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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MSN is Wrong


I had an interesting experience the other day.  My browser usually lands on one or two of the standard web addresses for the homepage.  That day, it landed on MSN, on which there was their little picture blurb titled:  “13 Things to Never Discuss at Thanksgiving Dinner.”  Of course, most of us can easily guess some of the things that were listed, but I was particularly struck when I saw that the first entry in the list was this:

“Religion:  Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, so why start in on an argument no one can win when you’re supposed to be giving thanks.”

Hey, it must be true, right, after all, I read it on the internet, right???   I contrast MSN’s words with the words of Abraham Lincoln when he set the date for the holiday on October 3, 1863:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. 

 (I encourage you to read the whole text, the text can be found online at abrahamlincolnonline.org)

Call me stupid, but that sure sounds religious to ME.  Wait, I know what you are thinking, how can a PRESIDENT of our GOVERNMENT establish a holiday that has anything to do with RELIGION…doesn't the constitution require the government to never acknowledge the existence of any religion or God, never ever ever ever?   Some people want you to believe that, and they are very vocal these days.  But they apparently never went to history class.  

It was not by accident that there is an image of Moses with the Ten Commandments at the Supreme Court.  

It is not by accident that sessions of congress are opened by prayer, and there is a paid chaplain of the legislature. 

And it is not by accident that this holiday established through the agency of the government IS RELIGIOUS!!  

Notice, the day was set aside for giving thanks to God, without any stipulation as to which church or synagogue one has to attend, if any, to do so!  Lincoln did not establish any religion, only a day set aside for people to practice their own through the giving of thanks.  What President Lincoln DID do was to acknowledge the importance of religion even in a pluralistic society and used government authority to set aside time for individuals to participate in that important part of their lives.

The very name of the day proudly proclaims the religious origin of the celebration: Thanksgiving.  

How can you be celebrating Thanksgiving if you don’t even stop to give thanks?  And to whom is it that YOU give thanks?  Wall Street?  Yourself?  Macy’s?  The NFL?  Abraham Lincoln said it was to be to “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  If you don’t do that, you missed the central point of the holiday, plain and simple.  (Even the word holiday originated from Holy Day…so maybe we need to give thanks TWICE on Thanksgiving!)

Oh, I know, for many the holiday has descended into nothing more than gluttony, parades, football, family gatherings and the greed of Black Friday (which is becoming Black Thursday since they can’t even wait until Friday anymore!).  Maybe President Lincoln should have asked us to set apart five seconds for thanksgiving and praise…just before we start to eat.  In many homes this holiday, that is what you would deduce by observing their celebration of Thanksgiving.  It seems to me that the little article on the MSN site tells us more about the writer than about the holiday.

So does any of this have anything to do with divorce at all?  Well, I don’t know about you, but there have been a lot of hard things in my life this year, but even so I have a lot of things for which to be thankful this year.  The same has been true every single year of my life, when I have stopped to think about it, there are always challenges to struggle with and joys to celebrate.  Even in the throes of divorce, or in the aftermath of it, there can be found something for which to be thankful, if you are willing to look for it. 

Don’t let the experience of a divorce rob you of the opportunity to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday, even if the fallout of divorce has affected the manner or time available for the celebration.  When Thursday rolls around, I think I will try to give serious consideration to what the day was intended to be, a RELIGIOUS break from the hubbub of life to remember there is One who has blessed our lives and deserves to be praised, thanked and acknowledged.  

Sorry MSN, you are just plain wrong, and ought to be embarrassed and ashamed that you ran such a clear misrepresentation.

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