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The Real Thanksgiving – Episode 022

logoIf you’re curious about that first landing of the Mayflower and whether the current history books have it right, you’ll want to join us today when we have as our guest pastor and author Steve Wilkins. Steve has a Bachelor’s degree in pre-law from the University of Alabama, a Masters of Divinity degree from Reform Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and a wonderful knowledge of this country’s history.

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Off The Grid Radio
Ep022
Released: November 19, 2010

Welcome to Off the Grid Radio, better ideas to bust you and your family out of today’s global control grid. Now here’s today show.

Bill: And welcome everybody, this is Bill Heid with Off the Grid News. This is the radio version and we’d like to welcome everybody and we have a very special guest and a very special subject matter today. We want to talk about Thanksgiving and the theme that generally runs through this radio show is that we’re worried about our entitlement culture, we’re worried about what’s going all in this country right now and while we’re in this problem. And my perspective on this is as we approach Thanksgiving if we won’t to get out of entitlement culture we’ve got to humble ourselves and sort of rekindle that idea Thanksgiving and what better time to do that than Thanksgiving itself? And so today I’ve brought someone on the show that really knows a lot about the first Thanksgiving, I’ve got Steve Wilkins with us and Steve holds a bachelors degree in pre-law from the University of Alabama and a Masters of Divinity from Reform Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He served in the ministry since 1976 and he’s pastored At Auburn Ave., Presbyterian Church which I’ve been to Steve since 1989. He’s got a number of books, Face to Face, which is a great book on hospitality written kind of from someone who’s got a perspective on Southern hospitality which it’s a fabulous book. He’s also written books on Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee so with that Steve, welcome.

Steve: Thank you Bill, it’s good to be here.

Bill: It’s great to have you. What I’d like to start with and before we jump in we want to talk about the first Thanksgiving, we want to talk about – our old friend Greg Bahnsen said that Thanksgiving was the worst holiday to miss and he had some good perspectives on that. When we think about Thanksgiving we think about the Pilgrims, the Puritans that came here what were the, what was going on Steve in Europe at the time that kind of forced the situation providentially?

Steve: Yeah, that’s a great question and there was a lot going on. There was a lot going on for a number of years, you know you had a whole century, practically a century after the Reformation when all of this movement began in England especially among the English and that is another point that needs to be considered. Why was it that England – more people came to this country from England than any other European country? Why was that? When Spain and France had larger landholdings and both governments were pretty active in exploration but the English didn’t get seriously into exploration until 100 years after Columbus’s discovery. And it would be – yet by 1700 they had had more settled, they had more people here than both Spain and France combined. Now that is an interesting point, why is that so? And I think one of the reasons if not the major reason is the Reformation had a great influence on England, an influence that it didn’t have not as strong or as broad an influence as it had in Spain or in France and the Reformation really transformed everyone’s view of the world. It made people realize that God is the Lord of all the earth, all creation belongs to him and all creation is to glorify him. And that means all men are to glorify him in all areas of life and so man’s life and calling is to be conformed to God’s word, God’s will and to glorify him. And that became really a revolutionary idea, it’s not a new thing of course, the church has always held that generally but the Reformation brought this back to everybody’s consciousness with a real power that moved men to begin to think about what to do and to look at the circumstances around them in different ways. And the Puritan movement and England was really motivated by that at bottom. They wanted to see first the church reformed, they wanted the church to be faithful and of course during this time there was basically this struggle between the Roman Catholics and the more Protestant leaders and so there was a struggle there to see the church become more faithful in its doctrine and in its practice. And really that was what the Puritans were all about, they wanted to purify the church and if you think about Puritans, well they were the ones that wanted to purify the church from within. The separatists were different in that they wanted to, they felt like the church really couldn’t be reformed from within and they felt that the best thing to do would just be to separate and start new, a new church or a new congregations, But that is kind of the – I think that you look at the Reformation for the bottom motivation of all that goes on and then of course you have all kinds of other things going on with the Kings and…

Bill: Well let’s go back for a second Steve, let’s go back for just a second, why is it that these Puritans wanted to purify or reform the church? What was it to them that they salt wrong because as you mentioned there’s a number of different groups, you’ve got the separatists, the nonconformists, the secessionists, and so forth but kind of generally what did they all sort of have against that Anglo-Catholic thing that was happening at that time?

