An American Catechism

A Book Review of “First Over There” by Matthew J. Davenport

Posted on December 5, 2016. Filed under: American History, An American Catechism, Book Reviews, The Walker Library |

First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle of World War I, by Matthew J. Davenport. St.  Martin’s Press: New York, 2015 (360pp.) Read 10-02-16 to 12-04-16. Outstanding! This is how military history should be written! This is one of the all-time Best military histories I have ever read! Why this book did not win a Pulitzer I don’t know. The author, Davenport, says this is his first book; I certainly hope it is not his last. This is an exquisitely detailed book about the 1st Infantry Division, 28th Regiment in its preparation for, conduct of, and what happened after the Battle of Cantigny, France, May 28-30, 1917. The author covers the big picture of what was going on during the war, the politics, and command level. Then he works himself down to the 1st Division, then the 28th Regiment, and into the individual Rifle Companies, Platoons and Squads. The amount of detail he provides on so many individual soldiers is simply amazing. He writes of this battle at the individual level without leaving out the bigger picture. He does not spare the reader the gory details of battle as he gives graphic accounts of deaths and wounds. He brings you into the suffering of the soldier. Why read this book? We are in the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I and today’s generation knows nothing about this war. We live in a post-American, post-patriotic era. This book may stir the cooling embers of genuine patriotism and love of country. This book should be a movie. The only criticism of the book I could give is that with all of his extensive research, he should have perhaps included more on the German side and he had almost nothing on the French citizens of the town of Cantigny. I highly recommend this book! If you can read only one book on the Great War, read this book during 2017.

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The Library of Freedom:

Posted on November 12, 2016. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism, American History, An American Catechism, Book Reviews, Culture Matters, Uncategorized |

 

Books, Readings, Movies and Music Celebrating Americanism, Freedom, the Christian Faith, Godly Virtues, and Western Civilization

Introduction: The Great Election of 2016 for the President of the United States is now over and the 45th President will be Donald Trump of New York, a businessman, not a politician. This election will be the subject of studies for the foreseeable future because it was so very different in many ways from all the elections preceding it. Perhaps the strangeness of the election will not be fully known until after the Trump presidency has had a chance to actually do some things that were promised in the campaign.

This election has clearly demonstrated what many of us have known for a long while: this nation is very divided. In my studies as an amateur historian I would say that our nation is more divided than at any time since the 1850’s- 1860’s. The slavery crisis was a complex issue that touched on what it means to be a human being, what the Bible says about slavery, what the Founders thought and wanted, as well as the sheer economics of slavery and the political divide the issue caused including the issue of states’ rights and individual property freedoms. It took the worst war in our history, a war that killed more Americans than any other war, to settle the issue and the lingering issues of race and racism linger still and will likely never go away. But today we are at least just as divided and maybe more so.

The issues that divide us today are just as fundamental as the issue of slavery. Is an unborn baby a human being with rights? Should men be able to marry men and women marry women? What is marriage? What is a family? Can people switch genders and declare themselves a different gender from what they were born with and then force society to recognize them for who and what they are pretending to be? If you have a religious belief that contradicts the liberal sexual mores can you be persecuted and prosecuted by the State and coerced to act against your religion in order to accommodate those with whom you disagree? Do homosexual rights trump religious freedom? Is Islam compatible with any of our western values? What is a nation? Should we not have borders or an official language? Should we purge our history of inconvenient facts because the public’s values have changed?

For the last hundred years or so conservatives and the religious right have slowly surrendered one part of our culture after another despite winning many elections. Our culture is no longer slouching towards Gomorrah, we are going at breakneck speed off the cliff to Gomorrah. And yet we, the religious right and conservatives in general, have just won another election. Sort of. Trump is problematic at best for purebred conservatives.

