Category Archives: history

Rachel Scott

Listen to a commentary on why we should never forget her.

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A Date of Infamy

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Today is December 7 – a day that President Roosevelt said would be “a date which will live in infamy.” On that fateful morning of December 7, 1941, America was attacked without warning. More than 2,400 Americans died and 1,100 were wounded. Our country was changed forever. This attack led us into war, and the citizens of America responded with courage and resolve. So it may be well to reflect on what took place and how we today must also rise to the occasion of the attacks on America by Islamic extremists.

Today is known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is a day when we honor the lives lost in that attack on Pearl Harbor and also honor the veterans of World War II. But it can also be a day in which we pay tribute to the men and woman who are currently serving in the armed forces in an effort to promote freedom and justice around the world.

( Read the rest of this spot-on commentary. )

Great Jurist, Great Writer, Great Speaker, Great American

There have been a lot of positive reviews of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s recently released book of speeches. This will be another one. What’s not to like? The speeches were selected by his son, Christopher Scalia, and a former law clerk, Edward Whelan, from the many the justice delivered over the last 30 years or so of his life. They show not only an articulate and scholarly jurist with a well thought-out and consistent view of the law, but a full-service human being, full of insights and humor about the roller-coaster we call life, which he was very good at living.

 

Those who’ve read Scalia’s opinions, especially his occasionally acerbic dissents, know he was a clear, persuasive, and amusing writer. (I lift up 2004’s Scalia Dissents — Regnery — still available.) Can you feature it? Legal opinions that one can read for pleasure. What next?

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The Point: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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Charlie Brown didn’t get much right, but Charles Schulz did. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

We’ve all seen “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” in which Charlie Brown messes up the Christmas play and Linus reminds everyone what Christmas is all about.

Another of my favorites is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Poor Chuck’s friends show up expecting a feast, but he and Snoopy serve them jelly beans and popcorn.

Thankfully, Linus is there again to tell the true story of Thanksgiving.

But it’s Marcie who reminds Charlie Brown that the Pilgrims at Plymouth didn’t come to dinner expecting to receive something. They were there to commemorate what they’d already received—life, provision, and friendship with the Wampanoags.

We’re better off today than they were, yet many of us will sit around the Thanksgiving table grumbling and fighting about politics. If Linus and Marcie were thankful for Charlie Brown’s leftover Halloween candy, can’t we take one day to thank God for our blessings?

Hopefully you won’t have jelly beans and popcorn for dinner, but I do hope you enjoy some Peanuts this Thanksgiving.

BreakPoint: Thanksgiving 2017 Squanto and the Providence of God

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Hi, I’m John Stonestreet. Today, we want to share a classic Chuck Colson BreakPoint commentary on Thanksgiving, Squanto and the providence of God.

Chuck Colson: Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving; at least we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

Historical accounts of Squanto’s life vary, but historians believe that around 1608, more than a decade before the Pilgrims arrived, a group of English traders sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, the traders took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery. It was an unimaginable horror.

But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indians, a boy named Squanto.

Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stables of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto’s desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.

It wasn’t until 1619, ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped, that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.

But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto’s entire village.

We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto’s mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto’s people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died.”

When Squanto lay dying of fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend “desir[ed] the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” Squanto bequeathed his possessions to the Pilgrims “as remembrances of his love.”

Who but God could so miraculously convert a lonely Indian and then use him to save a struggling band of Englishmen? It is reminiscent of the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery, and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

Squanto’s life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children learn about it. Sadly, most books about Squanto omit references to his Christian faith. But I’m delighted to say that my friend Eric Metaxas has written a wonderful children’s book called “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.” I highly recommend it because it will teach your kids about the “special instrument sent of God,” who changed the course of American history.

How great to hear again from Chuck Colson. I know that I and my colleagues at BreakPoint are so thankful to God for all that He accomplished through Chuck’s life.

