Thanksgiving? (Repost)

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays… it is centered most around family and food, two things I love dearly.  In addition, because of my family”s Christian heritage, we saw it fit to share what we were thankful for… attempting to embody this thing called gratefulness.  But is that really the right posture we ought to have as Christians towards Thanksgiving day?

The central issues that ought be considered have to do with history, memory, narrative, and power. As they say… the winner gets to right the history books.  In this case, it is a warm fuzzy story of indigenous Americans helping the Europeans through a rough start, and them sharing a meal. The picture in my mind just leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy all over.  However, what is not mentioned is that while the natives did in fact show much hospitality, the Western Europeans came and took everything from them.   It is a story of conquest, imperialism, colonization, disease, suffering, loss, and almost complete genocide.

I do not dare suggest that a heart of gratitude is always an appropriate attitude to have at all times.  We ought to be people that give thanks.  But we should also be discerning people who give thanks for appropriate things.  In this case, this “holiday” is a power move by the strong, to narrate history in a way that favors what was done.  I am sure that this holiday is seen as hurtful and insulting to many 1st nations peoples.

This would be like their being a holiday to celebrate how helpful the African indentured servants were in 1619 in Jamestown, and how appreciative the westerners were of their hardwork.  So because of this beautiful collaboration we are going to celebrate Unity Day through large festivities and parties.  If this did exist, I am pretty sure what position I would take in response.  So why is thanksgiving any different?  Well as I write I am heading off to church and then family to “celebrate”.  It must be our apathy towards others that allow us to ignore the sufferings of others.

….Never Forget….

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2 comments

  1. DR · November 28, 2010

    Renee will remember Jack S. from Abundant Life who married Dawn. He works locally and I see him occasionally. When I bumped into him this past week I was relating a similar story and his reaction was not quite what I expected – but all the same – way too true…
    “We know it’s happened. We know it’s happening and we know it’s going to continue to happen…. God told\tells us in the Bible. But he is going to work it all out. We just have to be aware of our part in it and conduct ourselves according to His standards.” And with that he went back to his work and I went on with my day.
    Never one to mince words that Jack.

  2. Drew Hart · December 2, 2010

    I think that is fair, I just hope we realize and are aware of the ways we are complicit unconsciously, so we are able to conduct ourselves according to His standards. We live in a very complex world, and it is probably impossible to avoid participating in injustice as an American, because so much that we consume is connected to others discrimination. But our response can’t be oh well, but rather trying to be as faithful as we can with what we have, seeking always to do better. I know for myself, it is easy to be apathetic towards the suffering of others that does not affect me directly. Yet I know I don’t want to think of issues of systemic injustice in America as optional, so neither should I towards others struggles. We are all interconnected in a complex web and need one another to rally behind one another.

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