Archive for Saturday, November 20, 2010

Faith Forum: How should Thanksgiving be discussed in a religious context?

November 20, 2010


The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. and 867 Highway 40:

It’s possible to discuss Thanksgiving only in a historical context. Children are taught the history of Plymouth Rock and the gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans for a feast. The traditional foods that are consumed are a part of that history. However, it becomes difficult to leave the story only in a historical context.

Thanksgiving is a religious observation. It is a harvest festival, giving thanks for all of God’s blessings. It is a time to remember when the Native American tribal peoples made survival possible for the early immigrants to the U.S. Native Americans have a variety of ceremonies for Thanksgiving which are related to the seasons of nature, for families to feast and pray, and to offer thanks to the Creator. The history has a religious context.

For those who believe in God, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks for all the blessings of life and to acknowledge God as the source of those blessings. Prayer is an important part of Thanksgiving Day, as friends and family typically gather and offer thanks through prayer. I like to encourage believers to take time to pray before diving into all the food.

Even those who do not believe in God can gather and give thanks. Give thanks to the people you are with on Thanksgiving Day for the ways in which they have had a positive influence in your life. Give thanks for homes, for food, for jobs, for families, and for whatever else for which you are truly thankful. Although it might not be thought of as a religious context, your gratitude will bring glory to God. Have a great Thanksgiving.

— Send e-mail to Tom Brady at

The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:

The Bible says, “to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18). It is easy to view this command as a religious obligation. However there are many circumstances in our lives that defy thanksgiving.

The key to developing a thankful heart is to understand the difference between religion and revelation. It is “in Christ Jesus” that a thankful heart is possible. It is his revelation of love, not our religious pursuit that makes a thankful heart possible, because his love changes our heart.

While giving thanks is in season right now, we should “give thanks in all circumstances,” because God has displayed his love for us in sending Jesus to our planet. When we receive this act of love by faith, we view life through a different lens. We see things from the perspective of eternity, and realize that God’s love changes our viewpoint. Circumstances will change, but his display of love remains constant. We can make a religious determination to be thankful, but this will last only for a short time. A heart that is continuously thankful is energized by an eternal love that constantly sustains it.

Matthew Henry had such a heart. After being robbed, he offered this prayer: “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

God’s love had changed his heart, the result was to be thankful, even in this difficult circumstance.

As God shows us his love, and as we respond to his revelation, our lives can be full of thanksgiving, regardless of the circumstances.

— Send e-mail to Nate Rovenstine at


Maddy Griffin 7 years, 6 months ago

Must religion be injected into everything? Can't we just be kind and look out for one another without bringing some "sky entity" into it?

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we can have even a morning fart without someone expecting god(s) to be behind it.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 6 months ago

Well, this IS the "Faith Forum". The idea is to explore the religious meaning of things, so for the purpose of this column: Yes, this is the place to discuss religion.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 6 months ago

To Rev. question for you regarding the people who do not believe in whom are they giving thanks? It's wonderful to give thanks to others who have been a positive influence in our lives, but to whom are they giving thanks for everything else you mentioned? And how can their thanks to "whomever" bring glory to God when they don't believe in God and, therefore, are not thanking Him per se...but just throwing out "thank you's" to whomever or whatever? Sorry, I don't get it.

Of course, Thanksgiving is a holiday based on thanking God...we all know that. If any of you readers disagree with that, you're just trying to be obnoxious (which happens a lot on "Faith Forum"). Rev. Brady, your last paragraph is as if written by another person...and out of context with the rest of your beautiful comments. I don't understand.

Rev. Rovenstine...your comments are very uplifting...Matthew Henry was a very wise man!!


Peaty Romano 7 years, 6 months ago

What don't you get about getting together with family and friends over food? That's all it is to me. I'm thankful I have family, friends and food. That's all. Pretty simple really, what's not to get? Same goes for Christmas except add presents and a tree :) The fact is you just don't understand what it means to be an Atheist is all.

“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” —Stephen F Roberts

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

Dear Zeus, I really want a new lightning bolt necklace this year to honor your fury and contempt of humans...

