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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Turning to the heavens to give thanks

In an increasingly secular world, it's understandable how a day set aside for giving thanks gets buried in the rush to Black Friday.

It doesn't help that we've become a little coarser and a little less likely to toss out words like “thank you” or “please,” especially if we're not too sure who is responsible to begin with. I mean, if you are going to give thanks these days, the question is, who are you thanking, and is it going to cost you something?

Talking about anything spiritual beyond football is not that much a part of what generally appears inside Mother Trib, but I'll take my chances the day before Thanksgiving.

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The original “American” celebration in 1621 was a thanksgiving get-together for a good harvest more than anything else. I don't know if they sat around in a pasture and watched a football game after they ate dinner.

Years later, George Washington set aside “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer ... acknowledging the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

The Almighty was still around in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

There's still some of that today, although the focus seems to be more on the annual pardoning of the life of a turkey by the president. Can you imagine a president or anyone else in government trying to get away with saying something like the “beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens?” Right.

Today, about the only time you are likely to hear anyone making references to the Almighty would be watching some quarterback getting sacked in a turkey day game or maybe trying to fight for a place in line at the Black Friday sales, which are now scheduled to begin on Thursday right after that pumpkin pie.

Listen, I'm not about to tell, or even suggest, who you might take a minute or two to thank this week, but you might consider a few things.

Despite all the machinations and bone-headed dealings of all the governments you have to deal with, and despite all the natural disasters and human failings that seem to surround you and even swallow up your life, consider the miracle that you are where you are today.

Life is not easy; never has been. This year has been a sad one for me with the loss of a number of close and dear friends. I hear more than enough stories from people with terrible problems who are desperate to find solutions when there may be none. The suffering spread out around the world seems overwhelming.

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But I also see good. If your faith in humanity is low, I can show you story after story of sacrifice and reaching out by your neighbors.

Most of these people are people of faith. They believe not just in the goodness of humanity but in a higher calling that enables us to go on when everything else says to give up.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity as a nation, whether it's in a place of worship or a family sitting around a table holding hands for a brief minute of thanks, to give thanks to our God, if only because we live in a country that allows us to do just that. Happy Thanksgiving.

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