Is God still welcome at the Thanksgiving table?

(AP Photo/Matthew Mead) It is amazing to me in the “politically correct” society in which we live that a 150-year-old … Continued

(AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

It is amazing to me in the “politically correct” society in which we live that a 150-year-old tradition rooted and grounded in religion has slipped by without much notice or debate in this secular age and culture. Perhaps it is because we were never properly educated about the God behind Thanksgiving.

Most of us know a bit about the first Thanksgiving held in the winter of 1621 when the Plymouth colonists shared an autumn harvest feast with the Wampanoag Indians. For the next two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states but it did not become an official holiday until the days of the Civil War when our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a national day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” True to the references to “praise” and “father” in the original proclamation, the holiday was intended to be in honor and gratitude to God for what he provided.

Thanksgiving Day came about in 1863 because of President Lincoln’s conviction that the United States should express a debt of gratitude and recognition for blessings that were perceived to be from the hand of the Almighty. The diety Lincoln referenced was none other than the Christian God he worshipped at the Protestant church he attended with his wife and children.

With all of the talk about pilgrims and turkey, I imagine few today realize the founding principles behind this national holiday were based in religion. No doubt, declaring a faith-based national holiday would never be so well received in this day and age of recognizing either all religions or none – because it would surely offend someone.

While we robotically recite the brainwashed mandate of today’s culture to “accommodate everyone,” we are actually losing our own identity in order to make sure everyone swallows the same plain vanilla. It’s plausible that we are getting closer every day to surrendering the keys of our heritage to those who neither respect nor tolerate them.

Maybe Lincoln and those supporting his Thanksgiving declaration should have possessed more vision to realize that America would eventually become a diverse gumbo comprised of various cultures and ethnicities that would not have the same God, political viewpoint or the desire to give credit for their prosperity to anyone other than themselves.

Thanksgiving, like most holidays, has been watered down and relegated to over-indulgent feasts of turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie amid a backdrop of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and football games. As a result, we have become more focused on living out cultural norms than remembering historical truths.

But at the end of the day, Thanksgiving’s origins still remain. And I believe it is time to remind Americans of it, because we all could use a break from the sad, painful and dark circumstances that are often in the news, and look to something – or someone – higher to save us from the darkness in which we live.

This year, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful to President Lincoln for reminding us to take a special day out of every year to quit looking across political lines or sideways at our nation’s numerous challenges. We would do well to remember Lincoln’s original call, a call to look up and offer Thanksgiving to the one who has the power to bless us.

Jay Lowder is the founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of “Midnight in Aisle 7.

 

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  • Pilot1

    Not for most of the post readers who seem to worship the almighty state

  • [email protected]

    Mr Lowder seems to be voicing an opinion derived from the perspective of his chosen belief in an invisible sky daddy.

  • Tungbo

    I am most thankful that Mr. Lowder recalls that the first Thanksgiving was a “autumn harvest feast.” While he may be correct that President Lincoln had in mind his Christian God as the source of beneficence, human beings have celebrated ‘autumn harvest feasts’ for millennia to whichever deities were in fashion at the time. Thus, it should not be surprising that the cultural focus continues to shift and evolves.

  • MrLagg

    Let me break it down for you:

    Thanks + giving. It means to GIVE thanks. GIVE, as in “provide to another”

    So, the question is, who are you going to give thanks to? If you are giving thanks for ALL of your blessings, then it seems that Thanks to God is most appropriate.

    But maybe you pat yourself on the back, or give someone else thanks for something they did. Or, maybe you just eat turkey.

    I have always wondered what atheists do on Thanksgiving. Maybe they feel a sense of gratitude, and they don’t know what to do with it.

  • DivineMsK

    I’m thankful for Thanksgiving every year, without God… just like I married my husband without God, volunteer my time and donate my money without God, celebrate and give thanks for my prosperity (such as it is) without God, honor my friends and family without God, appreciate the boundless wonder of nature and the universe without God, grieve for the passing of loved ones without God, and basically live out the misfortunes and miracles of daily life, all without God.