Steve: Well yeah, there were concerns about of course the overreaching of the King and the rulers and of course the rule of bishops and archbishops and so forth but they did see that the church is the center I think in a very general sense, not fully and completely but they saw that if the world is to be transformed, if the country is to be transformed, if there is to be real prosperity been the church has to be at the center of that. Worship is always first and we live life we worship and I think that many of these men realized that’s important. And so you focus first of all upon the church because if that’s the place of life then basically all life flows from there and you can trace all of our problems back to there and so if the church has messed up, if the church has tyranny in it, if they are tyrannical bishops, if they’re not following the word, they are not submitting to God there then you shouldn’t be surprised that there are to tyrannical rulers and other areas of life. And that people as a whole don’t submit to the word in other areas of life and that society in general becomes more and more corrupt so I think that whether they would have spelled it all out like that or not, I think the instinct was well sure Reformation has to begin in the house of God, it has to begin with the church and it moves out from there.

Bill: And Steve didn’t – when Elizabeth died and be thrown sort of past to James I and I think that was in the early 1600s maybe 1602, 1603…

Steve: Right.

Bill: Then a few years later didn’t he pass the Decree of Conformity which was used as sort of a bludgeoning piece…

Steve: Right.

Bill: Against these folks that had different views so they weren’t just casually against what was going on. What was forced on them was a little bit of a baseball bat to the knees in a way because they were hunted down if I’m not mistaken, they were hunted down, they tried to meet in places that – in barns and different places and they were arrested right?

Steve: Right, they had real hopes for James I because he had been trained under Scottish tutors and they thought that this guy would be sympathetic to Protestants and of course it turned out that he wasn’t and he wasn’t because he was so personally corrupted but right, he wanted to squash all the nonconformity and sought to – he made the famous statement, I want to make and conform or I will harry them out of the land or else do worse. Not exactly a good prospect for the future so he was serious about trying to persecute and make men conform to things and that really provoked I think a lot of the separatists to realize there is no point in hanging around and trying to change things when you have the King and others around him who are serious about this.

Bill: Exactly Steve, and I think earlier you had Charles V, when you have absolute power you tend to want to have a controlled religion and when Luther, during Luther’s days a little bit before this you had Charles V doing the exact same thing, saying look you guys these are petty squabbles we all should believe the same thing. We’ve got the radical infidel’s at the gates of 0:09:51.3 and we all need to get together and of course those men, those electors at that point they said no, no, no, we’re going to draw a line in the sand and let’s draw a line in the sand. With respect to our time right now, we will be back right after these messages.

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Off the Grid News because you want a different paradigm.

Bill: We are back, it’s Bill Heid with Steve Wilkins and we are talking about what are the preconditions of the movement from Europe here by the Puritans or the pilgrims as it were and Steve what we were just – I closed with a little idea about king’s and we don’t need to dwell too much but just your perspective on generally I think Constantine did the same thing in some of the church councils that he had some influence over. Isn’t there kind of a thing where kings just, they want everybody to believe the same thing?

Steve: Well they do and you know that wouldn’t be a problem if the King himself actually was willing to submit to the Bible.

Bill: Sure, sure.

Steve: I mean if the King is Orthodox and realizes that look there are certain things that we must maintain and there are areas that we can allow for disagreement. If he had a biblical perspective of that and then I think there have been rulers who had that – the guys we are talking about especially James and others did not have than that was the problem so they were trying to force conformity at points that the Puritans really believed either would force them into our idolatry or forms of idolatry and false worship and they resisted on that. And if these men had been wise as Kings then they would have insisted I think its fine I mean we want everyone to believe the fundamentals of the faith, we want them to believe the apostles 0:15:51.4 and everyone ought to agree on those fundamental basic points of the faith. I would love that but of course you can’t make a law and make people believe that but it would be fine if everyone did believe, it would be wonderful if everyone believed that. So that’s not the problem as it is these Kings always want to use their authority beyond the bounds that God allows them and enforce things that God doesn’t himself require so that was the problem and you had all kinds of things going on in England where the active conformity would one and then the book of sports where Archbishop 0:16:27.6 tries to make all the Puritans of course play sports on Sunday which he knew they did not want to do and it made them stand up rightfully and say you can’t do this, this is wrong and we are not going to do this kind of thing which causes then all kinds of persecution. And so yeah these things are very serious examples of overreaching your lawful authority and the church has always said we submit to the rulers, we always submit to God ordained rulers but they also – we submit to them as they also submit to God and when they require us to sin then we can’t obey. And what you have here is not by and large you have lawful resistance rather than any kind of rebellious kind of revolutionary sort of trying to undermine lawful authority. There was no concern, I mean everyone believed in lawful authority but when you have a man who is trying to force things against the Scriptures then you do have the right to say no and the Puritans and the separatists said no.

Bill: And you have a lot of folks during that period of time from Luther’s time through to where people started to say here I stand I can do no other because of exactly what you are talking about.