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 6 months ago

Woops!!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y'ALL!!!! (I really can spell...ha!!)

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 6 months ago

Dear Peaty, Peaty, Peaty... I was agnostic for years (many years ago)...I've commented on that plenty of times here on Faith Forum...if you follow Faith Forum, you would know me well.

By the way, something else I don't understand aside from what the good Reverend wrote about...perhaps you will be able to answer this question for me, Peaty. If you're an atheist, why are you reading Faith Forum?
Me thinks Peaty doth protest too much.

I send love your way, Peaty...and I'll be praying for you whether you want me to or not. You can't stop me from praying for you...and it can't hurt...might help. S-M-I-L-E Happy Thanksgiving, Peaty!!!

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

We atheist read the faith forum for the same reason we watch train wrecks. It is too much fun to see the crazies talk about their invisible space god. If you were an agnostic then please share what piece of evidence convinced you to fall for this nonsense and spare us all from the eternal barbecue.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow. Such intolerance. I guess the bumper sticker is right, Kansas really is as bigoted as you think.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Tolerance does not mean agreeing with something stupid. I am very tolerant of religious people. If you want to pray to the invisible space god then I have no problem with it. If you want to tell me about your invisible buddy that is fine. It is still nonsense and liberalism allows me to say so as long as I recognize your right to believe anything you wish.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

"Thanksgiving is a religious observation. It is a harvest festival, giving thanks for all of God’s blessings."

Religion is a pagan ritual, with stories ripped off from thousands of years of ideology towards the sun. That is why we have holidays around the equinox. that is why we celebrate the harvest (yay, the sun did it's job!)

If you mean nature when you say god, then just say nature or universe. we owe our existence to that. However, nature and the universe do not watch over us, answer our prayers, or interject purposefully in any individual's life. we exist out of dumb luck, pure chance and probability.

Paul Hahn 7 years, 6 months ago

"we exist out of dumb luck, pure chance and probability"

That's the saddest thing I've read in some time. Doesn't that make you feel awfully insignificant and lonely? If that is all there is, then it seems to me that nature is seriously cruel, because the "nature" who has no heart gave us hearts that would ask deep questions like "Why am I here" that create an ache in each and every one of us that desires to connect to our creator.

Even if I worship "the universe", it would matter to me that the universe has love for me, that it made me because it mattered to it that I live, and not because of a series of coin flips that said "Life can begin on Earth, but no one will give a damn". Under that scenario, there is no room for God, but plenty of room for Satan, because that would be life with no meaning, life with no value, life with no hope... save for the assurance of eternal death.

No thank you. I'll continue to embrace my fantasy about a wonderful, loving God who created me with intention and who speaks to me a message about an identity rooted not in coin flips, but an identity rooted in my intimate connection to my fantastic heavenly parent.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Well stated. Religion is a fantasy for people who are scared of reality. It does make me feel insignificant to know that I live on one of trillions of planets and that I will die and turn into dirt, but that is the way it is. When you use a fairytale to make you feel better that is fine, but when your fairytale dictates rules for others or teaches kids fake science then the rational must speak up.

Paul Hahn 7 years, 6 months ago

"when your fairytale dictates rules for others or teaches kids fake science then the rational must speak up"

Off-topic, and irrelevant to my post.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, I can see how the natural extension of your fairytale theology seems irrelevant to you, but I think it was on topic. Does it make you sad that as a grown man you need a fairytale to feel better about your life.

Paul Hahn 7 years, 6 months ago

"rules for others" suggests that I have a desire to control other people. Where did I give you that idea?

"fake science" has nothing to do with me, or my post.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

You believe things that have no basis in reality = fake science.

And if religion does not have rules then I am now a member.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

How did you feel before you were born? eternally dead I suppose...

I do feel insignificant in the universe because I understand how vast and full the universe is. I feel insignificant at a sporting event as well, and that's a much smaller number of objects to conceive. But nonetheless, it still doesn't matter if I'm there or not.

