The Origins of Thanksgiving…

There’s a good chance, if you’ve gone to public school within the past 20 years, that you’ve learned that on Thanksgiving we remember when the Pilgrims said “thank you” to the Indians.  Bologna.  If you’ve read anything from William Bradford or the other Puritans who actually were the Pilgrims, you know they were thanking God.

Likewise, when Presidents Washington and Madison issued their proclamations, they had God in mind. The reason it’s a national holiday is because President Lincoln instructed our nation that we really need to be thankful to God.  Here’s President Lincoln’s text:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.


Don’t forget to say thank you to God today.

US News College Rankings – Meaningless?

I recently came across a well-thought-out summary of flaws in the US News and World Report college ranking system. It’s longer than most people will read (nine pages), but if you’re choosing a college based on US News and World Report college rankings, you might want to read the summary before you spend $30,000 a year on an education.

As I’ve always said, a college education is only worth what you make of it.

Einstein on Education…

I was watching a NOVA special on Einstein when I heard that he had said:

It’s nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled useful curiosity; for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.

Einstein goes on to say:

It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.

I would conclude from this that the challenge before the student is to maintain a sense of wonder and delight at what he learns. This would be true whether studying physics, literature, sociology, or theology.