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Is it still okay to commemorate Columbus Day?

Posted By Connie Moody, Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013

"The determination of the people of the United States to celebrate fitly the great discovery which has advanced civilization and changed the face of the world, makes it certain that a new interest has arisen in the life of the great man to whom, in the providence of God, that discovery was due.”

Edward E. Hale, Roxbury, Mass., June 1st, 1891.
Preface to The Life of Christopher Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals, 1891.

Columbus Day is established to commemorate the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. Officially established as a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, it was unofficially celebrated in many cities and states as early as the late 1700’s. In recent years, controversy over the "worthiness” of the man and a day dedicated to the significance of his achievements has prompted individuals and communities to institute alternatives—holiday revisionism, if you will.

Christopher Columbus holds a place on the Chain of Christianity® as a key individual used by God in the westward move of the Gospel. His legacy is admittedly a mixed one; Columbus, after all, was human. In our current postmodern milieu, rather than being studied and understood in light of Providential purpose and history and Christian character, Columbus, the man, is often discounted, derided, and debased. For instance, he bears the disdain of many moderns who attribute to him the personal responsibility for the decimation of native populations from small pox. Clearly this was not his intent and would have been the likely consequence of the inevitable intersection of the Old World with the New through whichever agent and in whatever year it was introduced.

The real debate is between absolutes and "relativisms"—between the presupposition that God in His Sovereignty moves men and nations, sets their boundaries, orders their steps, and numbers their days, so disease epidemics must also be consider in light of the Gospel purposes of Providence, and its relative counterfeit that there is no supernatural Creator-God that brings good out of destruction and that the "noble savage” of the Indies and his indigenous values and behaviors were as worthy, if not more so, than any other. Post-moderns argue that the Native American civilizations encountered on the islands of the Caribbean in 1492 require reconsideration, no, reconstruction, in the cause of cultural egalitarianism and social justice, and history must be rewritten to reflect this.

As Gai Ferdon points out in her book, A Republic If You Can Keep It (2008),

Traditional scholarship, which required rigorous interaction with primary sources and the search for authorial intent, is replaced with a type of literary iconoclasm typically deployed in the service of the "oppressed,” whose ranks have swelled to include almost all groups except white Anglo-American heterosexual males. Though cultural relativism requires that no nation’s past be narrated more prominently than another, postmodernism tends to elevate the histories of so-called oppressed non-western [or indigenous] cultures. National narratives are re-written for purposes of social justice as an attempt to equalize the political, economic, and social aspects of societies.

Ferdon goes on to quote Alvin J. Schmidt from his book Menace of Multiculturalism (1997) with this declaration, "Multiculturalists often damn the facts of history … by publishing ‘noble lies’ that will make minorities and ethnic groups feel good, as well as make their cultures appear equal, or perhaps even superior, to the Euro-American….”[1]

Why not use this Columbus Day to engage in "traditional scholarship, which required rigorous interaction with primary sources and the search for authorial intent”? Why not read the words of Columbus to discover for yourself that "the Bible was the principal source of inspiration for the great Columbian enterprise”[2] by reading Columbus’ own testimony in his Book of Prophecies (El Libro de las Profecias in the original Spanish language, c. 1501-1505)? An excellent companion to this primary source document and worthy your effort is Christopher Columbus, His Life and Discovery in the Light of His Prophecies by Kay Brigham, an author who also compiled an English translation of his Prophecies. Another valuable primary source for study is the English translation of The Log of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus’ convictions and dependency on the Word of God didn’t make him perfect and as Washington Irving pointed out in the chapter "Observations on the Character of Columbus” in his history The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, "These remarks, in palliation of the conduct of Columbus, are required by candor. It is proper to show him in connection with the age in which he lived, lest the errors of the times should be considered his individual faults. It is not the intention of the author [Irving], however, to justify Columbus on a point where it is inexcusable to err [human slavery]. Let it remain a blot on his illustrious name and let others derive a lesson from it.”[3]

Today is Columbus Day. What lessons will you derive from the legacy of this man? How will you commemorate the Hand of Providence as it moved and God set His early stepping-stone for a new frontier for Liberty on an unknown land that lay across the "Sea of Darkness"?  Today IS Columbus Day.



[1] Gai M. Ferdon, A Republic If You Can Keep It, America’s Authentic Liberty Confronts Contemporary Counterfeits (Chesapeake, VA: Foundation for American Christian Education, 2008), 41.

[2] Kay Brigham, Christopher Columbus, His Life and Discoveries in Light of His Prophecies (Barcelona, Spain: CLIE Publishers, 1990), 53.

[3] Washington Irving, The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus to which are added those of His Companions, Vol. II (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871), 562.

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The Prime Meridian of American Character

Posted By Connie Moody, Sunday, February 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Excerpt from the ORATION OF ROBERT C. WINTHROP given February 21, 1885 upon The Dedication of the Washington National Monument  

THE CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON!

Who can delineate it worthily? Who can describe that priceless gift of America to the world in terms which may do it any sort of justice, or afford any degree of satisfaction to his hearers or to himself?

     Modest, disinterested, generous, just—of clean hands and a pure heart—self-denying and self-sacrificing, seeking nothing for himself, declining all remuneration beyond the reimbursement of his outlays, scrupulous to a farthing in keeping his accounts, of spotless integrity, scorning gifts, charitable to the needy, forgiving injuries and injustices, brave, fearless, heroic, with a prudence ever governing his impulses and a wisdom ever guiding his valor—true to his friends, true to his whole country, true to himself—fearing God, believing in Christ, no stranger to private devotion or public worship or to the holiest offices of the Church to which he belonged, but ever gratefully recognizing a Divine aid and direction in all that he attempted and in all that he accomplished—what epithet, what attribute could be added to that consummate character to commend it as an example above all other characters in merely human history!…

      … [T]he Glory of Washington will remain unique and peerless until American Independence shall require to be again achieved, or the foundations of Constitutional Liberty to be laid anew.…[Italics added.]

     … A celebrated philosopher of antiquity, who was nearly contemporary with Christ, but who could have known nothing of what was going on in Judea, and who alas! did not always "reck his own rede”—wrote thus to a younger friend, as a precept for a worthy life: "Some good man must be singled out and kept ever before our eyes, that we may live as if he were looking on, and do everything as if he could see it.”

     Let me borrow the spirit, if not the exact letter, of that precept, and address it to the young men of my Country: "Keep ever in your mind and before your mind’s eye the loftiest standard of character. You have it, I need not say, supremely and unapproachably, in Him who spake as never man spake and lived as never man lived, and who died for the sins of the world. That character stands apart and alone. But of merely mortal men the monument we have dedicated to-day points out the one for all Americans to study, to imitate, and, as far as may be, to emulate. Keep his example and his character ever before your eyes and in your hearts. Live and act as if he were seeing and judging your personal conduct and your public career. Strive to approximate that lofty standard, and measure your integrity and your patriotism by your nearness to it or your departure from it. The prime meridian of universal longitude, on sea or land, may be at Greenwich, or at Paris, or where you will. But the prime meridian of pure, disinterested, patriotic, exalted human character will be marked forever by yonder Washington Obelisk!”

      Yes, to the Young Men of America, under God, it remains, as they rise up from generation to generation, to shape the destinies of their Country’s future—and woe unto them if, regardless of the great example which is set before them, they prove unfaithful to the tremendous responsibilities which rest upon them!1  

 

1 Hall, V. M. (2000). George Washington: The Character and Influence of One Man. Chesapeake, VA: Foundation for American Christian Education. 283-4.

Tags:  character  Robert Winthrop  Washington  Washington Monument 

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