While political movements, elections, and policies are important, they are just one part of what we must do to reclaim the culture. I would say, boldly even, that the greatest single cause of the decline of our culture is that we have forsaken Christ and His Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Word. The Church has failed to hold to sound doctrine and failed to pass the faith down to the next generation, and the next, and the next…. We have failed to proclaim the pure gospel and evangelize the lost, failed to claim every part of our culture for the glory of Christ, and failed to lead our world with a consistent and biblical worldview. We have retreated to our Christian ghettos and have been compromised by the world.

Along with the decline in the Church, the next big reason for the fall of our civilization is that we have ceded control of Education to the pagan Left. From the local elementary schools to the school boards, the teachers’ unions, the Teachers’ Colleges and Universities, to the Dept. of Education, our education system is failing and falling short. Our literacy rates are in decline but our athletics are outstanding. The classics are unread, untaught and forsaken but we are computer literate. Americans no longer are even teaching math at university, immigrants are. The Liberal Left and atheists do not and will not, cannot, teach patriotism and moral values anymore. It is now controversial to require students to say the pledge of allegiance, it is not unusual for the Mexican flag to be more prevalent on campus than the American flag and kids cannot sing Christmas carols during Winter Holidays (it used to be called Christmas!)

In short, the American education system is all about keeping children ignorant of the greatness of our country, ignorant of the biblical basis for morals and values, and is more interested in turning out world citizens who cannot think or reason and know not from whence they came, than they are about turning out moral citizens who think critically and cherish their nation’s heritage.

The same can be said for the American entertainment establishment. Gone are the days when sports heroes and movie stars also served in the armed forces and fought in our wars. Today the sports heroes take a knee when the National Anthem is played and the movie stars threaten to move to Canada when their candidate and political party loses an election. One of the biggest Olympic heroes of all time, Bruce Jenner, has made himself a woman. Sort of.

And the News Media, the so-called journalists of our day…are simply disgusting. Useless. Communists. It took an outlaw set of computer hackers, Wikileaks and Anonymous, to break the decisive stories that revealed how crooked the demoncratic party is. They did what the Main Stream Media used to do.

If our government does not address these issues in our education, media, and entertainment systems then all of our political actions and ideals will come to naught.

So what can I do? What can WE do? One tiny thing I am going to do is to promote good books, movies and music that point us in the right direction. If the education system, modern news media and entertainment industry does not promote Americanism, Patriotism, Western Civilization, Virtue and Good Morals, and the Christian Faith, then I WILL. The lists that I will produce are from my personal library and are books/movies/music that I think are important and share a good message that will build up the Church, build up America and Americans, and fight the overwhelming tide of evil that assaults us every day.

I am inviting you to educate and inform yourself through these resources. Certainly we should exchange ideas, discuss the books and the issues. And have fun!

I. History: the Record of Freedom and Oppression, Greatness in Western Civilization

     A. General Histories of America: Here are some general histories of America that I have either found to be outstanding or look very promising with good, strong recommendations.

