By John De Gree, of The Classical Historian
In a rare event in American political history, a self-proclaimed Socialist is one of the major candidates for the U.S. Presidency. Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) has competed very well against Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) for the Democratic nomination for the President. Many Americans do not know what is a Socialist.
Socialists believe that society functions best when members are forced to share economic goods. This means, for example, that if someone earns $100,000 and another earns $10,000 a year, both should enjoy the $110,000. Socialists think it is unfair that one person should benefit more than another because of his ability, effort, or circumstances in life. Socialists think that the government should determine how much money a person is allowed to keep and how much he should give to others. Some socialists think all people should have the same income, where other socialists think some people can earn more than others. But all socialists agree that the government should determine a minimum amount that each person in society should earn, regardless of his situation.
A socialist thinks that it is the role of government to make decisions regarding private property. For example, if a family has 10 children the socialist thinks that the government should make sure the larger-sized family has a large enough house for the bigger family. This could mean that taxes from the family with 2 children will go to the family with 10 children to support them.
A socialist thinks that the individual rights of the citizen come second to the needs of the state, and it is the role of the government to determine what are the needs of the state. We have many examples in history over the last 200 years to help us understand what a socialist state may decide is the need of the state. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in the 1900s, the government decided that religion was an enemy of the people. The U.S.S.R. forbade religious practice and tortured and murdered millions of people to enforce the ban on religious practice. Because of the tragic consequences of the U.S.S.R., many Americans fear socialism.
Senator Sanders describes his political philosophy as democratic socialism. Sanders does not want government to take away others’ property or severely limit individual’s rights, but he would like government to heavily tax those who are successful, and he wants government to distribute this money evenly. Unlike in the U.S.S.R., where people were forced to follow the government or die, Sanders wants people in the U.S.A. to vote and choose a government that will raise taxes. Sanders thinks that the amount of money in a society is fixed, and it is the government’s job to distribute it evenly among all.
Great Questions You Can Ask Your Kids
1. Who is Bernie Sanders?
2. What is a socialist?
3. What happened in the U.S.S.R. in the 1900s?
4. What is democratic socialism?
5. What do you think of socialism?
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. #theclassicalhistorian
Harriet Tubman’s image will replace Andrew Jackson’s image on the front of the $20 bill, beginning sometime after 2020. Jackson’s image will move to the back of the bill. During Harriet Tubman’s life, she was hated by the Southern Democrats but loved by the party of Lincoln, the Republicans. Because of the change of the $20 bill, Tubman’s life and meaning has become again a controversial topic for the United States of America.
Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who risked her life to free others. Born a slave in Maryland, we believe her birth date was 1822, though we are unsure because slaveholders tried to take away any birthday celebrations for slaves. It was believed that if a slave didn’t think she was special, she would follow orders better. Some time in her young adulthood, Tubman escaped and travelled along the Underground Railroad until she made it to Pennsylvania, a free state. After making it to freedom, she returned South numerous times to rescue dozens of slaves.
Escaping from slavery was dangerous, but this did not stop Tubman from returning to the South to rescue more slaves. She travelled on the Underground Railroad. This was a secret system of families, mainly white, who sheltered and fed escaped slaves during the day at their homes, called “stations”. At nighttime, the slaves continued on the “railroad” until they made it to another station, or into the North. Tubman acted as a conductor, a person who led the slaves along the railroad.
Harriet Tubman carried a gun while a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Running away from slavery into the unknown was so terrifying, that some slaves wanted to return to their masters while on the journey to freedom. If a slave started to turn back, Tubman would point the gun at these individuals and threaten to shoot if they returned. Tubman knew the slave master would torture the slave until he found out information where the other runaways were.
Unlike Andrew Jackson who was the founder of the modern Democratic Party, Harriet Tubman was a lifelong Republican, even acting as a spy against the southern slaveholding Democrats during the Civil War (1861-1865). Tubman reportedly had hundreds of intelligence contacts and could easily gain the trust of slaves in the South. In one scouting mission, she became the first woman to command a significant number of American troops in combat. This action freed more slaves than all of her journeys on the Underground Railroad.
Harriet Tubman was a devout Christian and believed she gained her strength and courage to help others from her belief throughout her lifetime. After the Civil War, she helped to found a church and a retirement home. She also fought for woman’s suffrage and fair treatment of black Civil War veterans. Harriet Tubman died in 1913, loved by the North and the slaves she had freed.
