The Mayflower Compact

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone in need. Acts 2:44-45

My wife’s cousin, Jim Davis, has spent the last two years establishing a family tree using DNA and ancestry resources that are now available online. He traced her family history all the way back to Richard Warren who was a passenger on the Mayflower which landed in Plymouth and established a colony. 

Jim kept researching and he believes that there are three other family members, along with Warren who signed the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620. The 400th anniversary was just a few days ago. The Compact is often obscured by later documents such as the Declaration of Independence.  

It is significant this time of year for its relationship with the first Thanksgiving. For many, the year 2020 has been an odyssey. My wife jokes that on New Year’s Eve, instead of celebrating a New Year, she wants to stay up and celebrate that 2020 is over. But we are still thankful for our blessings during this special holiday. 

The Compact established rules for self-government signed by 41 Pilgrims seeking separation from the Church of England. The rest of the 102 passengers were “common folk” who were tradesmen, indentured servants and orphaned children. 

Unlike the 1619 Project, what happened in 1620 is more representative of our cultural history. The people we know as the Pilgrims were fleeing religious persecution. King James had given them permission to set up a colony in Virginia, but they landed in Massachusetts. The King later gave them permission (the “Peirce Patent”) to form their colony in 1621 which gave them legal authority. 

The Compact established concepts of religious liberty, the rule of law, but it had some flaws.  The Pilgrims brought with them economic assumptions from their own religious community which in conflict with the hierarchical English society.  The signers all signed on voluntarily as peers and equals based on their view that each were made in the image of God.

Most Americans have an idea of the Thanksgiving story.  What many do not know is that the original Pilgrims suffered through their first year in Plymouth. Food and shelter were inadequate in the winter of 1620-21 causing most in the small group to get sick and half of them to die. 

They might have starved to death using the seeds they brought from Europe had not the native Indians taught them to plant corn.  The lived off the small harvest from the summer of 1621 which was supplemented by the abundance of fish and game. 

William Bradford, the first Governor, decided to invite Massassoit and 90 of his Wampanoag warriors to have a celebratory feast of venison and wild fowl.

That was the first Thanksgiving. But the celebration wore off quickly, not because of bad weather or the stony soil of Massachusetts. 

Neal Bunker states that they had to change their system of communal living where all members shared everything in common. For the first seven years, no individual Pilgrim could own a plot of land. “The [land] slices were rotated each year, but that was counterproductive. No one had any reason to put in extra hours of effort to improve a plot if next season another family received the benefit.”

In other words, no private ownership. It was a form of communism in 17th Century Massachusetts; it didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. 

In Of Plymouth PlantationBradford wrote that the system “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment.” It didn’t take long for the Pilgrims to understand the disincentives of their system. The lack of private property was squelching productivity.

In the spring of 1623, they replaced communism with capitalism by assigning to every family a plot of land. It was a success. From the original 26 acres planted in 1621 and 60 acres in 1622, a total of 184 acres were planted in 1623. Bradford later wrote that “instead of famine, now God gave them plenty….for which they blessed God.”

The Mayflower Compact is one of the most important and foundational documents in American history. It is an untaught civics and history lesson, particularly in a progressive “woke” rewrite which emphasizes critical race theory to the next generation that favors socialism.

The real history shows the Pilgrims at Plymouth struggled to survive in a new land.  Racial inequality was not an issue nor part of their founding values. The initial attempt at a communal socialist system was changed when they realized it didn’t work.

Our challenge is that the next generation is woefully ignorant of our real history and civics, and this blind spot is likely to only worsen as many schools are teaching a false historical narrative based on the 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory and Social Justice.  This is where mentors can help.  

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee is likely to have been indoctrinated with a false narrative. One important function is for mentors to provide an accurate and truthful history of our country, 

FURTHER STUDY: The Mayflower Compact and the Foundations of Religious Liberty

How the Mayflower Compact Influenced the American Concept of the Rule of Law

Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World – Bunker

Why the Pilgrims Abandoned Common Ownership for Private Property – Reed

Of Plymouth Plantation – William Bradford

WORSHIP: Thank You – Ray Bolz 

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Alzheimers

All people are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.  1 Peter 24

I am writing this post from a farm near Madison, Georgia, owned by my brother-in-law, Joe, who is my wife’s eldest brother. He was a brilliant heart surgeon at Emory University and trained hundreds of surgeons in his specialty during his illustrious career. 

