Monthly Archives: November 2022

On Thanksgiving 2022 – and an Unknown American Icon

 John Howland – a Mayflower pilgrim – holding on for dear life in the cold North Atlantic

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A note: For the most recent post see On Saints Peter and Paul, January ’23.

(I’m not sure why the platform is doing that…)

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I just googled “what’s new for Thanksgiving 2022.” The answer is apparently “not much.” (Which could be a good thing; who needs more excitement?) So, aside from getting stuffed with turkey and fixings, the big news is a full slate of football, college and NFL. (Thanksgiving Football Schedule: Egg Bowl tops Turkey Day marathon: The Egg Bowl has Mississippi State playing “Ole Miss,” along with three NFL games.) So I guess I’ll have to revisit some old posts from the past…

Like Thanksgiving – 2021. Two years before that – meaning before COVID – I posted Thanksgiving 2019. Before that came three earlier posts, on Thanksgivings in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Before that – in 2014 – I posted On the first Thanksgiving – Part I and Part II. That Part II has – I just discovered – some errors that need correcting. The most noticeable is a missing lead painting, showing John Howland, holding on for dear life in the middle of a North Atlantic storm, with only the slenderist of lifelines back to the Mayflower, far off in the distance.

So maybe it’s time to revisit Howland’s story, because he not only survived that “adventure,” he went on to populate America with 2 million descendants. Interestingly, he came over as an indentured servant, but signed the Mayflower Compact in 1620. He went on to serve as trusted assistant to Governor Carver, and in 1621 helped make a treaty with the Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe. By 1626 he’d finished his indenture and become a “freeman.” 

In the years after becoming a freeman, Howland “served at various times as selectman, assistant and deputy governor, surveyor of highways, and as member of the fur committee.” And aside from various adventures during the early years of Plymouth Colony, Howland married Elizabeth Tilley. The couple then started what became a dynasty of sorts: 

John and Elizabeth Howland founded one of the three largest Mayflower families and their descendants have been “associated largely with both the ‘Boston Brahmins‘ and Harvard’s ‘intellectual aristocracy’ of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” American actors Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), Anthony Perkins (1932-1992), and Alec Baldwin (b. 1958) are counted among Howland’s descendants.

Howland died at the ripe old age of 80, outliving “most of the other male Mayflower passengers.” And left quite a legacy, detailed at Meet John Howland, a lucky Pilgrim who populated America with 2 million descendants. But first he and the other Plymouth Pilgrims had to survive. On the voyage over two people died, and once they arrived in America, “in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in the cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.”

I’ve listed the gory details of that first harsh winter, and the First Thanksgiving that followed a year later in 1621. Which brings up the ongoing “need for a reality check every so often:”

102 [Pilgrims] landed in November 1620 [at Plymouth Rock].  Less than half survived the next year.  (To November 1621.)  Of the handful of adult women – 18 in all – only four survived that first winter in the hoped-for “New World…”  The point is this[:  T]he men and women who first settled America paid a high price, so that we could enjoy the privilege of stuffing ourselves into a state of stupor.

So, as we stuff ourselves into a stupor this Thanksgiving, let’s remember that after this national “Splurge Day,” it’ll be time to get back to work. And to remember that when it comes to Jesus:

It is to vigor rather than comfort that you are called.

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And don’t forget to remember those not “home for Thanksgiving…”

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Re: The upper image is courtesy of Meet John Howland, a lucky Pilgrim who populated America with 2 million descendants.

Re: Book of Common Prayer. At page 339.

Re: Howland’s “indenture.” Wikipedia noted that William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony for years, “wrote in Of Plymouth Plantation that Howland was a man-servant of John Carver.”

Re: “vigor rather than comfort.” The quote is from Practical Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill:

Hearing now and again the mysterious piping of the Shepherd, you realize your own perpetual forward movement . . . and so are able to handle life with a surer hand.  Do not suppose from this that your new career is to be perpetually supported by agreeable spiritual contacts, or occupy itself in the mild contemplation of the great world through which you move.  True, it is said of the Shepherd that he carries the lambs in his bosom; but the sheep are expected to walk, and to put up with the bunts and blunders of the flock.  It is to vigor rather than comfort that you are called.  (E.A.)

Ariel Press (1914), at page 177. See also Evelyn Underhill – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Norman Rockwell’s Beloved “Home For Thanksgiving” Sells For $4.3 Million to Benefit American Legion Post. The article further noted:

The painting was one of Rockwell’s legendary homecoming pieces painted as war began transitioning to peacetime. For The Saturday Evening Post he painted myriad images of the soldier home from war, including the iconic “Homecoming GI” that appeared in May 1945 and was famously used in the film “Broadcast News.” “Home for Thanksgiving” became so beloved because it showed “the veteran doing K.P. (kitchen patrol) and liking it…

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Between Halloween and Thanksgiving – 2022

“There WAS a man who tried to pressure Jesus into being more political: Judas Iscariot...”

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The one major holiday between Halloween and Thanksgiving is Christ the King Sunday, next November 20. It’s also called the Feast of Christ the King, or “Proper 29” in the church calendar, or the “Last Sunday after Pentecost,” as discussed in the notes. I covered this recently-created Feast Day in the 2015 post, Hitler and Mussolini help create Christ the King Sunday.