One definition of irony is "a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result." It is ironic that the Obama administration is replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill. Jackson is the modern founder of the Democratic Party. President Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party. Jackson was a populist, and Obama campaigned as one. Tubman was hated by Democrats and loved by Republicans. She was a gun-carrying, Republican Christian, the exact person that President Obama continues to speak and act against. It is ironic that under a Democratic administration that is against civilian use of weapons, that Harriet Tubman is replacing the founder of the Democratic Party on the $20 bill.
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Patrick was born in fourth century Roman Britain (c. 390-461) to a loving family of wealth. His parents were most likely successful merchants and administrators of Rome. On February 27, 380, Roman Emperor Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica and declared the official religion in the empire to be the Catholic Church. Patrick was brought up in this faith. He had a privileged childhood as the son of wealthy Roman leaders, but suffered great hardships for a number of years. Patrick brought Christianity to the Irish and changed the course of history.
At the beginning of the medieval ages, many in Europe clung to the pagan religions of the past. Ireland, the island to the west of Britain, was a land where Christianity was unknown. Celts in Ireland followed a belief called Druidism. They believed in many gods, and Druid priests had many practices that we would call barbaric. Druids sacrificed humans to keep their gods happy.
As a sixteen year-old, Patrick’s easy life of comfort and prestige changed forever. Some reports state Patrick had snuck out of his parents’ home and took part in an all-night pagan ritual. With dawn breaking, a small band of Irish pirates raided Britain and captured Patrick. He was taken to Ireland and sold into slavery, completely separated from his loving parents. Patrick wrote later that he had left the faith of his family, and for this he was being punished.
For six years, Patrick worked as a common slave in Ireland. At any instant, he could be killed, mutilated, or beaten by his owner. He was far from his home and far from any help his Christian friends could provide. Instead of becoming desperate and sad, though, Patrick spent his time in prayer and reflection. Working as a shepherd for six years, he grew to love the Irish land and people, and yearned to one day teach them the Christian belief. He united his sufferings as a slave to the sufferings of his savior, Christ, and his love for his captors grew.
According to Patrick’s writings, he heard the Heavenly Father speak to him and tell him to escape from slavery and to walk to the coast. A boat would be waiting for him. As a slave, if he were recognized, he would have been put to death! Patrick did as he was told, and there was a boat waiting for him. The captain agreed to take him back to Britain.
Patrick’s parents were so excited to see him, but they were also disappointed to hear what he wanted to do. He wanted to become a priest and return to the people who enslaved him in Ireland. His parents wanted him to get married, become wealthy and important, and raise a family. If he returned to Ireland, wouldn’t he be killed by his former slave owner for escaping? How could he have a family if he became a priest?
Patience is a virtue Patrick practiced. He went to Gaul (France), studied to become a priest, and waited for his calling to go back to Ireland and spread Christianity. At the age of 49, after about 25 years of waiting, he finally received the order to go to Ireland as a bishop to evangelize. He returned, went to his former slave owner, and spoke about Christ. Amazingly, within Bishop Patrick’s lifetime, Ireland became a Christian country! And, since this time Irish missionaries have travelled throughout the world spreading the news of Jesus and his Church.
There are many legends attributed to Patrick in Ireland. For example, some say he chased all the snakes out of Ireland, or that he used a three-leaf clover to explain the Trinity. But, what is not legend is that within his lifetime, Ireland changed from a land of slavery, human sacrifice, and paganism, to a Christian land, where the slave trade came to a halt, and where murder and tribal warfare decreased.
Along with bringing Christianity to the Irish, Patrick established monasteries that some say saved Western civilization. In the Middle Ages, a monastery was a place where men lived and worshipped, served as doctors and nurses, fed the poor, took care of orphans, and copied important documents. It was the only place of learning in the first centuries after the Roman Empire fell. As Roman law and order gave way to chaos, Irish monks kept working, copying classic texts of the west, and spreading Christianity. For centuries after Patrick died, Irish monks spread both the Christian faith and the classics. It is for this that some historians claim that St. Patrick saved Western Civilization.
