Wednesday, November 21, 2007

thank god i'm an atheist*

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. While it’s technically not a religious holiday, it can be a difficult one for atheists for grammatical reasons. “Thank” is a transitive verb, meaning that it requires a direct object. One cannot simply thank. One must thank someone or something. For the vast majority of Americans, that someone or something is god. So, as atheists, who are we thanking? Well, we could thank each other for showing up for dinner. We could thank the poultry farmers for providing the main course. We could thank the football players for working on a holiday. However, none of these seem to be very good reasons to take a couple of days off and have a feast.
Despite the cognitive dissonance caused by its name, I support the spirit of Thanksgiving. I think that taking time once a year to reflect on the positive aspects of one’s life is a good idea. In a world that often seems like it has gone mad, it’s easy for the good things to slip through the mental cracks. After watching the devastation of a monster hurricane or seeing the rising death toll of an unpopular war, we forget to appreciate the roofs over our heads and the people who love us. The news is full of poverty and forced labor, but most of us have the money to buy computers and the free time to visit blogs. There are only 850 million telephone lines in this world of 6.5 billion people, but most of us have broadband, cell phones and on-demand movies. Billions of people are enslaved by religion, but we are free.
I can thank the people responsible for some of that. My family will be there, so I can thank them. If you happen to run into a veteran tomorrow, you might want to thank him, also. If you happen to know Tim Berners-Lee, maybe send him an email. However, most of the people responsible for this incredible quality of life I enjoy are anonymous, dead or both. So, while we are celebrating Thanksgiving, lets also celebrate the simpler holiday of Gladhaving, because that encourages you to appreciate all the good in your life, including the parts for which there is no one to thank but yourself. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll awaken from your Turkey-induced coma on Friday morning with a much rosier picture of the world. It may only last until you turn on the news or try to find a parking space at the mall, but it’s better than nothing.
--the mostly reverend--
P.S. In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to thank all of you for reading, commenters and lurkers alike. I’d also like to thank the few good electronic friends I’ve made because of this blog. You know who you are. If you’re not sure whether I’m including you, assume that I am. That way, everyone’s happy.
*[taken from the evangelical atheist, to whom i also give thanks]


Bart said...

This is sort of a parallel of Kim’s thoughts on atheism, of which I too am a “believer.”

Having American Indian ancestry I’ve often considered Thanksgiving a travesty. I participate along with my family but only from the perspective of seeing those that have been absent for a time along with fabulous cooking. I alone in my immediate family hold this view. Has the Caucasian race ever really paid back the Indian for the land that was taken not to mention the harmonic existence with that land in question? For those who know me I have never used the minority avenue to take advantage of any situation in my life. Being of middle class upbringing I’ve always been aware there are those in so much more need than I.

Joe said...

Since the American Indian didn't believe in ownership of land how could the Caucasian pay them back?

We can all be thankful for the sacrifices of our forefathers and the great country they founded.

Anonymous said...

Your comments strike very close to home, Bart. Laura and I just spent a few days on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Southwestern South Dakota for our Labor Day holiday. One of the sights we "took in" was the mass grave at Wounded Knee, where Cheif Bigfoot and his band of Miniconjou Lakota were buried after being massacred by the Seventh cavalry in 1890. Bigfoot was nery near death with pneumonia at the time. I can't describe the emotions that came over me as I stared at that run-down, yet sacred, ground. I wept like a child.

I was also appalled by the run down and despicable conditions our native brothers and sisters have been reduced to living in. It was definitely an eye-opening trip.

Seeing all this makes me embarrased for what my Euro-ancestors have done to a once proud and noble people.
It also makes me mad that I didn't receive much, if any, eduation on this whole dark era of American history during my time in public schools. Any education I did receive in this area was severely slanted from the EuroAmerican point of view. It wasn't until I took an interest in this area a few years back, that I began educating myself....and learning the truth.

It's nice to know that I'm not the only Wasichu out here that mourns for what has been happening on the continents of North and South America since 1492. And particularly what happened on the Northern Great Plains in the mid and late 1800's.

Thanks for sharing.

Mitakuye Oyasin!


Pete Basso said...

I have a question for you, Bart and any other atheist folks out there? How do you claim to be a "believer" when there is nothing to believe in, (as Kim's post so profoundly states)?

Another question, if God doesn't exist, just as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Dracula don't exist, then why do you constantly try to prove he doesn't exist?

Either way I try to understand you're religion, or lack thereof, I keep coming to the same conclusion...I must continue to pray even harder that you see the craziness in your logic and finally understand that God is real, he does exist and you should be THNAKFUL for Jesus' death on the Cross. When that day comes you will be set free in your life from the bondages of which our evil world has cast upon you. The more I read about your beliefs, the more THANKFUL I am for the clarity in which your foundation-less thoughts and psychobabble have brought to me and my beliefs.

John 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

I will keep you and Bart in my prayers. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Bart said...

Thanks Pete, good wishes to you and your's.