The Landing of the Pilgrims

The Landing of the Pilgrims, James Dougherty, Random House, 1950

The Landing of the Pilgrims, James Dougherty, 1950

Why is it that older books, those written, say, in the 1950’s or earlier are often so much better than recent books?  I think one big reason is that those authors felt less pressure to be politically-correct.  They were free to write what really happened, even when it conflicted with what might seem nicer, more fair, more racially unbiased, or less likely to injure someone’s self-esteem.

Here’s an example from The Landing of the Pilgrims, a book written for an older audience than Three Young Pilgrims.  The author is explaining the deep reverence the Puritans had for God and the teasing they received from British sailors who delighted in their horror at the sailors’ cursing and blaspheming.  One young sailor, even more profane than the others, joked that he hoped to throw the bodies of half of them overboard (the usual method of burial at sea.)  Not long afterwards, the sailor himself sickened and died.  Dougherty writes, “…Both passengers and crew stood awed, believing that this was none other than the just hand of God upon his wickedness.”

The first-hand accounts of the Pilgrims describe this event, but I haven’t seen it in any recently-written Pilgrim books.  And I’m afraid it’s because many people are uncomfortable with the idea of a God who would do this.  Perhaps they feel it just wouldn’t be very nice of God to be so harsh.  I mean, God loves everybody unconditionally right?  (No, not right.)

Today, not even the LORD God Himself is free from being edited and recast by some modern Christian authors into a nice, tolerant, friendly god.  They want a tame god, a god who would never end a person’s life just because that person exercised his right to express his feelings and opinions.  Some might even come right out and say that they like this kind of god better than the God in the Bible. (One reviewer of The Shack said that.) Thankfully, despite popular criticism, God remains on His throne, and He is who He is.  But I’ve gotten side-tracked…

So… I love The Landing of the Pilgrims. I’ve not seen any recently-written book for young people which comes anywhere close to it, and strangely enough, given its politically-incorrect treatment of God, the Pilgrims and the Indians, it’s one of the Landmark books which is still in print.

It starts out by introducing William Brewster and Will Bradford, explains very clearly why they felt they had to leave England, and why they moved to and then left Holland.  And makes no bones about the fact that it was because of their faith and their desire to live according to the Holy Scriptures.

This book is in a different category than most other history books.  Drawn, as it is, from the three first-hand accounts left by the Pilgrims themselves, (Mourt’s Relation, Good Newes from New England and Of Plymouth Plantation) it’s a story of the Pilgrims’ covenantal relationship with  the LORD God, of whom they had a very good biblical understanding.

Author James Daugherty has woven the material from these three accounts into a lovely, easily- readable, reverent, well-written, and accurate story.

Ending with this quote from William Bradford:

“It is not with us as with other men whom small things can discourage, or small discontentments cause to wish (ourselves) at home again…”  this book deals with so many concepts which are essential to a Christian education that I would recommend that you read it with your children.   It’s a book to read deeply, thoughtfully.  It’s a book we all need to understand.