What's History Got To Do With It?

  1. If you have not read Pastor Lauterbach’s November 4 post: “What’s Thanksgiving got to do with it?” -  go straight to it and read it.  What he said!
  2. Because of the presence of Thanksgiving Day on our calendar, at some point we should wonder, “How did it get there and why?” We remember what we’ve heard in the past, but what does that mean to us?
  3. This past week I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who has written an outstanding resource for educators called the “Ethos Logos” curriculum. I recommend it, especially for home use (warning: it’s expensive, but if you are homeschooling, ESA will pay for it!).
  4. One of this friend’s motivations is (as we have heard often of late) that American public schools either do a poor job of teaching history, or actually distort it. I agree.
  5. If you are wondering how and why I know this to be true, that is a story for another time.
  6. One the things that attracted me to classical Christian education as far back as the 1990s is that it emphasizes the use of original source materials as much as possible.
  7. When it comes to the Pilgrims and early New England history, most classical Christian schools use William Bradford’s journal, Of Plimouth Plantation
  8. A book I came across recently, First Thanksgiving: What The Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning From History, debunks much of the mythology about the first Thanksgiving that has come to dominate popular discourse about that occasion.
  9. Written by a real historian, Robert Tracy McKenzie, and published by InterVarsity Press in 2012, it is the most thorough analysis about what is true and what is embellishment in the popular accounts of Thanksgiving that have dominated American culture.
  10. McKenzie also recommends Bradford’s journal as the most reliable source.
  11. Two of the chapters, “Discarding False Memories” and “Understanding Revisionism” ought to be required reading for any serious student of history.
  12. There is a copy of this book in the Rincon Mountain Presbyterian Church library. If you borrow it, bring it back. If you can’t find it, someone has already borrowed it. If you can’t wait, you can order it here:  https://www.amazon.com/First-Thanksgiving-Loving-LearningHistory/dp/0830825746/ref=sr_1_1?crid=34Q1P53VKHLCW&keywords=the+first+thanksgiving+by+robert+tracy+mckenzie&qid=1668206407&sprefix=first+thanksgiving+by+McKenzie%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-1
  13. McKenzie emphasizes (among many other things) that God’s Sovereignty means that while history is truly His story (God’s), we should be interested in truth, not popular opinion. 
  14. McKenzie points out that while history is important, we should be looking for God’s revelation first, in God’s Word. Then we should open our eyes to what He is saying to us about our own time in history.
  15. In my teaching career, I have seen a plethora of children’s books about Thanksgiving that are what we classical Christian educators call “twaddle.” Amazon’s pages are full of such books. 
  16. If you want a children’s book that is not twaddle, I recommend Eric Metaxas’ Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.
  17. I will have a copy of the Metaxas book in my tote bag on Sunday, November 20 (Lord willing), and will cheerfully hand it over to the first person who asks me for it that day.

Happy Thanksgiving!