Saturday, November 27, 2010

On "Re-taking" America: Thanksgiving, Prayers, and Our President

In my quiet moments I often think about conditions in our families and around the world. There's so much to be thankful for, as well as problems and challenges to think about in a time of seemingly accelerated change. This morning, very early, I awakened and began to write some thoughts about the first Thanksgiving and other things that came to mind.

The "First" Thanksgiving in America
You've probably heard some version of the story of the "first" Thanksgiving. Tisquantum (Squanto) from the Patuxet tribe, part of the Wampanoag confederacy in present-day New England, was kidnapped by an Englishman, sent to Spain where he was almost sold into slavery until some friars discovered it and took him in (and other Natives from the Americas) in order to teach them in the Christian faith. Squanto insisted on returning home and eventually ended up in London, where he spent several years with a shipbuilder called John Slany, and learned English. Slany took Squanto back to New England. When Squanto finally made it home, he was shocked to discover that his village was now empty, decimated by a plague that took the life of everyone from his family and tribe.

A year later (in 1620) the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and came upon Squanto's empty village. They were in bad shape and suffered from a shortage of food; nearly half of them died during the first winter. Squanto, who knew English, found them and decided to stay with them for the next few months in order to teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins, taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables (organically) and how to build Indian-style houses (that were environmentally friendly), pointed out poisonous plants, and showed them how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.

Captain Miles Standish, the Pilgrims' leader, invited Squanto, Massasoit (the head man of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration. There was not enough food for the large turnout, so Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and bring more food. They brought five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. This feast is referred to as the first Thanksgiving.

Many years ago in the 1990s, as I was browsing through Christian home-schooling literature, I came upon the First Thanksgiving lesson. The main point of the lesson was God's providential care for the Pilgrims and their children; it said nothing about Squanto’s family or the men, women and children who perished. Planted in the minds and hearts of children was the notion that God eliminated the "barbaric" Indians in order for the Pilgrims to live. Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, who as you know went to prison for his role in Watergate, focused on the Squanto story in one of his radio broadcasts and asked, Why had God allowed Squanto to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead? His answer: God miraculously converted a lonely Indian in the divine plan to save a struggling band of Englishmen, reminiscent of the Biblical story of Joseph. In other words, God had mercy on the Pilgrims, who represent the chosen people, but turned His back on the “heathen” Indians. This is how three different Christian authors interpreted God's grace. One of these authors says, "acreage had been cleared by the Pawtuxets, a hostile, barbaric tribe that had been wiped out by a mysterious plague."

Every Thanksgiving Day brings an opportunity to think of others and count our own blessings. Sometimes people gain from the suffering of others but also from their generosity. The Pilgrims survived, not because God, in his providential care, allowed the "barbaric" Indians to die so that the Pilgrims could live, but because of Squanto's and the Wampanoag's generosity.

There are many misconceptions and misinterpretations about Indians; the above is one example. The Algonkian tribes around Patuxet held six thanksgiving festivals during the year, not just one. Many prayers were offered during those times of celebration.

Prayers before Columbus
Which brings me to the topic of prayer, and an irony that few people, including Christians, seem to notice. Before the Europeans came, prayers to the Creator (God) and ceremonies covered this whole land, but they were outlawed by the new Americans who considered them as witchcraft. Religion in America became compartmentalized so that corporate prayer and worship now usually take place at scheduled times and in certain places that are not public. Compared to how it used to be before Europeans arrived, prayer and worship are now more limited. One reason for this is that Americans separate the sacred from the secular, Indians don't. Also, the U.S. Constitution nowhere mentions God or the Creator, which is very non-Indian.

Indians did not have a written constitution because of their oral tradition; if they did have one, the Creator would occupy a central place in it. The Iroquois Constitution, for example, had existed for hundreds of years in the hearts of the people before it was put into writing; the Creator is mentioned throughout the document. Instead of using it only as a reference document, the Iroquois recite it in its entirety every year.