The universe and nature are uncaring, and completely wasteful. What is the purpose of millions of babies dying every year? what is the purpose of a single animal literally eating a billion smaller animals in a single gulp? Why do trees put out millions of seedlings in hopes that a handful will take root? If there were a god(s), why wouldn't everything be 1:1?

We are evolved enough to contemplate these things, as well as our origins and our future, out of pure chance. Knowing that this is the only life I will ever have, and understanding the world around me, allows me to be much more awestruck by the beauty and complexity of life, than if I'd merely say "god did it" and waste my only life waiting for a non-existent afterlife.

Once you drop your fear of a fiery wasteland below, and dreams of a golden temple above, you can get on with matching reality to your daily life and start living.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Athough pure chance may be the wrong term. even if the odds are one in a gazzillion or whatever with enough rolls of the dice you win eventually and the universe is amazingly huge so there is a lot of dice to play with.

somedude20 7 years, 6 months ago

Kids, the food is real but sky god is not, lets eat!

oklahoma 7 years, 6 months ago

I rarely meet anyone who values religion as an escape from reality. This blog probably won't win over any of the usual suspects who use this space to promote athiesm and agnosticism. The beauty of Thanksgiving is that regardless of its origins, it is not possible to bash Christians over their thankfulness to God for His many blessings in their lives, as this holiday has not been ruined by commercialism. In its current form, it is very simply a day to gather with friends and family to reflect on how fortunate we are.

An intellectually honest argument against the existence of God is always welcomed by Christians who are educated in apologetics. However, personal attacks on those simply proclaiming their joy this week not only doesn't help anyone, it also is not demonstrative of the kind of intellectualism that athiests and agnostics like to champion.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

An intellectually honest argument against the existence of God is that there is no verifiable evidence that it exists. The burden of proof is now on you to prove your imaginary friend made the world. Creation has been thoroughly debunked by observable science so if you only know apologetics and not science there will be no need to argue that point. More particular to the christian god is the argument that he is not as moral as christians think he is. God promoted genocide of entire nations, but christians think hitler was a bad guy.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 6 months ago

The christian insistence that god is real and statements of faith and god's love resemble small children stamping their feet and demanding that indeed Santa Claus does exist.

"I don't care what you think, but Santa does exist, and he is going to bring me toys".

Paul Hahn 7 years, 6 months ago

"Once you drop your fear of a fiery wasteland below..."

That was directed at me, but at what point did I indicated a fear of a fiery wasteland? That is off-topic and has nothing to do with me.

I live my life with the belief that I will spend eternity in heaven, and that has nothing to do with fear of fire. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1), so why would I fear hell? Sure, there are plenty of Wescoe Beach preachers and televangelists who spend a lot of time talking about hell, but when one believes in 1) a God who deeply desires to be connected to His children and that 2) said God has the means to overcome any obstacles that would prevent such a connection, where exactly is there room for fear?

"get on with matching reality to your daily life and start living"

There was a time in my life when I didn't have eyes to see God in this way, and that really was a "fiery wasteland" for me, right here on Earth. The "reality" of my "daily life" is that the most powerful and pure force in nature takes a personal interest in ME. Does that sound like I'm not "living" well?

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

"I live my life with the belief that death is an illusion so I have decided to tell small children to play on the highway. When it appears that they have been squished by a car I tell their parents there is no need to worry because they are fine," said Religion.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

you invoked Satan into the argument, therefor a belief in satan, generally includes a belief in a fiery wasteland. if you didn't have the devil to fear, maybe heaven wouldn't seem so appealing.

oklahoma 7 years, 6 months ago


You should first not assume that Christians know no science. Again, intellectual honesty requires that you trust that your opponent is at your level until you can prove the opposite with some kind of verifiable facts. I'll probably not be up to your satisfaction, but here goes.

As you well know, no one can prove how the world was created, because according to the creation story in the Bible, only God existed at that time. It was days later when He made man. Moses recorded the account later. This is of course a matter of faith, not a matter of having an eyewitness account. No Christian will argue that an eyewitness account exists. Rather, the Christian will point to evidence that there was intelligent design.