    It’s a little odd to me that my celebrating Thanksgiving without God makes you feel as though the holiday is somehow watered down… as if my non-inclusion of God actually affects you any more than your inclusion of God affects me.

  • MrLagg

    Chrissy must be giving thanks to herself for that clever little nugget of derision.

  • DivineMsK

    “I have always wondered what atheists do on Thanksgiving.”

    It’s not that hard to figure out… just think about what you do on Thanksgiving, and take away the praying/God part. Gratitude does not have to have a specific recipient.

  • DivineMsK

    I don’t understand why some non-believers choose to ridicule others for their beliefs. I’m pretty much an atheist, and I find it hypocritical.

  • MrLagg

    Help me out… you can read my post below to assure yourself of the sincerity of my question. And to be clear, you don’t affect my holiday one way or the other. Maybe you can make it a little brighter by giving me some clarity….

    You say you are thankful for Thanksgiving. Then you list a bunch of things you did, among them:

    you got married
    you volunteer
    you celebrate

    so far, so good, you’re proud of yourself. I get that.

    but then …. SCREECH!

    you give thanks for your prosperity.

    This claim puzzles me, and I am skeptical. I have a ton of questions, but I’ll narrow it down, and reserve the right to follow up, please.

    to whom do you give those thanks? isn’t that a really long list of people?
    do you do this silently, or out loud? in other words, do they know? all or only some?
    do you enumerate the many things they did? for all or some?
    is it a new list every year? or do you repeatedly give thanks for certain things?

    Now, let me give a little thanks in advance. Thanks for helping me out with understanding.

  • MrLagg

    It does if you give it. See my very last sentence on exactly that topic.

  • MrLagg

    Just in case, I’ll explain it another way. Without a God, everybody is subject to truly random events, which only appear to result in your particular situation. Chaos happened to shine brightly on you. Or, there is predestination that can be explained by physics.

    In either case, you should feel lucky, not a sense of gratitude.

  • Whazzis

    MrLagg, you are full of yourself!

  • jarandeh

    Divine-

    The author wrote a hackneyed diatribe and had it published for public consumption. I think christine went pretty easy on him.

  • jarandeh

    “Without a God, everybody is subject to truly random events, which only appear to result in your particular situation. Chaos happened to shine brightly on you. Or, there is predestination that can be explained by physics. ”

    This logical fallacy is known as the Appeal to Wishful Thinking.

  • jarandeh

    “so far, so good, you’re proud of yourself. I get that. ”

    Actually, it sounds more like appreciation than pride.

  • Catken1

    You’re only “losing your own identity” if you don’t have the individual and family strength to maintain your own traditions and religious beliefs without government holding your hand and telling you how to worship.
    We as a culture have to allow for a whole range of different beliefs – we as individuals ought to take personal responsibility for sustaining our own.

  • Catken1

    To my mind, the important thing is gratitude. If I am grateful, I don’t need to be grateful TO anyone in particular – though no doubt there is gratitude due to those living things that died so I might eat, to the farmers who cared for and raised and harvested my food, to the people who packed it and ran the grocery stores where I bought it, to the people who help make this a functioning community where I can enjoy my holiday meal in peace, etc.

  • Catken1

    Like those who can’t sustain their religion unless the almighty state pushes everyone to do so, and tells them that their religion is better and more American than everyone else’s?
    Or those who think that the almighty state needs to intervene to give special privileges to their preferred sort of marriage, because it is too weak and valueless to survive ANY competition at all?
    Or those who think that the almighty state, rather than a woman, ought to have jurisdiction over her internal organs and to decide when and under what circumstances another person may be permitted to inhabit her and use her physical resources?

  • itsthedax

    Meh. I’ve come to a good place in life through a combination of hard work, good choices, and luck. So I feel that I can take a day to relax and enjoy some good food.

    For many of us, “giving thanks” or “being grateful” is just a acknowledgement that luck, or random chance, plays are part in our lives. We recognize that we are more fortunate than some others. I suppose that’s why we give to charities: We’re trying to share our good fortune with those who haven’t had the breaks go their way.

