Citizen Sentinels Newsletter – Thanksgiving Edition – 11/26/2020
From Our Founder…
11/26/20 – Today is Thanksgiving Day, and throughout the history of the Thanksgiving holiday, it has been romanticized to almost mythic proportions since the original event. Sadly, as historical events fade into the past, the actual people and original events that occurred begin to become distorted as they fade deeper into the distant past. And, as the actual events begin to become distorted, the purpose behind the events is lost. As Americans celebrate the holiday today, it is more a focus on eating, or feasting, and spectatorship to holiday parades, or sports events, or other pleasure fulfilling distractions. Yet, these are all material things. Was there a deeper purpose in having the holiday?
In case readers haven’t noticed yet, this Thanksgiving edition of the Citizen Sentinels Network newsletter will resemble more the Sunday edition as we are taking a breather from the political warfare that is raging all across the nation. This past Sunday’s edition, I offered a revision of a Thanksgiving article I wrote in 2018. It was titled, “Thanksgiving in the Midst of a ‘Civil’ War.” It put our Thanksgiving this year in a comparable context. And, although there is no “shooting war” in 2020 that is cause for alarm, the real cause for alarm is that the nation is severely divided in spirit and contested over a future vision for the nation. “We the People” no longer can unite in acceptance of the Judeo-Christian values bequeathed to us by the founding fathers. Or, so this appears on the surface of reality.
There are lessons from the original “Thanksgiving” beyond the myths and that express a deeper reality than the outwardly material manifestations of the holiday. My article today, which is entered at the bottom of the stack, looks at some of these deeper realities at the heart of the “First Thanksgiving.”
The first article is from an old friend, Susan Schrier Clouse, a former minister in the United Methodist Church, who worked on our writer’s team that supported Dr. Ben Carson’s run for POTUS all those years ago. Her message is very appropriate for Thanksgiving. The original first appeared in Preacher Girl Diaries in 2017. Her full article appears in today’s issue, but she also has a blog called Preacher Girl Diaries, but due to this toxic political environment, she has not been deeply inspired to offer her wisdom or her heart, so I hope, if readers are moved by Mrs. Clouse’s words, they can send a note of thanks for her article: “In God We Trust Lesson Two: Gratitude.”
A second article is from a new friend I meet in October of this year when I went to the Feast of Sukkot celebration in Oklahoma. Everett Leisure is a minister from California, and it was not a coincidence that we became roommates at this unique event. We were able to connect, and Mr. Leisure agreed to send me an article for our newsletter later. It appears below, and fits well in this Thanksgiving edition: “Reconsidering Freedom on Thanksgiving 2020.”
Today we also have two articles in our “Recommended Reading” section. The first is an article from Time magazine on the Wampanoag Indian perspective of Thanksgiving, which I refer to in my article. The second is one we are repeating from Sunday’s edition which offered a link from the Washington Examiner on the lasting impact the Mayflower Compact had on civil society.
We also have seven videos for today – three of them were featured last Sunday as we carried them forward into Thanksgiving because two of those were the Thanksgiving proclamations from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The first video features a great contemporary version of the traditional “We Gather Together,” which is popularly associated with Thanksgiving Day and is often sung at family meals and at religious services. The song is of Dutch origin written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius, who wrote it originally as a patriotic song “to celebrate the Dutch victory over Spanish forces in the Battle of Turnhout. The Catholic King Phllip II of Spain, whom the Dutch were fighting, had forbidden the Protestants to gather for worship.” We need a victory in America like that over the Democrat governors!
The second video features Loyiso Bala with Don Moen combining their talent on “How Great Thou Art,” as it is good to keep in perspective to whom we need to offer thanks.
And since it is still 2020, and it’s not too late to start “seeing straight” before the year ends, our third video is an acoustic rendition of “Be Thou My Vision.”
Our fourth video is another music video featuring the group Home Free singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” It is an incredibly popular song among those patriots who love their country.
The fifth and sixth videos are the two presidential Thanksgiving proclamations from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln that we had also offered last Sunday, but if you didn’t get to view them, take some time today. George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation that initiated the first official Thanksgiving after our nation’s Constitution was instituted. President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation during the Civil War. It still has meaning in 2020!
The last video is a music video we also offered on Sunday; it is a more secular song from Ben Rector from October of this year.
These words are being freely offered and are being sent to you as part of the “David Project.” Please receive this message as a gift from those who care. They are only words that are being offered, freely, but some contain a deep message of faith, or a deeper expression of heart that readers can hopefully receive into their hearts. As it was written: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 – KJV
May we humble ourselves, seek His face in prayer, but not just His face – His Mind and Heart and Will! And once we can connect, and sincerely repent for our poor efforts in seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and honestly turn away from our wicked ways – we may even inspire the secular realm to help us in transforming our nation.