Speaking of recently created, it all started in 1925, mostly “Over There” in Europe:

Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 [after] the rise of non-Christian dictatorships in Europe…  These dictators often attempted to assert authority over the Church [and] the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning…  (Emphasis added.)

And speaking of 1925, here’s how that year started: On January 3Benito Mussolini “promised to take charge of restoring order to Italy within forty-eight hours.” (Marking the beginning of his dictatorship.) Aside from Mussolini in Italy, in Russian a new organization was created, TASS, which quickly became a front for the NKVD, later the KGB. (Of Vladimir Putin fame.) And that’s not to mention Adolf Hitler. In July 1925 he published Volume 1 of his personal manifesto Mein Kampf. Also in July, in the United States, 1925 featured a show of strength by a group called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan held its parade in Washington, and their five million members at the time made it the “largest fraternal organization in the United States.”

In plain words, Pius XI created the Feast of Christ the King in response to world events swirling around him. (Including – but hardly limited to – Hitler, Mussolini, and the KKK.) 

Which brings up the recent U.S. elections and a potential rise in Christian nationalism. The problem: “nationalist governments tend to become authoritarian and oppressive in practice. (See What Is Christian Nationalism?) Or see Christian nationalism isn’t Christianity. It’s spewing hate in ‘the name of Jesus.’ That article said “Christianity is grounded in Christian scriptures where Jesus teaches love, peace, unity and truth. Christian nationalism preaches hatred, violence, separation, and disinformation.” All of which could be problematic for American democracy.

Another problem is that today’s Christian Nationalists get a lot of political power from the fact that their political opponents just don’t know much about the Bible. They can’t tell when the Bible is being misquoted, misused or abused. But that “problem” is also the Achilles’ heel of Christian nationalism. Mostly because Jesus opposed all such “Nationalism.*”

As Garry Wills pointed out, Jesus was above politics. Or as Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus was all about saving souls, even the souls of people who hated Him the most. “I came to save, not to condemn.” Which means He definitely wasn’t into today’s politics. But of course there WAS one man who tried to pressure Jesus into getting more politically involved, into being more of a nationalist. His name was Judas Iscariot.

Getting back to such nationalism and its Achilles’ heel. All this makes a good case for more Americans reading and studying the Bible: Political self-defense. Those who stand for Jesus and against exclusionary “nationalism” can start saying things like, “What part of ‘love your neighbor’ don’t you understand?” Or, “What part of ‘love your enemy‘ don’t you understand?” Or my favorite, 1st John 4:20, “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.” In other words:

Play the “Jesus card:” It’ll drive ’em crazy!

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These guys prompted Pope Pius XI to create “Christ the King Sunday…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Judas Iscariot – Wikipedia. The caption: “‘The Kiss of Judas’ (between 1304 and 1306) by Giotto di Bondone depicts Judas’ identifying kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

Re: Book of Common Prayer. At page 339.

Re: “Last Sunday after Pentecost.” Christ the King Sunday ends one version of “Ordinary Time.” It also bridges the gap between the end of Pentecost season and the start of Advent. (Which leads to Christmas.) In plain words, Ordinary Time refers to two “seasons of the Christian liturgical calendar.” The better known Ordinary Time takes up half the Christian calendar. See On Pentecost – “Happy Birthday, Church!” The better known Ordinary Time begins with Pentecost Sunday, for Catholics. In the Anglican liturgy, it’s known as the Season of Pentecost.

[In] 2015 the Season of Pentecost [ends on] November 28 [Thanksgiving Weekend.  T]he day after that – November 29 – marks … a new liturgical year.

See also Liturgical year – Wikipedia, and an earlier post On the 12 Days of Christmas. They note an alternate “New Year” to the one on January 1: “Advent Sunday is the first day of the liturgical year in the Western Christian churches.” It also marks the start of the season of Advent, and leads to Christmas. See Advent Sunday – Wikipedia, and also Advent – Wikipedia.

I’ll clear things up in future posts at month’s end and December 2022.

The first mention of Christian Nationalism cites Wikipedia. The first non-Wikipedia article on Christian Nationalism is from Christianity Today. See also “Patriotism” vs. “Nationalism”: What’s The Difference? The article noted that while patriotism has a positive connotation, “nationalism” often doesn’t:

[F]ascist regimes have merged the fervor of nationalism with the notions of superiority, especially when it comes to ethnicity and religion. In such contexts, “patriots” can become those who happened to agree with you or look like you, and “traitors” those who do not.

Re: Garry Wills. See his What Jesus Meant. In the paperback, at pages 102-103, in Chapter 6, “Descent into Hell.” The “not of this world” quote is from John 18:36. The “save not condemn” quote is from John 3:17. See also Why Do We Condemn When Jesus Came to Save? – Christianity.

Re: “Love your enemy.” See Matthew 5:44. Or Google “love your neighbor as yourself.” I did that and got four billion, 260 million results. The 1st John 4:20 quote is from the Good News Translation.

The lower image is courtesy of Hitler and Mussolini meet in Rome | History Today

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