Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day Reading

Yesterday afternoon we met my family in Birmingham to have dinner together.  I usually read to KJ when we go on long drives, and yesterday we did a little patriotic reading.  We started with the Declaration of Independence.  The reasons cited for "dissolving the political bands" which connected the colonies with England were that the "Form of Government" had become "destructive" toward the colonists' "unalienable Rights."  I had the thought that the South felt the same way toward the North, and that is why they left the Union and the Confederacy was formed.  I can understand why there was a big war.  No government likes it when a group rebels.  BUT, the writers of the Declaration were careful to say, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," and there was a long list King George's "repeated injuries and usurpations."  It's so good to read primary sources and form your views and understanding of history by that reading.  There were so many stories floating around in my head from history classes through the years, and it's neat to organize those stories through the words of the people who were actually there.  This was especially true while we were reading William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation.

Bradford's story is the story of the "Pilgrims" that we all learned about in grade school, but again, it was really good and fascinating reading straight from the pen of someone who lived it all.  The pilgrims were a group known as "Separatists" because they wanted to separate from the Church of England (which was considered an act of treason).  They fled to the Netherlands, but conditions were very hard on them there because Holland was in a war with Spain, and these circumstances are what drove this people to leave for America.  It truly would have been a frightening thing to leave the only life and place you knew to sail off on what must have seemed endless waters to a place you've only heard of, and you know you might die and you'll never see home again.

It was answered, that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages.  It was granted the dangers were great, but not desperate.  The difficulties were many, but not invincible.  For though there were many of them likely, yet they were not certain.  It might be sundry of the things feared might never befall; others by provident care and the use of good means might in a great measure be prevented; and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome.

After reading about all that occurred in the first few months of their arriving at Cape Cod, I really gained an understanding of what was in their hearts as they celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  After that first winter half of their number had died, but it was truly marvelous to read of the ways God provided for them.  You all remember Squanto, right?  The story is truly amazing.  The pilgrims had no idea what crops would grow in the New World and no way of communicating with the Indians who attacked them, and here was this man, "a native of this place, who had been in England."  
Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.  He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.  
Squanto was an unexpected providence of God to say the least.  He also organized a treaty with other Indians for them.  He had been taken away, intended to be sold as a slave in Spain, but he escaped to England where he was employed by a London merchant before coming back to America with some Spanish explorers.

It was also neat to read of how the pilgrims cared for Indians who were dying of small pox.  It think it will be so fascinating one day to hear God's commentary on what He was doing throughout history.  We also read some selections from Tocqueville's Democracy in America, where he explores the basis of Americans' equality and democracy.  I enjoyed several parts of what we read, but I fear I may be going on too long as it is.  Suffice it to say, it's good reading if you're interested.  Enough of my book summaries, here are a few pictures from last night.

Can you guess where we're eating?

KJ taught Ella how to play the game where you make squares
on the page of dots (name?)  She would draw two lines when 
he wasn't looking.

Aunt Nicole and Ella playing speed checkers

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to read YOUR book one day . . . there are so many things you could write about!
    I am so glad you got to meet up with your family. Of course, the pictures are great, and I'm not sure the name of the game you made reference to. . . though it was one I loved to play with Big Daddy!