This month we have a guest recommendation. A friend of mine from Virginia just finished a children’s level writing book on William Bradford. The book is part of a history series purchased for his children and read by him… He has been talking to me about for years and the stories are excellent. It sounds like a worthy series of books for a family to own, but I am only recommending William Bradford: Plymouth’s Rock by Janet and Geoff Benge this month.
You can purchase the book at Amazon and help Catalyst in the process below.
William Bradford: Plymouth’s Rock (Heroes of History)
I made some edits of my friends recommendation, but for secular and Christian people this book sounds fascinating. Please enjoy our guest commentator,
“Finished reading that book on William Bradford last week. It just goes from bad to worse. Every chapter seems to start out with him thinking, or agreeing to, something like “Hey we should…” and all I can think is “No, no you should not.”
“Hey, we should start a government!”
“Hey we should make pacts with everyone around us!”
“Hey, we should execute this dude!”
And, because of all the discussions we had over the years, all I can think when I read those ideas is “No William. No we should not.” And EVERY decision turns out the way you’d expect to. An erosion of what they started trying to do.
I’ve already mentioned some of the missteps but, after everyone sees how profitable Boston becomes through trade, half of them bail on Plymouth (which was supposed to be a colony with the Church at its center. Everyone starts chasing money.
At first they start out with everyone farming the land, and so, the lazy eat just as much as the industrious. The hallmark of communism. Eventually, they split up the land and each family is assigned their own plot. When they became responsible for their own food, they work harder, take care of it more, and there was more food.
There are disputes / incidents where Bradford, as Governor, opts for execution (in a murder case). This can be read different ways but, nowadays I don’t think that was right. I think it represented the ultimate erosion of his morals as a separatist.
Upon hearing a group of Native Americans may attack the colony, Bradford opts for a preemptive strike and orders the head of the Native American tribe be brought to him. It happens. The attack was thwarted, but really, at what cost? What does that tell the tribe that happened to?
It gets so bad that, as the years go on, Bradford’s journals just lists the years at the top of the pages (he got too tired of writing all the negative stuff).
He’s always portrayed as a hero (and he did some admirable things) but his personal reflections towards the end of his life show that he thought he had failed. (And I agree, he failed). He, and the other separatists, set out to build a new colony… away from everyone else. I even think they went wrong there. I think that’s contrary to the Great Commission. I also think it was foolhardy as it was an attempt to escape human nature. We’re called to live among the world and be an example and, like it or not, that sin nature is in ALL of us. As became apparent in how everything unraveled, even among the separatists in Plymouth.
Nonetheless… they set forth, compromised their group by hitching their wagons to the strangers. Formed governments, embraced communism, eroded their morals, swore fealty to defend some Native American tribes (which put them at war with others), met perceived threats with violence, partook in capital punishment, and succumbed to greed / envy of Boston’s wealth.
Bradford was right, he was a failure. He founded a colony, but not one which remained focused on a Church at the center. He spent a lifetime learning these lessons. I’m glad I don’t have to.
I had thought our “great experiment” was the best example of the fact that “we, humans, just can’t do it.” And maybe it still is, but I know for a fact it is not the first. Why did they leave England? The same problems. And the ancient Hebrews selecting a king instead of God etc.
We don’t colonize new worlds. We export man’s sin nature. Obviously, because of the fact that the Native American tribes were at war with each other before Bradford and his crew arrived, sin nature was already there. We can send satellites into space, Voyager to the edge of the galaxy, but the second we send the first human being to a new frontier, we’ve exported our sin nature. We are a plague.
My name is William Bradford!!!