Review of Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley


It was my intention to have this read so I could review it on Columbus Day. As is the case with many intentions, I didn't get it done. Life got crazy and rather than just do a spotlight about the book, I decided to wait for my review until I'd had a chance to finish it. So here we are, more than a month late. Sorry.

I loved this book. This time in history is fascinating and there was so much to learn and discover. I enjoyed reading the ways that Columbus fulfilled prophesy and desired to serve God instead of all the negativity that has surrounded him in recent years. Some schools refused to celebrate Columbus for his accomplishments, instead calling him a murderer and crazy. Instead of celebrating Columbus's accomplishments, they decided to celebrate Indigenous People Day. While I have no problem with celebrating a day that honors Native Americans (Ronald Reagan declared such a day in California in 1968) I think it's wrong to refuse to celebrate Columbus Day because Columbus wasn't perfect. If we were going by that criteria, the only holidays we'd celebrate would be a very different version of Christmas and Easter. Gone would be Martin Luther King Day, President's Day or Veteran's Day. None of these people we celebrate are perfect.

As a society, it seems we're so willing to paint everyone with broad strokes--if there's any failing (or if it's a failing we particularly dislike), a person is bad and all their good is discounted. If we like where they stand on an issue or their personality, we ignore or excuse any failings they might have. This way of looking at things is wrong and causes us problems. Looking at people this way hurts us. On the one hand, it causes us to become too harsh in our judgments of people, refusing to see the good in them or acknowledge their accomplishments. On the other hand, giving someone a pass or whitewashing someone's sins because we like them, instead of seeing things clearly, causes us to lose our discernment, something desperately needed and in short supply in the world today.

Columbus was a man. Certainly not perfect, but with a strong feeling that he was to do something important in the service of God. What he did was important to the history of the world and the restoration of the gospel. It's important that we try to see his life and his contributions clearly and in the context of the time he lived instead of jumping on the popular bandwagon of demonizing him and judging him by our current politically correct climate.

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