  1. A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson. HarperCollinsPublishers: New York, 1997 (1088pp.) Johnson is British and the book was originally published in Britain. This is an outstanding, conservative view of the history of America. I would say that if you could read one volume on the history of America, read this book!
  2. Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties, by Paul Johnson. Harper&Row Publishers: New York, 1983 (817pp.) While this is a world history, it deals a lot with America and her impact on the world, so I am including it here as a companion volume to the one above. I have read this big book twice it’s so good! Even though it is now a bit out of date, if you want to read a great, conservative account of most of the twentieth-century, this is the book.
  3. The Growth of the American Republic, Volume One, sixth edition, by Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager and William E. Leuchtenburg. Oxford University Press: New York, 1969 (921pp.) The original edition of this classic came out in 1930. Volume Two, seventh edition, 1980 (923pp.) I read these two classics back in 2000 over about 5 months- that fast for such a large work indicates how much I enjoyed these books! The authors tell the story of America in a rich, invigorating manner.
  4. America, The Last Best Hope Volume I:From the Age of Discovery To a World at War by William J. Bennett. Nelson Current: Nashville, TN 2006 (673pp.) The portions of this book I have read are outstanding! Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom 1914-1989 Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2007 (592pp.) This two volume set may be better in some ways than the previous set listed above because Bennett does deal with some modern trends in American History that are liberal and deconstructive. Bennett takes on controversial subjects like Columbus and sets the Liberals straight! If you can afford the time for a big 2 Volume history of America, go to Dr. Bennett.
  5. A Patriot’s History of the United States From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Sentinel: New York, 2004 (928pp.) I have read parts of this book and am quite impressed! It seems that it started out as a one volume work but the following volumes have been added. A Patriot’s History of the Modern World From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945, Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty. 2012 (490pp.) A Patriot’s History of the Modern World Vol.II From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement: 1945-2012 by Schweikart and Dougherty. 2013 (671pp.)
  6. The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin. Vintage Books: New York, 1958 (434pp.) This is an outstanding three book series that takes a series of connected snapshots to lay out the history of this great nation. This is not your normal, straight chronological history; Boorstin’s writing is unique and scintillating. The Americans: The National Experience. 1965 (517pp.) The Americans: The Democratic Experience. 1973 (717pp.) This inexpensive paperback set would be a great addition to any family’s library. The way Boorstin writes and organizes his book is that you can open it to any chapter at random, read it, and feel good about your country and learn a lot. You do not have to read it all the way through, first to last, although that is certainly the recommended way.
  7. The Oxford History of the American People, volume I: Prehistory to 1789, Samuel Eliot Morison. Mentor: New York, 1972 (422pp.) Volume II: 1789 Through Reconstruction. (540pp.) Volume III: 1869 to the Death of John F. Kennedy 1963. (521pp.) Morison is one of my all-time favorite authors and this series is outstanding. I also have the one volume, hardback edition which can still be purchased: The Oxford History of the American People, Oxford University Press: New York, 1965 (1151pp.) Morison is an old school conservative who is a delight to read. By conservative I do not mean a partisan, rather, an accurate historian who is passionate about our story and seeks to tell it with grace and dignity.
  8. B. Discovering the Americas: Stories of Adventure, Courage & Greatness: Every American should get to know Christopher Columbus. He has fallen out of favor these days and is blamed for the near extermination of the Native Americans, Indians, and Aboriginal Peoples. I believe that we should celebrate Columbus and his great accomplishments as he had a great faith in God, a sense of divine calling in his life, and he was the most courageous and talented mariner in our American story. Simply put, if Columbus had not persevered in his quest, which was a religious quest, America would not be here.

The study of Columbus does have a particular relevance to our lives today in that he was seeking a way to deal with the problem of Islam in his day. That’s right, Columbus did NOT just sail west because it was there, he did not set out on his journey simply for fame, glory, and riches. He believed God had called him to this task in order to enrich the Spanish Crown and fund a Crusade to reconquer the Holy Land from the Muslims and open new trading routes since the Muslims had blocked the direct route. Along the way he discovered a New World.

