"Pilgrims and Politics", Spain's general treasurer Sanchez appealed to Queen Isabella to approve the Columbus voyage in order to "discover and acquire certain islands and mainlands of the ocean sea." She approved the voyage "in God's Name for the glory and wealth of His blessed nation, Spain".
This same divinely blessed nation had murdered thousands of Muslims in the centuries prior 1492, had persecuted and killed countless Jews and exiled over 100,000 of them, and had through the brutal Spanish Inquisition made Spain one of the purest Catholic countries in the world. They credited all of these accomplishments to God's special blessing and approval.
In a report of his voyage Columbus, not known for his modesty, wrote, "God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John... and he showed me the spot where to find it... Thanks to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has granted us so great a victory and such prosperity. Let processions be made and sacred feasts be held, and the temples be adorned with festive boughs. Let Christ rejoice on earth, and he rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many nations hitherto lost."
At this special Thanksgiving season I am sometimes torn between feeling a need to get on my knees in deep gratitude to God for all the blessings I enjoy in the "new world" on the one hand and getting on my knees in repentance for the holocaust and horrific mistreatment inflicted on the native American population following that event.
This year our family is enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal today at our nearby son's home, followed by a feast of atonement with our house church family on Sunday in which we will have only rice and beans. This meal, one much like the daily fare of the majority of the world's people, is being prepared by a native of El Salvador who has just opened her "Raquel Restaurante" (568-1894) along Mt. Clinton Pike.
This is our feeble attempt to show some solidarity with the world's poor and to give a generous offering for Mennonite Central Committee to help ease a little of the world's suffering.