We wish for all of you a blessed Thanksgiving this year!
By Susan Schrier Clouse
Gratitude seems to be in short supply in America these days. Grateful people are generous people and willingly help others. Both the giver and receiver benefit. Ungrateful people hoard what they greedily possess while other equally ungrateful people demand that they be given what they enviously desire. Both sides lose. Ingratitude is the source of class and racial warfare we see tearing up our country.
Greed and envy have no place in the hearts of those who trust God. Replacing these sins with the gratitude that comes from trusting God would go a long way to curing our cultural ills.
There is so much for us to be grateful to God for!!! Start with each other. There is not a single person we have ever known or ever loved – including ourselves – that was not created by God.
There is not a single thing we possess or built from those possessions that did not originate from God. Spaghetti to spaceships. Eyeglasses to iPhones. Minerals to medicines. Just think about it. There is nothing you can create without the building blocks that are gifts from God.
So often we think of God as only the Creator of the physical world, but He is also the Creator of our intangible world. Love and affection, joy and sorrow, anger and peace, emotion and intellect, justice and mercy, curiosity and patience, charity and generosity, forgiveness and tolerance, work and leisure, beauty and creativity, equality and freedom are all gifts from God.
God’s greatest gift to us is Himself. God is not a distant and disinterested deity, but a living and loving Father who wants to be an active participant in our lives. Everything He has created, everything He has done for us, is because God, like a good Father, loves us. God always has our best interest at heart – even when we disappoint Him and reject His guidance. In the ultimate act of love, He sent His Son Jesus to sacrifice His life in order to remove our sin and reunite us with Him. How can we not be grateful?
If we say we trust God, but show no gratitude for all He has done for us, our trust is hollow. Trust and thanks go hand in hand.
Thank God for His generosity to you. Thank God today for your life, for love, for friends and family. Thank God today for forgiving your sins and walking with you every day. But don’t stop there.
Show your gratitude to God by being generous to others as God has been generous to you. Love the people God loves. Serve the people God serves. Forgive the people God forgives. If we even tried to be as generous with each other as God is with us…..imagine how different the world would be.
Reconsidering Freedom on Thanksgiving 2020
It was almost exactly 400 years ago (mid-November, 1620) the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Harbor. Their trip across the Atlantic took 66 days. Eventually, about half the passengers and crew died. Of the 19 women that made the trip, only five survived. Of course, they were fleeing religious oppression in Europe. They wanted freedom to worship the Creator as they deemed necessary. They were willing to pay a great price for the freedom they wanted. The New World held out the opportunity for that freedom. Certainly, they found more freedom in the New World than they had in England.
Of course, over time England tried to rein in the colonies. That didn’t work out well for them. Once people have freedoms, they are not inclined to give them up easily. So, the American Revolution continued for about eight years. Many risked their lives, and many gave their lives to buy freedom from England and the right to self governance. Over the years through many other wars, more people would risk their lives and give their lives to continue that freedom and self governance.
People in the USA pride themselves on the freedom we have, arguably the greatest of any nation. But let me ask, are we really free? How many keys do you carry around with you? Why do you have them? Isn’t it because you are afraid that someone will take from you what you have worked for and earned? Something that gives you comfort and eases your life will suddenly be gone or significantly diminished. We lock up our things because there is a very real danger of someone taking them from us without just cause.
Wouldn’t the loss of these things be a form of taxation without representation that was a major factor that led to the American Revolution? Yet we don’t rebel against the notion of thievery in the nation like our forefathers rebelled against taxation without representation. We lock thieves up if we catch them, but the thief may never be caught. Then, the victim will likely never be restored. Is this freedom?
Jesus Christ told us in John 8 that, “…If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus Christ saw that understanding truth, in reality, was the key to true freedom. He was confident that by applying His instruction in their lives people could understand the whole truth and with that would come true freedom.
If someone really follows through with this, they will probably still be carrying keys in their pocket or purse, but they will understand that this life isn’t as good as it gets. Christ’s message was not really about this life, but how to use it as a springboard to the next.
Science tells us many things about how scientists think the Universe came to be, but they can’t tell us why it came to be. The Scriptures the Creator left us explain the “why.” Early in the beginning of His book we are told that His intention was to make men in His image (Gen 1:26). We think this means that we look something like our Creator. This may well be, but what is important about the Creator is not how He looks, but how He thinks. What sort of body the Creator has is not nearly so important as what He does in that body. That is controlled by His mind. He seems to be most interested in people “walking in His ways” (Deu 8:6, 10:12, Heb 3:10-12), which means acting like He acts.
A summary of His conduct is recorded for us in Exodus 34:6-7 “… The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
His conduct is rooted in graciousness, patience, mercy and truth. However, He doesn’t close His eyes to the guilty. This could be summarized as holy conduct. He is looking for humans that possess and value these same qualities (1 Pet 1:15-16, Lev 11:45).