  1. The Log of Christopher Columbus, translated by Robert H. Fuson. International Marine Publishing Company: Camden, Maine 1987 (252pp.) An excellent prime source that demonstrates his faith in God and personal courage.
  2. The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Edited and translated by J.M. Cohen. Penguin Books: New York, 1969 (320pp.) This book is an Excellent prime source and contemporary account. This is an inexpensive paperback and should be in every American’s home!
  3. Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, Carol Delaney. Free Press: New York, 2011 (319pp.) An excellent biography that sheds much light on the religious motives of Columbus. If you can’t read Morison’s lengthy biography of Columbus, read this one!
  4. Admiral of the Ocean Sea, A Life of Christopher Columbus, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1942 (680pp.) This Pulitzer Prize winner is one of my top biographies. If you could only read one book on Columbus, read this one.
  5. The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Two Volumes in One, by Washington Irving. Cosimo Classics: New York, 2011, originally published in 1893, (489pp., 515pp. respectively). Did you catch the author’s name? Yes, that Washington Irving, the famous 19th century author of The Last of the Mohicans, and The Deerslayer. One Great American writing about another. While I have not read this massive 2 volume biography yet, this classic promises greatness. Morison does quote from Irving several times in his books, but there are some inaccuracies in the book that Morison ferrets out.
  6. The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages A.D.1492-1616, by Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1974 (758pp.) This outstanding book tells the stories of the brave, the cruel, the greedy, and the amazing men who led other men in the very dangerous journeys of early trans-Atlantic sailing to the Americas. The book focuses on Columbus, Magellan, and Drake but includes others. These men should be revered as heroes by every American, but, sadly, their stories have fallen on hard times to our great loss.
  7. The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1971 (712 pp.) This Harvard Professor and U.S. Navy Admiral begins his story with ancient myths of islands and lands west of Gibraltar and the English Isles and then covers in detail the great mariners like Leif Ericsson, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and Sir Walter Raleigh. These great men, and the adventures they pursued, should be common knowledge today, but have, sadly, been long forgotten. In my lifetime the only men that come close to these heroes are the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs which also are now nearly forgotten.
  8. B. Conquering and Colonizing the Americas
  9. Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650, by Governor William Bradford. The Vision Forum, Inc.: San Antonio, TX 1998. Originally published 1856 after being lost and in private possession for over two-hundred years. This edition updated into modern English in 1909 by Harold Paget. (353pp.) I have read this book twice and believe that every American should read this book! Condensed, paperback editions are available.
  10. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation, by David A. Price. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2003 (305pp.) This outstanding book needs to be read in conjunction with Plymouth Plantation listed above. The two books give you both sides of the founding of this great country- a search for wealth and adventure as well as a search for freedom to worship.
  11. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America, by James Horn. Basic Books: New York, 2005 (337pp.) Jamestown is so important that a second book is worthy of your reading.
  12. Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2006 (274pp.) To understand, love, and appreciate America you must read biographies of the great men and women who founded and built this great country. John Smith was a great man, and here is a worthy biography.
  13. John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father, by Francis J. Bremer. Oxford University Press: New York, 2003 (478pp.) Surely Winthrop deserves the title of a Founding Father, and this biography brings back this forgotten giant of our history.
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The Role of Columbus’ Faith in the Discovery of America

Posted on May 9, 2012. Filed under: An American Catechism |

An American Catechism:

Religion, Politics, Economics, History & Culture

 

Series I: The Discovery of America

Crucial Question- Does American history show a belief in God?

Memorize: “No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy Service,” Christopher Columbus.

Lesson 1: Did Christopher Columbus’ belief in God help him discover America?

            Although many people from a variety of places “discovered” America long before Christopher Columbus of Genoa, it was Columbus’ discovery of the Caribbean Island he named San Salvador (Holy Saviour) on October 12, 1492 that brought a permanent European presence into the New World. Modern day Americans are the descendants of Columbus’ discovery, so for that reason it is important that we know what motivated Columbus and what brought him to this hemisphere in 1492. Professor Marshall C. Eakin of Vanderbilt says that the discovery by Columbus is “arguably the most important event in world history during the last millennium.” If we are to understand this most important event, we must not neglect the religious side of Columbus and his voyage.

The evidence shows that Christopher Columbus believed in the God of the Bible and had a gospel purpose, among other purposes, in discovering America. Since at least the 1970’s,Columbus’ fame and name have been shamed in some education circles and in the broader culture. The Columbus Day holiday is embarrassing to many people because it represents the genocide of the Native Americans. It is not a coincidence that the shame of Columbus has grown as liberalism and atheism have spread in America. The religious circumstances attending the discovery of America by Columbus are generally not known, are mocked, or worse, are deliberately hidden from school children and the public today, and are a source of embarrassment for the academic elites. While some consequences of the discovery of the New World by Columbus are tragic, they are conveniently overplayed by those who hate America while other incidents surrounding Columbus which are positive are conveniently forgotten by those same people. This brief essay will show the religious belief’s of Columbus, and the historical, religious circumstances which allowed his journey of discovery, and how some notable scholars view him and his discovery of theNew World.