I went to college with Joe, and his younger brother, Dick.  Joe graduated from medical school. Dick and I graduated from law school shortly thereafter. 

In January, Joe was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). We had seen the symptoms of his decline before then, but did not know that he had AD.  

Over the past 9 months, we have stayed in touch with his wife, Missy, his primary caregiver, but Covid-19 complicated things. We learned that dementia and AD are complicating factors for Covid-19, so we were unable to visit until recently. 

Joe was full of life and had an outgoing personality. He loved to hunt and fish and took many trips to do both in South America, Idaho and even Alaska.  As a college football player, he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers after his senior season at UNC. He chose medical school instead and was awarded a Morehead Scholarship which paid for his education.

He still remembers Sis and me, which is good because it helped when we arrived.   Missy needed a break, so we stayed for several days while she visited family who she hasn’t seen all year. 

When my father started a Vespers service for Alzheimer’s patients in his retirement home, he played old familiar hymns. Almost all of the patients remembered the words without needing to see a hymnal.  Old memories are locked in; new ones quickly fade. 

Joe can remember names from the past – often decades ago – but can’t remember if he had eaten a piece of toast during breakfast. 

He has gone from being an ebullient outgoing man to a somber and subdued one. He has regressed into childhood. While once he could manage microsurgery on heart valves, he now struggles to get dressed without help.

We kept him busy and took long walks on his farm. Sis went fishing with Joe in the pond behind his house (see picture).  What makes this sad is that this is as good as it is going to get. He is in Stage 6 which is described as “moderately severe decline”.

Fortunately, Joe is gentle and kind.  Many AD patients experience behavioral issues including anger, sadness, depression and even aggression. We know a wife who had to put her husband in a facility because he was becoming dangerously physical with her. 

Why write about Alzheimer’s? The answer is that it is important and it is increasing with 5.7 million cases in the US, which is predicted to grow to 16 million people by 2050. That means that the next generation will be dealing with its consequences.

It is the only disease, out of the top 10, which cannot be slowed down, prevented or cured.  It is the sixth leading cause of death.  The cost of the medical care for AD approaches $414 billion, which is more than the economies of many countries.  

World-wide, there are 48 million people living with Alzheimer’s. It is tragic, not just for those suffering from AD but for the caretakers and family around them. You probably know a friend or family member that has suffered from AD.

An alarming statistic is that early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s has increased 373% for those between the age of 30 and 44. That puts millennials in the crosshairs. For those under 64 from 2013 to 2017, the increase in AD is 200%.  Those are frightening levels of increase.

Nearly 1 in 3 of millennials are planning to get an extra job to be financially able to take care of their parents. 38.8% are already caring for their parents.  While many have labeled millennials as selfish and narcissistic, they have stepped up. Close to 50% are planning to take care of their aging parents, some of whom are experiencing cognitive deterioration.

Research for a cure is ongoing, but none is currently on the horizon. The research community thinks it possible to prevent or control AD within 10 years, but funding of research needs to increase beyond government support. 

The cost of care by Medicare and Medicaid is around $175 billion. If no cure is found that cost is projected to increase by 330% in 20 years. For each dollar spent by the federal government on AD, less than a penny goes to research to find a cure. 

Caring for a person with AD or dementia can be emotionally, physically and even spiritually exhausting. It can be a “perfect storm” for caregivers, either weakening their faith or, paradoxically, strengthening it.  

Every caregiver needs help and support. I found a 7-day devotional based on the book Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade which encourages care providers to lean on God and approach the difficulties “from an empowered Christ-focused perspective”. 

We are not alone dealing with family members battling Alzheimers. Bill Lam, a five time NCAA winning wrestling coach, says that one in “three Americans” has dealt with Alzheimer’s. He has created a website that has a lot of information for caregivers based on his own experiences and research.

The challenge is that the next generations are more likely than older generations to deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s in their lifetime. Millennials are not exempt from this disease anymore, either personally or as caregivers. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee may know someone in his peer group that is helping parents manage dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s important for you to know how to help them.

