I have been reading a book called The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. It is a very interesting book about God's hand in the beginning of America. It starts out with Christopher Columbus. I never really knew that much about Columbus except that he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. The book is written in narrative form (as opposed to textbook form) but the authors researched translations of Columbus' journal and other first hand accounts. From what I read so far, Christopher Columbus was a man with many vices but also amazing faith. Columbus felt called by God to bear Christ (this is what his name means) to Japan and the Indies. He tried talking a few other monarchies into ponying up the dough, but he really stuck with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella because they were the most religious. (The authors point out this religious fervor had them involved in the Crusades. They were also the ones in power during the infamous Inquisition.) Columbus' main character flaws seem to be greed and arrogance. But he was also brave and bold. I really believe that God used Columbus (faults and all) to begin the path of America becoming a country. Columbus' story rather reminds me of Sampson. He is a rather unsavory character in many ways but God still used him.
The saddest part of Christopher Columbus' story was how his lust for gold won out over his original calling. This lust lead to the deaths of many thousands of Native Americans and hundreds of Spaniards. The second and third trips to the Americas were devastating in many ways to the native peoples.
So what am I teaching about Columbus on Monday? I will try to convey both the good and the bad. We will discuss how money and riches and fame can still get in the way of serving God today. I will point out that God uses people with some serious flaws. And we are also making a Santa Maria out of a juice carton.