            Who was Christopher Columbus? Cristoforo (the name means Christ-bearer) Columbo was born in the Republic of Genoa in 1451 to a family of weavers who had been in the area for at least three generations prior. Morison writes, (p.7, Admiral, 1942), “There is no reason to doubt that Christopher Columbus was a Genoese-born Catholic Christian, steadfast in his faith and proud of his native city, than to doubt that George Washington was a Virginian-born Anglican of English race, proud of being an American.” Morison continues, (p.8), “Every contemporary Spaniard or Portuguese who wrote about Columbus and his discoveries calls him Genoese….Nobody in the Admiral’s lifetime, or for three centuries after, had any doubt about his birthplace.”

            Morison points out that Columbus’ patron Saint was St. Christopher and recounts the story of that Saint and how it would have impacted Columbus: “He conceived it his destiny to carry the divine word of that Holy Child across the mighty ocean to countries steeped in heathen darkness. Many years elapsed and countless discouragements were surmounted before anyone would afford him means to take up the burden. Once assumed, it often became intolerable, and often he staggered under it; but never did he set it down until his appointed work was done. We may fairly say that the first step toward the discovery of America was taken by the parents of Columbus when they caused him to be baptized Cristoforo in some ancient church of Genoa….” (Admiral, p.11.)

This sense of destiny that Admiral Morison points to is clearly supported by one of Columbus’ more obscure writings, Book of Prophecies. Columbus wrote this book looking throughout the Bible for verses that he thought pointed to his mission of sailing west and discovering new lands. Morison cites this source twice (pp.444, 577), but it is Peter Marshall who quotes from this source in The Light and the Glory (1977), “It was the Lord who put into my mind…the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me….I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence….No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy Service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will….” (p.17.)

It is interesting and significant that United States Navy Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, 1887-1976, history professor at Harvard, winner of TWO Pulitzer Prizes and TWO Bancroft Prizes, who actually retraced parts of Columbus’ voyage by sail, considers his Christian background and beliefs to be a serious part of the reasons why Columbus discovered America. One reason many today consider what Columbus did to be shameful is that they do not consider Christianity, or Columbus’ gospel purpose, to be any better than any other world religion. The worldview of modern, anti-Christian, Western liberals is that all religions either lead to the same god, or are equally worthless. Morison believes that Columbus’ Christian faith was an essential part of his eventual discovery of America.

            In describing the year 1492, Morison writes (p.3), “At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science….Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate….Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. Every effort to recover the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, touchstone of Christian prestige, had been a failure. The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had over-run most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna.” Much of this description of 1492 sounds very similar to today (2012). Understanding the religious setting of 1492 is crucial for understanding why Columbus did what he did and when he did it. Columbus sailed west not simply to find the Orient and gain the spice trade; he sailed west because Islam had closed the land routes to the East and Christianity was locked in a struggle for its very survival. He sailed west to bring the light of the gospel to the people of the east because the Muslims were prohibiting the spread of the gospel in their part of the world. The discovery of America was a part of the broader conflict between Christianity and Islam that had been going on for 800 years and it was to some degree, a spiritual struggle and a spiritual victory for Christendom.

