Bob and Steve, here. We’ve been thinking about Columbus Day.
So what’s Columbus Day all about? Mattress sales, you say? Um, no, that would be Labor Day. Columbus Day is all about furniture sales, or at least that’s the loudest message we hear in our retail-oriented society. But before you head out that weekend in search of the perfect futon, consider the man, Christopher Columbus and his legacy.
If you’re not familiar with Columbus Day – don’t feel bad. Columbus is out of fashion in many places that are very concerned with all that is fashionable. We were thinking about writing a carefully considered and well-researched article on the timely issues surrounding celebration of Columbus Day. Fortunately, other people have already done this (http://catholicexchange.com/should-catholics-celebrate-columbus-day). With the “carefully considered” and “well researched” aspects duly covered by others, we can tackle this from a fresh perspective.
We suppose a little background would be helpful. It seems to go like this. Columbus had a knack for sailing and exploring. The Spanish monarchy funded him to find a western route to Asia, so they could avoid the inevitable tie-ups and traffic jams to the east. Columbus sets off across the Atlantic with the Nina, Pinta and Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile, but due to problems with his GPS lands in the Bahamas instead of Asia. At least, that’s what he claimed. Based on our research*, we’re convinced Columbus sabotaged the GPS because, hey, who wouldn’t want to go the Bahamas? That was all quite a while ago and everything was going swimmingly since then including having a US holiday named after him.
Now Columbus was a good Catholic. When he landed in the Bahamas he named his island San Salvador, which, if Columbus had a good Spanish-to-English dictionary, he would have known meant Holy Savior. Much of what Columbus did he did with all his abilities and for the glory of God. But, being a good Catholic, Columbus was also human (like most Catholics are), which means he was a sinner. So Columbus was involved in other things that we don’t agree with today, like slavery.
That brings us up to today. Or, maybe yesterday or a few weeks or years ago depending on when you’re reading this. Some people are upset that Columbus was a sinner and don’t want a holiday celebrated for him. It might also be the case that some of those folks aren’t as fond of the fact that Columbus was a man of faith whose major accomplishments were directed toward the spread of Christianity to the new world. It might also be the case that some of those folks aren’t as fond of the fact that it was the Knights of Columbus who spurred President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to proclaim a federal holiday. It might also be the case that some of those folks just don’t appreciate the need for low-priced futons (though some people legitimately question the need for futons at any price – this contingent typically made up of people that have actually tried sleeping on one).
But, maybe “they” have a point of not having anything to do with people who are sinners. You know, we’ve heard that Henry Ford wasn’t always the nicest guy. We’re glad we don’t drive Fords. But wait – he’s the “father of the automobile”, so all automobiles must be bad. That settles it, we’re giving up our cars. And that guy who invented toilet paper – clearly he was troubled. We can just imagine him drooling with glee over the mayhem that would ensue, what with no consensus over which way the toilet paper roll should spin (Bob thinks from the top, Steve from the bottom, somehow our friendship has survived this). And Edison – now there was a slave driver. We should give up on electricity. In fact, we’re going to pull the plug right …… OK, so now that the computer has rebooted, we’ll rethink our position on electricity.
Maybe we’re taking all this a bit too far. After all, FDR’s own proclamation was to set aside a day so that “we can revitalize our faith and renew our courage by a recollection of the triumph of Columbus after a period of grievous trial.” That sounds inspiring. Columbus did a great thing for a noble cause. It’s not like we’re celebrating every other facet of his life. It would seem that any American Catholic, or Christian for that matter, or patriot for that matter, or citizen for that matter, would be able to get behind this simple ideal. Which leads us to think that, as with many things these days, anti-Columbus efforts are probably led by a few cranky people. Maybe they had a bad night’s sleep on a cheap futon.
*This is a foot note to reference our research so that readers can confidently reproduce for themselves our footnote.