You’ve got to read Mollie Hemingway’s column on gratitude in Christianity Today. Excerpts:
Appearing on Conan O’Brien’s show last year, comedian Louis C. K. lamented how frustrated people get when cell phones and cross-country flights are slow or faulty. “Everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy,” he said. When people complain that their flight boarded 20 minutes late or that they had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes before takeoff, he asks a few additional questions.
“Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?”
The appearance hit a nerve—with over a million YouTube views and counting—because it’s true: Whether it’s our impatience with technology or, more likely, with family members and friends, our complaints reflect how much we take for granted.
We know that God has given us our bodies and souls, reason and senses, material possessions, and relationships. Yet with all that God richly provides us daily, many of us struggle to be grateful. . . .
The Roman philosopher Cicero was on to something when he said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” It’s also the basic Christian attitude. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
That might seem a challenge during a season of economic trouble and political unrest. But consider German pastor Martin Rinckart, who served a town that became a refuge for political and military fugitives during the Thirty Years War. The situation in Eilenburg was bad even before the Black Plague arrived in 1637. One pastor fled. Rinckart buried another two on the same day. The only pastor remaining, he conducted funeral services for as many as 50 people a day and 4,480 within one year.
Yet Rinckart is best known for writing, in the midst of the war, the great hymn that triumphantly proclaims this:
Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
Do you see why gratitude is the “parent of all virtues”? Take a virtue and show its connection to gratitude.
Why do most people like white meat better than dark meat? Isn’t the latter juicier and much more flavorful?
Do you have dishes that have been passed down in your family from time immemorial? That you must have, even though no one particularly likes them?
I just learned that someone else shares my taste for what a recipe I describe as “white on white on white on white.” And calls it the same thing! Do any of the rest of you? Do you know what it is?
Use this space to rhapsodize about your favorite Thanksgiving foods.
The day before Thanksgiving is NOT the busiest travel day of the year. That would be any Friday in June, July, or August.
Eating Turkey does NOT make you sleepy. It does have some of that chemical Tryptophan that is a sedative, but not in sufficient quantity to have an effect. Overeating, though, especially with so many carbohydrates that characterize a Thanksgiving feast, does make you sleepy.
The day after Thanksgiving is NOT the busiest shopping day of the year. That would be the Saturday before Christmas.
The claim that the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving is a myth is itself a myth. Yes, one can quibble about the menu, but the Pilgrims did hold a great feast to give thanks for their survival through their first winter and their first harvest in the New World. Also, it is true that the Indian, Squanto, who helped them survive in this new environment was a Christian who knew English because he had lived for awhile in London.
This is the day, 47 years ago, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and C. S. Lewis died. Also Aldous Huxley, who wrote the prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World.
So the day can be seen as something of a watershed–the end of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian age, the entry into a new dystopian age, the day the music died, etc.
People of my generation remember where they were when they learned that Kennedy was shot. I was in study hall in Junior High. I guess I was 12. I was a big Kennedy fan and political idealist at the time. A few of my friends applauded at the news, whereupon I yelled at them. It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack. Then seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated too blew our minds again. Watching the news was more dramatic than watching fiction.
Are any of you old enough to remember where you were and what you felt?
Was the day really a watershed?
In honor of Veterans’ Day and to salute those who served in the military, I would like to hear from those of you who are veterans. How did military service impact your life? What did it do for your character, personality, beliefs, etc.? Those of you who have been in combat, did you come out of that traumatized or stronger or a bit of both or what? (All of this has to do with the military as vocation.)