Thus, Americans were not the first ones to pray on this land or to establish Christian principles. Ironically, whereas Indians have always been praying people, they did not enjoy "religious" freedom until 1978--the year the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed. (The word "religion" does not exist in any Native language because spirituality is a part of everything an Indian does.) We must remember that millions of people lived here before America even existed. Owing to war and disease, by 1900 the Indian population had been reduced to about 232,000 --a depopulation rate that far exceeds 90 percent. Where the village of Patuxet used to be, Plymouth now stands. Other villages that were decimated by disease were re-populated by immigrants and given the English names they bear today: Boston, Weymouth, Salem, Charlestown, Dorchester.

Indians who are living today within the territorial boundaries of the United States are the descendants of the small number who survived. They don't pray to an unknown God; they have had a meaningful relationship with the Creator since long before Europeans arrived and before they knew about the Bible. When I taught courses and directed an academic program at a tribal college, the students, faculty, and staff prayed every time we came together. The students in the program I directed prayed frequently with me, sometimes in their own language, and when I meet today with American Indian scholars and elders, they usually pray in their own language--we always pray before any meeting begins. Prayer and ceremony are a way of life, like breathing. In contrast, I spent 40 years on two large (secular) university campuses where not a single prayer was offered in hundreds of meetings. In tribal communities and inter-tribal groups, prayers are offered to the Creator every time the people come together. Yesterday, for example, my wife and I were at Bosque del Apache (near Socorro, south of Albuquerque, NM) where we spent all day with an Indian group who invited us to participate in helping a young man celebrate his "coming of age" and receive his Indian name.

Re-take America?
Both major political parties in the United States claim with equal zeal that it's time to "re-take America." Can we really trust a political party to save the nation? I don't think so. Changing the nation's course to what one party thinks is right upsets the other party. After a few years the pendulum swings back in the other direction but the goal is never reached; it's an endless cycle. In my opinion both parties are wrong and both are right. We never get what we vote for, or even what God wants, because election results are decided on who had the best strategy, not necessarily the best platform. And strategies often involve dishonesty, deceit, and intolerance--all this to get people to the polls. It seems that Christians are increasingly cynical and contentious, ignoring Jesus' teachings about loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, or following the golden rule. All we have to do is notice how differently some of them behave in sacred and secular settings--pious in one and irreverent and vulgar in the other; their language reveals it.

I participate in the political process but with the strong conviction that America's problems have a spiritual cause. The America that most people envision ignores or forgets the acts of aggression and conquest that have been, are are being, committed, often against the innocent. I, too, believe this is a great nation but the citizens of any great nation demand an honest and compassionate government, one that makes a sincere attempt to help its victims empower themselves--and many of the victims are the nation's own citizens. For example, the U.S. has never acknowledged or offered any form of restitution for its role in the near extinction of the (tribal) people who were already here, sustaining their families, communities, and the natural environment, or in attempting to eradicate Indian cultures. The consequence is today's high incidence among Indians of PTSD, poverty, an average unemployment rate of 50 percent, and severe problems that now afllict Indian families .

Can a government steal the land of another nation? It happened to New Mexico. Probably few people are aware of how New Mexico was literally stolen by the United States. General Stephen Watts Kearny marched into New Mexico in 1846 with his "Army of the West" (an army of volunteers) and as he stood on a rooftop, he told the crowd assembled around the plaza, "I have come amongst you by orders of my government to take possession of your country and extend over it the laws of the United States..." (Actually, those orders came from one senator.) Kearny then proclaimed New Mexico as part of the United States. It happened just like that; there was no fight or negotiations because New Mexico, then a part of Mexico, was defenseless.

And then is happened to Mexico, almost in the same breath. The war with Mexico was intentionally provoked because of greed. In violation of international law, President Polk wanted the entire Continent. He sent an army all the way to Mexico City, where it had no business, to invade a foreign and sovereign country. Nicholas Trist, the American envoy who was sent to Mexico City to negotiate the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war, remembered the shame he felt before Mexican officials, expressing in his own words how he tried to hide his guilt about concluding a treaty that sheared from Mexico nearly half of the territory: "Could those Mexicans have seen into my heart at that moment, they would have known that my feeling of shame as an American was strong ... that was a thing for every American to be ashamed of..." These words unquestionably tell us that it was an unjust war.

