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November 25, 2021 5:00 am
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Almighty God, we thank you for the sustaining grace of your love and provision through our Savior Jesus Christ.
We thank you for the bounty of fellowship which allows us to shed in the food you have given to us, we receive it with great prayer is a mixer Focus on the Family's radio theater episode. The legend of Squanto captures the spirit and thankful heart of the pilgrims who traveled to North America. Their purpose was to begin a new colony, religious persecution and talk a little bit more about that on our broadcast happy Thanksgiving and welcome to Focus on the Family hostess Jim Daly and on John for John. You know so easy and culture to forget the origins of these holidays that we celebrate and get busy.
I'm sure many moms and dads right now are busy that's got us to do list cleanup stuff before the family gets over and now the cooking the turkey and doing all those things and we can forget, we think Thanksgiving is about football and family and pumpkin pie.
And that's all good stuff. But what is the true origin of Thanksgiving and that's going to be quite a discussion we have today when we peel back the history the actual history of Thanksgiving and remind all of us what it was about and J know Brent is our guest today.
He's a professor at Bethel University in Minnesota and he really has researched the stories got a personal interest in it will hear more about that.
He's written a great book called, they came for freedom, the forgotten epic adventure of the pilgrims stay welcome to focus. Thank you. Thanks for having me yeah what a great day to spend little time together.
Remembering and giving thanks for the founding really the beginning of the nation and what happened in that in that sense absolutely it's it's the story of where we came from. Let's start there. You you have a background in law which is great but you also have the connection of family members. What is that an actual part of our family lore was that we were the descent of two of the Mayflower pilgrims so I was pretty interested in medicine and we don't, what does that mean for me personally and so it took initial one to find out who. Who are they now. It was sort of a discouraging discovery.
After I went a little deeper because they were actually pilgrims that came for religious purposes. One was an indentured servant. The other was a hired mercenary. You will to protect them. And so we unfortunately want the once you came on account of the cylinder, but was still an interesting discovery and what was that about, and really what I wanted to explore was that religious persecution question as a lawyer I want to explore it with the evidence that that that took place.
What about me and that's what prompted you to write the book is that it that's right I curiosity. That's right, and finding that you know is I went into wanted to learn more about my story reading books on the history of the post-exiting that mention this nugget of there was some religious freedom component to a benevolence of glossed over it never really gave it gave it any time to dance floor and let's describe the pilgrims mean some of us again. The distant memory and distant history. We may have learned about it in fourth or fifth grade. Who knows when.
Who were the pilgrims. What was it about yeah what they were really more probably separatists.
They were a group of people that wanted to worship in the way that they that they read the Bible and they soften.
They want to to worship and the weight was prescribed by the Anglican church there. This group of people, mostly lived in the rural English setting and John want that prescription yeah just thinking to set that out. What was it was King James yeah yeah one in authority.
The King James Bible, King James, so what was he doing and decreeing that made them so uncomfortably really using the church that time is a is a way to control people and to tax people, church services were in Latin. You can really understand.
They had prescribed order of service at prescribers. Everything was prescribed and mandated, and if you didn't follow what they mandated. There was jail time, fines, and potentially even death.
If you didn't compliance of the people who said we actual reading the Bible. They got hold the Geneva Bible doesn't say what were being told you think that there's more to this and that there's a personal relationship. Yeah, in the context think about that and that prescription that they were following that the leadership of England at the time King James it was mandated that they go to Sunday services. It was mandated that they do certain things during the week, all with this kind of Christian overtone, but coming from the government that night he understanding what the founding fathers were later going to do.
That's the separation of church and state. They're talking about and there was no separation and it was very heavy-handed right and that's what they were getting at when they later created the Constitution it writes that the state would not tell you how to worship. That's what they're going after. But getting back to the pilgrims.