            In Captain Gonzolo Fernandez de Oviedo’s History of the Indies (as reproduced in part in the Penguin Classic, Christopher Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1969) he writes as the Royal Historian of the Spanish court and published his work in 1526. On p.33,Oviedo writes, “Columbus worked through his brother Bartholomew on King HenryVII of England (father of the present King Henry VIII) to support him and equip him with ships in which to discover these western seas, offering to give him great wealth and to increase his realm and estates with new kingdoms and lordships. After consulting his counselors and certain men whom he had asked to examine Columbus’ proposals, the King laughed at the idea….”Columbus was from Genoa, not England, so why was he seeking to sail under the English flag and make the English King wealthy? Columbus obviously did not want to sail for any nationalistic pride, he was open to any who would fund the journey. He tried to sail for Portugal with similar results because the King of Portugal was more interested in sailing around Africa to the East. Columbus had personal motives as a navigator, as a ship captain, as an explorer, for wanting to undertake this dangerous journey.

            Oviedo continues, p.34, by telling us that Columbus went to Spain after Portugal and persisted in trying to sell his idea for seven years, “repeatedly holding out great prospects of wealth and riches for the crown of Castile.” We see this theme of gaining great wealth for the Sovereigns for whom he would sail, but this would also include great wealth for Columbus as he would share in the cargo’s value should he return. Thus, we can see that he did have a pecuniary motive as well as religious and professional motives.

            Listen to how Oviedo describes Columbus’ attempts to gain an audience with Ferdinand and Isabella to share his plans for sailing west (pp.34-35): “Columbus went in search of the Catholic sovereigns, whom he found occupied at that time in their holy war against the Moors of the Kingdom of Granada. It is no marvel that such Catholic princes should be more concerned with winning souls for salvation than with treasure and new estates which would only increase their royal cares and responsibilities, nor that that they decided to back this project of discovery. But let no one believe that this alone could account for their good fortune, for eye had never seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart dreamed of the rewards prepared by God for those who love Him. These and many other blessings fell to our good sovereigns for their faithful service to Jesus Christ and their fervent desire for the spread of His holy faith. It was for this purpose that the Lord brought Christopher Columbus to their notice, for He sends the ends of the earth and all that happens beneath the sky. And when in due season this great business was concluded, it was God’s purpose that was to be fulfilled.”  Notice that Oviedo quotes from 1 Cor. 2:9 and attributes the Spanish royalty with gospel oriented motives. He concludes by stating that it was God’s purpose that was fulfilled in Columbus. This is the worldview which permeated the times in which Columbus sailed. Columbus shared in this belief in God’s purpose for his sailing west.

            Oviedogoes on to tell the story of how the Spanish monarchs agreed to fund Columbus’ voyage of discovery as they were finishing up the siege of Muslim held Granada, thus linking the discovery of America with finally removing the Muslims from Spanish territory. America was discovered in the context of the Spanish victory over the Muslim invaders in a war that had lasted for over 700 years. The reason Columbus discovered America in 1492 is that that was the year of the victory of Spain over the Moors in Granada which freed up funds for the expedition.

            Oviedo concludes, p.36, “…these blessed princes, in addition to bringing the whole of Spain to our Catholic religion, decided to send an expedition in search of this new world and propagate the Christian faith there, for they devoted every hour to the service of God. For this holy purpose they ordered Columbus to be dispatched, giving him authority under the royal seal…for this long voyage whose only hope of success lay in the pious zeal and holy purpose of these Christian princes, under whose auspices and by whose commands this great adventure began.” This clearly shows that among the other motives of the Spanish court, there was a clear gospel motive for the sending out of Columbus.

            But what about Columbus himself? There are many clear statements of the faith of Columbus in the Digest of Columbus’ Log-Book on His First Voyage Made by Bartolome’ De Las Casas in the Penguin Classics Christopher Columbus: The Four Voyages and in The Log of Christopher Columbus, translated by Robert H. Fuson (International Marine Publishing Company, 1987). Fuson writes in the Prologue, pp.19-22, “The Log provides a solid foundation upon which we may reconstruct the religious framework that guided the Admiral. That he was a devout Christian there can be no doubt. His devotion and faith are no better demonstrated than on February 14, 1493, when he vowed to fulfill two different pilgrimages if delivered from the terrible storm surrounding his ship….Although Columbus seems to have believed that God intervened directly on several occasions by providing signs…he never prayed for miracles….When he made direct references to the scriptures, they were to Old Testament ones. Running throughout the Log are ample proofs that Columbus was not a superstitious person. For example, he preferred not to sail from a port on Sundays, but said that this was because of piety, not superstition….Columbus found no conflict between religion and science.”

