Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

First Time in the Tropics

No column this week. I'm on vacation.We arrived earlier than Sarah, Nate, and Alex. They got stuck in Philadelphia after missing their connection. Snow in Portland, Maine delayed their departure. Roseann and I got there about midnight after a long drive following three flights. Woke up to a calm sea. This is our first view from the condo we rented. Nice. Cuba is just over the horizon to the north of Grand Cayman. Glad I don't see it.It was a long day of traveling: about fourteen hours. Relaxing before going to mass and then picking up our companions.It was a nice day and Roseann, now Grammy, did what she always did: collect shells and rocks. Our daughters call her Rocky.She even collected them in the cemetery. They bury their dead next to the sea here on Grand Cayman.I think that's kind of nice. Visiting departed loved ones next to the eternal sea. Next to the power of Nature's God. Wikipedia describes the population here - over 50,000 - as "overwhelmingly Christian" with lots of Catholics. At Sunday mass, the congregation was reverent and enthusiastic, a nice combination. "Celebrating" mass at St. Ignatius Church in Georgetown wasn't just an expression. It was one of my favorite masses ever. Then it was over to the airport to pick up the rest of the family. Sarah relaxed after her long journey.
Nate helped Alex put on flippers so he could snorkel in the little lagoon. Starting off easy.
It's easier to walk backwards in these things, but Alex insisted on doing it his way. He made it.
Evening of the first day.Next day came the trade winds out of the Northeast. No more calm seas on the north side where we were.Who cared of there was a storm out there? Grammy was still going to be looking for cool rocks.
Some over here too.Alex was taken back a bit by the power of the waves. Things had changed. Snorkeling would be difficult here.The surf was roaring. Alex was taking it in.What are we going to do now?Head for the other side of the island, that's what.
I'm going to walk the way I want to. It works.
What do you know? Rocks and shells over this side too.
Later there were chairs to walk on while looking at the Caribbean Sea.
And there were coconuts to be found. Ripe ones. Alex wanted to drink some coconut milk.
A nice man opened it up for him and gave him a straw. He was in heaven.
Then he opened it up for Alex to eat some of the meat. Lots of cruise ship passengers showed up to watch.Hooray! Alex loves everything about coconuts.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful pictures. Love the ones of Alex. sounds like you are enjoying the vacation. Love you, Dad.

3/7/12, 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those Christians truly showed the Native Arawak's how much God loved them. Well, if you count rape, slavery and genocide as proof of God's love that is...
Unbelievable....

3/7/12, 7:24 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

It was Christian pressure on secular governments that outlawed slavery in Britain, Spain and the US.

Read your history, Anonymous.

3/8/12, 8:03 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Does that mean our Founding Fathers were secularists?

3/8/12, 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my fault, I guess Columbus and his missionaries didn't enslave the Arawaks, nor did they sell the children as sex slaves, or force them to mine for gold, or rape them.
Read my history? You've got to be kidding me.

1496, Columbus jubilantly wrote Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella about the possibilities for exploitation in the West Indies: "In the name of the Holy Trinity, we can send from here all the slaves and brazil wood which could be sold."

3/8/12, 1:19 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

If it was Christian pressure that forced our secular government to abandon the practice of slavery, then it must mean our Founding Fathers, by design, created a secular government.

3/8/12, 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who needs the history lesson here?
Unbelievable...And you fancy yourself an "educator".

