Reflections about Life, Love, Light, and Liberty (the 4-Ls) by Leroy Seat, missionary to Japan (1966-2004), Chancellor of Seinan Gakuin (1996-2004), professor emeritus of Seinan Gakuin University, and pastor emeritus of Fukuoka International Church.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The “Illegal Aliens” of 1620
Thanksgiving Day means different things to different people. But in addition to school and work holidays it often involves family gatherings around big meals, watching football games by some, and maybe even thinking a little about the first English-American Thanksgiving Day.
After a perilous voyage on the Mayflower in the autumn of 1620, an extremely difficult winter, and then a fruitful harvest in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth Colony held a harvest festival and gave thanks for God’s blessings that made possible their survival.
Giving thanks for blessings received is certainly a good thing, and I hope all of us will use this Thanksgiving season to reflect upon our many blessings and to give thanks for what we have received, just as those first English immigrants did.
At the same time, it might be good to reflect on how the Pilgrims of 1620 could certainly be considered “illegal aliens.” They definitely were not invited by the Native Americans, and they clearly encroached upon land occupied by others.
True, the “Indians” had no laws prohibiting others from coming to Massachusetts, and they did not own titles to the land on which they lived. (To them the idea of owning land seemed as preposterous as owning the sky.) Still, the English “aliens” were invaders of their territory.
There have been several recent works portraying the Pilgrims’ journey to “New England” and their struggles in their new habitat. “Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower” is a TV movie produced by the History Channel in 2006. One of the commentators in that movie is Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (2006).
Earlier this year Nick Bunker’s lengthy book, Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World, was published. While much of this book is about the background of the Pilgrims, it does, of course, tell their story from the time they first set foot in the “new world” on November 11, 1620—and, it should be noted, that was on Cape Cod, not on Plymouth Rock.
That first month was a hard one, and it was during that time that the Pilgrims stole seed corn that the “Indians” had buried for use the following year, and they also dug up a grave, confiscating some of the jewelry and other articles in it. It is no wonder, then, that the English “aliens” found those first Native Americans they encountered to be quite hostile.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s remember that those who first celebrated it were the same as illegal aliens in the land occupied by the American Indians. Perhaps we can use this occasion to do something for the sake of present day Native Americans, such as donating to the American Indian College Fund. (The address is 8333Greenwood Blvd. Denver, CO 80221, and information about the AICF, rated four stars, out of four, by Charity Navigator, is easily found on the Internet). Or maybe your church, like mine, has a ministry to Native Americans to which you could contribute.
* Born in Grant City, Mo., on 8/15/1938
* Graduated from Southwest Baptist
College (Bolivar, Mo.) in 1957 (A.A.)
* Graduated from William Jewell College
(Liberty, Mo.) in 1959 (A.B.)
* Graduated from The Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary (Louisville, Ken.)
in 1962 (B.D., equivalent of M.Div.)
* Received the Doctor of Philosophy
degree in theology from SBTS.
* Baptist missionary to
Japan from 1966 to 2004.
* Full-time faculty member
at Seinan Gakuin University (Fukuoka,
Japan) from 1968 to 2004.
* Chancellor of Seinan Gakuin from 1996 to 2004.
* Adjunct professor at Rockhurst
University 2006 to 2014.