What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thankful to Who? For What?

So Thanksgiving was originally a bunch of religious folks thanking God for bringing them safely to "the new world." Of course, it can't stay that way today. As a culture we're more or less done with God and we're deeply conflicted about how we treated people in this "new world" once we got here.

So the question is, what do we do with this Thanksgiving thing?

I'm not sure I've got an answer for the "what" question. I think that what our ancestors did to the natives here was pretty atrocious. National repentance is really the only answer. But I don't anticipate that happening any time soon.

But the question of "thankful to who?" is one that we've got to deal with. "Thanksgiving" makes for a poor noun. It's supposed to be a verb. We're never thankful in normal life apart from someone, an object, to be thankful to.

Have you ever had someone start out complimenting you and end up complimenting themselves? Or have someone start out thanking you but end up in vague, vapid sentimentalism? I think that these are basically the only options we have for God-less thanks giving.

The sane among us know that we have much to be thankful for. But since we've taken God out of the equation, we don't have an outlet for that thanks. So thanks-giving, which is a gloriously humbling and excellent 'bringing us back down to earth' exercise whenever we do it, suddenly just becomes yet another exercise in self-aggrandizement now that God is no longer the one that we have over us to give thanks to.

Or it becomes just another chance to reflect on nice things. How very nice.

Again, I'm not real sure what the solution is. I'm not advocating for a return to some glory days of America the Christian nation (I'm not sure those ever existed). I'm simply saying that the impulse to give thanks is a right and proper one. And to take away the object of that thanks giving is to create more moral and spiritual confusion, since that's the whole point of this whole thing called life anyway.


Ashleigh said...

Nice thoughts, Alex-- I definitely see this in me and my family, and it only makes me grumpy toward a holiday that feels "meaningless," only because I contribute to making it so. Not good for anyone, huh?

Hey, and as M-E TL, and to live up to my label as the most belligerent student ever, I do feel obliged to point out, that you're assuming who your readers are (though I'm guessing you do know most of them):

"I think that what our ancestors did to the natives here was pretty atrocious."

"Our" ancestors? Well, they are mine, too. But obviously not so for any Korean American, Lumbee, even Italian readers our there. ;o)

Alex said...

whatever, ashleigh, those italians were in it with the rest of us.

thanks for the gentle reminder...but after you graduate will you continue to stalk me?? will you be just simply "the belligerent one" after you cease to be "the belligerent student?"

just kidding, ashleigh, you're welcome to point out my overly-white privileged comments any time...

Ashleigh said...

The poor Italians! First hate on them, then we accuse them as being as racist as we are! Italians sinners too? Come on, Alex, no way!

Hope it actually came across as gentle. I wouldn't have even commented on someone else's blog about it. (Slightly unfair, huh?)

I haven't fully planned out my post-graduation stalking plans... Maybe I could do some freelance work for Allison King and other M-E fanatics and police staff blogs on weekends or something. I'm sure that's top priority for national right now, not to mention, totally in line with InterVarsity's philosophy of staff personal and leadership development.

Ashleigh said...

Er, some typos:
First we hate on them, then we accuse them of being as racist as we are!

gracethrufaith said...

Alex Kirk... you know I love you but your title... It has a large grammatical error... I think you want it to say "Thankful to whoM" (see my blog on rants).. hahah :) I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Alex said...

Ashleigh, upon further consideration I reserve the right to say "we" in the self-identifying ethnic white people sort of way. If an african-american blogger talked about how "we" got sold into slavery it would be understood that she was identifying with her ancestors. So I'm a white guy in touch with his ethnic identity and who understands the "we" who did atrocious things to people when "we" (meaning my peeps) got here!

gracethrufaith, i thought about that at one point while putting this post together...but i wasn't entirely sure so i left it. apologies to all my grammar-nerds out there, i think i'll leave it as is. i also ended a sentence with a preposition, so this post is basically a grammar disaster...

Ashleigh said...

Alex, yeah, I can see that. I guess that's the problem with the word we-- it defines a collective that you are a part of, but it's unclear who else you're assuming is a part of it. I'm sure you were using it in the me-and-my-peeps sense to begin w/, and I'm not going to argue w/ that. :o)

Also, I think it is cool when people leave ungrammatical things ungrammatical. It adds character to one's post.

Now that you never want anyone to comment on your blog again (ahhh! too much feedback!)...

Have a wonderful day leading up to wonderful waffles.

gracethrufaith said...

Personally, I know I mess up a lot of grammar crap... I just wanted to give you a little hell... I kinda feel like it's my role as a human being!!! :) Life is so good!

Marshall Benbow said...

Alex, check out this blog post by m friend Todd:

Jordan said...

It's not grammatically incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition. It's just a T-Prep (I think; I'm doing this from memory of over a year ago). It's just a transformation to the end of a sentence. I learned it in sentence diagramming. It's just not liked in formal writing for some reason, which is funny considering most of the time the transformations are highly recommended because it's sort of more advanced writing to know them...go figure. sorry. that's my grammatical note. I was drawn to this post by the "who/whom" mistake as well. Who is subjective whereas whom is objective.