear those words this afternoon, 75 years to the day after he first stepped onto the grass of Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, people of all faiths, colors, and nationalities can resolve to emulate Robinson’s heroic example of sacrifice in pursuit of the good.


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The Turncoat Who Handed Dems a Supermajority

The Turncoat Who Handed Dems a Supermajority

The Turncoat
The Turncoat

A lot of you might be too young to remember this individual, but if there is a turncoat hall of fame, he would surely be in it. THE turncoat! The one that I’m discussing here was so influential that he literally handed the Democrats a supermajority at the dawn of the 21st Century.

First of all, let’s do a brief history lesson on this man. His name was Arlen Specter, and he was born to Russian Jewish immigrants on February 12, 1930, and he died on October 14, 2012. Before he would be reviled by conservatives as “the turncoat to end all turncoats” (quotations mine), he would graduate with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and he would eventually rise to the rank of First Lieutenant during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. He later graduated from Yale Law School in 1956.

After that, Specter joined a prominent Philadelphia law firm from 1956 to 1966, serving as assistant counsel on the Warren Commission, the body responsible for investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Specter was originally a registered Democrat, but he failed to gain any traction from his party, so he was elected as the D.A. from Philadelphia on a Republican ticket. With that, he was registered with the GOP, but he failed to win a third term in 1973 and returned to practicing law.

Specter then joined a prominent Philadelphia law firm (1956–66) and in 1959 was appointed assistant district attorney. From 1963 to 1964 he served as assistant counsel on the Warren Commission, the body charged with investigating the assassination of U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy. Though a registered Democrat, Specter failed to gain support from his party and was elected district attorney of Philadelphia on a Republican ballot in 1965. He soon registered as a Republican. Following his failure to win a third term in 1973, he returned to practicing law.

Specter had several unsuccessful primary bids for Senator of Pennsylvania (1976) and Governor (1978) he claimed victory in the 1980 U.S. Senate race. He would break ranks with the Republican party on several occasions, including when he was voicing support for civil unions for gay couples. He also supported abortion rights and got his nickname of “Snarlin’ Arlen” as a result. However, at the same time, the man could be fiercely partisan, aggressively grilling Anita Hill, who had accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. This was widely seen by many as an attempt to ensure that Thomas was confirmed.

Specter also served as chairman of the Intelligence Committee from 1995-1997; chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee from 1197-2001 and 2005 to 2005; and he was chairman of the Judiciary committee in 2005.

All of this would be well and good if Specter had stuck to his guns and stayed with the GOP come heck or high water. However, this man is the epitome of a RINO and he switched to the Democrats yet again because he claimed that he was a supporter of Obama’s stimulus package. Specter was a man that went wherever the wind blew, and he set the stage for what it means to be a RINO. In the wind-up, even the Democrats at that time saw through Specter’s charade and he lost the Democratic primary U.S. Representative Joe Sestak in 2009.

Here’s something odd for you all to chew on: as early as 2004 when Specter was still a REPUBLICAN, Hunter Biden had donated to him! That’s definitely odd and suspicious, to say the least.

This is why we can confidently say that Specter wasn’t just a turncoat, but he was THE Turncoat, and it is a playbook for the spineless Democrat that we all know and love to hate today.

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Why the Puritans Banned Christmas

Why the Puritans Banned Christmas

The Puritans are known for banning Christmas — but were they being Grinches? In fact, they were aghast at the licentiousness around the holy day, and sought to purify the community. Today as we observe the Nativity of Our Lord, let us keep the feast holy, unmarred by the distractions of commercialism and vice. Let us welcome the Christ child into our homes and our hearts.

If you are like me, you enjoy Christmas and you enjoy the Puritans — among other things. But if you know much about the Puritans, you might be asking if this is a contradiction in terms. ‘Were not the Puritans opposed to Christmas?’ Well, yes and no is the answer, so let me explore this a bit further.

Of interest, one of my books on the Puritans that I just pulled off the shelves (Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken) has a penultimate chapter on ‘Some Puritan Faults’. Yes, they were not perfect, and they had issues: for example, they could be too wordy; they could be too legalistic at times; and so on. And while the entire book is full of praise for the Puritans as he seeks to set the record straight about them, in this chapter Ryken raises first the example of Christmas.