            Fuson writes of this man of faith, p.29, “Columbus always rates the highest accolades from scholars when it comes to his seamanship. He was, without question, the finest sailor of his time. Perhaps he was the greatest dead-reckoning sailor who ever lived. His navigation to the Azores on the return voyage, through one of the most terrible storms the residents of those islands could recall, is sufficient proof of his ability.”

            In Digest of Columbus’s Log-Book On His First Voyage Made, by Bartolome’ De Las Casas (Penguin Classics: The Four Voyages, p.55) writing about his first landfall and meeting of the Indians, Columbus writes, “In order to win their friendship, since I knew they were a people to be converted and won to our holy faith by love and friendship rather than by force, I gave some of them red caps and glass beads….”

            One of the modern day critiques of Columbus is that what followed, the genocide of the Native Americans, is a horrible blot on the European peoples’ record. Some estimates of the catastrophe that befell the natives include 90% of the population of North, South, and Meso America being wiped out. But what did Columbus think of the Indians? Fuson writes, p.32, “All through the Log, Columbus expresses nothing but love and admiration for the Indians….There is no contradiction between Columbus’ warm feelings for the natives and his desire to secure Spanish authority over them. After all, Europeans were subjects of this ruler or that- and a subject is one who is subjected. Furthermore, to bring Christianity was a noble thing. The fact that today we can point out countless abuses has nothing to do with 15th century morality.”

            The introduction of new diseases by the Europeans to the Native Americans was accidental, initially. It is true that some villains deliberately spread diseases at various times once it was learned that the Indians had no natural immunities to the European diseases. But the major damage was done simply by accident and cannot be blamed on Columbus.

            The bottom line is that a strong, technologically advanced society (Spain) came into contact with a stone-aged culture that was very advanced and beautiful in many ways, but still could not compete with the more advanced European culture, and the weaker culture was overrun by this collision. This is the story of man for thousands of years. Christopher Columbus, the Christ-bearer, brought Western Civilization and Christianity to the New World, and in the end, we are the result of his discovery and we should celebrate his legacy and understand the Christian beliefs that drove him across the ocean sea.

American Apologetics:

CLAIM- America is NOT and has NEVER been a Christian Nation.

ANSWER- The evidence of history is overwhelming that Christopher Columbus, though not a perfect man, was a committed Catholic Christian, who believed the Bible and who sailed with a gospel purpose, and who was sent by the Spanish sovereigns in 1492 as a part of the struggle against Islam. The most thorough biographer of Columbus, Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard Professor, believes that the Christian background and beliefs of Columbus are an essential part of his great discovery.

Bibliography:

            Bailyn, Davis, Donald, Thomas, et.al. The Great Republic, A History of the American People. D.C. Heath and Company:Lexington,Mass. 1977 (1267pp. see chapter 1.)

Bennet, William J. America, The Last Best Hope Volume I: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War. Nelson Current:Nashville, TN. 2006 (573pp. especially Chapter 1: “Westward the Course 1492-1607”.)

Bergreen, Laurence. Columbus, The Four Voyages. Viking:New York, 2011 (423pp.)

Boorstin, Daniel J. The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search To Know His World and Himself. Vintage Books:New York, 1983 (745pp.)

Boyer, Clark, Kett, et.al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. D.C. Heath and Company:Lexington,Mass. 1990 (1159pp. see chapter 1 “The New and Old Worlds”.)

Cohen, J.M., editor. The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Penguin Classics:New York, 1969 (320pp.)

