How Britain Forgot Thanksgiving

How Britain Forgot Thanksgiving

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What Britain’s Bonfire Night was really about.

The famous rhyme associated with bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes day, begins, “Remember, remember, the 5th of November.” It’s repeated thousands of times at this time of year. After all, who’d want to forget a celebration that involved lighting huge fires and shooting rockets into the air?

But the fact is, Britain has forgotten. Not the story of what November 5 celebrates, but how this day was originally celebrated—what it is all about. We’ve forgotten the most important part of what this day is meant to remind us.

Almost every year at school, I was taught what happened on November 5. A group of Catholic terrorists conspired to destroy the government of England. They filled the cellars under the houses of Parliament with gunpowder, ready to detonate on the State Opening of Parliament, November 5. Their main target was the protestant King James i. But on that day, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the king’s close advisers and relatives, which included the most senior judges in the kingdom and the bishops of the Church of England, were all gathered in the same building.

Had Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators succeeded, it would have been as if terrorists hit the White House, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the Congress—as well as taking out a good chunk of America’s religious leaders.

It almost happened. But in late October, according to the traditional version of events, Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter warning him not to attend Parliament. He alerted the authorities, who discovered Guy Fawkes in the cellars with barrels of gunpowder on the night of November 4.

That much is remembered. But the nation’s response has been completely forgotten. In all my history lessons on the subject, I’d never heard of it.

In early 1606, the government passed a law so that the events of November 5 would be memorialized forever. Why? So that “this unfeigned thankfulness may never be forgotten, but be had in a perpetual remembrance, that all ages to come may yield praises” to God.

Parliament gave God the credit for their deliverance. “This great and infinite blessing” they wrote, came “merely from God.” All the “honor, glory and praise” went to His “most holy name.”

November 5 was set aside as a day of thanksgiving—the original annual day of Thanksgiving, 16 years before the pilgrims celebrated their harvest in Plymouth. The Act of Parliament commanded all in England to pray on that day, to “give unto Almighty God thanks for this most happy deliverance.”

Bonfire night wasn’t about remembering gunpowder and plots, or setting off fireworks. It was a day to thank God for the blessings He had given the nation, and for His divine protection in preserving those blessings.

The celebrations with fires and rockets aren’t wrong. And they do seem to have been a part of how the day was originally celebrated. But thanking God for His deliverance is far more important.

The plot may sound a little kooky, but it came frighteningly close to success. Guy Fawkes used 20 times the amount of gunpowder necessary to destroy the building. That gunpowder had been sitting in the cellars since February, when Parliament was originally scheduled to open. The opening was repeatedly delayed, forcing Fawkes to continually replace the old gunpowder with new supplies, until the plot was finally discovered eight months later.

Had Parliament opened on time, the last 400 years could have been dramatically different.

But it’s not just the originally meaning of Bonfire Night that we’ve forgotten. We no longer give thanks to God.

We used to. As recently as World War ii, our leaders gave God credit for miracles of deliverance. But we don’t talk about that today.

A few weeks ago, I visited Dover Castle. As well as being an impressive medieval fortress, it also served as naval headquarters in 1940, when British and French soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk. There, organizers have done a great job of memorializing the evacuation, creating an exhibit that succinctly shows the magnitude of what happened on those beaches and reminding the world of the heroism shown by so many to bring so many safely to England.

But there’s something, or rather someone, completely missing from the exhibit: God. The Dunkirk evacuation was just one of several occasions when the nation gathered to give thanks to God for His deliverance. But that history was absent.

“Some people may call the Dunkirk evacuation a miracle,” said our tour guide, “but I put it down to the organization of Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay.” Their website is more brazen. “Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay pulled off a miracle,” it says.

I’m sure Admiral Ramsay was a remarkable man. But God pulled off the miracle.

The exhibit neglected to mention that on May 26, 1940, the king called for a day of national prayer. Shops closed as the Church of England, the Catholic Church, Jews and other religions appealed to God for help. The Times described how the king and queen attended the service at Westminster Abby, with Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, along with the prime minister and all the leaders of Britain. “In the cities and towns leaders of civic life attended church on this Day of National Prayer at the head of their people,” the Times wrote. “From peaceful village churches in the remote countryside the same prayers were offered, just as in these fateful hours the same thoughts are in people’s minds.” Afterward, the archbishop of Canterbury called on everyone to pause at noon every day and pray for deliverance.

The exhibit rightly praised the bravery of the men who flocked to Dunkirk in their little ships. But I saw no mention of the remarkable weather. As the Daily Telegraph wrote on July 8, 1940, “Those who are accustomed to the Channel testify to the strangeness of this calm; they are deeply impressed by the phenomenon of nature by which it became possible for tiny craft to go back and forth in safety.”

“I have talked to officers and men who have gotten safely back to England, and all of them tell of these two phenomena,” continued the article. “The first was the great storm which broke over Flanders on Tuesday, May 28, and the other was the great calm which settled on the English Channel during the days following.” The storm grounded the German aircraft, while the calm allowed the little ships to sail to France.

