Rather than thinking of the current political confusion as an ugly
interruption of Thanksgiving week, perhaps we should think of
Thanksgiving week as a blessed interruption of our preoccupation with
these ugly and troubled days. After all, this season is intended to
encourage a retreat from the busyness and involvements of life long
enough to take an overview and put things into perspective.
This will not be easy, given that millions of Americans believe that
with this presidential election, our country has arrived at a moral and
constitutional Rubicon, a point of no return. We draw little comfort
that America’s destiny is in the hands, not of wise men and sages, but
of lawyers, many of whom are for sale.
In our semi-civilized, complex world, we are all stressed. We are
trapped in a cycle of increasing dependencies upon increasingly
undependable people. We find it more and more difficult to distance
ourselves from our concerns and worries. Our anxiety is a psychological
magnet which draws us back, thwarting our escape. We are earthbound,
without vision or perspective.
We set up societies to honor human achievement; we hand out all
manner of praise and prizes in recognition of human triumphs. We fawn
over paintings and sculptures that are nothing more than poor copies of
God’s originals. We marvel at ourselves. Yet, we ignore and step over
God’s creations without so much as a nod of recognition in his
It is hubris, that is to say unjustified arrogance. Man is not
capable of adding one speck of dust to the universe or taking a single
one away. He cannot create or destroy matter. He can only rearrange. He
can describe and label, but he cannot explain even the most rudimentary
of natural phenomena.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel Boorstin put science in its
place with this observation: “The great obstacle to progress is not
ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.”
We are in “sophomoric rebellion” against our own origins and
identity. We whistle through the darkness in search of a rationale which
will explain the nature of the universe and the meaning of life but are
thwarted at every turn by our mortality.
We miss the obvious. Intellectual elitists are alive and surrounded
by life, but they laugh at the idea of an afterlife. Philosopher
Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire cut to the quick of this dead-end
arrogance when he observed, “It is not more surprising to be born twice
We are too close to our own blessings to be thankful for them.
Because they are free for the asking and in great supply we take them
for granted. In our eyes, it is scarcity, not plenty, that makes
something valuable. It is a reflection of the perversity of human nature
that if all the world were made of gold, a wheelbarrow full of dirt
would be a priceless treasure.
Nothing confuses us more than our mortality. Maybe it has to do with
our growing up on stories and tales which have beginnings and middles
and ends. Things are worked out. There is closure. We come to think our
lives are the same way, that a story line is developing toward some
rational conclusion. We are always shocked when death intrudes and does
not permit an individual life to unfold. We have a sense something is
wrong. We ask why, like some agreement has been breached, some promise
Our logic is seriously flawed. We are evaluating God’s justice and
wisdom from the perspective of a single life span rather than from the
perspective of eternity. Our conclusions are distorted because we are
appraising a work in progress, still incomplete, still unfolding. We
have, in effect, judged the fruit while it was still green, before it
Our life is a prologue. Life has meaning and the universe is
rational. Surely, that’s worth a thank you to the Creator. My message to
those who scoff is this: If the thoughts generated by your superior
intelligence stand between you and faith, think again. Think grandly!
Personally, if I could identify just two things for which to be
thankful, I would choose first to be thankful for amnesty, that is
forgiveness for all those accumulations of sin and error which could
otherwise weigh us down and steal away our freedom of spirit and
enthusiasm for life. Second, I would give thanks for the promise that
one day you and I will see his face.