Quick to Listen/Episode 35

How to Redeem Thanksgiving

It starts with acknowledging the whole truth.
How to Redeem Thanksgiving

For many Americans, our thoughts drift to North America’s original people only once or twice a year. But thanks to the Cleveland Indians’ World Series appearance and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, you may have thought about Native Americans at some point before our national holiday.

Thanksgiving offers a critical time for many of us to reflect on our nation’s history, says Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee and professor of faith and culture at George Fox University.

“Thanksgiving is a deep mythology within the American psyche,” said Woodley, who suggests that many of us have sanitized the holiday.

“For three days they had this festival and no one questions what happens after,” he said. “The story is so treacherous and ugly that our mythology only includes what we want to feel good about.”

For decades and later centuries after this peaceful and celebratory meal between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, settlers clashed violently with Indians and forcibly converted them to Christianity and “civilized” them.

There was little understanding from Americans that Natives had something to offer them and their culture. They still do, says Woodley: the values of generosity and consensus.

Woodley joined Morgan and guest-host Richard Clark to discuss why he himself chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving, how he learned to love Jesus despite the religion’s ugly impact on his ancestors, and the uncomfortable conditions it took for settlers to share their faith with Native Americans.

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You can read more about Woodley’s organization: Eagle’s Wings Ministry

Quick to Listen is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred

Additional Reading

This Thanksgiving, Stop Idolizing the Pilgrims

Christian History’s Thanksgiving coverage

Christianity Today’s Thanksgiving topic page

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Christianity Today
How to Redeem Thanksgiving