Posts tagged ‘thanksgiving’
To many in the fundamentalist world, Thanksgiving is an especially difficult day to be a nonbeliever. It lays bare, they believe, the clear hypocrisy of a belief system they regard as one giant exercise in willful denial. It brings out with rather embarrassing clarity, they cluck, the God-shaped hole they presume sits at the core of our worldview. After all, we don’t believe in their god, so by our own rebellious logic, we have no one to thank. So why don’t we just sit around and mope on Thanksgiving Day?
So: either celebrate the holiday and admit you’re a hypocrite, or have the courage of your convictions to do nothing this Thursday, admitting that thankfulness without the fundamentalist God is irrational. Gotcha!
As always, these sorts of facile, black-and-white polarities obscure a whole lot of thoughtfulness and real human nuance. But today, let’s thank them for spurring us to think it through, and answer their challenge: why does it make sense to be thankful, if you don’t believe in a providential god?
I will even grant – because I think it’s entirely true – that gratitude is a salutary emotion. And I think this is true (mostly) for the reasons fundamentalists themselves lay out: it impels us to “count our blessings.” Gratitude makes us attend to, and hence appreciate, what we have. That’s a good thing…
It’s been about a week now since Thanksgiving, and hopefully everyone has found creative ways to finish off all their leftover turkey! I love the holiday season, and the time I get to spend with my family, but one thing is always awkward—saying grace before the dinners. I don’t mind bowing my head and listening quietly while others do it, but I’m not too fond of doing it myself.
My family consists mostly of devout Christians—none of whom know that I’m an atheist. That’s right, I’m still in the closet per say. However, my sister somehow has this special ability to know just who to pick on when it comes time to say the prayer. We celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at her home, and as we all gathered around the table and bowed our heads in silence, I knew I was in for it. Before she even asked I could tell just by her look that she was going to pick me.
It was a test of sorts. Everyone in my family was waiting to see if I had lost my “roots” when I went off to college. It was their way of putting me back in my place, or that’s at least how they saw it. When my sister told (not asked) me to say it, there was no backing down. So, I took a deep breath…