Faith: November 2008 Archives

Brandon Dutcher is thankful for private property rights, which is at the root of our nation's prosperity. Its importance was learned early on by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony:

Father Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, says the Plymouth colony had "declared all pastures and produce in common and enshrined this principle in law. The result was economic chaos, disease and starvation."...

Bradford placed the blame squarely on "this communistic plan of life," and believed that "God in His wisdom saw that another plan of life was fitter" for human beings trying to forge a civil society. A devout Christian, Bradford seemingly understood that God had granted property to the heads of families, not to the state.

So "after much debate," Bradford recorded in his diary, "every family was assigned a parcel of land" and each man was allowed "to plant corn for his own household."

The result? "This was very successful," Bradford wrote. "It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction."

David Gelernter ponders Abraham Lincoln's last thanksgiving:

Four themes flow together at one of the most remarkable points in American history--the evening when Abraham Lincoln for the last time proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving. It was April 11, 1865: two days after the Civil War ended with Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox; four days before the president was murdered. Our national Thanksgiving Day is a good time to remember the president who had more to do with the institution of Thanksgiving and the actual practice of thanking God than any other, and to recall his last public speech.

On that misty April evening, the world had a rare glimpse of the symbolism of a powerful prophecy literally fulfilled, if only for a few moments. The brilliant "city on a hill" that the 17th-century Puritan settlers spoke of seemed embodied in Washington, as the capital sprang to life in a blaze of gaslight. The president spoke of the nation's long-sought victory in terms not of triumph but of reconciliation, and of the nation's debt to God.

Some of Lincoln's friends and admirers, recalling that night, remembered the president as if he were Moses looking "into the Promised Land of Peace from the Pisgah summit," as one of them, the journalist Noah Brooks, wrote. Lincoln like Moses stood at the very brink of the promised land he would never enter.

Seamus Hasson suggests that in our secular era we should rename it the Feast of the Intransitive Verb:

Intransitive verbs, as we all remember from those unpleasant days of diagramming sentences in grammar school, are verbs that do not require an object. Verbs in sentences like "The horse ran" and "The wind blows" are intransitive because the horse doesn't have to run anything or the wind blow anything. They can simply run and blow without any object at all. Well, what about the verb "to thank"? It's supposed to have an object. You can't just sit there and "thank." You have to thank someone. Which is why secularists don't use that word much in late November anymore. Their creed requires them to celebrate the day by being grateful while thanking no one. And it's embarrassing to have to choose between being politically and grammatically correct. So secularists prefer the circumlocution "to give thanks." It doesn't require an object. You can get away with "giving thanks" without having to be grateful to anyone in particular. It's much more comfortable that way. Thank whomever you want. Or, don't thank anyone, it's entirely up to you. Either way you can still "give thanks." That's the beauty of using an intransitive verb; it doesn't need any object.

Bob Brody is thankful for encouragement through a troubled time from someone with even greater troubles:

Peter had gotten laid off a few times himself, so he knew how I felt. He'd always found new jobs. Over breakfast at a coffee shop just south of Central Park, he fed me advice and encouragement -- and in the coming weeks never stopped. Though Peter had his own job, a wife and three kids, a long train commute and other, much closer friends, he made time for me....

I knew full well how long it might take to find another job, especially at my age. The older you get, no matter how significant your accomplishments, the harder it can be. The looming recession and the tough job market gave me ample cause for anxiety.

But Peter would hear none of it. Day in and day out, he doled out pep talks laced with hard-won wisdom. Talent always rises, he said. Hold yourself accountable to your goals. After you've done all you can, do more....

Now, none of this might be all that unusual, except for this: Peter had cancer....

Peter had issues of his own, and could have told me so, and I would have understood. But he never did, and just continued to help me. Thanks to him, I was better able to keep my own life in perspective. If Peter could face the end of life without complaint or a hint of self-pity, surely I could face my troubles.

(Via KFAQ's Pat Campbell.)

Finally, a Rotary Club project is giving land mine victims a reason to be thankful. During a commercial break on Jones TV tonight, we saw a video about a simple prosthetic hand called the LN-4, easy to fit and easy to use, which allows people who have lost a hand to write, eat, and type on a keyboard:

An estimated 500,000 children worldwide have been maimed by land mines. Even more, both adults and children, are survivors of acts of violence, political oppression, vehicular and other accidents, and birth defects.

This web site is devoted to the development of the LN-4 Prosthetic Hand by Ernie Meadows as a memorial to his daughter Ellen. It tells the story of how Rotary became involved with the hand and how Rotary Districts 5110 and 5160 joined together to provide the hand for those in need . . . . at no cost to the recipients.

You can give someone a hand for a mere $50.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from November 2008.

Faith: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Faith: December 2008 is the next archive.

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