Thanksgiving is the purest, least commercial
holiday on the USA calendar (though the encroachment of retail sales to
Thursday is disturbing). It reflects four universal human experiences:
First, gratitude for a harvest that sustains life for another year.
Second, the centrality of shared meals: whether fancy or simple, there
is something special about the table with family and friends. Third, a
hospitable welcome for people of all cultures. From Squanto to an
exchange student, mutual love and respect grows around the table. And
fourth, our need to thank the Almighty and celebrate the bounty provided
for our flourishing.
year, A.D. 2019, the Thanksgiving Table takes on new significance for
our nation and our world. What if millions of homes open their hearts
and tables for peaceful celebration and conversation of topics other
than impeachment and elections? What if around the Table, conversations
were more personal, more encouraging, and focused on making
neighborhoods stronger, with more opportunities for the marginalized?
if Thanksgiving history is shared, with the miracle of the Plymouth
settlers meeting an indigenous friend who spoke their language and
respected their God (and helped them survive)? What if we cry and laugh
over what really matters?
year, let’s host tables of inclusion and joy, lingering over delicious
food (football can wait), and grateful for the warmth of faith, hope,
and love? Political problems, football games, and great retail sales are
ephemeral. But the people we love and the new friends we make are
I am asked often to give my take on current
American and global events and trends. I work hard to resist merely
reacting to the latest vulgar Presidential tweet or utopian fantasy of
socialist candidates. I work hard to cultivate conversations and explore
differences with kindness, love and thoughtfulness. Regardless of
intention, I find some folks (on all sides) angry that I do not approve
of their ideas. Sometimes I am accused of not listening when I simply
disagree with the arguments presented.
Here are some first thoughts on key issues:
- No one is addressing the serious federal, state, and local budget crises that continue indebting future generations.
24/7 data-age makes reflection challenging…it is easier to accuse and
lamely retract than research carefully and offer tentative conclusions
adjusted by evidence.
are no impeachable offenses uncovered by current investigations: just
highly partisan inferences. Best solution? Win at the ballot box.
confusion is destroying our shared sense of human identity and causing
deeper harms that some well-meaning folks intend. Behind the curtain of
some groups, there is a deep hatred of the biological family with the
nuclear bond of Mom-Dad-Child(ren).
correctness and hair-trigger emotional insecurities threaten the true
intent of the First Amendment: we must live peaceably with deep
differences, not silence voices we dislike.
and social justice are not achieved with more government money and
programs: access, equity, opportunity, and relationships (along with
reasonable ethical oversight) are all part of liberating people from
despair and poverty.
is a gift to the world. Every time a crazed mob chants, “From the Rover
to the Sea, Palestine will be free!” it is a call for elimination of
the only democracy in the region and ultimately extermination of the
will share more soon. For now, I urge my readers to reflect before
reacting, pray for your persecutors, and engage in deep
self-examination. I see hopeful signs of an awakening as we each know
that today’s discipline in tomorrow’s destiny.
are inundated with loud voices clamoring for emotional reactions. In
contrast, followers of Jesus are invited to hear the voice of the Good
Shepherd and choose loving obedience. Let’s take time to still our
hearts, listen deeply, and love wisely.
do not live in the best or worst of times…but in the most
instantaneous information moment of history. Our conflicts are not new,
but much more immediate and our responses are often unreflective. We can
shun vulgarity. We can choose intercession for those who disagree. And
we can recognize that power itself is an addiction affecting every part
of the political spectrum.
often sparks revival in persons and communities. Without pretending
about our real pain or excusing transgression, what if we let go of the
rap sheet that we keep against ourselves and others and truly forgive?
And when we bless those who frustrate us most, we are liberated, and a
new future opens to us.
antidote for our epidemic and anger: In the spirit of St. Francis of
Assisi, we can meet every insult with blessing, every denial of truth
with love and truth, arrogance with humility, and intolerance with civil
discourse. And let’s respond to emotionalism and incipient Orwellian
controls with careful thought and affirmation of liberty rooted in
virtue. Systemic issues of class, gender, and race must be exposed…and
overcome with love, relationships, and wisdom. Protest is one
step…and practical, sacrificial action for others moves our vision of
shalom forward. This is more than being nice and it is not passive.
Living in the opposite spirit of our age of insults and vulgarity is a
courageous spiritual posture.