To read the actual writings of Saint Patrick:
Lesson Ideas for Ages 3-11:
1. Look up Ireland on a map. Sketch your own drawing of Ireland and Britain and the rest of continental Europe, or, find a map outline. Color in Ireland green. Ireland is known for being green because it rains so much in Ireland. “Irish weather” means that it is misty and wet outside. This weblink has an excellent outline map of Ireland: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://0.tqn.com/d/geography/1/0/1/L/europe.jpg&imgrefurl=http://geography.about.com/library/blank/blxeurope.htm&h=561&w=807&sz=64&tbnid=3N8DrCBfvYFDrM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=129&prev=/search%3Fq%3Doutline%2Bmap%2Bof%2BEurope%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=outline+map+of+Europe&docid=JhUUGtUtO8jd6M&sa=X&ei=ZCZeT6yWDKauiAKU2qjRCw&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAA&dur=1357
2. Writing Ideas for Ages 12 and older (and for high achieving younger kids!)
a. Take the biography of St. Patrick and try to write one sentence that summarizes each paragraph.
b. Answer this question in a one-paragraph essay, “Was Patrick’s decision to become a priest and return to Ireland crazy, or was it courageous?”
During Pope Francis’ visit to the United States of America last week, he canonized Father Junipero Serra. This means that he proclaimed Father Serra a saint. For most Americans, this brings up many questions. What is a saint? Who was Father Serra? Why is there a controversy surrounding Father Serra? What does Father Serra have to do with American history? To understand American history it is necessary to understand Father Serra.
A Quick History of Sainthood
In Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, someone who lives in Christ and is believed in Heaven is considered a saint. But those believed worthy of greater honor or emulation are proclaimed a saint. This practice began immediately after the crucifixion of Christ. In the first centuries, early Christian spread the word of Christ by speaking to others. The Roman Empire persecuted Christians, martyring many. A martyr is someone who died for his faith. Early Christians began referring to those martyred as saints. For example, all early Christians referred to the Apostles as saints, such as Saint Peter, who Christians believe to have been crucified upside down.
The first person to have been officially declared a saint was in 993, when Pope John XV proclaimed Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg a saint, along with Polish martyrs. In 1234, the Catholic Church adopted a formal canonization process.
Who Was Father Serra?
Last week, Father Serra became the United States’ first Hispanic saint. He lived in 18th century Spain and became a priest. Father Serra joined the Franciscans, a medieval religious order, and promised a life of poverty. For many years, Father Serra’s life consisted of prayer, singing, physical labor, spiritual readings and instruction. Serra became a professor, and was known for being a great teacher. Giving up a comfortable life at the university, Serra volunteered to go to the new land to establish missions in California.
Father Serra established the first nine of 21 missions in California, which stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. Serra Christianized thousands of Indians, and the Spanish taught them how to farm, raise livestock, make soap, weave clothes, and how to survive in the new Spanish economy. Until about thirty years ago, no one questioned the accomplishments of Father Serra.
Some think Serra’s accomplishments were actually tragedies for the native peoples of California and that Serra should not be honored. Serra and the Spanish carried diseases the Indians did not have, and because of the Europeans, historians think 90% of the Indians died. Some even claim this is proof of genocide. Also, once the Indians joined a mission, they were never allowed to leave. The missionaries used the military to force Indians to stay. Some argue that the Indians were physically punished for not following the rules, but, Spanish were also physically punished for the same reasons.
There are many reasons these arguments against Serra are not strong. One, the Spanish did not know they carried diseases that would hurt the Indians. The word genocide means when a country as a policy tries to murder a people. There was no Spanish policy of genocide. Also, no Indian was forced to convert to Christianity and become part of the mission, and, there is no evidence Serra ever hurt an Indian. In Europe in the 1700s, serfs were not allowed to leave the land they worked on. The Spanish mentality of the 1700s was the same as every European in the medieval ages. Because of this, any Indian who ran away from the mission, was forced back by the Spanish soldiers. This was not a policy of Father Serra, but it was Spanish law.
American History and Father Serra
Father Serra is important for the history of California and also for the United States of America. During the American Revolution, a group of untrained farmers fought and beat the strongest army and navy in the world. Their military leader was George Washington, and he led the Continental Army in beating the British and establishing the United States of America. In 1777, Father Serra had all of the California missions collect money and he sent $137 to General Washington.
Every state chooses two people from their state to honor by placing their statue in the U.S. Capitol. Since, Father Serra’s statue is one of two from California that are located at the U.S. Capitol (the other is Ronald Reagan). He has been traditionally recognized as one of California’s most important citizens. On his visit to America, Pope Francis visited this statue and said of Serra, “tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.” He said that relations between European and natives “were often turbulent and violent,” but “it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.”