Steve: Right.

Bill: And that field this period of time did it not, I mean that was the consciousness especially of some of these lower church fellows – are willing to die.

Steve: They were and they were because they believe that these things were serious corruptions of worship. Now that is the interesting thing I think we forget that really at bottom these men wanted to worship God rightly. You know the cartoon views of history that we have put forth in public school textbooks and even in many purportedly serious history books is really ridiculous saying that these guys wanted to be free to live as they pleased and they presented it as if freedom of any sort is what they were seeking and in fact the main point they were seeking was freedom to worship God according to his word. And that is something that is almost too modern Americans sounds almost crazy, they don’t even understand the concept of that.

Bill: Yeah exactly there’s almost no reference point from that.

Steve: There really isn’t.

Bill: I’m thinking there could be freedom from some other reason than freedom for freedom’s sake like my libertarian, I have a lot of libertarian friends, that’s what they would pause it.

Steve: Right, and they understood see if there is not – if the son does not make you free there is no freedom at all, if the son makes you free you are free indeed but all true freedom has to be rooted in the Scriptures and in faith in Lord Jesus and that’s what they understood. And that is what the driving focal point is here so it wasn’t merely a desire to be free from the king. Many of these men were willing to; they wanted to be loyal to the king. They had no real interest in rebelling against the king. They wanted the King to be lawful, they wanted him to submit to God, they wanted him to be, to use his authority properly but they didn’t have any interest in overthrowing a royalty or overthrowing legitimate authority in any sense and that is the difference between what these guys sought and what so many in the last century and I guess in this too so many people have sought in regard to what the revolution and rebellion which is really a rebellion against authority rather than a rebellion against unlawful exercise of authority.

Bill: Exactly and so let’s go then with that and let’s kind of take our magnifying glass out and look a little bit and look at this little village of 0:20:21.9 where you had in that area you had men like William Ames preaching and that area was the product kind of his thought in a way my guess is so let’s start with 0:20:38.4 and what happened there when they decided they couldn’t hang out anymore.

Steve: Right, they kind of collected initially in 0:20:50.4 and Richard Clifton became the pastor there and John Robinson became the teacher, the Puritans had that view of the church you had a pastor and a teacher usually but trouble came when of course the warrants were issued for the arrest of Brewster for the views – they tried to arresting the church leaders of course destroying the church. And so that led everyone to realize look were going to have to leave England so by 1607 which is the same year by the way of course that the Jamestown settlement was formed and we kind of overlook Jamestown away, everybody points to Plymouth and all of that but we forget about Jamestown and Jamestown was also motivated largely by the same sentiments. But anyway the congregation in 0:21:42.8 decided that they needed to leave and they thought of Holland and so many of them left and went to Amsterdam and they began there, continued to try to start the church there and they, many of them ended up in Leiden in Scotland, I mean in the Netherlands and they were led there by William Brewster and John Robinson and others that were, that later would be a part of the movement to come to America. They were happy of course in the Netherlands by and large but then they began to realize that they were not truly safe there because of the Dutch desire to have good relations with England to have protection against Spain.

Bill: Sure.

Steve: So they did not want to, they realize you know the Dutch are not really willing to stand against James if he insists that they do something they are probably going to do it so they do not jeopardize the alliance they have with England and that was the case and so, in fact James at one point asked the Dutch government to shut down their printing presses and they did so that made everybody realize you know this isn’t going to work.

Bill: So these people went to Holland and I think that is missed. Out of the 200 or 300 people that were in this congregation, how many of them made it up to Holland? Do we know?

Steve: You know I’m sure we…

Bill: Is it 100 or…

Steve: I don’t recall the number.

Bill: Okay.

Steve: It was less than 100 a think.

Bill: Okay.

Steve: But it was – I’m not sure about the exact number, I’m sure somebody knows…

Bill: But they went there and got, they went there and went to work and they started this printing tradition that all of a sudden we had the technology that allows printing and so they started this printing tradition and started putting out pamphlets or books. What was it they were writing?