  • bakerdev

    Indeed, I am thankful to my parents who raised me and my family who loves me.

    I am thankful that the I spent enough years in college and grad school to be prepared for my life’s work. I am also thankful that enough Americans elect enough representatives who believe that it is important to help other people around the world who are less fortunate than to have been born in the US. I suppose I should also be thankful to the deity that he (or she) continues to make more poor people suffer around the world so that I am able to employ my abilities and my long hours of hard work helping them. But perhaps the deity’s promoters don’t want to take credit for that one, but just the good stuff.

  • DivineMsK

    MrLagg — I do appreciate the sincerity of your questions, and hope I can clarify.

    I don’t thank anyone in particular, as you say, it’s a really long list. There’s a vast combination of people and circumstances and things to whom I owe thanks.

    But as Catken1 mentions, and as I mention below, being thankful does not require a recipient. For me it is enough to be grateful. Gratitude is a state of being, not an action.

    I mentioned the list of things not because I am proud of them (although I am), but because I do everything in my life without God, so for me, celebrating Thanksgiving without God is not some bizarroland thing, it’s just yet another example of a life lived well without God.

  • DivineMsK

    MrLagg: I don’t doubt that you fully believe what you’re saying, but your beliefs (however fervent) do not make it so for others.

    For me, gratitude is a state of being, not an action, and therefore there is no recipient.

    Of course luck plays a role, as does destiny, free will, and the consequences of one’s actions.

  • DivineMsK

    Yes, it is a hackneyed diatribe, but I still don’t see the need to ridicule religion as “believing in an invisible sky daddy.” What exactly is that supposed to accomplish?

    If Christine can’t disagree without hurling childish insults, I must assume she doesn’t have much of a point.

  • jarandeh

    Pilot1, you just got Catken’d.

  • theluckycountry

    Can someone help me out with this. By thanking a god for all your blessings, you are acknowledging that he has made a decision to help you. If there is a being that can do this, why does he do it for some and not for others. If this being can be thanked for doing good, surely he should be utterly cursed for all the evil that he seems to do. Or maybe I am right in thinking that it is just very good luck to be born in a rich country, and you can be very thankful for that.

  • JDale_123

    Well as the truth claims of all the major religions are puerile in the extreme, I see it as entirely fitting that people should respond in kind.

  • Anneinnj

    Fewer and fewer people believe in this paternal sky-god that chooses to feed some, while allowing others to starve. I suppose we should be grateful that we aren’t among those he has cursed, for no good reason. You should make up a fairer and more kind-hearted deity and then talk to Him (or Her). In any case, please leave everyone else out of it. It took me too long to figure out what a pack of lies religion is. I certainly don’t want to be dragged back into that nonsense by people who are so insecure in their “faith” that they aren’t comfortable unless everyone else is talking to the same super-natural being.

  • sunnyroberto

    Catken1, I will pray for you today.

  • nkri401

    Is this piece saying he is thankful that a US president chose non other than Christian God? Why is it important that the president chose Christian God? Do you need a big guy like the president to validate your faith?

    Then North and South continued to kill each other, sometimes in the name of the same Christian God. Thankful we are.

    BTW, Just like Christmas, Thanksgiving is now no more than an excuse to hawk and shop.

    The above does not mean I’m not Thankful and am in a good spirit to enjoy the season; and do wish everyone safe and enjoyable Holidays, wherever your final destination may be, and of your choice of favorite deity.

    Thank the Lord, God is Great, Mazel tov, Namaste, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, etc…

  • DivineMsK

    I find it far more productive to be comfortable in my own space and let others be comfortable in theirs. Who am I to say what is or is not truth for someone else?

  • Catken1

    “Without a God, everybody is subject to truly random events, which only appear to result in your particular situation”

    And yet we are all affected by the actions of others, and it is reasonable to be grateful when others behave kindly or helpfully to us, is it not?
    Besides, fearing chaos does not make it go away. Needing a God to make your life safer and more comfortable, and to give you a focus for gratitude, does not bring one into existence. (Probably.)