And this Thanksgiving on behalf of Chuck and Eric Metaxas, I want you, our BreakPoint listeners, to also know how thankful to God we are for you—for all the encouraging words, and prayer and financial support you’ve provided this ministry over the years. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

And before I go today, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my friend Eric Metaxas wrote a great children’s book about Squanto called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. We have it for you at the BreakPoint bookstore online.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

(This commentary originally aired November 26, 2015.)

 

Thanksgiving 2017: Squanto and the Providence of God

Get your copy of Eric’s book “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving,” available at the online bookstore.

Resources

The Miracle of Squanto’s Path to Plymouth

  • Eric Metaxas
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  • Wall Street Journal
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  • November 25, 2015
 
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

  • Eric Metaxas
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  • Thomas Nelson Publishers
  • August 2012

Thanksgiving Day Quiz

Read it here,  or listen to the audio of it. 

The True History Of The Holiday

The facts speak for themselves: In 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated “the goodness of God” as they feasted with local Indians. In 1789 President Washington declared the first national day of Thanksgiving—asking Americans to “unite in most humbly offering our prayer and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.”

 

So much for a secular holiday. These Americans knew to whom they were praying. ( Listen to the commentary below, or read the full commentary here. )

The Point: What Constitution?

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It’s time for a civics refresh. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

A new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that Americans are woefully misinformed about basic constitutional provisions. More than half believe that illegal immigrants have absolutely no rights under the Constitution.

Three-quarters of Americans can’t name all three branches of government. And perhaps worst of all, over a third can’t name any of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment, including freedom of speech, press, or religion.

This doesn’t bode well for public education, which began as a means of producing well-informed citizens. But Christians should be the first to insist on good civic education, because we stand to lose so much freedom.

In his book, “A Free People’s Suicide,” Os Guinness shows how modern views of freedom are incompatible with the views of the American founders, and argues that “the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans.”

He also sketches a plan for good civic education—a plan to implement if our Republic is to last.

 

 

Resources

Americans Are Poorly Informed About Basic Constitutional Provisions

  • Annenberg Public Policy Center | University of Pennsylvania | September 12, 2017

Charles Manson is dead, or is he

The summer of 1969, a scruffy ex-convict with a magnetic hold on young women sent some of his disciples into the night to carry out a series of gruesome killings in Los Angeles. In so doing, Charles Manson became the leering face of evil on front pages across America and rewrote the history of an era.

Manson, the hippie cult leader who died of natural causes Sunday at age 83 after nearly half a century behind bars, orchestrated the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people, butchered at two homes on successive August nights by intruders who scrawled “Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (sic) in the victims’ blood.

The slaughter horrified the world. To many, the collateral damage included the era of peace, love and flower power.

The Manson Family killings, along with the bloodshed later that year during a Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway, seemed to expose the violent and drug-riddled underside of the counterculture and sent a shiver of fear through America.

“Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,” author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book “The White Album.”

Manson was every parent’s worst nightmare. The short, shaggy-haired man with hypnotic eyes was a charismatic figure with a talent for turning middle-class youngsters into mass murderers.

At a former movie ranch outside Los Angeles, he and his devotees — many of them young runaways who likened him to Jesus Christ.

( Billy’s thoughts –  Lets all hope Charles Manson find the true Jesus before he died, and repented of his sins. Read the rest of the above story.)

The Point: History? What History?

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History, schmistory. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Christians of all people should be good at remembering. Why? Because our faith is rooted in history.

We ought to remember those who have gone before us, warts and all. King David, for example, was a “man after God’s own heart.” And also a murderer and adulterer. Yet Israel didn’t write him out of Scriptures.

Tell that to Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, which will remove two plaques honoring former parishioners Robert E. Lee and George Washington.

George Washington? The church, as Rod Dreher notes, is on Washington Street. Washington’s picture is on the donations it receives. Throw a silver-dollar across the Potomac and you’ll hit the city that bears his name.

Neither Washington nor Lee were towering figures of faith, but they were towering figures of history—and significant members of Christ Church.

A church with “Historic” in the name should put history above political correctness. I’m not saying history should be whitewashed, but to rework a classic phrase, the best way to avoid repeating history is not to forget it.