Happy Dependence Day

July 4 is Independence Day.  Thanksgiving is Dependence Day, a time to remember how dependent we are on God and on each other.  And our appreciation of this dependence is gratitude.

After the jump, a post by one of my ex-students quoting one of my ex-colleagues. [Read more…]

The psychology (and benefits) of gratitude

The field of psychology has usually concentrated on trying to understand aberrations and psychological problems.  But now a strain is concentrating on “positive psychology,” seeking to understand mental well-being.  A key aspect is gratitude.  People who have an attitude of thankfulness show a whole range of other positive traits, not only psychologically but physicially! [Read more…]

Stephen Colbert, God, and suffering

Stephen Colbert, who took over for David Letterman on The Late Show last week, is an iconoclastic comedian.  But he is also a devout Catholic.  When he was 10 years old, he lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash.  He talks about his faith and how he handled that tragedy–also J. R. R. Tolkien and how gratitude points to God– in an interview with GQ Magazine, excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

Have a grateful Thanksgiving

I hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving, with the thankful part not overshadowed by shopping, football, gluttony, family spats, or other distractions.  Towards that end, this special edition of the Cranach blog will offer some meditations about things we really should be thankful for.  Remember that comment made by someone–Chesterton?  It sounds like Chesterton.  Please source it in the comments if you know who it was–to the effect that one of the sad parts of being an atheist is feeling thankful, without having anyone to thank. As for Christians, we do know Whom to thank and must never take even the commonest of His blessings for granted.  [Read more…]

The blessings of prosperity

Right now, people who lack health insurance and need a government subsidy to pay for it are being asked to sign up for the program on their computers.  Think of that.   It can be assumed that even those who need financial assistance have computers. Even us ordinary folks have a standard of living that goes far beyond what kings had not that long ago. [Read more…]

When to fast and when to feast

Walter Isaacson has written a fascinating column about Ben Franklin’s view of America.  He quotes from an essay Franklin wrote about Thanksgiving.  I have never heard this detail about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving.  Perhaps it’s apocryphal.  But still, it reminds us of a common confusion and perhaps can give us perspective on other things that make us feel gloomy:

Franklin’s optimism about the American experiment is reflected in an essay he wrote about our first Thanksgiving. The early settlers, “their minds gloomy and discontented,” frequently fasted to seek relief from their distress, he recounted. Just when they were about to declare another day of fasting, “a farmer of plain sense” pointed out that “the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great.” Instead of another fast, the farmer argued, they should have a feast to give thanks. Writing a century later — in 1785, a period when both the economy and political system looked fragile, rather like the present — Franklin assured his fellow citizens that thanksgiving was still warranted. “Let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined,” he wrote.

via Walter Isaacson: The America Ben Franklin saw – The Washington Post.