“The fortitude displayed and the success achieved are to me, at least, miracles and an answer to the prayers which rose up from the Empire, and from millions outside it on May 26. Let us not forget to return thanks” read one letter to the Times.

“Surely our prayers have been answered in the merciful deliverance of our Expeditionary Force from complete destruction?” another letter said. “Thanksgiving is surely as important as supplication, and there must be many who feel, like myself, that we ought to have a special day of thanksgiving to God for His wonderful answer to our prayers.” The Times wrote that these letters “are two out of a very large number addressed to the Times in the same sense.”

On June 9, Britain went back to church for a national day of thanksgiving. “One thing can be certain about tomorrow’s thanksgiving in our churches,” wrote the Telegraph. “From none will the thanks ascend with greater sincerity or deeper fervor than from the officers and men who have seen the hand of God, powerful to save, delivering them from the hands of a mighty foe, who, humanly speaking, had them utterly at his mercy.”

Even Time Magazine spotted the connection. “Since the beginning of the war, Great Britain has observed two national Days of Prayer,” it wrote, April 7, 1941. “The first was the dark Sunday, May 26, 1940, when the fagged-out British Expeditionary Force was fleeing under torrential Nazi fire toward Dunkirk beach. Five days later most of that Army got safely home through the fogs off Dunkirk.” At the start of the evacuation, the most optimistic estimates said that Britain would be able to rescue 45,000 men. The final total was 338,000.

Britain’s top newspapers joined the call for a national day of prayer and then gave thanks to God. This is an important part of that history—something that touched every individual in the nation. Thanksgiving was once a part of our national life. It isn’t any more. That history has been forgotten.

That’s not to say that Britain genuinely repented back in World War ii, or earlier. But at least we thanked God for His help and blessings.

And it’s not just Britain that’s forgotten thanksgiving. America may have a day called “Thanksgiving,” but to many people it has about as much to do with thanking God for His blessings as Bonfire Night does.

This lack of thanksgiving gets to the heart of Britain’s problems. We have forgotten God. We don’t thank Him, we don’t look to Him for protection and we certainly won’t obey Him. That is why there’s a time of great suffering awaiting the British and American people. Conditions will keep getting worse until the nation has no choice but to turn to God for help and guidance.

At that time, with all nations looking to Him, God will be able to create utopia—a wonderful world with bounty for all. His laws lead to all humanity living a joyful way of life.

Then, as the Americans say, it really will be Thanksgiving every day.

How Would Jesus Vote for President?

Some commentators in America are calling today’s election the most important election in more than a generation. But no matter which candidate wins, he will be facing enormous problems both at home and abroad. Both sides claim to have the solutions—and yet the problems continue to multiply, no matter which political party is in office. So what should we do? And how would Jesus Christ vote?

‘They Can Print Money’

‘They Can Print Money’

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The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy reveals the real reason America is on the road to financial ruin.

The federal government should foot the bill for all $6 billion worth of cleanup costs in New York, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Wow. Shouldn’t New Yorkers pay for at least some of their own mess? Why should taxpayers from rural Arkansas and Ohio pay to help rebuild beach homes of millionaires?

According to New York’s top public finance official, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Feds should pick up the tab for two reasons. First: The state is essentially broke. New York State and City are already tens of billions of dollars behind on their pension funds. State and local governments have no real emergency fund. Tax collections from before the storm even hit were less than hoped for. And the effects of the 2009 recession are still plaguing the state.

“The problem is the state is limited in its resource capacity. We just put out the mid-year report a week or two ago and it really showed tax revenues are down,” DiNapoli said. So the government should bail us out.

But it is the second reason that is most revealing about the perilous state of America. “I think the focus will have to be on Washington, for obvious reasons,” DiNapoli told reporters. “They have greater resources. They can print money; we can’t do that here” (emphasis added throughout).

If you didn’t think America was in a dire financial condition before, this should be your wake-up call. Here is the top financial officer to the wealthiest state in the union telling the world that not only is New York State broke, but that the federal government should cover it by “printing money.”

But why did DiNapoli say the federal government should “print money” to pay for it? Because the federal government is broke and doesn’t have any money either!

Money printing is traditionally the last gasp of failing economies. And here it is being espoused by one of America’s top economic officials. It is like he is completely ignorant of the historical reality of what it means—and what happens to economies when they try to get something from nothing by printing money.

Worse, it is a sad reflection of American mindsets today. Where is the nation that once prided itself on its independence, personal responsibility, and its faith in God?

Almost immediately after Hurricane Sandy dissipated, various news outlets ran stories about how people were suffering in areas without electricity, water and gas. People were complaining about the Red Cross abandoning them, fema taking too long to bring help, and the government not acting fast enough to bring in food, water and generators for everyone.