Steve: Well they were putting out things I think to defend their positions and of course they were separatists so they were, they viewed themselves as, they really did not agree with the Puritans. There was a famous book called Reformation without Tarrying for any and that was kind of a way of saying the Puritan strategy is not going to work, you have to go in and separate now and start anew. There were different strategies there and I think a lot of the books were that as well is just plain theology and practical devotional works and those kind of things were printed but James wanted it all shut down. And of course a lot of that was getting, finding its way back to England too and that was another reason why he wanted, there were probably criticisms of his activities too which he didn’t like so he wanted it shut down and the Dutch shut it down you see. And that’s what kind of made everyone realize well you see what else would they go along with it James requested it? You know they realized, we may not be safe here so not everybody was able to leave Amsterdam more than ever once but a number of the congregation decided at that point to leave and they started making negotiations to try together the money. Of course it’s a huge expense to migrate and that is another thing that no one thinks about. It would take a lot of money to send a whole group of people of families over from the Netherlands or even from England to America and so you had to get a financial backing. And they had this, they started gathering, making negotiations for that and there was a group finally, London Merchants that decided to buy shares in a company which is the way it was done and in exchange for sharing profits with the merchants for seven years after they came to America so they would get paid back and they worked out the details of that. They had to get permission from the King to do it which was another deal.

Bill: So he gave them, he actually gave them permission? We have to take a short break here and let’s come right back and when we come back let’s talk about James giving permission for the pilgrims to leave. We’ll be right back.

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Bill: Hey everybody, it’s Bill Heid and we are back with Steve Wilkins. We’re talking about something that is very important to me and that is Thanksgiving and specifically the first Thanksgiving and we were just talking about the fact that the somewhat crazy King James I or our friend Otto Scott would say a fool as a king actually signing a charter that gives these people, these bloggers that were up in Holland blogging maybe some of the first bloggers they weren’t content to just sit there and shut up they were printing books and I’m sure some of these books found their way back to England and so he had to be a little angry. Steve why do you think he just didn’t whack them? Why do you think he just sent them out of there?

Steve: Well there were some complications I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a little heavy-handed for him to send orders to the Netherlands and who knows what would have been the response there. He probably had as many doubts about that is they did and I don’t know why he agreed to this, he may have just thought they are probably not going to make it anyway. They will get over there and I and at that time nobody really thought much of America. It was still a new thing it’s not very said old and it’s a dangerous place to go and James probably felt well at least that will get them out of my hair and they will have any influence anymore, they will be across the ocean and everybody will forget about them. And who knows, I don’t know what was going through his mind but he did agree to this and so they set up arrangements, contracted a boat or two actually they left on the Speedwell which carried most of the congregation. But that of course eventually when they met up with another group that was going to be leaving from England to go across, they were going to sail to boats across, the Mayflower and the Speedwell. Well the Speedwell got a leak and so everyone had to crowd own to the Mayflower and so they finally got off around I think September or so of 1620. 102 people on this boat, 34 children and they made that terrible trip which you know I don’t how many people have seen some of these boats, ships well we call the ships but we would call them boats, they are very small and I can’t imagine being down underneath the decks for a trip across the Atlantic in the late fall. That’s not a good trip to make and so it was pretty, pretty miserable but they finally made it and of course the story everyone pretty much knows about the Mayflower Compact but they had to make that and that maybe is a good point Bill to make is that the Mayflower Compact would not have been necessary had they landed where they intended to land which was in Virginia or what was called Virginia at that time. They actually intended to land around the Hudson River area.

Bill: Oh yeah, yeah.

Steve: And they would have had a charter for that so they would not have had to make up anything but when they landed in Cape Cod that was outside of the, I mean the charter was no good that they had because the charter was in regards to Virginia but they weren’t in Virginia said they had to make another document that would establish them as a civil, you know as a civil it would govern them as a civil body politic like they said and so that is where the Mayflower Compact…

Bill: So let me stop you against Steve because I think you have really hit on something that you are not going to learn this in public school or in college or anything else. So what many even someone like 0:33:53.0 would consider the world’s most important experiment in liberty sort of begins as this reformed covenant seemingly by accident you and I would say providentially. So they – was that the Dutch they gave them, that slip them the mickey and got them into a different area? Tell us first the story about that, about them they were headed to that area that you said that they didn’t make it there. And some of them blamed the Dutch captain, was that the case?

Steve: Right, well they you know they were late because of delays and everybody having to transfer to the Mayflower and all of that so the captain was losing time and he was trying to – some say he was trying to take a shortcut or what he thought was a shortcut so he didn’t go along the normal route that he would take to cross the Atlantic and he ended up taking a route that would be pretty rough and so – but others say there was conspiracy, he was paid off to get them to not allow them to get into Virginia which was the idea so nobody really knows what happened there, why they ended up – you know he said he was just blown off course by the weather and there was a lot of bad weather so that is a possibility but I think many of the Puritans or Pilgrims thought he was in cahoots with someone and that he had been paid off on the fly to get them off course and put them in a different place.

Bill: Yeah, you never know you have a crazy Gulf Stream; you have a crazy Dutch captain, crazy formula, right?

Steve: And a lot of unscrupulous men underneath the surface here were trying to make some money for one reason or another.