Honour the Messiah

He points out that a “genuinely religious Christmas was obviously not objectionable” but some of the ways people had been used to celebrating it were. Thus Governor William Bradford “did not allow New Englanders to celebrate Christmas as they had been accustomed to (simply as a holiday), but he was not opposed to Christmas in principle.”

Reverend Increase Mather had said this in 1687:

“The generality of Christmas-keepers observe that festival after such a manner as is highly dishonourable to the name of Christ. How few are there comparatively that spend those holidays (as they are called) after an holy manner. But they are consumed in Compotations, in Interludes, in playing at Cards, in Revellings, in excess of Wine, in mad Mirth.”

Worldly Saints - The PuritansYes, there was a ban on Christmas in Massachusetts, but that law existed for only 22 years (1659-1687). There were various reasons why such concern existed. One obvious problem was the drunkenness and carnality that often attended Christmas celebrations.

Another was the idea that this was a part of the old Anglicanism in England that the Puritans were trying to get away from. But Christmas celebrations nonetheless continued in various forms, and it became a national holiday in the US in 1870 (along with Independence Day on July 4).

Possible Idolatry

There are other issues of course that can be mentioned, including things like nativity scenes and the like. These issues fall under the broader concerns about religious art, idols and icons, and idolatry. That is a much bigger discussion which I have dealt with elsewhere.

That debate in turn centres on things like how we are to understand the Second Commandment (see Exodus 20:4-6). And that too is a big discussion. One key proponent and populariser of the Puritans, J. I. Packer in his 1973 classic, Knowing God, devotes an entire chapter to this matter.

He says several times there that it is primarily the use of images “as an aid to worshipping” God that is the real issue here. Indeed,

“Historically, Christians have differed as to whether the second commandment forbids the use of pictures for purposes of teaching and instruction (in Sunday-school classes for instance).”

But he goes on to make this important point:

“Just as it forbids us to manufacture molten images of God, so it forbids us to dream up mental images of Him. Imagining God in our heads can be just as real a breach of the second commandment as imagining Him by the work of our hands.”

Or as he put it in his book on the Ten Commandments:

“This forbids, not worshipping many gods (the first commandment covered that), but imagining the true God as like yourself or something lower. God’s real attack is on mental images, of which mental images are more truly the consequence than the cause.”

The Motherland

But getting back to Christmas itself, it of course must be pointed out that what transpired in New England followed on from and was proceeded by what took place in Britain. That discussion could be the stuff of another whole article, but one quote looking at this will suffice here:

The ban on the performance of plays, which was imposed in 1642, inhibited the keeping of Christmas, particularly in London: Christmas had been the peak of the theatrical season. In 1643, to the dismay of some of the Scots, the Assembly of Divines decided to adjourn over Christmas Day, the majority resolving (said the Scottish Presbyterian, Robert Baillie) that they would preach “that day, till Parliament should reform it in an orderly way,” but none the less the minority had the satisfaction of being able to persuade both Houses of Parliament to sit.

It was not, however, until 1644 that Parliament took any positive action against the general observance of Christmas. Its hands were forced by an accident of the calendar and pressure from the Scots. In Scotland the Presbyterians had secured a ban on Christmas celebrations as long ago as 1583, though they had not found it easy to put down snowballing, football, guising, carol-singing and other profane pastimes. In 1618 they had been compelled to accept an order of the King that Christmas and certain other festivals should be kept, but the General Assembly had set this aside in 1638. They came to England with rigid views which in the circumstances of 1644 they were in a position to press.

For some time the Parliamentary leaders were able to resist demands that Christmas should be abolished in England, but it happened that in 1644 Christmas Day fell upon a Wednesday, and the last Wednesday in each month was by law to be kept as a day of solemn fast and penance. The question was whether December 25th should be an exception to the general rule. In deference to the Scots, Parliament decided with evident unwillingness that it should not.

At this point let me mention that some believers today are still unhappy with Christmas, and believe that all Christians should have nothing to do with it, because ‘it is just some pagan celebration’ and so on. I have already discussed that view here.

Let Us Keep the Feast

But let me draw upon one other writer in closing. Ralph Orr has looked at this matter and said this in part:

The New England culture was permeated with Puritan values. As late as 1847, no college in New England had a Christmas holiday. The fact that anti-Christmas sentiment exists among some groups originating in New England should not be surprising. However, there are today no churches that call themselves Puritans. Yet their theological descendants — Presbyterians, Congregationalists and many Baptists — remain. Gone, except among their most conservative offspring, is any concern about Christmas.