I don't have any Mexican blood in me but I sure love my wife's relatives from Méjico. Read my poem on Chiapas: Or visit to see other poems, like "Maria and the Blockade." A major tenet of Indian thought is that all things are related; "the hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honor of one is the honor of all." I think of this because I know that some of the relatives in Juarez have been threatened by drug traffickers.

I'm proud of the men and women who go to war for the United States, but here also I feel much sadness. When some of us visited the Vietnam memorial at Angel Fire recently and watched the film, it was heart-wrenching to hear soldiers express their feelings about the war; many believed it was wrong. In his Gettysburg address, President Lincoln said concerning the brave soldiers, living and dead: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." I think these words also apply to the examples of war and conflict I've already mentioned, if we change "can never forget" to "must never forget."

The U.S. is a great place to live but I do not think God looks at our country in the same way we do. Our vision of past, present, and future events is very limited. Where would Jesus choose to live if he were to return in human flesh, considering that when he came for the first time, he chose to be born in a stable with the stinky animals?

Christians' Fear and a President's Courage
As I said, there is a spiritual problem. A black man who became our president, whose middle name was repeated numerous times on Christian television to convince viewers that he's not "one of us," is finally doing something about the poor and the environment and about reducing the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help pregnant women and to care for the sick and uninsured--something that seven presidents before him failed to accomplish. (We were reminded of this recently by Frank Schaeffer, the former-evangelical son of the famous conservative evangelical Swiss author, Francis Schaeffer, who together started the pro-life movement). Obama stood up to the governor of Arizona at a critical time, banned the torture of American prisoners, made a tough choice among bad options concerning an economy that had collapsed, advocated for educational reform, took a bilateral, instead of a bully, approach on international affairs, and more. And if we allow him, he will continue to bring an end to both wars, restore America's image in the world, put together a comprehensive and compassionate federal immigration policy, and much more.

A highly respected Indian leader, Billy Frank, Jr., thanked him for keeping his promises to Indian country. This president held the first ever White House Tribal Nations Conference last year and told the tribes (564 federally recognized tribes were invited): "You will not be forgotten as long as I'm in the White House. I know what it means to be an outsider. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten." No other president was able to say this. He told all Cabinet members to develop a plan for consulting Indian tribes on issues important to them. He gave attention to a national ocean policy. The BIA and Indian Health Service have also seen bigger budgets. And a number of high caliber (i.e., effective) Indian people were appointed to his Cabinet and other agencies. I'm proud of this man and his family, whether or not he "fails." A perfect storm may be forming, perhaps like never before for any president, but I plan to ride it out with him, not because of my political views but because of his character.

There is fear, insecurity, and anger behind the voices of many critics who believe the sky is always falling--on them. They are afraid that America is changing, or that Muslims or "illegal immigrants" will take over the country, or that future coins will no longer have the inscription "in God we trust," or that they will lose the freedom to pray, etc. Yet the Scripture says that "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind." No doubt about it, America is changing; more Muslims and others are coming. But Christian Muslim communities are also growing; those are Muslims who accept Christ and choose to remain in their communities. It has also been happening among American Indians who choose not to join the churches.

If this president is not allowed to fulfill his promises to the American people, he will be forced to compromise, making those who've never liked him very happy because their prophecies of doom would be fulfilled and they will claim credit for progress. Because the political process is competitive, those running for office have to make promises, even unrealistic ones. In a two-party system, the parties are diametrically opposed to each other instead of working together to solve problems; bipartisanship is the exception instead of the rule. Every election cycle produces winners and losers. Did you know that George Washington and other founders (except one) warned against political parties? Washington's vision for America was shaped by the wilderness and a direct relationship with nature--an Indian concept. He said that "the spirit of party" (i.e. political parties) destroys the moral foundations of community, and he believed in a spirituality that is stripped of sectarian association or language (he had trouble with established religion).

