What Tisquantum saw on his return stunned him. From southern Maine to Narragansett Bay, the coast was empty—“utterly void,” Dermer reported. What had once been a line of busy communities was now a mass of tumbledown homes and untended fields overrun by blackberries. Scattered among the houses and fields were skeletons bleached by the sun. Gradually Dermer’s crew realized they were sailing along the border of a cemetery 200 miles long and 40 miles deep. Patuxet had been hit with special force. Not a single person remained.
Looking for his kinsfolk, Tisquantum led Dermer on a melancholy march inland. The settlements they passed lay empty to the sky but full of untended dead. Finally, Tisquantum’s party encountered some survivors, a handful of families in a shattered village. These people sent for Massasoit, who appeared, Dermer wrote, “with a guard of fiftie armed men”—and a captive French sailor, a survivor of the Cape Cod shipwreck. Massasoit told Tisquantum what had happened.
One of the shipwrecked French sailors had learned enough Massachusett to inform his captors before dying that God would destroy them for their misdeeds. The Nauset scoffed at the threat. But the Europeans carried a disease, and they bequeathed it to their jailers. Based on accounts of the symptoms, the epidemic was probably of viral hepatitis, likely spread by contaminated food, according to a study by Arthur E. Spiess, of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, and Bruce D. Spiess, of the Medical College of Virginia. The Indians “died in heapes as they lay in their houses,” the merchant Thomas Morton observed. In their panic, the recently infected fled from the dying, unknowingly carrying the disease with them to neighboring communities. Behind them the dead were “left for crows, kites, and vermin to prey upon.” Beginning in 1616, the pestilence took at least three years to exhaust itself and killed up to 90 percent of the people in coastal New England.
Massasoit had directly ruled a community of several thousand people and held sway over a confederation of as many as 20,000. Now his group was reduced to 60 people and the entire confederation to fewer than a 1,000. Both the Indians and the Pilgrims believed that sickness reflected the will of celestial forces. The Wampanoag, wrote Salisbury, the Smith historian, came to the obvious conclusion: “their deities had allied against them.”
Similarly, Governor Bradford is said to have attributed the plague to “the good hand of God,” which “favored our beginnings” by “sweeping away great multitudes of the natives…that he might make room for us.” Indeed, more than 50 of the first colonial villages in New England were located on Indian communities emptied by disease. The epidemic, Gorges said, left the land “without any [people] to disturb or appease our free and peaceable possession thereof, from when we may justly conclude, that GOD made the way toe effect his work.”
Two years ago I romanticized the help the pilgrims received from native americans on the east coast. I apologize for assuming an intent that probably did not exist.
Specifically, I commended Tisquantum. He was captured as a slave, came back to find his nation all but dead from disease, and then helped the pilgrims now living where his tribe had lived. I assumed his motivations were to welcome the stranger. I constructed his intent off of the barest of facts and over-simplification of human motives. The real story is much more complex and political, and I encourage you to read and not make the same mistake I did.
(Also, I have read that the reason why the pilgrims came was not for religious freedom in the way we think, as they has already moved from England to Holland and had freedom to practice their religion there. Holland, however, forced the immigrants to work grueling labor. Since Holland welcomed many religious forms of Christianity, the pilgrims were worried that their children would choose another religion. They wanted be someplace where their religion was the only religion. What the “New World” offered was religious freedom to convert others and economic opportunity. Read more about that here: http://doxos.blogspot.com/2009/03/freedom-of-religion-in-myth-of-pilgrims.html?m=1 )
Much hullaboo is being made in the world today about the new Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, The Joy of The Gospel.
I read summaries of the document and it appears the Pope is a brilliant leader with the mission of the church in his heart. He is not mired in the divisive issues of the day - abortion, women leaders, etc. From this outsider’s perspective, those issues are the sacred cows that the Catholic leadership tries to enforce on the Catholic Church and other people (without much success).
Rather than engage a debate that will further fracture leadership, Pope Francis moves on. He goes to the center of what is wrong with modern society: social inequity and economic inequality. The sacred cows distract from what’s needed to help billions of suffering people. He doesn’t melt down the cows and fight his own people. He sets a vision larger than the church itself. It’s so big that people who don’t belong to the church are inspired by it.
This is inspirational leadership. Lots of things become sacred cows in life. A leader can see the worship of distractions and become incensed at the idolatry. Or a person can realize that they put intense value in something that’s distracting them from their own greatness, and fight the temptation to continue to be distracted.
It takes a lot of energy to destroy the sacred cows. Usually, destruction is not a rallying cry to do something better.
Rather than fight it, set a larger vision for yourself, for the people you lead. The vision that calls you to what you really could be. If you do a good job of it, people give up the sacred cows without a fight, because they see a better world without it.
Congrats, dear public, on your outrage over retail stores being open this Thanksgiving. People shouldn’t have to work, you say, they should celebrate the holiday in peace. I see you, facebook person, congratulating yourself on making sure you’ve bought everything beforehand so you “celebrate properly”.
I remember working holidays. Holidays paid a time and a half. It made the extra bills of the season bearable.
Perhaps retail workers themselves would rather be home. At the same time, I am not so sure of outrage on their behalf. On holidays I worked 6am-3pm and had Christmas that evening, or had Easter brunch before starting my shift at 3pm. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be that much different to me. When my parents worked a holiday and we’d go to the babysitters, our family would get together the weekend after. In short, not working holidays hasn’t been a privilege in my family for many years, or even wanted, really. The day didn’t matter so long as we got together.
Should people working retail or in other service industries live so close to the margins that they appreciate the extra holiday pay? No. The problem, again, is not the individual corporations, but the failure of public mobilization to make sure that people have enough work, and that the work pays well. Getting angry at a group of stores doesn’t change the system. Passing and enforcing legislation does.