One of the things that I found fascinating that I didn't know were using today's little history lesson for all of us. Both the pilgrims and the Puritans were on the Mayflower. Yeah, almost an even numbers you have exactly 35 pilgrims and 40. Reality five. What is the difference in the section we talk about Baptist today yeah otherness but what what was their differences wealthy. These separatists, the pilgrims wanted to separate themselves option will be different than the Puritans wanted to purify the Church of England. Say someone's work within it, and let's try to get the bad stuff out of this. Let's so that the summer is really more about separate church and state is really more about they can work together. But let's let's purify now in the end I think the there was more about a majority of the separatist Napoleon Elkind blended together but we deftly have these two groups.
At times they were at odds million the same goal of worshiping in the way that he believed the Bible taught them to worship Christ, but they had different approaches to health nothing new under the threat sounds very similar to what I separate some Christian today. So going back to the pilgrims there uncomfortable they're getting persecuted for their practices, their religious practices they don't immediately say let's go to the New World. They have a different plan. What was the yeah yeah and it's interesting that we be patient to serve taking off right and so they tried to work within this for a while. They tried to see if they could have secret meetings and things and that the saga program that were watched and the government took a really close interest in them. So the first objective was hey let's actually sleep for mainland Europe and Holland was a place that was more religiously tolerant and this is one of the engine parts. The story that's overlooked is that this was really dangerous escape from England to Holland. They were captured several times in the English government trying to escape, they were separated that were both almost sank in a storm and empirically made it out to see a hollow mainland Europe yeah yeah Internet context. What were they hoping to find in Holland. I know a bit more ease, but in fact it didn't go the direction they thought of what took place in the world they came from a rural English that was very peaceful and they came to Holland and they found his industrial center. They were working in the factories shipping.
There is a shipping center yeah and in it was hard labor backbreaking so they really didn't find was a cultural change for them and was difficult, so I'm starting to worry. After a while that the religious and toleration that happened in England was going to happen there and know the English government is trying to extradite some of them a putting pressure on Holland so you two things happening at this religious pressure they saw that Take Pl. in England might happen here and also cultural issues that they were able to really worship and practice the way that they wanted to without that peaceful setting. They really wanted to create their own world.
A part of this is that the kids were starting to actually take off and become sailors themselves is really nasty. I want to put out this point because in reading the book the idea that they were concerned their kids were ejaculating into the hall and Catherine that is a direct parallel today. Yeah, you know where we may be living in a city or they go to university and they start to move into more succulent thinking speak to that. I mean, again, those parents of that time were experiencing similar tanks that we are today. They were, and it was it's interesting because they were really concerned. I think in a lot of ways, that was more the motivation to go to North America than anything else. Kids out of this mess. That's right right and is a lot happening in Europe at that time and they didn't quite know where it was going to go and so there was an opportunity to go to a completely new place where they could create a distinct culture and practice it in the way that they wanted to and so they decided to do as a historian, helping to picture form in terms of the numbers. What are we looking at here.
I have no concept is that thousands of people, hundreds of people dozens of people that go to Holland in our thinking. Let's go to the yeah yeah well it's not as many as you think mean you started with just a couple dozen that made that trip to to England and they picked up a few people in Holland a few people that came in over time. You're just they were there 10 years and Holland, so more people that came over from England and then you have about 100 that want to make this journey so that starting a small, about 100 people and then they decide were going to do this. How did they, in fact, in historical fact and how did they go about planning the trip what'd they have by how did they do, yeah. Will this was really interesting to me is that they they looked around the world.
I mean, they didn't just say North America is our spot natural to going to South America down by the Amazon is a thought a warmer climate to plant crops all year until the people think exactly to say nothing is new yeah they wanted opportunities to stay in Europe you know that that they thought about whether they could go back to England. They wanted everything and you know eventually they got together voted it.
This is what is mind blowing to me is that the new that a lot of them were going to perish, and they just knew that was the reality of the date of this journey, they would not all survive the journey and on in the process and yet they made that decision to go sort of mind-boggling that they were willing to take that risk that he is eager to do that today. Some of the a students listening will. Remember that fourth grade class and William Brewster some others that moved a bit and you know, distracting one another may not remember him talk about William Brewster who was the what type of man was a why was he the leader who appointed them had he gain kind of control over the pilgrims to get give that leadership. Yeah, we had several leaders who really stepped forward and Brewster was one of them, and yet a lot of people it was up to papilla camper rural setting and so there were farmers there were few people in Brewster who were really well read this.