If we want Him to consider us we need to follow His example.
It is these qualities that Christ tries to promote from the beginning of His function as Messiah (Mat 5:3-11). He teaches humility, mercy, patience, selflessness and a desire for truth and what is right. That is the mentality that is required to live in peace and freedom for eternity. It is true self governance. A little rottenness will ultimately take over, and if left alone, will rot the other fruit it contacts. Even so, a little larceny will ultimately expand to bring an otherwise Utopian society to be like this society today.
That is essentially what has been playing out in the USA. The process is slow enough that things can go unnoticed. We become accustomed to compensating for the bad actors and don’t realize that a slow movement in the wrong direction will soon turn into a not so slow movement in the wrong direction. The political acrimony over the last few years may point to how things can quickly deteriorate.
I was cleaning out my garage recently and found an anti-siphon device that was designed to be placed behind a gas cap in the pipe to the gas tank and prevent anyone from siphoning out gasoline. It occurred to me that device was now of no value. However, someone went to the trouble of patenting, manufacturing, distributing and selling it. I even bought one. Why? For decades, cars had been equipped with gas caps without locks. I had one. Anyone could open the cap and with a long enough hose help themselves to the gas in the tank. I don’t remember that happening to anyone I knew, but it became enough of a problem that all auto manufacturers included some sort of locking mechanism in or over the gas cap. With my next car that was one more key to carry around. Another little bit of freedom lost. With a locked gas cap my anti-siphon device was redundant. However it increased the cost of the car: another little bit of taxation without representation.
The problem with laws is that they don’t guarantee compliance. My father-in-law taught that locks keep honest people honest. If all our parents would teach their children to be honest, our problems with crime would greatly diminish, maybe disappear. A big factor in creating an honest person is instilling in them the fear of God. If people understand that life in the long term is dependent on being acceptable to an omnipresent Creator, they are much more likely to do what is right whether or not the law requires it. They are less likely to be selfish, grasping, arrogant, demanding or liars. They are more likely to be patient, truthful, merciful, selfless and gracious.
These are the qualities that one develops when one carefully follows the word of Christ and becomes His disciple.They hunger and thirst for what is right rather than what seems best for them at the moment. This is the self governance that can bring real peace and freedom for all. Certainly, we would all like our neighbors to be this way toward us. We should be this way toward our neighbors. It is these qualities that can allow the neighbors to leave their keys in the drawer or the ignition. It will make for a better country now and be appreciated by a Creator that wants to make us totally into His image.
The Pain and the Peace Leading to the “First Thanksgiving”
Even though it is historically viewed in the United States as the “First Thanksgiving,” in the New World it actually was neither. Prior “thanksgivings” had been celebrated before the one in 1621 between European and Indian in the Caribbean, or Tejas, or Virginia. Also, the event did not serve as a traditional Protestant ceremony of Thanksgiving. It was actually more of a harvest festival, so why is it so important in America’s history? It was just a big feast day, wasn’t it? For those willing to dig deeper to find the roots of this holiday, they will find incredible lessons that are relevant for the world we live in today.
Unfortunately, the history of the Thanksgiving holiday has been romanticized to almost mythic proportions since the original event. And, as historical events fade into the past, the actual people and original events that occurred become distorted, and this is also true of the “First Thanksgiving” in Massachusetts Bay. Some of the education that may be portrayed as history in classrooms across the nation is simply an indoctrination into divisiveness and rehashed resentment that bypasses the reality of the events as were recorded by those who were present as eyewitnesses. Also, clever writers continue to try to peddle rubbish to the public in what is now a worn out narrative.
Yet, there is an article that could be worth the time to read that appeared recently in Time magazine that examines the perspective of Thanksgiving from some descendants of the Wampanoag people who were the ones to initiate a peace treaty with the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. What peace treaty? The reality of a peace treaty is not brought up in the Time article and it is not taught in United States history courses. Neither is it taught by Christian historians or ministers. Christians have the tendency to focus on the first “true” Thanksgiving that took place in 1623. Besides, what does it matter in the midst of the mashed potatoes, turkey and pumpkin pie?
The Time article makes more of a connection between the time of the Pilgrims’ arrival and the plague that wiped out the Wampanoag people just before the Mayflower arrived off the shores of New England as it was named. The Time author seemed enamored as well with the reality that Americans are suffering a plague now in the form of the COVID pandemic as the Indians suffered in their day. The history in the article is a bit skewered, but there was at least one major plague that swept through a majority of the American Indian tribes of the northeastern woodlands, but the devastation hit the Wampanoag very hard with some estimates as high as 90% of their population being extinguished. It was a very pain-filled period with tremendous loss of life. Wampanoag tribes originally were thought to have stretched from what is now Maine to Rhode Island.