FURTHER READING

Alzheimer’s Statistics: United States and Worldwide

Millennials are Stepping Up to Care for their Aging Parents – Forbes

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Managing Personality and Behavioral Changes in Alzheimer’s – NIH

Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade – Gary Chapman

Alzheimer’s Association Website

Coaching Caregivers – Lam

WORSHIP: Better than a Hallelujah – Amy Grant

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Post-Truth

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Post-truth is defined as a situation “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, objectivity, reality, or facts don’t matter. 

Bingo. That’s where we are today. But it’s not new, and we have been living in an era where propaganda and disinformation are constantly being used to sway public opinion.

Disinformation includes blocking contrary stories or ideas. Propaganda, long a tool of totalitarian regimes, means information (especially biased or misleading) which omits salient facts in order to promote a point of view. 

That’s where social media comes in where they have intentionally silenced conservative voices by shadow banning, blocking or even suspending accounts under the pretext that it is “misinformation”.  

The fourth largest newspaper in the United States ran a story about the Great Barrington Declaration, which was created by three outstanding epidemiologists. Its twitter account was then suspended for several weeks, and the story was shadow banned on Google. Shadow banning is a way that Google uses to bury in the search results where no one will ever see it. 

Studies have long shown that the next generation make decisions mostly based on emotions, not facts or circumstances. Add to that the fact that, by and large, they don’t read. If they see something on social media or media in general, they rarely get past the headline. 

The next generation also does “crowdsourcing” to help them make decisions. An “expert” has “shifted from someone with professional or academic credentials to potentially anyone with firsthand experience” according to Michael McAfee in It’s Not What You ThinkThey have shifted from objective sources of truth to a form of crowdsourcing of truth.

Crowdsourcing may be fine for consumer purchases, but it has its limits. How can they know that the consensus approach is actually true or helpful in areas such as life choices? What if the consensus goes against their opinion or is harmful?  Without a Christian worldview, how can they make sound decisions about God, morals, or life?

In the aftermath of the presidential elections, we see two narratives which are quite contradictory.  Both cannot be true. Earlier this week in the New York Times, the headline on the first page said there was “No Evidence of fraud” in the elections. It was based on “calls to offices of the top election officials”. 

Yet, other news sources have identified thousands of people that have somehow risen from the dead and voted in their resurrected bodies. I am not sure what fraud looks like, but having dead people vote seems suspicious to me. 

My friend, Steve Noble, suggested that we are now in a Tower of Babel world. There is a divide where there are two sides, and neither of them can understand the other. On the one side, there are people who want truth to prevail, even if it means losing an election. 

On the other side, there are those who hide their true motives (which is power at any cost) and are willing to repeat the same story narrative, hoping that if it is repeated often enough it will be accepted as correct, even if it is factually wrong.   That’s where we are.  

Reminds me of the school ground arguments where finger pointing and shouting “I am right!” to a youth who says “No, you’re not!”.  There’s no debate. No discussion. No facts. Just emotional outbursts. 

In a post truth-world, where the media, large corporations and tech companies are complicit, there is a real danger to our freedoms, particularly the freedom of speech “guaranteed” by the Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech and truth are now on the chopping block, or to use the French revolution model, headed for the guillotine. 

As Christians, we know that there is real truth. There is a God and Jesus was real. He was not a fiction.  The progressives would prefer you kept your religion to yourself.  If you dare speak out by asserting your rights in the workplace, you can end up in court, just as a Christian baker did for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. 

Twenty-five years ago, I predicted that the “price” of being a Christian in the 21st century was going up.  I don’t mean to say that I was prescient, but I could see trends where Christianity was being increasingly marginalized – both in government and the public square. 

Our next generation has been brought up in a post-modern, post-Christian and post-truth environment. That’s a lot of “posts” to overcome, for sure. In most cases, they are still willing to develop mentoring relationships – one on one – with people who have more life experiences than they do. 

Being a mentor is one way to combat the “posts”, and, at some level, introduce a reality based on truth, not emotional appeal or crowdsourcing.  I have been writing this blog for six years now, and I can honestly say that mentors are needed more than ever by a generation which is in search of truth but haven’t gotten it from their social media or friends. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your willingness to invest in the next generation as a mentor has never been more valuable in a post-truth world.