Columbus described the Arawaks -- the Native people in the West Indies -- as timid, artless, free, and generous. He rewarded them with death and slavery. For his second voyage to the Americas:

"Columbus took the title 'Admiral of the Ocean Sea' and proceeded to unleash a reign of terror unlike anything seen before or since. When he was finished, eight million Arawaks -- virtually the entire native population of Hispaniola -- had been exterminated by torture, murder, forced labor, starvation, disease and despair." 1

A Spanish missionary, Bartolome de las Casas, described eye-witness accounts of mass murder, torture and rape. 2 Author Barry Lopez, summarizing Las Casas' report wrote:

"One day, in front of Las Casas, the Spanish dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 people. 'Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight,' he says, 'as no age can parallel....' The Spanish cut off the legs of children who ran from them. They poured people full of boiling soap. They made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half. They loosed dogs that 'devoured an Indian like a hog, at first sight, in less than a moment.' They used nursing infants for dog food." 3

3/8/12, 3:23 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

de Las Casas is a good example. A Dominican friar, he was an anti-slavery crusader whose efforts were built upon in later centuries by later Christian anti-slavery activists.

Ferdinand had just expelled Arab Muslims from Spain in 1492 who had occupied the Iberian Peninsula for centuries, during which time they enslaved the Spanish and other Europeans. Slavery was practiced virtually everywhere in the world throughout history, including between and among so-called "Native Americans."

A contemporary of de Las Casas was Bernal Diaz del Castillo who accompanied Cortes and wrote "The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico." He describes what the Spanish encountered as they moved inland from Vera Cruz. At one Aztec temple, he counted over 100,000 skulls lined up by their priests. They would enslave and use conquered Indian tribes as human sacrifices. Aztec priests cut out the hearts of conquered Indians and eat them.

Whatever Spanish atrocities were committed, I contend that they were far outdone by atrocities committed by Indians against one another.

The Spanish were horrified by what they witnessed. Among them were hardened soldiers, veterans of wars against Arab Muslim armies. They excused their brutalities by imposing Christianity upon people they saw as savage, believing it to be superior to native religion. Hard to argue that it wasn't an improvement.

3/9/12, 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahah, ok. Par for the course. And the course is called denial.
The point was, and is, that the " church" condoned, even sat and watched, as chi,dren were sold as sex slaves, thousands were forced to mine for non existent gold, roped, tortured, etc. you point put an incident with the Aztecs. Yes, near the end of their era they fell to incredible violence. But that violence did not mark their whole history. Not to mention we are talking bout hispaniola. Where you are visiting. Not Mexico.

And you justify the violence of the church because the natives were violent? Really? Wait a second, I thought the church was the elevated, moral center of society?
And again, we are talkng about the Caribbean, not Mexico. Columbus wiped out a people looking for non existent gold in the name of the church. And you attempt Moral equivocation? Seriously? because the natives were violent it's ok? Uhm, is that really the message of the bible? Eye for an eye? Interesting. But I guess when you can pretend the bible justifies murder and rape, well, anything goes, right?
Did you not read what I pasted. Cutting off children's legs. Child sex slaves!! Nursing infants as dog food!! Cutting off legs for sport!

What truly sickens me is that the supposed bastion of freedom, love, compassion and love thy neighbor and thou shalt not kill seems to justify murder and rape when convenient.
I'm not sure what your point is? They were savages so it's ok to act savage too? Do you just ignore the extreme violence that mars the church throughout its history? How about pederasty? Come on.

3/9/12, 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...So, let me see if I have this right----the christian/catholic church had exclusive access to the word of god which included, among other things, messages of non violence (thou shall not kill) treating your neighbors as you would be treated, not coveting your neighbors material goods, love thy neighbor, accept people for who they are, help those less fortunate, tolerance, etc. etc....So, to spread this message of love 'christians' went around the world trying to convert myriad 'pagans' (never mind the pagan beginnings of the church) by murdering them, torturing them, raping them and selling them into slavery? Please explain this to us non catholics. Because all I see is blatant hypocrisy, evil, and the use of a made up institution to control the masses..And you enjoy this? Even justify it? Wow.

(by the way, your 'religion' is just another in a long line of sun worshipping cults----death on the winter solstice, the 'sun/son' rises 4 days later, etc. etc. Do you realize how many 'religions' have the same exact origins? All of them! The irony is that christianity began as a mushroom cult! And, the next time your at mass realize the pagan ties to your catholicism---a priest in a robe reading from an alter feeding you the flesh of dead messiah then drinking his blood---no, no pagan ties there.)