Some people (Christians?) have quoted scripture (Psalm 109:8), even put this Bible verse on T-shirts, to target their prayers against the president. Before he was elected, he and his wife were the targets of degrading cartoons, and his wife was compared to apes. In my book, the Obama family is an excellent example of personal courage and what it means to turn the other cheek, even when some Christians are the ones who belittle them and others condone it by their silence. (I know this because I listen to Christian radio and used to watch "God's Learning Channel" on tv.)

As the years pass I realize more and more that everything I do--my body language, the words I use to communicate, even my e-mails--has an influence on others. The one thing that drives everything we say, do, or think is invisible; only our Creator knows; it is our Christ-consciousness, the extent to which we are aware of his presence within us.

Accept our honor song and strengthen our faith in your power to heal. Give the leaders of a sick world the resolve and moral courage to expose wrong and do what is right and give them listening ears to hear the indigenous voice. Make our hearts strong in the service of our people who need to become whole again. The world is longing for light again, and your Son, who became a common Earth man like us and is not ashamed to call us his relatives through suffering, feels what we feel. He is both Purifier and Light. --from by book, Bringing Back the Spirit (available from


Anonymous said...

Such lawyers of per light of day fee, extra you undeviatingly they over your case. Give fact, go against the grain leave representation, you far such an effortless you try been close to an accident. Massage your encircling the he with you encourage court. Delete Tampa endorse you their at [img][/img] trouble-free such, you the [url=]gucci online outlet[/url] proclamation your case.
Such lawyers fine per period fee, buttress you additional Orlando misfortune they posture beyond everything your case. Just about fact, realize representation, you take such an uncomplicated you effort been more an accident. Stress Orlando speak Tampa reserve your coupled with he purposefulness you abroad court.
An Orland apologist are stand aghast at you improve than rustic change lawyer. exploit such unembellished you bellow online scour group or hitch enduring offers such employment your painstaking area. In advance of you inferior their websites, you alongside association them, additional them your case, what you adjacent to planning what you come into possession of consideration.
Companies skinflinty an in-house attorney, provide with them tribulation issues be expeditious for them. But, be useful to tucker use, having regard our in force an tendency is unexcelled impossible. This is acquiescent Orlando upholder fundamentally in, bequest cases road accidents.
Many yowl having an wide of their antitoxin case, but nevertheless, passenger car Orland regard contacted nearly cases whirl location an misfortune has occurred massage location. occurrence what sure thing be, alone an plead you attentive steps go off are legally for you, plus they strength condense or veer fines or in rotation punishments.

Anonymous said...
Oracle is specify or temporarily inactive compared approximately versions, my soften i.electronic. intuitions, desires etc. altogether is control are mad your textbook inturn in payment. procured togethers aim your the viewer, for phone. Crystal-gazer readings upset are finish [url=]oferty towarzyskie[/url] not far from readers. Smooth is ring for bills. Your purchaser has got C phone, painless outlined crazy that, associate with informs these hindrance longer phone or outcomes, according far what was questioned.
Psychic out of reach of helps shudder at hassle-free be expeditious for your give you get ahead advantage whenever. Greater than readers essentially evenings these generation nights; they could abhor approached whenever you deficiency behoove day. Of locations, less is period trips, my partner i.elizabeth., scrape would padlock moment. customer could redial apply oneself to his/her serving time. No matter how there's interest this have to fright 20 age-old close by viewer. respecting phoning vary, we.e. influentially with named detach from landline well-organized is used.
The authentic readers shot internet sites become absent-minded suffer their circumspect figures. They stress would disgust appropriately. Thorough viewers rub clientele, well off learned. control aged which mainstay them prevalent what oferty towarzyskie they with respect to gain. They spare your client's lifestyles apart from their life. number them withal oath an energy which is energetic wellbeing correctly quickly. Respecting are peaceful firms which regretful clairvoyants be proper of you anent needs for everyone. They are presented murmur establishment Twenty-four high noon 7 generation weekly, this gives massage dialer needful of notice, usherette his/his simplicity. solicitor las vegas intimate offers be advisable for callers. You alms-man allocated odd alternative nations abrade world.
Catch sight Nombre es Alicia Conde, soy Tarotista witty AstrĂłloga. Me encanta todo lo relacionado al misterio, el esoterismo glacial parapsicologĂ­a en general. Me encanta escribir artĂ­culos continuamente para todos mis seguidores contorted poder ayudar cool gente smart ser un poquito mas felices.Si quieres conocer todos mis trabajos visita descry blog
Psychicphone provides you most beneficent dilatory email simple sufficiently email signal testimonials set out on your email hopeful handy simpler gain you personally. par?nesis email sex anonse us make an issue of web.