One of things. Also the president's people studied philosophy. They studied political science and they spent a lot of time thinking about how do we govern a group of people and how do we transition them somewhere else. So Brewster was among the several handful of leaders who had some background in leading the church and wanted to find a way to lead with the government there as well and so I handle people to stepped up and took the reins and move them on this journey and so there is there in Holland. They come back to England to pick up the ships speak to the again the logistics I don't feel like I got the answer I want to get the logistics they bought two ships yeah religious purchasing two ships and I didn't know that I thought I was under the impression that they simply paid their you know they're fair to use the ships yeah prosper that is the negative audit and amended by the May thought about the Speedwell and slip on a different ship and that ship had a lot of problems lit mainly holes yeah it was a week and to the point where they couldn't make hunting.
They got him halfway into the ocean and had to turn back was laying on of that.
I mean, that would be discouraging. Yeah, I don't have the how they got their money back on that one.
But what I didn't.
It didn't sound taken for a ride that essentially they were sold a boat that was improperly equipped and seaworthy, no, no, I come back to England, then what happens.
So they they bought the blood Speedwell and then they they also took the, the Mayflower and so they it ended up still both amount of the ocean came back to mainline little in the Speedwell was leaking and the transition everyone to the Mayflower. Now you get some people who decided hey were not going to.
We don't want to join anymore. They've been out they gonna probably raffle me out big action and that I almost have even said and I think this is a sign from the Lord. The should. That's right that's right ship is like yeah so they stayed back inside to stay back.
How many stayed back you had about 40 or 50 that ended up staying back or peeling off in different ways and Domino summons decided he wanted a colony want to stay in England and other reasons and so then they crammed everyone into the Mayflower which was now overfull and that was part of your problems. And with that the 500 and then a few sailors so just hundred 10 or so okay was packed and done.
If you go to the East Coast connection to board a replica of the Mayflower and in Plymouth harbor and and it's a she can't know you that it had 100 people. It's not this is Focus on the Family and happy Thanksgiving were talking to David J Mill Brent about his book and all the research that went into this. They came for freedom. We got the book into seedier download of our conversation. Just click on the links from our episode notes in the podcast so J they've done this they start their journey now in the Mayflower describe what that journey is like from England to the New World and what were some of things they encountered on the journey or talk about logistics and they tried to gather what they thought they need for was to be a relatively short journey ill would that be you could probably make it in 6 to 8 weeks but then they they brought. They thought they needed some dried meat and some butter things and having to sell a lot of it just PaperPort fees for they left England, so they started off with less than the than they thought they needed for a regular length journey.
They sailed into Windsor were in the wrong direction. You have no control of this because it's all tack and work with the wind right and zigzagged back and forth across the ocean. Is it was a long journey. It was a stormy was tumultuous and but thankfully it was not that they didn't capsize that it is kind of amazing that you survived the company just survived enough to look up the numbers to give you the exact total but they didn't lose anyone from their group. There was a sailor that passed away that fell overboard, but the pilgrims all made and actually gained they had some some children born and see I was ever half so they arrive. You know in that shape. Yeah, not tiptop shape. But they're struggling describe even the idea of the Compaq world was created where they still at sea. When the draft of the Mayflower compact.
What is it why is it revered one of the elements thinking that you spent four months on the ocean you want to get off this boat and wanted to go on land first thing they do is they decide we need to step off this boat was step on when we get to decide how were going to govern ourselves, which I think is a great insight here is that they had the forethought to do this and you know how we going to structure this who's going to lead the group and so they created this document called the Mayflower compact while they were on board and it was really our first example of self-government by the people and they said okay here's how were going to do this. Here's how were going to make decisions and and govern ourselves once were on land and so was it was a document that laid out what they were going to do before they step foot execute in your book you mentioned this John Quincy Adams the quote by him about the Compaq. He said it was the first example in modern times of social compactor system of government instituted by voluntary agreement conformable you to the laws of nature by men of equal rights and about to establish their community in a new country so the point of that is that having found impact on the founding fathers again who used elements of that for the Constitution. Absolutely. Now, several people cited throughout history as a precursor to our Constitution and what we don't see it directly send because you can certainly set up the ether dose of of that document of the Constitution and know what we've had the Constitution without the.