The central issue regarding Christmas observance is this: How much freedom do Christians have in the new covenant, either individually or as a church, to express their faith, worship and thanks toward Christ in forms not found in the Bible? Are Christians ever free to innovate in worship? May church leaders establish special days to celebrate the great acts of salvation?

Devout Christians sometimes confuse ancient forms with modern substance. “Once pagan, always pagan” is the way some people reason. They may admit the transforming power of Christ for people, but deny it for customs and traditions. Yet many of the practices God approved for ancient Israel had previously existed in paganism. Temples, priests, harvest festivals, music in worship, circumcision and tithing all had ancient pagan counterparts. God transformed these customs into a form of worship devoted to him. Even the sun, universally worshipped as a god by pagan cultures, God used to symbolize an aspect of the Christ (Malachi 4:2).

There is a lot we can learn from the Puritans. In general, they have so much of importance that they offer us. Sometimes they got things wrong, perhaps mainly by taking important truths and pushing them to some extremes — sometimes to unbiblical extremes.

As I have said before, those who still hate on Christmas today are quite welcome to not celebrate it. But those of us who do celebrate the birth of the Messiah should be extended the same right to do so. As Paul said in Romans 14:5:

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Or as he put it in Colossians 2:16-17:

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Merry Christmas!

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.

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Is Salvation Army USA Marching to the Beat of Critical Race Theory?

Is Salvation Army USA Marching to the Beat of Critical Race Theory?

Wokeism has infected one of the best-loved religious institutions.

At the worst possible time of year, the Salvation Army is suffering a major public relations crisis. After progressively flirting with Critical Race Theory in recent times, the Salvation Army (TSA) was last month called out by donors and members for its embrace of wokeness. Newsweek reports:

As The Salvation Army launches its Red Kettle Campaign this holiday season, some of its long-time donors are withdrawing their support from the 156-year-old charitable organisation citing its newly embraced “woke” ideology as the reason.

Concerned Salvationists and donors are particularly upset with “Let’s Talk About Racism”, a recent initiative that uses an “anti-racist” lens and familiar CRT talking points to outline the church’s alleged racial sins and how to atone for them.

Christianity is Inherently Racist?

After backlash, the Salvation Army removed the curriculum from its website “for appropriate review”. According to the Daily Wire, the resource “claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer ‘a sincere apology’ to blacks for being ‘antagonistic… to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community’.”

The irony is that the Salvation Army has historically played a leading role in confronting racism in the United States, pre-empting the civil rights movement by some five decades. As conservative pundit Don Feder notes, “throughout its history, the Salvation Army has served people of all races in America, even during the era of segregation. Today, 60% of those it helps are minorities.”

“Still, the organisation is driven to apologise for its imaginary sins and demand that all Caucasians do the same,” he writes.

A Color Us United petition that calls on TSA to “stop letting race activism dilute the good work of fellow Salvationists and supporters” has garnered almost 15,000 signatures.

Losing Its Way

In a lengthy Facebook post, well-known Christian apologist Greg Koukl announced that he was terminating his monthly donations to the Salvation Army and directing them to another organisation. He lamented that, having read the controversial curriculum in detail, “it rapidly became clear to me that TSA has fallen for critical race theory lock, stock, and barrel.” Koukl minced no words:

To see that TSA has been taken in by the likes of Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Anti-Racist), Robin DiAngelo (the thoroughly discredited White Fragility), and the (also thoroughly discredited) NYT “1619 Project” has my head spinning. Your material’s baseless claim that “our foundations were built on racism” is beyond belief…

In my estimation, CRT is a Trojan horse taking in well-intentioned Christian enterprises that — because they care about justice and oppose oppression — naively promote the most serious threat to biblical Christianity I have seen in 50 years.

Koukl is clearly well-read on the topic and aware of its cunning dialectic. “I am not going to fall for the CRT ‘Kafka trap’ that my protestations are actually evidence of my racism,” he wrote, “and neither should you.” Koukl also clarified that he does not dismiss all concerns of ongoing racism in the modern West:

I am not claiming there is no racism to be dealt with or are no racist Christians who need to repent. What I am saying is that critical race theory is not an accurate characterisation of contemporary racial dynamics in America (as many have argued). Therefore, since its analysis is faulty, it offers a faulty solution, one that creates a whole set of new racial tensions and provides no productive resolution to them.

