Over the Christmas and New Year's holidays I read a fun historical book called What Ifs? of American History.
Published in 2003, the book contains chapters by some of America's premier historians who imagine what might have happened if episodes in America's history had been different. Chapters include topics such as:
- if the Mayflower had reached a different destination
- if William Pitt the Elder had been able to stop British policies that led to the American revolution
- if George Washington had not been able to evacuate his troops from the battle of Brooklyn Heights
- if Robert E. Lee's Lost Order had not been lost and the South had won the battle of Gettysburg
- if John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators had been able to kill not only the President but also the Vice President (causing a constitutional crisis)
- if there had been no attack on Pearl Harbor
.....and other counterfactual historical scenarios.
It was a very enjoyable read....not just thinking about the possible scenarios, but learning more about the actual events themselves.
The book was also interesting to read from a Christian perspective. As someone trained in Reformed theology, I hold the view that God brings everything to pass for His own glory and the good of His people. Thus, the study of history not only reveals much about the participants in the events, it can also reveal more about God and His will.
After reading the chapters in the What If book --in particular the account of the potential "doomsday" scenario with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis--I was reminded again of God's grace to all people. Theologians call it God's "common grace"--His kindness and blessing to all the world. Even though each of us are deserving of God's judgment, God has chosen to be loving and kind (even though this love and kindness is undeserved and unearned).
Because God restrains His wrath, the world has not degenerated into chaos and there is a level of political harmony and peace.
Interesting things to consider as we read about current events and those of long ago.