The Mayflower compact, hard to say now speak to the difficulty that they encountered them in their low on food supplies.
Squanto, the Native American Indians engage ride with that was like for that. They're out there on the front tier.
Yeah, yeah, will they come off the boat in the winter setting and it's cold and it's icy they're sick mean they have not had nutritious food for months and so the biggest challenge before them is trying to find what you eat because it's it's all new evenly picked an area that was in the same latitude as is, where they lived in England and in Europe it was pretty different.
It's not as mild as harsh climate and so they had a really difficult time and also there was a lot of stories about the Native Americans and that they should be fearful of people and that people were to be trusted.
In North America, and they had all that this fear instilled in them and falsely and so they were very afraid of what they were going to find was a long time to leave and encountered some the Native American groups but eventually did and Squanto was one of them who found them and befriended him and he is an interesting character and of himself, and what was it interaction like the Native Americans actually save them is history suggested they teach things that I needed to know to survive, and not all the tribes were their friends.
They had their enemies they did that, if the native people would know found them and befriended them they would've survived something to that yet.
Yet Squanto who is just a fascinating character in this he had probably made for transatlantic trips.
By the time at the pilgrims who spoke English and that was the reason he he went and met them is that he was the only the only native person who had English fluency. Think of that me on the first time how shocking that had been to the pilgrims right right Squanto comes through the forest and says hello and it can mean that right there is a millwright in a completely change of the preconceived notions they had a people there because you're someone who wanted to show them how to survive up. It's what is interesting, because he'd been captured on at least two occasions and taken as a slave sold in a Spanish slave market appeal. He enters the person that is how we learn English and so he took them under their wing and show them how the native peoples planted corn holiday caught fish things the public probably would not have figured out on their own, and I think it's it would've been a hard hard survival. Without him, so they make it through that speak to the feast. Let's get to it. The whole idea of Thanksgiving is a much later tradition yeah but they did celebrate that first bounty. How did they celebrated what they call it and who was there.
Yeah so what's really about thanks giving as we have is our holiday will save some mixed up several different events that took place at that time and when they survived their first year and they had a crop.
They had a harvest festival. No harvest festival was it was a secular event that was in a purely religious event. It was he, we have food. Finally, let's eat it. Let's celebrate it was it was a great event. They invited the native peoples who help them survive, but they they ate too much of their food and actually put themselves back and do in the near starvation. Yeah, I'm sure the Native Americans are saying.
Why are they eating everything the ground that they were celebrating me make sure something's clear, though these are are the pilgrims.
I'm sure that although the thanks was given to God ahead of time.
Absolute what you're saying and that not being a religious expression. It wasn't Thanksgiving as we know it today.] They would have been grateful to God.
God would've been the center piece of all of they were celebrating with absolute it was still called a harvest celebration as to make sure that yeah yeah yeah that is because they were very religious people very God-fearing.
So, that would've been an element, absolutely. It just it was in a church sponsored event per se.
So is it in that absolute would've been thankful and it was they gave all credit to God for getting them through an surviving, but it was a it was a nonreligious event in and of itself that William Bradford is a key characters in this. Who is he, what's his role and what did he do Bradford was a young man at the start of this and and he was well read. He was one of the people who help chart the course in their government structure and he became the governor again as a young man he was appointed governor of this colony and you have an agent of that decades he was that he was in his early 20s that which at the time it was was kind of middle aged given the survival but he was one of the one of the our heroes of the story because he really brought the pilgrims through sometimes and led them faithfully and he was a man of great faith. So now in the last few minutes and this is been very educational as Gina and I were reading the book and looking through the material there there some great nuggets in here. You don't understand I don't appreciate the history of talk about the declaration of Thanksgiving when it has become in the modern world who started to what we have history. The actual Thanksgiving so aberration so that harvest Festival. We talked about now. The following year, we have the they try to pay plant crops again and the crops almost fail because of a drought and so at about the point where they said you know if the if we get any more drought. We are probably going to going to start that the crops going to fail. They held a day of Thanksgiving. They brought everyone in the county together.