Bill: Let me, before we land in early November, before we land one of the things you told in your series, America, the First 350 Years that I found humorous but there is some irony there was one of the – not everyone on the boat, I think is important for everybody to know, not everybody on the boat were self-conscious Pilgrims. We had a group of people called the strangers obviously because they were strange to them but wasn’t there one of the crew that just gave them a hard time?

Steve: Oh yeah, he was…

Bill: What’s the story there?

Steve: Well he was an outspoken unbeliever and skeptic and he really didn’t respect the Pilgrims at all and mock them because they would get sick, seasick. Of course he could stand it more being used to the seabed they were just that way sick and all the while he is mocking them and telling them they’re going to die before they can make it to land and he is looking forward to throwing their bodies overboard and just all kinds of things.

Bill: Throw their bodies in… And he’s telling them this right?

Steve: Oh yeah.

Bill: We’re going to throw your, we’re going to throw your bloated carcass over to the sharks or whatever.

Steve: You’re going to be food for the fishes…

Bill: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: You know all that kind of stuff. Well what happened of course was as you might suspect this man got sick and he died and he actually became the first body to be thrown overboard along the way. And of course the Pilgrims viewed that as God’s judgment against him for making fun of them.

Bill: Alright, so we’ve landed, we’ve had a rough voyage, this little congregation that’s 100 people or so half of them children, they are sitting out in front of this area and it’s not the area as you said that they intended. They ended up in the Cape Cod area and the question is, what is really important to Americans government is they decided they would create a new form of government before they landed.

Steve: Yeah, it’s pretty remarkable that this was just a matter of course and everybody goes oh okay so it’s front of the Constitution which you know it wasn’t fully a Constitution, it’s a compact but it’s an agreement about how to live but the very fact that they would think in those terms makes you – should make you asked the question you know why did they thing that was important? Why was this something that they spent time doing? Well of course it comes out of the whole men being trained up in a biblical view of government and a biblical view of law and the tradition of law that they had been reared in which was the Christian common law tradition. And they understood that this is the way you govern yourself and it’s important to have stated rules, stated laws and so they wanted to elect rulers and they did and they set up a whole structure which would give some order and they wouldn’t leave it to just what everybody felt like doing. So it is interesting that that’s the way they did it, it was just one of the things, the first thing they think of as a matter of course is that well our charter doesn’t really apply so let’s just make a new charter rather than just assuming we’ll be okay, we will just do what we please hear. Again is not just a matter of freedom but it’s ordered freedom, it’s a biblical view of liberty and not just libertarian, you know not just some kind of living as you please.

Bill: Yeah, chaos they were pretty opposed to just showing up randomly and everybody for themselves because they did live in a in a covenanted community prior to their departure and I think that is one of the things that Ames and Robinson and these men talked about as much as anything is living in covenant with each other, which means we know our neighbor, we are responsible for each other and we take care of each other and almost kind of a federal idea of how to live. And we are going to take another short break here and we’re going to come back and talk a little more about what John, about the Mayflower Compact and what that meant and what John Adams called the foundation of legitimate government, the Mayflower Compact. We’ll be right back.

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Welcome back to Off the Grid Radio, getting you ready to prepare for the worst.

Bill: And we are back with Off the Grid Radio, this is Bill Heid talking to Steve Wilkins about the Mayflower Compact and then the inevitable question once you sign the Mayflower Compact and I think they had 41, 40 signatures or 41 signatures on their and then the question is now how then shall we live? So what next Steve?

Steve: Well, you mean what’s next for us?

Bill: Well what’s next for, well we can talk about that later but what’s next for these folks, they come onshore and they – is not exactly Martha’s Vineyard at this point in time. There’s not that many restaurants or anything there…

Steve: Right.

Bill: So they’ve got a pretty sandy rough kind of environment and they are there in November right?

Steve: Yeah.

Bill: They are there in November.

