Thanksgiving day

I supppose it is a bit dastardly of me to mark Thanksgiving Day in this way but I am going to remind my American readers that the devout Protestant Pilgrim Fathers who held the first Thanksgiving were also such devout communists that it took a couple of years of starvation before they gave communism up and rediscovered private property. One account of all that is here. Communism was a killer even in those days. So much for the idea that Christianity and conservatism are necessarily associated. I offer an historical look at the relationship between Christianity and politics here -- where I also look the authoritarian element in Christianity.

We have no Thanksgiving or other harvest festival in Australia but the original white Australians also had an ambiguous relationship to private property. Most of them were convicted thieves -- including two of my ancestors.

And the Puritans have descendants:

The secular Puritans of modern-day Massachusetts: "The Puritans of Massachusetts have been dead for 300 years, but their authoritarian ghosts haunt us to this day. Consider the plight of Whole Foods Market, an international chain of natural and organic food stores, which found itself accused of planning to engage in criminal activity in its 14 Massachusetts stores this week. What high crimes and misdemeanors was the upscale grocer plotting? It was going to open its doors for business on Thanksgiving. Shocking but true: It was going to sell fruit and vegetables and milk and desserts.... In short, Whole Foods was going to make its wares available to Massachusetts customers on Thanksgiving -- just as it does for customers in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and more than two dozen other states nationwide.... The attorney general of Massachusetts looked at it and saw a crime. In a stiff letter to Whole Foods last week, Attorney General Thomas Reilly noted that under Chapter 136 of the Massachusetts legal code, "the performance of work on legal holidays is prohibited, unless permitted by a statutory exemption." If Whole Foods opened its doors on Thanksgiving, the letter warned, it could face "criminal and equitable enforcement actions to enjoin violations of the Blue Laws." Ah, yes, the blue laws -- those rules and regulations imposed by New England's 17th-century Puritan theocrats to govern moral conduct and ensure proper observance of the Sabbath."

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