FURTHER READING:  It’s Not What You Think – McAfee

What Does It Mean to Live in a Post-Truth World – Peterson

Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post Truth World – Murray

WORSHIP: Trust in Jesus – Third Day

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Politics

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

I woke up this morning thinking all of the election bruhaha would be over. Nope.  There will be a delay in calling winners and losers of various races around the country.  Lawsuits abound as to election fraud in several states. Seven Milwaukee, WI, wards reported more presidential votes than registered voters. 

In the 1950’s, Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, famously said:  “Vote early and vote often.” The quote may have actually come from Al Capone, a famous gangster.  Still, it is a cynical phrase that may apply today. 

I did a political science research paper in college which looked at how voters chose their candidates. I found that in the presidential elections, candidates weren’t chosen by voters for their policies, but for their appearance, personality and appeal. In other words, personality (whether perceived or real) was more important to voters than what each candidate stood for.

As a consequence, political campaigns were all about making a candidate look “likeable” and trustworthy.  People voted on their impressions, not on substance nor political platforms or policies.

Fast forward into the 21st Century. While appearance and likeability are a factor, in this last election the choices were stark in terms of policies and ideologies. I watched a video by Gary Hamrick’s sermon where he treads on difficult issues of politics and the church. He does a similar sermon every four years prior to a presidential election.  

His premise is that if he was to vote for a candidate based on personality, he would vote one way. But he made the point that over the centuries, most people never cared about a king’s personality – they cared about what he did with his power. 

Gary continued with his analysis of the current election based on policies, not on candidates, from a biblical worldview.  His video is worth watching. 

He took several statements from each candidates’ platform without ascribing which one it came from and asked his audience which statement was consistent with a biblical worldview. Only after they chose which was consistent with biblical principles did he reveal which party had drafted the statement. 

His point – one that I have been making over the last six months – is that the hard pull of the progressive left towards socialism is dangerous, which is why he labeled his sermon “Wake Up America”.  As he noted, the Democratic party is not the same party of the 1960’s of John F. Kennedy, nor even the party of Bill Clinton.  

In fact, if Kennedy was up for election, he would be considered a conservative by most. It was Kennedy who posed the question: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

That sentence has been reversed today in the guise of equality.  Organizations like Black Lives Matter and the drum beat of Critical Race Theory and Social Justice treats the black community as oppressed victims.  The push for reparations for slavery is an example. 

The next generation has been indoctrinated into thinking that revolution and socialism is the answer. This is pure Marxism, and Karl Marx would have been proud, even though he died in 1883. It is more than just ideology; this is a move to change the American democracy by undermining its institutions.

The indoctrination is not just in colleges where it has been taught under the radar for decades, and it is being advanced by mainstream media and social media which is increasingly progressive. As I noted, conservative or dissenting opinion is not welcome, and is often blocked, shadow banned by obliging large tech and social media companies run by progressives. 

If that was not enough, Robert Reich, former head of the U.S. Labor Department and a professor at University of California – Berkley, has proposed a post-election “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. The stated purpose is to target and censor supporters of the other parties’ presidential candidate. You can’t make this up. This is a Banana Republicidea. 

When I got up this morning, it hit me that the next generation may not understand what the real issues are. The live in a post-modern and increasingly post-Christian world that is far detached from a biblical worldview. They are also woefully deficient in civics or history, and the majority of them (63%) don’t even know what the Holocaust was. 

How then, do we navigate the political arena with the next generation?  It is a world where everything is now politicized. Even things that shouldn’t, by their nature, be political, such as treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. 

While we live in am increasingly turbulent political time, we have one constant that we can cling to:  Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The challenge here is that the next generation is in desperate need of mentoring.  They need real world mentors with real world life experiences to help them navigate through the political thicket.  In a world where up is now down, and good is now bad, they need seasoned people to walk beside them.  

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can’t mentor everyone. But investing in the life of just one person may be the most valuable contribution you can make for the Kingdom. Jesus only mentored the Apostles, not everyone He met.

MORE STUFF:   Wake Up America – Gary Hamrick

Live Not by Lies – Dreher

Are Western Christians Facing a Totalitarian Threat from the Left?  Max

Mentoring 101 – An Introduction

WORSHIP: God of The City – Christ Tomlin

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