Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Five Kernels of Corn" and its Claims

For Thanksgiving I'm posting Five Kernels of Corn. At the bottom I explain two of the claims made at the end: that the Mayflower Pilgrims gave us a legacy of "a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws" and "a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise".

Five Kernels of Corn by Norma Q Hare
(written in 1986 and slightly edited by Mary Mitchell in 2008)
It was a cold, gray day on November 15, 1620. The Mayflower rode at anchor near the shore, while a group of eager men set out in a small boat to explore the desolate, barren land to which they'd come. One of the first things they discovered near the beach was a deserted cornfield where the dry, broken stalks rustled in the sharp wind. Nearby they saw several strange mounds. Upon digging into one, they were amazed to find odd-looking, yellow, red and blue Indian corn. They took some with them to use of seed when they planted their crops in the spring. They couldn't know then how important that corn would prove to be to the colony's future.

They weren't prepared for that first dreadful winter, and there was much sickness. Nearly half the colonists died before spring finally arrived. Of those who survived, about half were children not yet sixteen years old; and only five married women remained.

When spring came, the men and boys planted 20 acres of Indian corn. Six additional acres they planted with the seeds they'd brought from England - wheat, rye, barley and peas - and there were vegetable gardens near the houses.

But to everyone's dismay, the seeds they'd brought failed to produce, being unsuited to the growing conditions in New England. The colonists worried whether they'd have enough food for the winter. Grain crops were necessary for their survival, for they provided the bread and puddings that gave them the energy they needed to work and endure the harsh conditions in which they lived, and the nourishment the children needed for adequate growth.

To supplement their store of grain, they learned, with help from the Indians, to catch the fish, to shoot the fowl and deer, and to harvest the wild fruits and berries that the forest and sea provided. They dried and preserved as much as they could in anticipation of another long winter with little grain.

In late fall, despite their small corn harvest, they felt confident and grateful for what they'd accomplished. They decided to celebrate what they called the Harvest Thanksgiving. They were joined by 90 of their Indian friends who stayed for three days enjoying their hospitality. This was an unexpected drain on their food supplies, but they believed that, by careful management, they would have enough to last until the next year.

The ship Fortune arrived a few days later. The happy Pilgrims expected to welcome members of their families and friends who had been left behind. They also believed the ship would bring food and other provisions they needed. They were distressed to learn, however, that it brought 35 colonists instead. Most of them were young men who brought no tools, bedding, or food, possessing little more than what they wore. There was nothing for the Pilgrims to do but to share their meager clothing, their homes and their precious food with the strangers. They also had to supply food to the sailors of the Fortune for their long voyage back to England.

For the next six months the colonists lived on half rations and every colonist knew daily hunger.As the months passed, every colonist knew daily hunger. During the summer they were thin and weak and staggered as they went about their work. They might have perished had they not been able to obtain some grain from the English fishing village further up the Maine coast.

While the year before had been very bad, the Starving Time came upon the little colony the spring of 1623. Tradition tells us that each person received only five kernels of parched corn a day. Governor Bradford wrote that they had neither bread nor corn for two or three months together, and their entire diet consisted of only fish and water.

To add to their misery, the early summer weather was hot and dry, and the corn began to wither. In desperation they went one day to the top of the hill to pray to God for relief. That night a soft rain began to fall, and the drought was broken. At harvest, every field produced an abundance of corn, with enough for everyone. After nearly three years, the famine was over.

During harvest season each year, it is customary for Mayflower Society members to remember the desperate privation and famine our ancestors endured during the first difficult years. Let these five kernels of corn -- the Indian corn that at first kept them alive and then became the staple upon which they prospered -- be a symbol to remind us of their bold, courageous dream. Let them also remind us of the legacy of our Pilgrim forefathers; the freedom to worship as we choose, a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws, a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise, the willingness and courage to fight for one's beliefs, and an everlasting trust in God.

You may be surprise by the claims at the end that the Mayflower pilgrims left such a wide ranging legacy.

