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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Some Brief Thoughts About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a couple of weeks away, so this seems like a good time to write a brief thought about it.

I think the thing that grates on me most about the current treatment of Thanksgiving is the way many have come to calling it "Turkey Day". It's true that the Pilgrims and the American Indians ate turkey. But when the day was first instituted as a yearly national holiday by Abraham Lincoln, the point was to take a day of expressing gratitude toward God for His goodness towards us as a nation. (For those of you who know your political history, let me say that I recognize that this last statement raises all sorts of questions, particularly regarding Lincoln himself, the idea of nationhood, and the idea of nationally sanctioned holidays. Suffice it to say I feel your pain, but I won't take the time to address those things now.) Despite what we may think of the current status of our nation, God has been good to us, and He deserves nothing less than our sincere gratitude. While turkey is an important part of the day, the point of the day is to feast and celebrate before God with thanksgiving. To call the day “Turkey Day” strikes me as a bit dismissive toward God, whether or not intentionally so, and the person who is uncomfortable with calling it “Thanksgiving Day”, I would suspect, has some deeper issues causing this behavior that it would be wise for them to consider. Nobility is one issue, and those who would conduct their lives in a noble way won’t make a habit of reducing everything to a common and ignoble level, whether in speech or conduct. The other issue, it seems, would simply be one of ingratitude toward God.

Secondly, it is in vogue these days to place the blame of the ills of the whole world upon the shoulders white Europeans, particularly males, and this by extension includes the United States. One way this has manifested itself has been in the demonization of those who came to “the New World”, as they called it. Much untruth has been spread in this way, and those who have bought into whatever their Leftist university professors have taught them without question need to understand that those professors often are far more concerned with towing the party line and appearing cool to their students than they are with conveying the truth about a particular matter. No one is sinless, and that includes those who came to the New World from Europe. But many interpretations of the history conveyed these days are simply false. And while the American Indians have been sinned against on many occasions (such as in the Trail of Tears), this shouldn’t lead us to villianize the Pilgrims. So far as my reference to the American Indians as such, rather than as Native Americans, goes, I’m allowed. I’m part Cherokee. Plus, scholars all agree that there was a time when the American Indians weren’t here, and so the first generation wasn‘t native. Those who have been born here since are native, but so are those of European or other descent who have been born here. So the name “Native American” strikes me as a bit of a misnomer. This, I know, isn’t politically correct, but that isn’t my concern.

The Pilgrims were a godly people, seeking to find refuge from the religious persecution of the English monarchy. While we might not agree with all they believed, or even all they did, we have much to learn from them, and we owe them immense gratitude for fighting against tyranny, and for opening up the way to freedom of worship for us, their children.

Lastly, a quite appropriate thing to do on Thanksgiving Day, I think, is to join with one’s local church in worship before God. This should include, in particular, partaking of the Holy Eucharist, or what we call the Lord’s Supper. The word “eucharist”, in fact, means “thanksgiving”. And so even as we feast with family and friends that day, it makes sense to me that we should also feast with God in partaking of His Sacrament. Few churches have worship that day, unfortunately, but there will be a couple in our area, so I hope to attend one. Seek one out, if you can. It is a good way to set apart the day to God’s glory.

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