  • Catken1

    Feel free. It won’t hurt me, I’m sure.

  • Catken1

    It’s hard to make up a fair and kind-hearted deity when the world isn’t.
    It’s easier to work at being fair and kind-hearted oneself.

  • PhillyJimi1

    It always baffles me when I hear a theist give all the credit to their god for the when they recover some horrible disease like cancer. But these theists never seems to give thanks that the live in a modern world with modern medicine. All of the researchers who have worked so hard to determine how cancer works and how it can be attacked.

    Then the real kicker for me is the theist refuses to see that is was their “all powerful” god who “creates all things” was the being who invented and allows cancer to exist.

    As an atheist I have no problems being very thankful that I live in this modern world. This is the best time to have ever been alive. I hope to contribute in some small way to making our society better for future generations. I can give thanks without clinging to ancient superstitious beliefs and supernatural deities in the sky to explain our Universe.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • Hopeliz57

    DivineMsK: You THINK you do all this stuff on your own, whereas in reality, “In God, we live and move and have our being.” As the Bible says, when he withdraws his breath of life, we die. When you have figured out on your own how to live forever, then maybe you have really accomplished something on your own …

  • Catken1

    No, Hopeliz, you live because Thor keeps hitting your heart with His hammer to keep it beating. Why aren’t you grateful for His gift of life? After all, you’d die without it…
    Oh, right, I have offered no evidence to support my assertion that your life is dependent on Thor. Nor have you offered any, however, to support your assertion that our lives are dependent on your god. Please, can you provide some? Other than “my holy book says so,” because there are an awful lot of holy books that say different things.

  • alert4jsw

    One of the best “Graces” I ever heard was the one James Stewart said in the movie “Shenandoah.” I don’t recall it word-for-word, but it was basically, “We planted it, cultivated it, harvested it, prepared it, and cooked it, and without all of that it wouldn’t be here, but Lord we thank you anyway.”

    There is absolutely nothing in this world that would be any different if “god” did not exist, except for the lack of wars and constant social strife that have resulted from the never-ending battles over interpretations of “God’s word.”. The fact that the concept of God seems to be losing importance in most areas of western culture is truly something to be thankful for.

  • DivineMsK

    Hopeliz57: What is true for you is not necessarily true for others.

    I don’t ask you to subscribe to my worldview, or insinuate that you’re doing so without your knowledge — I’ll thank you to extend me the same courtesy.

  • Joel Hardman

    The author fails to understand that forbidding the government from endorsing any religion does not rob anyone of their identity. It protects the ability of the individual to express their religious identity. Nobody is attempting to prevent anyone else from expressing religious thanks on Thanksgiving. If they were, the surest way would be to give government the ability to endorse religious beliefs. When the government endorses religious beliefs, it perverts them for political reasons. Why would any religious person want that? It’s as James Madison said:

    “Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

    “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

  • Joel Hardman

    I find it curious that author acknowledges that the first Thanksgiving involved Native Americans, then appears to ignore that fact. Surely those Native Americans weren’t giving thanks to the Christian god, so the claim that Thanksgiving requires thanks to the Christian God doesn’t hold water.

  • Joel Hardman

    I’m not sure what I think about ridiculing religious beliefs? Religious beliefs are some of the silliest ideas people espouse in the modern world. Why are they immune to mockery? Do I also have to refrain from mocking homeopathy and such?

    It seems as if religious beliefs are immune from criticism because they aren’t founded on evidence and so are impossible to argue about rationally. That seems like a reason to encourage mockery, rather than forbid it.

  • Joel Hardman

    sunnyroberto,

    I’ll sacrifice goats for you today. Best of luck!

  • PhillyJimi1

    This is why the devil had to be created when monotheism was invented. If you only have 1 all powerful and all knowing god then who do you blame when something goes wrong? Thus the devil had to be created.

    Of course god endorsed “Christian Mingle” the on-line dating site but he still lets children get cancer and die. The disconnect from reality that the religious engage in is stunning.