The claim of the bequest of "a government by consent of the governed with just and equal laws" refers to the Mayflower Compact. Before landing at Plymouth rock, the adult male passengers on the Mayflower signed a document bearing these words:
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.

The claim that the Mayflower pilgrims bequested "a recognition of the necessity for individual ownership and enterprise" refers to failure of their early experiment with socialism. Originally, all the land that was cleared and all the structures built were to belong to the community. Everything that was produced was to go into ta common store with each member entitled to one equal share. Seeing that this economic system was a failure, the governor of the colony, William Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family and permitted them to market their own crops and other products. Bradford wrote:

So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could, this was thought injustice. … And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.

For more on the Pilgrims and individual ownership, see American Thinker here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

bear video

This is worth watching all the way to the end

Saudi Arabia: Sentenced to Death for Witchcraft

At least four people have been sentenced for witchcraft recently in Saudi Arabia, with two receiving the death penalty. This is part of a campaign to deal with practices which are against Sharia Law which was revealed in the Asharq Alawsat, the leading Arabic International daily, last January. According to that report, the Saudi Arabis Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) was developing a guideline for the police to use in identifying and convicting witches and socerers. The guidelines included:
a definition of magic, witchcraft, divination, fortune-telling and other similar practices, a scientific definition to magical practices, and a model in order to help uncover such practices.

The CPVPV seems to AVE showed particular concern for the spread of witchcraft with advanced technology:
The study also called for regulations to be put in place with regards to the role of telecommunication and Internet service providers to protect the public from communication and television channels that promote magic, while also penalizing those that perpetrate such crimes. It also called for the results of the study to be incorporated into the provision of Islamic Shariaa law, basic law, and criminal law.

The recent death sentence of the Lebanese man, Ali Sabat, who came to Medina for pilgrimage can be understood within this context. Sabat was recognized as the TV personality who, among other things, made predictions of the future on his TV broadcasts from his home in Lebanon. So, although Sabat had not done anything objectionable on his trip to Saudi Arabia, he was arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft, and sentenced to death.

Here's the latest from the BBC on his situation:
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has called on Saudi Arabia to overturn a death sentence given to a man convicted of practising witchcraft.

The organisation said Ali Sibat appeared to have been condemned because of psychic predictions he had made on Lebanese TV from his home in Beirut.

He was arrested during his pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Medina last year.

There is no legal definition of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia - a deeply conservative Muslim nation.

The country's religious authorities condemn any practices deemed un-Islamic, including horoscopes and fortune telling.

But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says there is still a thirst for such services in a country where widespread superstition survives under the surface of religious orthodoxy.

Human Rights Watch accused Saudi courts of "sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police".

"The crime of 'witchcraft' is being used against all sorts of behaviour, with the cruel threat of state-sanctioned executions," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group's Middle East director.

Human Rights Watch also said reports in Saudi media suggested that two other people had been arrested for witchcraft in the past month.

In addition, a Saudi woman remains on death row after being sentenced for the same crime last year.

Sky News has more details about other cases:

Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.

It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.

In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.

In 2006 a Jeddah court convicted an Eritrean national Muhammad Burhan for "charlatanry" because he possessed a phone book that contained writings in the Tigrinya alphabet used in Eritrea.

Human rights campaigners claim prosecutors classified the booklet as a "talisman" and the court accepted that as evidence, sentencing him to 20 months in prison and 300 lashes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Denver police arrest 32 in racially motivated assaults

32 young black males are being held on $1 million bail each for a series of racially motivated assaults on whites and hispanics. The Denver Post reports:
The Denver Police Department arrested 32 men and juvenile boys after a months-long undercover investigation into what police said were racially motivated assaults and robberies in downtown Denver, including the LoDo entertainment district.

A task force composed of Denver police, the FBI and the Denver district attorney's office investigated 26 incidents in which groups of black males verbally harassed, assaulted and at times robbed white or Latino males, according to Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman.

All of the suspects are young black males, most of whom told police they were associated with either the Rollin' 60s Crips gang or the Black Gangster Disciples gang.