One audibly emotional man said the conditions of the temporary bathrooms the government had set up were disgusting. Another man complained that the temporary housing provided by the government was too crowded. There were no showers, the bunk beds were too small, and the rooms felt like cattle cars.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there is plenty of legitimate suffering. But how much of it could have been avoided had people taken even a modicum of personal responsibility for their lives—and not simply expected the nanny state to take care of them?

People had more than a week to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. And many of the loudest critics are in areas that had mandatory evacuation orders a full day before the storm hit. What did they think was going to happen? One of the biggest storms in history was headed straight toward them.

In July, a study conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation found that 55 percent of Americans believe that if a disaster strikes, the government will come to their rescue. A full 44 percent of adults don’t have a first-aid kit. Almost 50 percent have no emergency supplies set aside in case of a catastrophe. More than half of people surveyed said they did not have even a three-day supply of food and water in their homes.

No wonder New York and New Jersey are such a mess. And Sandy was only a Category 1 storm. New York, especially, should have been prepared. Hurricane Irene struck only two years before. But then the Feds picked up most of the bill too—a full 75 percent of the reconstruction costs. There is just not a lot of incentive to take care of yourself and fix things when someone else is happy to step in and clean up your messes and take care of you.

American culture is increasingly one of not taking personal responsibility for our actions—or even our lives.

Number of Billion-Dollar Disasters (1980-2011)

It can’t be easily fixed either. America’s whole system of governance is founded on it. Politicians want votes, so they make promises to voters. Voters’ expectations of what the government should do for them grows. People get dependent on government handouts. It doesn’t matter how much the government “gives,” voters always want more—and vote for those who promise to give them the most. And the cycle feeds on itself.

It is a system that is doomed to fail. Take a look at the number of billion-dollar disasters that have been occurring. They are skyrocketing. America is being overwhelmed. New Orleans, New York and New Jersey are only the beginning.

And the public coffers are going dry. Voters can only vote themselves so much from the public treasury before the system collapses. What are people going to do when the welfare checks stop coming; the food stamps disappear; Medicare and Medicaid are no longer available; the fema response teams no longer bring food and shelter; the dollar is worthless; police and firemen no longer get paid—and there are riots in the streets?

America will soon regret where its culture of government dependency is leading it. God says cursed is the man who trusts in man. And because America will not look to God for answers, it is soon to find out how true that is.

Why the U.S. Is a House Divided

Europe’s New Capital

Europe’s New Capital

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The Union’s key decisions are now being made in Berlin.

“Welcome to Berlin, Europe’s new capital,” the Financial Times headlined last week. As the article notes, the euro crisis has sparked a shift in critical decision-making from the traditional center of Europe to the heart of Germany. The critical state of the European financial system and the euro has all of Europe looking to Berlin instead of Brussels for the next bailout that will save the Union.

“[T]he fact is that Berlin is increasingly the de facto capital of the EU,” Rachman wrote. “Of course the EU’s main institutions—the commission and the council—are still based in Brussels. But the key decisions are increasingly made in Berlin.”

“Who does the International Monetary Fund call about the euro crisis?” Rachman continued. “The most important conversations take place with the German government and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt—not the European Commission.”

At the conference table of European countries, it is Germany’s voice that carries the most weight. Other potential players within the Union are either suffering economic woes themselves or they aren’t a part of the Eurozone. Or, like Britain, they are pulling away from the European combine.

Even France—which stood by Germany’s side throughout this recent economic crisis—is now lagging far behind the German powerhouse. As one top EU official said of the Franco-German partnership, “France needs Germany to disguise how weak it is. Germany needs France to disguise how strong it is.” If France enters into a significant economic difficulty itself, as some analysts predict, its dependence upon Berlin will become even more apparent.

“The price of German financial assistance is, increasingly, going to be the acceptance of rules and laws designed in Berlin,” Rachman predicted.

Herbert W. Armstrong predicted as far back as 1952 that Germany would once again become “the heart and core of the united Europe that will revive the Roman Empire.” He also said a world financial crisis would provide the spark to ignite Germany’s explosive rise to power.

As Trumpet columnist Ron Fraser wrote, German ambassador to the EU Wilhelm Schönfelder “declared that it would be the intention of the EU’s German presidency to deliberately sideline EU institutions (which his country has previously endorsed as a means to oversee the federalization of Europe), to ensure a fast-track approach to agreement on a European constitution.”

Such a move is to be expected from the one nation who holds the future of Europe in her hands. “So much for any hint of real democracy,” Mr. Fraser concluded. “We are witnessing a transfer of the power center of the EU from its capital of the past 50 years, Brussels, to that reviving capital of the German Empire, Berlin!”

Is Radical Islam ‘On the Run’—Or Is America?

The Obama administration has been actively peddling the “mission accomplished” theme when it comes to Afghanistan. But it, like Iraq, has been a long and difficult struggle—and most Americans have grown tired of fighting a war that’s impossible to win. America’s leaders have responded by declaring victory so they can finalize an exit strategy, but the state in which we are leaving Iraq and Afghanistan is anything but victorious.