The Time article reported a perspective of Hartman Deetz, a Mashpee Wampanoag artist, educator and activist that: “Being a Wampanoag person in this time of year, it’s always striking that we tell this story of the Pilgrims and the Indians, and yet the Wampanoag people are often times left out of this telling of this story.” It is likely a belief held more widely among the native peoples. And, the fact of the matter would be true. Often in recounting the “First Thanksgiving,” the celebration is viewed from the vantage point of the Pilgrims since their record is the only known written documentation of the festivities. Some vocal Wampanoag claim there is no documentation of the event. It is likely that those who would choose to deny the event, would also deny the peace treaty.
The descendents quoted in the article do not mention a peace treaty. So, if by denying or simply not acknowledging a historical peace treaty, does it make it disappear? To be clear, in the current politically correct realms that permeate the society, some believe that denial is enough to make something not exist. Nevertheless, the failure to be aware of a peace treaty between the Wampanoag people with the Pilgrim people hinders and even restricts the the accuracy or clarity regarding the complete picture of this “First Thanksgiving,” Certainly, anyone who tells the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians and leaves out the peace treaty, it is extremely tragic. Catholics call that the sin of omission.
It is indeed tragic that many Americans, possibly even some Wampanoag descendents, do not realize that the “First Thanksgiving” came upon the foundation of a peace treaty created between the leader, or “sachem,” of the Wampanoag Indians, Massasoit and and John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony on March 22, 1621. Even when Carver died about one month after the signing of the treaty, William Bradford kept honoring the treaty. Bradford, who was elected the Governor of the struggling colony in 1621, chose to honor the original treaty. And, that peace prevailed until Massasoit died in 1661 – a period of at least 40 years. And, peace did not actually break down until King Philip’s War (also known as Metacomet’s rebellion) that began in 1675.
Sadly, when this period of English colonial history is studied, it is not the peace that was established between these two races or diverse peoples that is studied; it is usually the breakdown of that peace, or King Philip’s War, that is scrutinized. So, by the numbers, the peace between the Pilgrims (not the Puritans) and the Wampanoag technically was able to lasted from 1621 to 1675 — 54 years, but those who focus on this period zero in on King Philip’s War that lasted for fourteen months from 1675 to 1676. Peace treaty?
To ignore over fifty years of peace between the Indians and the Pilgrims deliberately restricts the possibilities of maintaining a perspective of comparison in understanding the value of this period of peace. Those who pursue peace may wonder why it is so essential to focus on the factors that emphasize the destructiveness of human beings and ignore the promotion of peace. Yet, many Progressive historians seem to be happy to fan the flames of divisiveness and fomenting disunity even when writing history. This is a deliberate or intentional effort for history to be used as a “weapon” as advocated by Howard Zinn.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, numerous distortions have developed regarding this festival that became known as the “First Thanksgiving,” and one tragic casualty seems to have been the loss of the peace treaty. If one views this festival from a perspective of the American Indians, minus the Progressive-revisionist vitriol, it is truly possible to widen the scope of meaning of the event. If it were not for assistance provided by the American Indians, the Pilgrims would not have invited the natives to a meal of gratitude. Without the foundation of friendly relations that transcended fundamental differences between the two distinct races of human beings, the feasting during the “First Thanksgiving” would likely not have occurred, and it may have never existed.
Be truly grateful that despite being buried in the dustbin of history that the original event was built upon a deeper foundation and contains a much deeper meaning than most of the Progressive-Revisionist historians choose to see or formally acknowledge. If a real diverse group of people could come together for a three – day celebration from gratitude for genuine friendship, there is hope for diversity to not be a recipe for division and hate, but a foundation for flourishing friendship. This is an essential reason why the deeper meaning behind the “First Thanksgiving” is crucial to the world we live in right now.
Recommended Reading – follow the links…
From Time: 400 Years After the ‘First Thanksgiving,’ the Tribe Who Fed the Pilgrims Continues to Fight for Their Land Amid Another Epidemic – 11/23/20 https://time.com/5911943/
From Washington Examiner: Compact, 400 years ago, showed Pilgrim’s Progress toward civil society – 11/20/20
Video Views – Watch them by clicking the links below!!
From THE HYMNS ENSEMBLE: We Gather Together… “Lockdown Session” – 4/14/20
From Don Moen TV: How Great Thou Art – Loyiso Bala w/ Don Moen – 5/6/16
From Shane & Shane: Be Thou My Vision (Lord You Are) [Acoustic] – 2/16/20
From Home Free: Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA (All Vocal) (A Cappella) – 9/20/16
YouTube: Lincoln’s Timeless THANKSGIVING Proclamation (1863) https://www.youtube.com/watch?
From 700 Club: George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789) – reproduced 11/23/11
From Ben Rector – The Thanksgiving Song (Official Video) – 10/28/20 be.com/watch?v=QwaxNPY5nIY