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The First Thanksgiving In American Memory: Part 3

History is not the past self, but rather the “remembered past,” in the words of Christian historian John Lukacs. With this as our starting point, I teach my students to think of history in terms of metaphors. Among other things, history is a story about the past that helps us to frame our lives. It functions as a mirror helping us to see our own age more clearly. Ideally, it is a rich conversation, a dialog ...

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The First Thanksgiving in American Memory: Part 2

In my last post I began a quick sketch of how American memory of the First Thanksgiving has changed over time. And it definitely has changed, and changed dramatically. In every class that I teach here at Wheaton College, one of the first principles that I try to drive home to my students is the fundamental distinction between history and the past. The past is everything that has been said and thought and do ...

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The First Thanksgiving in American Memory: Part 1

Editor's Note: In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, enjoy Dr. McKenzie's enlightening series on the first Thanksgiving in American Memory. An interviewer recently asked me to identify the most surprising thing I had learned in my study of the “First Thanksgiving.” I replied that the discoveries that interested me most had less to do with the actual 1621 celebration than with the way that American memory ...

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Bill Cosby and Rape: Why Were We So Slow?

Bill Cosby has fallen from grace. America’s dad is in the dog house after decades in our living rooms. The accusations of rape are old news but something has shifted. The accusers’ stories are gaining momentum and what was an open secret is now impossible to ignore. Bill Cosby is a rapist and we all know it. TV Land, Netflix and ABC know it, too, so they are cancelling their relationships with him. A logica ...

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A First Thanksgiving Hoax

Editor's Note: The Raven Foundation is delighted to welcome Dr. Robert Tracy McKenzie, chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College, to our flock! Dr. McKenzie has an inspiring approach to history and aspires to, as he says, "think Christianly about America's past." Recognizing our human propensity to "re-member" (that is, "piece back together") history according to our current worldviews, Dr. McKe ...

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The Oracle of Certainty: From Ancient Athens to ISIS

Thank the gods we don’t believe in the utterances of oracles anymore. We don’t search for omens in the entrails of sacrificed animals or believe that women in drug induced trances can foretell our destiny. Because the ancient Greeks fell for this superstitious mumbo jumbo, they were led into two disastrous wars that had devastating consequences. The great anti-war playwright Euripides offers his critique of ...

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Winston Churchill, Jesus, and Redeeming Democracy

Winston Churchill, the great 20th century politician and protector of democratic values, once quipped that, It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried. It’s Election Day here in the United States and my Facebook feed is full of pictures of my friends proudly voting. Other images of women from the early 1900 fighting for the right to vote app ...

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Democracy’s Most Cherished Act

Democracy! A word, a way of life, our highest ideal: Everyone is equal; no one is marginal. I still feel the force of this word, though the middle syllable — “mock” — grows increasingly dominant when I hear it, especially now, as election season rolls around again. The enormity of my indifference to this election is balanced by something that feels like grief. The system we live under is . . . Words fail me ...

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Why? – Unlocking the Answer to School Shootings

                            Last week’s school shooting in Marysville, Washington has us all asking the question again – Why did this happen? Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary gave voice to the despair many are feeling as we search for answers. “The question everybody wants is ‘Why?’ I don’t know that the ‘why’ is something we can provi ...

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Why David Brooks Needs Mimetic Theory – and So Do You

Anyone honestly interested in a solution to the emergence of ISIL in Iraq needs to learn the basics of mimetic theory. Without mimetic theory, we fall victim to catastrophic failures of logic, which lead to equally catastrophic decisions made in ignorance of our own foolishness. New York Times columnist David Brooks provides an excellent case study for my claim with his article “The Good Order”. His flawed ...

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