His warning was stern but gracious: “The Salvation Army — unwittingly, I believe — has made common cause with an ideology that is openly hostile to Christianity if you read the fine print.”

On the Defense

On Twitter, TSA responded to the wave of criticism, saying, “the sensationalist claims that The Salvation Army has entered a political war are simply not true.” In a longer response, the organisation downplayed their embrace of CRT without backing away from it.

“The Salvation Army occasionally publishes internal study guides on various complex topics to help foster positive conversations and grace-filled reflection,” the statement read. It inferred that any misunderstanding was due to TSA’s detractors, not TSA itself. “Some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organisation to serve their own agendas.”

Admirably, the statement sought to assure members and supporters that the church had not “abandoned its Biblical beliefs for another philosophy or ideology” — and that its goal was still “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination”.

But given the divisive and insidious nature of Critical Race Theory, not all TSA supporters will find these reassurances comforting. Through the centuries, many Christian denominations have died from within after trying to syncretise the Gospel with popular ideologies — with higher criticism in the 19th century being a prominent example.

The Salvation Army has done untold good in the 156 years of its existence — both by remaining faithful to its message, and through its army of members and donors.

Where it goes from here is yet to be seen. But whatever its future, the Salvation Army must take seriously the warnings of its supporter base, lest “doing the most good” becomes a thing of the past.

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Originally published at MercatorNet.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

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No, Thanksgiving Isn’t About ‘Genocide And Violence’

No, Thanksgiving Isn’t About ‘Genocide And Violence’

Americans have a great and exuberant tradition that touches our sense of belonging and our pride in coming together. No, I am not referring to Thanksgiving, that festival of gratitude, generosity, and welcome. I am referring to the equally great and exuberant tradition of trash-talking other people.

Supposedly we have reformed. Ethnic slurs that were once common have retreated to the dark corners of dive bars and the even darker corners of anti-social media. We live in a time when a whole new admonitory vocabulary has emerged to warn people away from anything remotely racist. “Cultural appropriation” is taboo—as must be the word “taboo” itself, a Tongan word appropriated into English by Capt. James Cook.

We worry about demeaning stereotypes, microaggressions, implicit bias, normativity, neo-colonialism, and the “othering” of others. Surely we are more enlightened than those vile, imperialistic, hate-filled, white, heteronormative people who… Oops.

Ethnic slurs haven’t disappeared. They have just slipped into a new register. Black lives matter, but “all lives matter?” Them’s fighting words. Attacking someone else, after all, is a classic way of demonstrating loyalty to one’s own group, claiming group superiority, and policing the edges.

Gyasi Ross, a Blackfeet (Native American) author (Huffington Post, Gawker, and Indian Country Today) attorney, “rapper, speaker and storyteller,” explained on MSNBC the other day, speaking of the Mayflower Pilgrims, “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence.” Speaking of Thanksgiving, Ross adds, “That genocide and violence is still on the menu.”

If take this as an attempt to right the historical record, it is hopeless. The Pilgrims didn’t bring “genocide” to America. They barely brought themselves, with half of their company dying that first winter, in 1620-21.

For that matter, genocide was already here among native peoples, who frequently fought wars of extermination against rival tribes. The archaeological record testifies to such events, and Europeans had little to teach the native peoples they encountered anything about ambush, torture, and the death penalty.

But if Ross is simply attempting to show off his command of vituperative insult towards people of a tribe other than his own, he has done a pretty good job. His pitch is that the “white people” have a Thanksgiving “mythology” that portrays the Pilgrims as “having brought something of great value that enriches the people who are already here.” But the truth is that the Pilgrims “were broke,” and “they brought nothing of value.”

That, however, was hardly the view of the Wampanoag, with whom the white settlers of Plymouth celebrated that feast in the fall of 1621 that we call the first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag first of all saw the Pilgrims as a valuable ally against their enemies, the Narragansett, who appeared ready to attack.

They signed a treaty with the settlers that lasted unbroken for 50 years. The Wampanoag also eagerly engaged the settlers in trade to gain access to European manufactured goods. Moreover, the Pilgrims brought Christianity, which within a generation attracted a large number of Indian converts.