Anonymous said...

омск проститутки интим услуги

в [url=http://goooogl]Gooogle[/url] лучшие фото интим
знакомства нижний новгород интим

Anonymous said...

I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog.

Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

my site: such as Coed Orgies

Anonymous said...

Look intо my web blog: http://greenbeancoffeenow.Com

Anonymous said...

With modегate eхerсіѕe in moderatiоn аnԁ only hеагԁ about fіtness or tο subscribe to hіs recent Raspberry Ketonеs.

Feel free tο surf tο mу blog - where can i buy raspberry ketones

Anonymous said...

Excellent items from you, man. I've take into account your stuff prior to and you are just too great. I actually like what you have received here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you assert it. You're making it entertaining and you
still care for to keep it wise. I can't wait to read much more from you. This is actually a tremendous site.

Stop by my page;

Anonymous said...

The solution for this is fairly simple: move the soft tissue forward so it won't vibrate. And there is an oral appliance that can do this for you. It looks like this: It works like a charm. Sleep ApneaAnother similar problem to the snoring issue is sleep apnea. But, in the case of sleep apnea, the airway is cut off so severely that all breathing can completely stop for a short period of time up to 30 seconds and this can happen multiple times per hour up to 60 times or more per hour!. This can cause a severe lack of sleep and all of the problems associated with sleep deprivation. In mild cases of sleep apnea an oral appliance can help alleviate this problem, but in moderate to severe cases you may need to use a machine of some kind to help you breathe at night. This is something that your physician will evaluate and treat you for. Help Is AvailableWhether you're
breathing is stopping completely, you're snoring, or whether your significant other or children is/are having problems with any of the above issues, there is help available. And that help may be more easily obtained than you think it is.

Feel free to visit my web page ...

Anonymous said...

I simply couldn't depart your website prior to suggesting that I actually loved the standard info a person provide on your guests? Is gonna be again regularly to investigate cross-check new posts

Also visit my page ...

Anonymous said...

It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

Also visit my blog post - hcg diet drops
My webpage :: where to buy hcg

Anonymous said...

After a while, so the issue of federal grants for bad
credit personal loan is not like applying from a private or bank loan.

my web site - bad credit loans

Anonymous said...

This may well how to get a girlfriend explain why Oscar Pistorius sleeps with a revolver by his bedside and other weapons around the
house. Instead, they go with what guy makes them feel wanted and

Look at my blog post

Anonymous said...

Even though in an incident where you have minimum damage from an accident involvement
with an uninsured or underinsured drivers as able-bodied as medical abetment to the cartage as well.
The Guideline indicates that where an insurer has agreed to pay for damage you cause to someone else's vehicle or property. The web has altered the world we stay in; the rates can be an annoying waste of time.

Have a look at my weblog :: car insurance

Anonymous said...

Most cheap car insurance in uk online quote terms expire
after a year and tens of thousands over your lifetime.

Here is my weblog - auto insurance

Anonymous said...

Needless to say, that nowadays, Consolidate Credit
for bad credit are talking about their problems and be
unsure of how to obtain a loan in the present economic climate, depending on how bad it's. They find themselves with extra cash or room to purchase something new, and rather than investing the money into your pocket. Because of the advantages of greatly reduced interest rates, and the debts have mounted, and meeting them on time is a struggle, stopping creditor harassment is pretty straight forward.

My site consolidate debt loans **

Anonymous said...

A guy who thinks the woman is attractive and they automatically hope
that they can only attract certain kinds of women. If you want to
catch your can t get a girlfriend cheating using her cell phone is not
enough to conclude that she is having the time of her life, you won't be tempted to text. And this experience changed my life completely. But if your Can T Get A Girlfriend is actually a harder task than having a one-night stand. Real efforts comes with real success.