3/9/12, 2:37 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I'm not in Hispaniola. I'm on Grand Cayman, largest of the Cayman Islands in the British West Indies.

The Arawaks on Hispaniola were more afraid of the Carib Indians than the Spanish, for whom the Sea was named, because they were cannibals.

No more posts from me about the Catholic Church, which you seem to hate. Do your thing - go on hating and trashing whenever you can.

I'll do mine.

3/9/12, 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great pix!

cheers
tomax7

3/10/12, 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

West Indies--My bad. But you may see some of the ancestors of the native american tribes from New England who were sold into slavery in the west indies, by, you guessed it, missionaries! Nothing says love thy neighbor like rooting a native people and selling them into slavery. The irony is that the natives were more 'christian' then the pilgrims ever dreamed of being!

Sorry, but no. The Arawaks were the victims of ruthless
vilnece at the hands of Columbus and his men---missionaries among them. I clearly stated the atrocities above---cutting of limbs for sport, child sex slaves, using infants as dog food---these are first hand accounts..You're trying to tell me that the arawaks were more afraid of another indian tribe than a completely alien race with unknown technology? And you're serious I gather? Hahaha. Ok.

HAting the catholic church? I simply state FACTS. regarding the church. I m not the
one raping little boys and selling a message of love and acceptance with violence and hatred.
The blatant hypocrisy is in the history of the church. I didn't make anything up. Quite the contrary.

The historical facts speak for themselves. "My thing" is to merely point out, again, the FACTS. You deny anything I stated? DIdn't think so.

You keep doing your thing---living in denial.

3/12/12, 5:54 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

The Church is made up of human beings which are by nature, fallible. It seeks the Perfect: God. It perceives Him imperfectly, but it seeks Him. It will always fall short. Sometimes it even becomes part of the problem.

French colonists from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were sold into slavery in the West Indies.

Irish orphans were sold into slavery in the West Indies.

People everywhere have suffered historically or are suffering now because Evil exists. You seek the Perfect on earth and it's not here. You're angry about that. You expect perfection in the church, but it's not there and you're angry. I understand. I don't deny those things happened and will likely happen again. They're happening all over the world. The best humans can do is fight them and those who perpetrate them wherever and whenever we can.

3/12/12, 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My anger does not stem from failed expectations of perfection, as you state. I do not expect the church to be perfect. Not at all. In fact, Jesus taught to love despite imperfections..hypocrisy, however, is another issue.
The fact is that most Christians I know grossly miss the message of love and compassion that Jesus taught. In fact, I think these so called Christina's would crucify him all over again if he came back! These same people use the bible to conquer and assimilate---- spreading hate via prejudice and intolerance of different religions. Even spreading lies out of fear. You do know Jesus is the most quoted prophet in the Koran, right? But most Christians preach hate toward the Muslims and their religion-- wanting everyone to think Islam is all about an eternal jihad on American values or some such non sense.....if Jesus came back and met the people that supposedly follow him he would be appalled and ashamed.. What's worse is the political corruption of religion. Look at a guy like santorum. I see him as anything but beholden to real Christian values. Yet, he actually stands for what a majority of Americans think,of as Christianity!! It all goes back to hypocrisy----santorum, a Christian wanting to nuke Iran as fast as he can. Damn the women and children! what would Jesus say to that? It IS that simple.

You let the church off the hook way too easily. They have simply let us down in the face of egregious crimes against humanity. They held the moral compass of society for such a long time, but have failed us miserably in the last century.. The world is sick and tired of hate and war, yet that's all this empty hyper consuming society is sold and the church does nothing.

It's real simple. What would Jesus do? What would he think? How would he view Israel's latest air strikes killing innocent children? Or Palestinians lobbing rockets at settlements? Or Obama starting an illegal war in Libya that has miserably failed?

3/12/12, 10:38 PM  

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