Granted, Ross may see all of this as “nothing of value,” but who is Ross to judge the decisions of 17th century Native Americans, rendered desperate by an epidemic disease that killed most of their tribe—a disease that swept through New England years before the Pilgrims arrived?

The real truth is that Ross has a niche in contemporary American life that has nothing to do with his ancestry or culture. It is the niche of a professional angertainer. It plays well on TV and other media because, after all, articulate displays of anger are indeed entertaining, and also because we need some comic relief dressed up as indignation. This isn’t always or necessarily bad: Let’s go, Brandon!

But humped-up anger is pretty much all the leftist media have to offer us these days. Real arguments grounded in facts are in short supply for the Bidenized left, but sneers presented as if they reveal hidden realities can still energize the base. After all, Nicole Hannah-Jones has just conjured a 600-page book out of her imaginary version of the American past. Condensed version: white men caused every harm, every misery, every injustice inflicted on black people from 1619 to today. Ross has the advantage of brevity.

Those Mayflower Pilgrims brought a few other items that also missed Ross’s list. They brought religious tolerance both as a principle and as a practice. The Mayflower Compact guaranteed that all the settlers, only about half of whom were Pilgrims, would enjoy the right to confess their own faiths. (The Puritans, who arrived later and settled Massachusetts Bay, were not tolerant.)

The settlers of Plymouth had one more thing: democratic self-government. Eventually Plymouth became the model for the New England town and, from there, the English settlement of the whole country.

Today the left professes to despise colonialism and to see nothing but the usurpation of people and destruction of the environment as the consequence. This is a little odd, given that the left also generally favors the abolition of national borders.

I don’t know if that applies in Ross’s case. He may want to keep the borders (or perhaps expand them) of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. The loss of control of land, loss of independence, and other indignities by Native Americans were experienced by many as a dismal fate.

But history is complex. Some Native Americans embraced Western civilization; some sought a synthesis of tradition and the West; and some, like Ross, found places within the Western tradition where accusation and anger became a new kind of currency.

In that vein, hating Thanksgiving, like hating Columbus, has become a ritual. Some people watch the Macy’s Parade; some watch football; some enjoy the homecoming of relatives; some offer God sincere prayers of gratitude. And some make up stories about violence and genocide.

Source

‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

“PRAISE ye the Lord!” The psalm to-day
Still rises on our ears,
Borne from the hills of Boston Bay
Through five times fifty years,
When Winthrop’s fleet from Yarmouth crept
Out to the open main,
And through the widening waters swept,
In April sun and rain.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
The leader shouted, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships
As faded Yarmouth Bay.

They passed the Scilly Isles that day,
And May-days came, and June,
And thrice upon the ocean lay
The full orb of the moon.
And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay,
Ere England sunk from view,
While yet the rippling Solent lay
In April skies of blue,
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
Each morn was shouted, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships,
As first in Yarmouth Bay;

Blew warm the breeze o’er Western seas,
Through Maytime morns, and June,
Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals,
Low ’neath the summer moon;
And as Cape Ann arose to view,
And Norman’s Woe they passed,
The wood-doves came the white mists through,
And circled round each mast.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
Then called the leader, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships,
As first in Yarmouth Bay.

Above the sea the hill-tops fair—
God’s towers—began to rise,
And odors rare breathe through the air,
Like balms of Paradise.
Through burning skies the ospreys flew,
And near the pine-cooled shores
Danced airy boat and thin canoe,
To flash of sunlit oars.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
The leader shouted, “pray!”
Then prayer arose, and all the ships
Sailed into Boston Bay.

The white wings folded, anchors down,
The sea-worn fleet in line,
Fair rose the hills where Boston town
Should rise from clouds of pine;
Fair was the harbor, summit-walled,
And placid lay the sea.
“Praise ye the Lord,” the leader called;
“Praise ye the Lord,” spake he.
“Give thanks to God with fervent lips,
Give thanks to God to-day,”
The anthem rose from all the ships,
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

“Praise ye the Lord!” Primeval woods
First heard the ancient song,
And summer hills and solitudes
The echoes rolled along.
The Red Cross flag of England blew
Above the fleet that day,
While Shawmut’s triple peaks in view
In amber hazes lay.
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day,”
The anthem rose from all the ships
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

The Arabella leads the song—
The Mayflower sings below,
That erst the Pilgrims bore along
The Plymouth reefs of snow.
Oh! never be that psalm forgot
That rose o’er Boston Bay,
When Winthrop sang, and Endicott,
And Saltonstall, that day:
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day;”
And praise arose from all the ships,
Like prayers in Yarmouth Bay.