Steve: And of course it wasn’t when they wanted to be there, that’s not when anybody would want to land but because of all the delays that’s what had happened. And it turns out that that was really a wonderful Lessing even though it was a tremendous hardship. What had happened – if they had landed where they had wanted to land, they would have likely been massacred within a few weeks by the Indians that were there. Indians there in the Hudson River area were very violent, very upset about the contact they had had with Europeans and there was very little question and most historians would say yeah, if they had landed around that area they would have all been dead very, very shortly. But what happened was of course whether it was because of a conspiracy or because of whether or because of whatever they end up, up in Cape Cod which had just had this sweeping disease go through and destroyed 90% of the Indian population there and as a result the Indians that were left were very shaken. You know that they were pagans and pagans are very concerned about diseases and so forth and if disease comes that means and if you can appeal to your God’s and they can’t stop the disease then you’re in big trouble so they had not only been shaken physically, they had lost a lot of people but their faith had been shaken which was very important. They didn’t know what to believe or at least there were some questions about what they believed and now they’re going to run head on with these people who are very confident in what the Bible teaches and who God is and all of that so that is the first thing. That was an amazing thing and then of course the winter comes and it is a terrible, terrible time, a terrible winter. Weakened by the voyage already they were not in great shape getting off the boat but then they had this awful winter. They are not prepared for it, you didn’t have time to prepare for it and so over half of them die of exposure and it’s a terrible, terribly sad story. I mean you have families here and for families were completely wiped out. Only three couples, married couples survived together. Only five of the 18 wives survived. More than half the husbands died that winter, 19 of 29 unmarried singles died, three sons died, there was only one family that was not touched by death and so it is amazing. At one point they only had seven people who were healthy enough to administer to the other sick, and amazing struggle but there again after they came through it they said you know we would have never been able to survive if so many had not died because we did not have the provisions for it. They didn’t come prepared with winter provisions.

Bill: They didn’t have provisions and I will stop you right there too because you know I think there is this poem about five kernels of corn that you’re familiar with and they didn’t even have the corn to make it, they stumbled onto some corn.

Steve: Right.

Bill: I think I remember from your lecture, how did that happen?

Steve: Well, they had some guys wandering around, they were always trying to figure out where they were, what was around, what was available. And so they sent out a party just to explore and they saw some Indians and the Indian saw them and started running. And so they chased after them not to try to do anything to them but to try to communicate with them and say you know, what can we do, where are we, what can you do to help us? And as they were, they got lost, they were trying to find their way back and they ran across this area that had Indian corn buried. There were mounds of corn buried and they found it and of course that was the corn that sustained them and became the seed corn for the following planting in the spring. And so another amazing Providence here that obviously the Lord is taking care of them and then the capper of all I guess is the meeting with Samoset and Squanto.

Bill: So now we are into, we are past February and it’s starting to warm up a little bit, it’s March.

Steve: Yeah.

Bill: In 1621 and what happens, who walks out of the woods?

Steve: It’s a really funny scene I think that here they are all sitting there and one-day here comes this pretty tall guy out of the woods, and Indian obviously. He walks up to them and lifts his hand up and says welcome Englishmen do you have any beer? And everybody looks like what in the world, what in the world is going on here and it turns out that this guy’s name is Samoset; he had learned English from some English fishermen that had been around fishing off the shores of New England. And he says hey I’ve got a friend and you need to me him so a few days later he brings another fellow along and his name is Tisquantum which they shortened to Squanto. Squanto’s even more amazing, he speaks excellent English, he starts asking everybody where they are from and how much time they spent in London and he knows the streets of London better than they do.

Bill: Amazing.

Steve: And they are thinking how in the world, how did this happen? Well it turns out that he had been carried off to England by a fisherman, and English fishermen in 1605 and lived there for nine years or so, came back to America in 1613 and was an interpreter for John Smith who had come over after his return in Jamestown in the whole Virginia area and he had been hired by the Virginia Company to explore the New England area where he was from. And Smith gave him freedom to stay there but then he was kidnapped and taken to Spain and basically sold as a slave and he later escaped and went back to England and became the servant of an Englishman who even eventually worked out arrangements with a ship master to ship him back over to New England and he had just arrived six months prior to the Pilgrims landing.

Bill: Now wait a second before we go on, I’ve got to stop you again. Can you tell me Steve just between you and me why doesn’t someone make a movie out of that? That’s got terminator salvation or any movies about lost or anything beat hands down. You could not make this stuff up.

Steve: No, it really does sound like oh come on every time you – the more you tell the story everybody goes oh come on that can’t be right but it’s the truth, this really happened and it’s an amazing, amazing story. But it would be a great movie to have a movie about Tisquantum and see how you know the life of Tisquantum, he had an amazing life and then he comes and becomes the guy that teaches, that really allows the Pilgrims to survive. I mean he is the reason why they learn how to plant corn, they learn how to catch fish, and they learn how to live where they are because he grew up there.

Bill: Let me get your opinion on his training. I’ve talked to people before who have said that Squanto’s agricultural techniques were something that the Indians used. I’ve talked to other people fairly well read who say wait a second he learned some of these techniques in Europe and brought them back. What sure feel on that one?