Rather than use this space to demonstrate why Christians believe in creation by an intelligent God, I'll simply refer you to Michael Behe's work in Darwin's Black Box or Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator, with Strobel's work being summarized here:

As Strobel points out, scientists are not unified behind your statement "creation has been thoroughly debunked by observable science...." Some scientists believe that creation can be disproven and some do not. Fact.

I'm very troubled by the argument oft-stated in this forum that God promoted genocide. First, it isn't true, but rather represents a straw-man argument posed to attempt to show that any God who promoted genocide cannot be good. Second, without your providing chapter and verse in the Bible where such an account exists in your mind, it cannot be defended. Provide the account that troubles you and I'll provide an explanation as to why it is not genocide. Please don't waste space saying that I don't agree that God commanded his people to go to war. Again, no intellectually honest Christian denies that because it is plain in the scriptures.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

First read joshua and judges for genocide. Don't be silly, god called his people to murder other nations for property. Though you are right that it is not true that god did it since there is no god and it is just a way for jewish people to justify their ancient war crimes.

Second, I did not assume that all christians know nothing of science, but there is a strong correlation between lack of formal education and a belief in the supernatural.

Third, the obvious scientific evidence, such as the geologic and fossil record, clearly show that the earth was not created according to the biblical story in any literal manner, and other major events such as noah's flood and the dispersion of animals from an ark are easily dismissed after even an an entry level geology class. Strobel is a journalist not a scientist if I remember correctly so I am not sure you should rely on him. Try Richard Dawkins, he is actually a scientist.

jimmyjms 7 years, 6 months ago

@oklahoma: Genesis, chap 6-8 Exodus, chap 11-12 Deuteronomy, chap 7 & 20 Joshua, chap 6,8,10,11,14, etc.

Explicite calls to commit murder.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

What-- a pseudo religious American holiday that is based on a desire to increase profits for large corporations, what is this country coming to.

oklahoma 7 years, 6 months ago

First, let's ignore the spelling errors of those standing up with you WHY, and your anti-semitism, since that really makes it hard to say with a straight face that those who believe in the supernatural are generally uneducated.

There is no tenure for scientists who have faith, you know, so we don't always know who they are.

Let's mention a few scientists who affirm creation, since the objective for mentioning Behe and Strobel the journalist was not to hold them out as scientists, but to point out that they have made reference to scientific work done by those who affirm creation: Kevin Anderson, Ken Carlson, Doug Dexheimer, Bob Farwell, Jim Henderson, Mary Jefferson...the list is endless.

Let's take Joshua 6, since jimmyjms gave an explicite (sic) cite there. Here, the context is that nation Israel was returning to its land after being enslaved in Egypt. In taking Jericho, yes, God told the military leaders that no one in the city could be spared.

Every person who believes that this account is true has to deal with this difficult passage. No race or nation was being eliminated in Joshua 6, so this is not genocide.

In my estimation, God did not spare anyone in the City for a couple of reasons. First, as Creator, it is His perogative to choose who comes to power and who he doesn't. In Jericho, He had no followers. He made it clear that the sins of men tend to flow down to their children, so it appears that in this case, He made a call--everyone must go because I know their hearts, and they are not dedicated to Me as the only God. To set apart a group and require them to live holy lives as a reflection of His own holiness, He wanted no intermarriage with those who openly rejected faith in Himself.

Each time Israel let there be survivors, in disobedience to God, the nation took on the negative character of those they joined with. Rarely do good people cause those who reject God to do better...usually, the expression from the Bible is true: Bad company corrupts good morals.

It is illogical to both accuse God of genocide and to argue that He does not exist. If you argue that God does not exist, you continue in your anti-semitism by blaming Jews, present and past generations of Jewish people. If you argue He does exist, you falsely accuse Him of genocide. He specifically blessed Ishamel, the father of the Arab nations, with the promise of many descendants. You can't pick and choose from His book.

