Thanksgiving


The Thanksgiving feast is just a day away, a singular American
tradition obsessed with consuming at a single meal more food and drink than
most central African residents eat in a month or more. We give thanks for our
abundance by eating abundantly. However, given the troubling economic
conditions, for most of us our abundance has dwindled a bit. Nonetheless, we give
thanks for all we have, just as the Puritan New England settlers gave thanks, to
the God of our understanding.

The Thanksgiving celebration evolved from the English “Harvest
Home” festival observed in early New England and was a Puritan gathering to
give thanks for the first crop of corn, squash, and beans along with wild game,
fish, and fowl that they had learned to gather, as a New York Times article by
Andrew Beahrs notes in the paper today. From what I recall of pre-American
history, I doubt that the Puritans gorged themselves because the cold of winter
was coming, if not already on them. Most of us, me included, can only imagine how daunting
the prospect of winter was for the settlers in a strange place and how they must have wondered if they
could survive on what they had grown and gathered. Some us may wonder today if
we can weather the current economic winter.

Projecting and planning is a natural human instinct. Ancestors
that survived passed on our collective obsessions and fears. Nevertheless, for
just one day we try to lay aside these evolved character traits and give thanks
for all we have.

Click – change the channel

I occasionally listen to the Neil Bortz Radio Show and have
to admit that every so often he makes some valid arguments. However, since
Obama’s election, he has stretched the truth quite thin and, I must say, the
entertainment value of the show has diminished.  

 

Bortz rattled on for several minutes today about Democratic
plans to pick on the wealthy, “tax [their] 401(k)’s and IRA’s, and redistribute
the proceeds to the poor and middle class.” According to Bortz, Democrats in
Congress have discussed this plan for the past sixteen years and now suddenly
this retirement savings tax will happen. To his sidekick/producer’s credit,
Royal Marshall had to “Call BS.”

 

Royal , WSB Radio may be happy to know that your comments
kept me listening for a few more minutes. Unfortunately, Bortz kept talking
nonsense—click.

Pat

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My friend Pat
while talking to our group this morning became very emotional when she
mentioned the election of Barack Obama as president. As a black woman, she
talked about how all her life she felt less than and hated. She now feels more
accepted and incorporated into the United States, where she has lived
all her life. Obviously, Obama’s election is historic, but Pat’s joy made it
real for me.   

Religion & Politics

“In
religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost
every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.”
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)


Religion and
politics are equal opportunity offenders. Adamant disagreement arises at mere mention of either. Ideological lines are drawn and we hop to our
respective sides.  Facing each other on
opposing sides of the line we loose sight commonality and community in distorted
polarized light of belief and conviction—us versus them.  Rhetoric is hurled back and forth, and we hear
only what we shout.  The ensuing noise separates
us from Silence and Love.

Silence



I shake the sleep
from my eyes, feet hit the floor, and I immediately plot my busy day. Obsession
and anxiety grip me before I am fully awake. This is no way to live—God wants
better for me.

 

The noise of my
mind coupled with the noise of politics and financial meltdown encroach on
silence and blot out God from my conscience. The loudest voices say nothing of consequence. The habit of holy
silence is unknown to most, me included.

 

I often become restless, irritable, and
discontent in silence—I insist on doing. Being still in the silence does not
come natural  because the dark places of my soul cannot be ignored. The TV, Internet,
radio, books, and eating are convenient diversions—I am addicted to them.  My daily routine is centered on avoiding
silence. It is only in prayer that I can bare silence.

 

Dwelling in
silent prayer melts
tension that I carry and my shoulders fall from
my ears.  My gut stops churning and aches
and pains that I insist on medicating disappear.  So, why do I avoid returning here?

 

Thomas Merton
writes of his obsession with writing and his longing for  a
worthwhile subject that can move and excite his audience. Oh how I can
identify with that obsession and his frustration of falling short and missing
the mark makes me wonder if I am wasting time. The noise of
doubt breaks the silence.

 

My thoughts are
broken by the cat this morning. She walks silently into view and sits on the
heat vent looking at me. In the silence I know that she expects
me to drop my notebook and feed her—I ignore her request.  But she is persistent and she walks to my
side and extends a paw to my arm. She
demands my attention. So my day begins as I rise to feed the
cat.

Copyright © 2008 Mark Holmberg. All rights reserved.