They are charged with varying counts of bias-motivated assault and, in some cases, robbery — all felony crimes.

There is a lot more in the article. I am posting this because it seems so politically incorrect to charge blacks with hate crimes laws.

Friday, November 20, 2009

masked gunman kills Russian priest who converted Muslims to Christianity

The New York Times carried a Reuters report this morning that began :

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A masked gunman entered a church and murdered a Russian Orthodox priest who had received death threats for converting Muslims to Christianity and criticizing Islam, prosecutors and church officials said Friday.

The killing could threaten delicate relations between the powerful majority Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Kremlin, and the country's growing Muslim minority of about 20 million.

The gunman approached priest Daniil Sysoyev, 34, in St Thomas Church in southern Moscow Thursday night, checked his name and then opened fire with a pistol, a spokesman for the investigating committee of the Prosecutor-General's office said.

"The main theory is that religious motives are behind the crime," spokesman Anatoly Bagmet said.

Sysoyev had been previously threatened for his preaching to Muslims:

"I have received 10 threats via e-mail that I shall have my head cut off (if I do not stop preaching to Muslims)," Sysoyev stated on a television program in February 2008, according to Interfax. "As I see it, it is a sin not to preach to Muslims."

Kiril Frolov, the head of the Orthodox Experts Association, told Interfax news agency "Father Daniil ... has been periodically receiving e-mails which said he will be treated as 'infidel' if he did not stop polemics with Muslims," .

Russia is home to Europe's largest Muslim community and Islam is the country's second-biggest faith, something which Sysoyev was highly critical of Islam:

"Islam is far from being a religion in the way we understand it," he said in one of his video lectures posted on YouTube (

"Islam can be rather compared with projects like National Socialism or the Communist party seeking to create God's kingdom on Earth using humanly instruments," he added.

He also wrote books including "An Orthodox Response to Islam" and "Marrying a Muslim," in which he advised Russian women against taking a Muslim partner.

Read it all here.

Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Should this 14 year old get life without possibility of parole?

This local story makes me very sad. As a Christian, I believe that people can be changed by Christ so that they are no longer rapists and murderers. But my observations of the way the world works leads me to believe this 14 year old should never be released from prison.
Affidavit: Teen says he molested and killed boy
A 14-year-old with a baby face told investigators he drowned his 4-year-old neighbor in a bathtub, then hid the body in a dryer because the child was going to reveal the teen molested him, according to an affidavit released when he appeared in court Wednesday.

Further into the article we learn:
The affidavit said Castro, a student at Mendota Junior High School, initially told police he knew nothing of the boy's disappearance. When investigators said the boy had been found in the dryer, the teen suggested someone had broken into the house and put him there.

Castro eventually told police he had enticed the dimpled, brown-eyed boy into his house across the street and sodomized him, the affidavit states. He said he killed Mercado after the child fell and hit his head, started crying, then threatened to tell his mother, the document states.

"Castro said he panicked and decided to kill the victim by drowning him in the bathtub," the affidavit says.

The teen, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds, put Mercado's body over his shoulder and carried him to the dryer, hoping everything "would go away," the affidavit states.

Castro had been scheduled for arraignment as an adult on charges of first-degree murder, sodomy, child molestation, kidnapping and murder to silence a witness.

Marousek said after the hearing that she doubted the teenager understood the Miranda rights read to him by investigators, which could put his confession in doubt.

Earlier the teen had nodded without expression when Judge Jon Kapetan asked him if he understood the proceedings. Bail was set at $2.1 million.

California law says suspects 14 and older can be charged and tried as adults. About 20 percent of murders in the state are committed by people between the ages of 11 and 17.

Although this is a very disturbing story, I found the statistic that "about 20 percent of murders in the state are committed by people between the ages of 11 and 17" to be the most disturbing. I feel very confused. I would like to see the age of adulthood reduced to reflect the reality of out society. But if this is done for the criminal element, it could also be done for age of consent laws.