Steve: I really don’t know but I think it’s probably a little of both. The Indians here were not good farmers that’s for sure, I mean they were mostly scavengers, they did form a little bit and they obviously could grow corn but they were not what we would call great farmers. So I think it probably was a little bit of both though I do not know and I would not want to say for certain where all of that knowledge came from but I think he probably did bring back a good bit of information with some technology from Europe which is very, very important and he was a smart enough guy to realize the importance of it and how things could be used and improved. So I would not doubt that there is a mixture here.

Bill: Okay. So he keeps them alive and he is planting techniques allow them to actually exist and I would say – wouldn’t you say, well I mean wouldn’t you say without this, without this fellow what is the likelihood of surviving that second-year?

Steve: Yeah, probably not, I mean of course we can’t say but he, no doubt about this he was instrumental and very crucial for their survival and not only because of those things that he was the one who was the mediator between the Pilgrims and Massasoit and he was the one of course who kind of brought the two together and got a treaty made with Massasoit which made them safe which was a very important point and made Massasoit trust them and enter into an agreement with Pilgrims because a war had broken out between Massasoit’s tribe and another soon and so that was very, very important. I mean you cannot overestimate the importance of it. William Bradford said Squanto was a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectation. There is no question that they believed that Squanto was critical for their survival.

Bill: Yeah, so he spoke English, he was a translator, he was more importantly perhaps his expertise in agriculture but a peacemaker and it sounds to me and I don’t want to over blow this thing but it sounds like he is one of America’s greatest heroes, it really does.

Steve: Well, he was certainly useful and I don’t know a great deal about – maybe there’s someone else who knows more about his life and his personal convictions and all of that, I don’t know but he was certainly critical, used to uphold and support giving critical support for the Pilgrims at this time and I think it is pretty clear that they viewed him as indispensable to their survival and I would trust their judgment there. I think he was pretty important so yeah he is one of the great heroes that everyone needs to know about.

Bill: And we know this because of the source documents and I think as we talk about, as we start to wrap things up a little bit before I let you go into the first actually the scene at the first Thanksgiving – let’s, because it just occurred to me and we talk about Off the Grid News, how do you get off the grid because what you learned in school, you didn’t learn this stuff. I was reading a little bit of Winthrop’s diary last night as I usually do in November and you just have to appreciate the mentality, these people are truly off the gridders and just how hearty they were, how convicted they were Steve, and they had things like – I was reading in you will appreciate this and Winthrop’s a little later down the line but in the same area. Winthrop in one part of his journal he said, four people died today and one of them was his son and that is all there is in the entry and it just goes on to the next day. I mean they just took these things in stride and so did these people earlier, this first colony did the same thing. So I’m just always amazed at how hearty they were that it came from something inside them would you agree?

Steve: Oh yeah, there’s no question, I mean and they were very overt in their expressions of why they were able to endure, it was by faith, it was by the grace of God and they trusted in his word and that doesn’t mean that these things weren’t painful, they were very painful. And Winthrop, you’re right he makes numerous, of course they record all of the deaths and everything. And he doesn’t go into the details that those things were very; very painful to endure as they would be for any of us but the courage that these people showed I think is remarkable. It is not something I can envision, you know me gathering up 20 people off the street and as being able to endure these kind of things that’s what’s remarkable is the ability to endure hardship without discouragement, without falling into despair, and without giving up and going into lawlessness and really caring for each other. Those are the kinds of things that are truly amazing and they are amazing for Christians as much as they would be for unbelievers as well. This is an amazing story.

Bill: Yeah, for anybody to read and I am thinking of Winthrop’s Journal and of course Bradford’s book…

Steve: Right.

Bill: Can you think of any other source documents?

Steve: Yeah, there’s an old one, very interesting called Mourt’s Relation.

Bill: How do you spell that so people can…?

Steve: M-o-u-r-t’s, Mourt’s Relation, it’s a story, it’s the same story he just gives some different information that is not always included in Bradford or Winthrop and it’s a great piece of work. I mean it is pretty clear that he didn’t write that really to be published, it was his personal account.

Bill: Sure, sure.

Steve: And is very interesting but yeah there are all of these accounts and that is why we can, we know all these little details, we are not making it up and that it is actually coming out of those accounts from the guys who were there.

Bill: And their stories are kind of congruent like Winthrop talks about meeting these guys from the other colony, I mean it’s not as if these things are out there, they kind of confirm each other story don’t they?

Steve: Oh right, yeah. That’s why we can kind of say sure, we are pretty sure when you get two or three witnesses that confirms the fact so you’ve got two or three witnesses here and all of these things are, we are pretty confident in yeah, these things really did happen and it is an amazing, amazing story.

Bill: Well let’s finish this up Steve and it’s been really exciting and of course Thanksgiving as I said a very special time for me but how are we to envision as we go back and you see a lot of studies school stuff – what, the cartoon stuff or whatever, what did this first Thanksgiving really look like?