This Thanksgiving we’re eating out. Not in any protest of anything. We have to. My mom moved to Denver to take care of my ailing grandparents. She hasn’t been able to get a job and is living in their basement. The medical equipment in my grandparent’s home has taken up their kitchen. And there is no way we can all fit in the hotel room my family is staying in for Thanksgiving.
So we’re going out to eat. We’re probably not going shopping, but are glad there are some people working so that we can get together and have a nice holiday.
In a perfect world, my mom would be employed already, my grandparents would have the healthcare they need (rather than what they can afford), and we would have a place to eat so that other people wouldn’t have to work on the holiday. They wouldn’t need to work it either, because they’re gainfully employed in a job that pays them well. But that’s not the world most people live in.
If, dear public, you were successful at closing everything down for Thanksgiving, with the world the way it is, where would we eat?
"The Big Lebowski. Lisa and Lindsay said it would be good."
Of course, I didn’t know that the blonde twins on my debate team were total potheads. Neither did the youth group who, honoring me as a guest in their group, said I could pick out the movie for their evening’s get together.
My family did not watch movies or television. We were gamers. The 3-day rental became a challenge to beat the game we rented in a single weekend. But movies? Movies for a group of teens that wanted me to join their youth group? Sure…something funny.
We left Blockbuster. In 2013, I could have checked the plot on my phone or read reviews, seen a trailer and put it back. But these were Blockbuster days. I felt lucky my little orange nokia had Snake.
Meg started the movie in the DVD player back at her place. We sat on the couch. And every time there was weed, violence, booze, Jesus, cursing, and especially when Maude repeated “VAGINA” the group tried to set me on fire with their righteous stare. I began to hope that The Dude would turn around his life so these teens would appreciate the intricacy of bowling. However, apparently the only thing The Dude does is abide.
Finally, the slow-motion bouncing of the topless woman on the trampoline outside of the porno producer’s house was too much. Before her breasts could land, Kim turned the movie off with a distinct clearing of her throat. Movie night was over, and I was never invited to that youth group again.
I have no idea who took the movie back to Blockbuster.
(Translation: this is for ministers seeking credentialing in the Unitarian Universalist movement. The regional committee can postpone people and set forth certain requirements before they can come back. I was postponed and it took me two years before I could meet the requirements. This is advice for people who are going through and have gone through my situation. It is very specific, so feel free to scroll on by. :)
It is not talked about, but many people are postponed. Many incredible ministers have been delayed, including Forrest Church, Kendyl Gibbons, and probably more ministers in your area that you are not aware of. Ministers who have gone back to the fellowship committee three or four times until they get it. They do not publish statistics, but it is not uncommon and try not to feel singled out.
The committee is there to give you good feedback so you will be a successful minister. Postponement means that they think you need more time. Something debilitating happens to everyone in ministry; where they think they can no longer minister. With the average tenure of ministers being 7 years, it is something everyone in our profession must prepare for. The earlier it happens to you in formation, the more capable you’ll be when more challenging situations happen - when there is a lot more on the line than having to wait for a committee. It is a myth that anyone answers the call of ministry unchallenged by others or their personal struggles. The advantage here is that the people on these committees are deeply invested in your development. Others who set you back are not.
I was postponed the first time I saw the committee. When they read the decision, you are not allowed to challenge or debate it but can ask clarifying questions. Be sure to ask questions about how to proceed with their decision. For example, they may ask you to do CPE again. Since it may take a long time to do CPE again, ask if you can see the RSCC while in the process of completing CPE or other feedback they ask you to do. Keep your questions limited to as how you can accomplish their feedback logistically. If they ask for you to be more vulnerable, ask what steps others have taken to improve on this. Ask who will be your contact person from the RSCC and what to do if that contact person steps down off the committee during your postponement. They offer a minister to mentor you during your postponement, so seek someone out who is very familiar with the RSCC process - ministers who are brilliant but ordained before the RSCC process and have never served on an RSCC or MFC since will not know how to guide you through the system. There is talk about UUMA chapters developing support groups for seminarians, check with your local chapter for support even though you are still an aspirant. My local chapter was kind enough to allow me in their meetings as long as I promised to abide by the UUMA guidelines. While being postponed means that you are not technically beholden to the guidelines, do not commit career suicide by ignoring them.
You will feel many tremendous feelings during this time. Return to your spiritual practice and there, dig deeper into your resolve for ministry. Many will try to help you meet the requirements of the postponement practically, others will listen to your pain. No one will say that you should not have been postponed. No one will challenge the decision of the RSCC, even if it is wrong. No one can change the fact that the RSCC postponed you, and the RSCC experienced you as they did during the interview. No one can take away your call to ministry, either. You are a minister as you say you are a minister; external validation of that is gravy. External challenging of that strikes at the core of our identity, and the response must be your own rise to the challenge.
People will tell you to join up with other people who have been postponed. That may work, or it may not, because each situation is so individual. While there may be stigma among your formational peers, more mature colleagues you admire will embrace your postponement as a learning experience and fully include you in the community whenever they can.
Whoever you are, reading this as you have been postponed, I love you. I have been you before. (Contact me if you want to commiserate!) You are not alone on the path, and in time, you will be what you were meant to be. You may loathe this decision, you may distrust this process, you may doubt our tradition but you can not deny that there are so many people who don’t even know you who are rooting for you to finish what you started. This you will see manifest in the coming months and even years until you see the RSCC again. You are beloved by us, and you can bring yourself whole back to the RSCC again. Blessings to you, and may your cracks caused by the shattering of postponement be refilled with gold.