Thursday, November 24, 2011


For those of you in other parts of the world, today is the American holiday known as Thanksgiving, which is mostly about spending time with family over (if you are so blessed) a sumptuous dinner. This afternoon we will gather at son Dan's house, with kids and grandkids, and the family of Dan's spouse. All except paleoclimatologist daughter Mo, who is spending three months in residence at the oceanographic institute in Goa, India.

Before she moved west many years ago, sister Anne used to join us for Thanksgiving. Today she sends her Thanksgiving blessing above (click, and then again, to enlarge).

She and I (and webkeeper Tom) thank you all for visiting this site and for your thoughtful comments. Our family has much to be thankful for, and you are a part of it.

We live only about 30 kilometers from the place where the Pilgrims stepped ashore at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, and where they celebrated the first Thanksgiving the following year, having survived a cruel winter. Americans cultivate a highly romanticized version of those first colonists, as exemplified by this picture, the sort of thing we were all brought up on as kids. Of course, what you are looking at is a prelude to genocide. After much blood was spilt on both sides, the native Americans of New England were essentially exterminated. You see two of the agents of extermination in the painting -- guns and steel; the third -- germs -- are present but invisible.

As pious Christians, the colonists looked to the Bible for justification for taking the land and its bounty. Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." And Romans 13.2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. The scriptures are a wonderfully versatile document; something can be found therein to justify any sort of mischief.

But enough of that. This is a day for blessings, for gratitude, and for gobs of potatoes, turkey and gravy. Dig in. Amen.