Coleman, R.V. The First Frontier, A History of How America Began. Castle Books:Edison,N.J. 2005. Originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1948. (458pp.)

            Columbus, Christopher; Fuson, Robert H. editor/translator. The Log of Christopher Columbus. International Marine Publishing Company:Camden,Maine 1492/1987 (252pp.)

            Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies, updated. W.W. Norton & Company: New York 2005, originally 1997, (518pp.) Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

            _____________. Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed. Viking:New York, 2005 (575pp.)

            Dugard, Martin. The Last Voyage of Columbus. Little, Brown and Company:New York, 2005 (294pp.)

            Eakin, Marshall C. The Great Courses: Conquest of the Americas, Part 1, Course Guidebook. The Teaching Company:Chantilly,VA 2002.

            Elliot, J.H. Empires of the Atlantic World, Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830.YaleUniversity Press:New Haven,CT. 2006 (546pp.)

            Gunn, Giles; editor. Early American Writing. Penguin Classics:New York, 1994 (pp.26-31 deal withColumbus).

            Kagan, Ozment, and Turner. The Western Heritage, Eighth Edition, Combined Volume. Pearson-Prentice Hall:Upper Saddle River,New Jersey 2004 (1120pp. especially chapter 10.)

            Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Alfred A. Knopf:New York, 2005 (509pp.)

            Marshall, Peter and Manuel, David. The Light and the Glory. Fleming H. Revell Company: OldTappan,NJ. 1977 (384pp.)

            Meinig, D.W. The Shaping of America, A Geographical Perspective On 500 Years Of History, Volume 1, Atlantic America, 1492-1800. YaleUniversity Press:New Haven,CT 1986 (500pp.)

            Menzies, Gavin. 1421 The Year China Discovered America. William Morrow: New York, 2002 (552pp.)

            Morison, Samuel Eliot. Admiral of the Ocean Sea, A Life of Christopher Columbus. Little, Brown and Company:New York, 1942 (680pp.) A Pulitzer Prize Winner and one of the very best biographies I have ever read!

            ___________________. The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1971 (712pp.)

            ___________________. The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages. 1974 (758pp.)

            ___________________. The Oxford History of the American People.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1965 (1153pp. but see chapters I-III.)

            Morison, Samuel Eliot; Commager, Henry Steele; and, Leuchtenburg, William E. The Growth of the American Republic, volume one, Sixth Edition, Revised and Enlarged.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1969 (921pp. see I-II.)

            Perry, Chase, Jacob&Jacob, Von Laue. Western Civilization, Ideas, Politics, and Society, Eighth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company:Boston, 2007 (876pp. especially chapters 13-17.)

            Richter, Daniel K. Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press:Cambridge,Mass. 2011 (502pp. but see especially chap.3 “Crusades of the Christ-Bearers to theAmericas”.)

            Schweikart, Larry and Allen, Michael. A Patriot’s History of the United States From Columbus’s Great Discovery To The War On Terror. Sentinel:New York, 2004 (928pp. especially Chapter One “The City on the Hill”.)

            Shi, David E. and Mayer, Holly A., editors. For the Record: A Documentary History of America, second edition, volume 1, From Contact Through Reconstruction. W.W. Norton & Company:New York, 2004 (593pp. see chapter 1 “The Collision of Cultures”.)

            Stephens, Alexander H. A Compendium of the History of the United States from the Earliest Settlements to 1872. First published in 1872, this edition published by American Foundation Publications:Bridgewater,VA. 1999 (513pp. chapter 1 “The Discovery ofAmerica”.)

            Taylor, Alan. American Colonies, in The Penguin History of theUnited States series, Volume 1, ed. Eric Foner. Viking: New York, 2001 (526pp.)

            Thomas, Hugh. Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan. Random House:New York, 2003 (696pp.)

Web sources:

http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/columbus/columbus.shtml

http://nautarch.tamu.edu/shiplab/01George/index.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Eliot_Morison

 

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