1. Who was Father Serra?
2. What did Pope Francis do regarding Father Serra las week?
3. What is the controversy surrounding Father Serra based on?
4. How is Father Serra tied to California and American history?
5. What is your opinion of Father Serra? Was he a great man? Was he an oppressor of Indians?
Pope Francis Visits Cuba and The United States of America
From September 19th until September 27th, Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba and the United States of America. For many reasons, his visit to these two nations is historic and perhaps controversial.
Who is the Pope?
The Pope is not just a person, but is called the Vicar of Christ for over 1.2 billion Catholics (that’s 1,200,000,000 people). The word “vicar” means earthly representative of God or Christ. Catholics believe that when Jesus Christ walked the earth, he chose a leader to guide Christians after he was to be crucified. Catholics refer to Bible passages to support this view, including Mathew 16:18. After Peter died, early Christians chose a new leader. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope in the history of the Church. When the Pope speaks, he speaks not only for himself, but for all Catholics of the world.
There are 801 million (that’s 801,000,000 people) Christians in the world today who do not believe the Pope is the leader of the Christian people. In 1053, within the Christian Church, there was a schism. A schism means a separation. The Christian Church divided in two, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church did not accept the idea that the Pope was leader of the Christians on Earth. Then, in 1527, Martin Luther separated from the Roman Catholic Church, forming the Lutheran Church. This was the beginning of the Reformation. After this separation was made, hundreds of other Christian religions separated from either the Lutheran Church or the Roman Catholic Church. Faiths that separated from the Catholic Church do not hold that the Pope is leader of the world’s Christians.
The Pope and Cuba
Since 1959, people of religious faith have been persecuted on Cuba. Fidel Castro installed a Communist government in Cuba, and Communist countries outlaw religious belief. Christians have been oppressed, tortured and executed on Cuba since this time. However, in recent years, the Communist regime of Castro may be softening its stance towards religion. Pope Francis has worked to bring greater freedom to the religious people of Cuba. He brokered the deal between the United States of America and Cuba that improved diplomatic relations between the two countries. Raul Castro, the current Communist dictator of Cuba, will attend all three Masses the Pope will celebrate, and the dictator has said he may go back to the Church.
The Pope and the United States of America
Pope Francis will be in the United States of America from September 22nd until September 27th. His visit marks a few “firsts.” For the first time in history a Pope will address all members of Congress. This will take place 10:00 a.m. EST. Pope Francis will also canonize the first Spanish-American saint of North America, proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint on September 23rd at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Both events are marked with great interest and some controversy.
The Pope and the U.S. Congress
Many are waiting with keen interest to listen to what Pope Francis will say to the U.S. Congress. The Pope has made statements that seem very critical of free market principles, which is favored by the Republican Party. He also has written and spoken about global warming, which is a favored topic of Democrats. On the other hand, he has confirmed the Catholic Church’s stand against abortion, which is a procedure nearly all Democrats believe to be a right of women. And, he has spoken against euthanasia, which more Democrats support.
The Church and Father Junipero Serra
The Catholic Church proclaims a person to have been a saint if he or she lived an exemplary life for Christ, and, if two miracles can be attributed to this person after he or she has died. For example, if a believer asks a person he believes to be in heaven to pray for him, and the believer is healed of an incurable disease, the Church believes this may be a miracle. During his visit to the U.S.A., Pope Francis will be proclaiming Father Junipero Serra a saint.
Father Junipero Serra is somewhat of a controversial figure. Father Serra was a Spanish Franciscan priest who founded nine of California’s 21 missions from 1769 to 1782. Because of Serra, thousands of native Americans learned about Christ, were baptized, and learned trades that would help them in the new economy the Spanish brought with them when Spain colonized California. Once baptized, the Indians were not allowed to leave the missions, and when they broke laws or Church rules, Indians were physically punished, as was the custom in medieval Europe. On one hand, Father Serra is revered as a Christian who gave up worldly comfort to teach about Christ in a new land, but on the other hand, some believe he mistreated the Indians and should not be exalted.
1. What is the Catholic view of who the Pope is?
2. What happened in the year 1053?
3. What happened in the year 1527?
4. Since 1959, who has been in control of Cuba and how does this group treat believers in God?
5. What are the two different views of Father Serra?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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