That psalm our fathers sang we sing,
That psalm of peace and wars,
While o’er our heads unfolds its wing
The flag of forty stars.
And while the nation finds a tongue
For nobler gifts to pray,
’T will ever sing the song they sung
That first Thanksgiving Day:
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day;”
So rose the song from all the ships,
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

Our fathers’ prayers have changed to psalms,
As David’s treasures old
Turned, on the Temple’s giant arms,
To lily-work of gold.
Ho! vanished ships from Yarmouth’s tide,
Ho! ships of Boston Bay,
Your prayers have crossed the centuries wide
To this Thanksgiving Day!
We pray to God with fervent lips,
We praise the Lord to-day,
As prayers arose from Yarmouth ships,
But psalms from Boston Bay.

Source

‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

“PRAISE ye the Lord!” The psalm to-day
Still rises on our ears,
Borne from the hills of Boston Bay
Through five times fifty years,
When Winthrop’s fleet from Yarmouth crept
Out to the open main,
And through the widening waters swept,
In April sun and rain.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
The leader shouted, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships
As faded Yarmouth Bay.

They passed the Scilly Isles that day,
And May-days came, and June,
And thrice upon the ocean lay
The full orb of the moon.
And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay,
Ere England sunk from view,
While yet the rippling Solent lay
In April skies of blue,
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
Each morn was shouted, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships,
As first in Yarmouth Bay;

Blew warm the breeze o’er Western seas,
Through Maytime morns, and June,
Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals,
Low ’neath the summer moon;
And as Cape Ann arose to view,
And Norman’s Woe they passed,
The wood-doves came the white mists through,
And circled round each mast.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
Then called the leader, “pray;”
And prayer arose from all the ships,
As first in Yarmouth Bay.

Above the sea the hill-tops fair—
God’s towers—began to rise,
And odors rare breathe through the air,
Like balms of Paradise.
Through burning skies the ospreys flew,
And near the pine-cooled shores
Danced airy boat and thin canoe,
To flash of sunlit oars.
“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”
The leader shouted, “pray!”
Then prayer arose, and all the ships
Sailed into Boston Bay.

The white wings folded, anchors down,
The sea-worn fleet in line,
Fair rose the hills where Boston town
Should rise from clouds of pine;
Fair was the harbor, summit-walled,
And placid lay the sea.
“Praise ye the Lord,” the leader called;
“Praise ye the Lord,” spake he.
“Give thanks to God with fervent lips,
Give thanks to God to-day,”
The anthem rose from all the ships,
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

“Praise ye the Lord!” Primeval woods
First heard the ancient song,
And summer hills and solitudes
The echoes rolled along.
The Red Cross flag of England blew
Above the fleet that day,
While Shawmut’s triple peaks in view
In amber hazes lay.
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day,”
The anthem rose from all the ships
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

The Arabella leads the song—
The Mayflower sings below,
That erst the Pilgrims bore along
The Plymouth reefs of snow.
Oh! never be that psalm forgot
That rose o’er Boston Bay,
When Winthrop sang, and Endicott,
And Saltonstall, that day:
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day;”
And praise arose from all the ships,
Like prayers in Yarmouth Bay.

That psalm our fathers sang we sing,
That psalm of peace and wars,
While o’er our heads unfolds its wing
The flag of forty stars.
And while the nation finds a tongue
For nobler gifts to pray,
’T will ever sing the song they sung
That first Thanksgiving Day:
“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,
Praise ye the Lord to-day;”
So rose the song from all the ships,
Safe moored in Boston Bay.

Our fathers’ prayers have changed to psalms,
As David’s treasures old
Turned, on the Temple’s giant arms,
To lily-work of gold.
Ho! vanished ships from Yarmouth’s tide,
Ho! ships of Boston Bay,
Your prayers have crossed the centuries wide
To this Thanksgiving Day!
We pray to God with fervent lips,
We praise the Lord to-day,
As prayers arose from Yarmouth ships,
But psalms from Boston Bay.

Source

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