Steve: Well, you know first Bill we probably should say this is the third Thanksgiving.

Bill: The third Thanksgiving, okay.

Steve: On American soil there was a Thanksgiving very early on by some of the Mexican Spanish explorers that were here, they actually had the first Thanksgiving on American soil back in the 1500s, 1598 and then the Jamestown colony of course had their Thanksgiving and that was held back in 1607 somewhere along in there soon after they arrived they had a Thanksgiving so this would be the third Thanksgiving.

Bill: Okay.

Steve: And it’s the one we all know about but it is important to realize that we did have faithful Christians here who thanked God for his mercies to them and the Pilgrims were following a good tradition even though I don’t know if they knew about the other two but they were following a great tradition. So they have gone through this now and they have planted something like 20 acres of corn in the spring of 1621 and it yielded amazingly, they had a great harvest. They were safe from Indian attack because of the treaty with Massasoit they had been preserved from further disease they were healthy and by the time the harvest comes around October William Bradford says we need to thank God, there is nothing more important than doing this. And so he declares a season of Thanksgiving and they invite Massasoit to come of course and they were expecting Massasoit and a few of his assistants and brave maybe part of his family or whatever and the day arrives and he walks out with 90 others, basically almost half of his tribe and they are not ready for that. At least they bring five deer with them and so that provides the food or a lot of the food for it. And so they all feast and celebrate for three days, they eat the deer, they eat wild turkey, they eat roast duck and goose and clams, eels and ho-cakes and corn pudding and carrots and onions, turnips, parsnips and cucumbers. I mean they’ve got all kinds of stuff, vegetables. They had blueberry and apple and cherry pies. They had popcorn, it was a great feast and they just had a great time and were able to show not only to thank God themselves but to be witnesses here to these Indians who had also been their friends and to be truly hospitable to them and showed them this is what you do, you thank God for these things. Our God has preserved us and it was a very poignant message to the Indians because they knew their gods had not preserved them and here are these white people from Europe who have been preserved and are thankful for it. And I think you know we, we’re often thankful that we make it through something that we don’t understand at times the importance of giving thanks and what that does for us as a people, it’s a very important thing.

Bill: Well I don’t know what could be more important and I think in some way, Steve one of the ways the Bible talks about how you can recognize believers from unbelievers in several places is by sort of figuring out whether or not you have a people who have a thankful spirit. And so I think that’s what it takes as I said at the beginning of the program really if we are going to get out of this entitlement culture we have to sort of develop something else, we have to develop a different kind of culture so I guess what I’m advocating on this thanks giving episode of Off the Grid News the radio version is, is just sort of starting to create a culture of thankfulness. And you don’t have to elect a President to do this, you don’t have to sign any petitions or do anything, you can start to do it from the bottom up just like the Pilgrims did.

Steve: Yeah, exactly. It’s important, it does something when a man gives thanks, what he is saying is I didn’t do this myself and it’s a major part of humbling yourself and realizing that we are not only dependent upon one another, nobody is self-sufficient, you just look around you in your room and imagine trying to manufacture eyeglasses or a pencil or things that we are getting, you know I just bought some golf balls. I don’t play golf but I went out and got some golf balls and I felt these things are amazing and they are like $.50 apiece, amazing. I could never make a golf ball; it would cost me $400 million to make a golf ball by myself.

Bill: Sure.

Steve: Even if I knew how to do it. We are dependent on everyone, we are dependent on each other but we are ultimately of course depend upon God and it is important that we remind ourselves and each other of that so a national day of Thanksgiving is important for us. It is an important thing we set aside a day where we self-consciously sit back and say I didn’t do this for myself this was a gift, what I have is a gift from God and a gift from him through my fellow men and it is important that we give thanks. That does something to a culture I think that we are losing in our day and that is why it is really important to keep this a day of really Thanksgiving and not just allow it to be a day where we have a parade and we have football and we eat way too much and all of that that you know have it – we can have all of those things but make sure that the focal point of all of this is look you didn’t deserve this, it could be a lot worse and we’ve got a lot that has been given to us that we don’t deserve.

Bill: Well Steve I think you summed it up very, very well. What I would just say quickly in closing is that this period of time is such an important period and getting accurate history here is really one of the most important ways to understand American history and you just can’t understand the history of liberty without understanding what motivated these folks to come over here and what they believed and this Mayflower Compact that sort of got them going so we just want to say thank you to Steve Wilkins. Steve it has been a great interview and we also want to just wish everyone that is listening to this a very happy Thanksgiving from everybody here. Thanks again Steve.

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