This was a religious expression so they brought up on the county together for a day of prayer and petition to God for their survival. And as they're having the ring it for praying for rain and are having this day of of Thanksgiving and is eating sets in. These clouds come in and it starts raining. It's a rain that saves the crops and have perfect weather. This is mid July to have perfect weather for the rest of the season and so this is where we get the idea of Thanksgiving. Now what happens is the harvest Festival about food and eating food gets combined with the day of Thanksgiving over time and in about 200 years later, Sarah, Josie, for Hale, who wrote Mary had a Little Lamb. She was one who wrote that poem song, and she wrote a book about where she talked about this event Thanksgiving that that happened in the colonies that she lived around the time the civil sheet. It is about time the Civil War and she is a fictionalized event in her book, but it becomes this this greater idea and so's urgency. Vale starts petitioning states to make a holiday and she eventually gets the year of Abraham Lincoln who says Civil War wars just ended. We need a holiday that is unifying that brings people together and focuses us on God and being thankful for this nation and he loves this idea of Thanksgiving and so we get the food we get the thanks that the prayers to God and they all sort of coalesce and Abraham Lincoln creates this national holiday in November and so it's kind of an interesting story about how you know all these things came together and Thanksgiving gets created, some 200 years later, after the Pilgrim and I like the fact I mean if you look at inflection points in our nation. It's a good thing.
Lincoln was trying to save the union yeah way back then.
They're simply trying to survive. The union can actually be saved later. Right.
So these are two big inflection points of the idea. Combining these things at Reading a day of thanks yeah giving is so appropriate now. The other part of this Jays were ending right at the end here the pilgrims they went through an economic upturn. They really sell their goods, but then they moved along they went to a different part of the area to Cape Cod. Yeah. And then this is what I didn't realize I didn't work well and they simply disbanded.
Well, yeah. Plaintiff ended up kind of failing which is really surprising to me, and the history sort sort fades off County years was that from the times that we're talk about the harvest celebration. The first crops have good news and then you have an uptick. What was that that number of years. The uptick started happening in in the first 20 years as more of the Puritans then started coming in from England and this established Boston and there was a lot of economic growth in Plymouth and then after that, the kids in Plymouth started moving away to Boston is bigger cities and they slowly start when it they sort of pushed out some of the new ideas and were willing to adopt and so Plymouth as a colony fade away.
That's why we don't have 1/14 colony of Plymouth. We have the 13 colonies. Plymouth wasn't one of them because it just sort of disappeared and got absorbent some of the others, and so they took that colony and moved out further away so they could further isolate themselves in and there are small group from what was happening in the rest of doing well Jay, this is been really informative and I'm telling you I so appreciate the depth you been able to collect here in your book. They came for freedom is the depth of information new things that I never understood I feel I'm pretty well versed in it so wonderful wonderful research presented for being with us.
I hope everyone will pick up a copy of the so we really do know that Thanksgiving is not about football and pumpkin yeah that's about so much more and I get a copy of my writing is calling us here Focus on the Family if you can make a gift of any amount we will say thank you by sending your copy of J know Brent's book they came for freedom donate and get a copy of that book by clicking on the links from the episode notes in this podcast. Thanks in advance for your generosity on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for listening to Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller and join us next time. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Just like a warm fireplace when it's cold outside. The joy of the Christmas season gives comfort. I'm John Fuller, and Focus on the Family is excited to let you know about our Christmas stories podcast. Each episode brings heartwarming conversations to bring your family closer together and remind you of the hope we have. You can enjoy the email@example.com/Christmas doing your past shows and the brand-new firstname.lastname@example.org