Self-proclaimed intellectuals have to be exposed on this blog to distinguish who has credibility and who does not. Again, intellectual honesty has to be an underlying assumption for your case to be validated by others. Name calling won't win the day, and anti-semitism should be eliminated by the site managers.

jimmyjms 7 years, 6 months ago

"Every person who believes that this account is true has to deal with this difficult passage. No race or nation was being eliminated in Joshua 6, so this is not genocide."

To begin, you'll notice that I called it "murder," not genocide. Second, while you previously decried "straw man" arguments, you're playing semantics with your dodge about why this example isn't "genocide." But even if one were to accept your argument, you are still left witha god that called for the murder of innocents, including children and infants.

"You can't pick and choose from His book."

In that case, you're cool with rape, slavery, & murder? Because they're all in your "good book."

oklahoma 7 years, 6 months ago

Again, zero citations as usual.

My bad on murder. War is not murder.

Your real question, then, is why does God permit women and children to suffer. That is a fair question. I'm not going to entertain any more overstatements that have no support. Do some homework and we'll see.

jimmyjms 7 years, 6 months ago

WTF? "Zero citations?". I cited something like 12 specific instances in my previous post, and you responded to exactly one. I'll compare my knowledge of the bible to yours (or anyone elses) any time...I know of which I speak. You know the references I'm alluding to, so instead of playing games, how 'bout you just defend your position instead of this nonsense?

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Sorry to confuse the issue of genocide, murder and war. It was genocide because god told his people to rid the entire area of all of its inhabitants, not just one city--read the whole story Oklahoma. War does not automatically justify killing everyone and it can still be murder. "Thou shall not kill" is of course an ambiguous commandment and needs to be narrowly construed to fit christian agendas.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

WHOA there buddy, I am not anti-Semitic. They killed women and kids = war crime. They were Jewish. I can read and put two things together. I'm not mad at anybody. Name calling won't get me to back down. If your argument is that if God says its okay to kill kids then it is okay, fine. Your god is a baby killer. No big deal to me, but pardon me if I don't bow in worship your morally bankrupt god.

I will not debate the science issue with you since it is obvious you are not up to date (1850's- present day) on the discoveries in the last few centuries. Once again no big deal. The burden of proof is on you to prove your imaginary friend, not my job to prove he doesn't. And they don't give tenure to creation scientists because those people do bad science and get thrown out by smart people sick of their superstition.

I think it is strange that you argue that a few bad apples should be killed to prevent their ideas from spreading to god's people. This is how fundamentalist religions lead to terrorism and why the rational fight against them. Do you want me dead. I spread the gospel of science and reason in a world full of people who think they talk to god.

oklahoma 7 years, 6 months ago

No, you continue to spread lies and deception about science. You cannot acknowledge that there are loads of present day scientists that think Darwin is an embarrassment to science. You don't hold the intellectual high ground.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

This is the laboratory where your cutting edge religious science is being done. Doesn't look like Yale but I am sure it attracts top notch talent.

Darwin made a number of mistakes. Fortunately for those of us who believe in science mistakes can lead to new discoveries, while religion clings to every ancient word as infallible.

However, sufficient evidence exists in support of evolution to convince 99.85% of America's earth and life scientists that the theory is valid. Evolution is the key unifying theory that unifies many different branches of science, from cosmology to biology.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

By the way you are right I don't hold the intellectual high ground, and you are doing a fine job of defending your position.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 6 months ago

you know.. once you give up the belief in god(s), your arguments begin to make a lot more sense.

Mike Ford 7 years, 6 months ago

I am a son of clergy and I'm Choctaw from one lineage and a Mayflower descendant from another. I feel that the genocide part of Thanksgiving involving the Wampanoag and other coastal Algonquian peoples should be first and foremost. The pilgrims went into abandoned Wampanoag and Pokanoket villages whose inhabitants were killed by European diseases and proclaimed with the arrogant zeal of modern Christians that the indigenous peoples died so they, the chosen ones could occupy that land in Massachusetts. This attitude of cultural advancement through subjugation by religious genocide and conversion continues to this day. The constant denials of this gruesomeness is part of these continuing circumstances. This excerpt is taken from pages 176-177 of "Where White Men Fear to Tread" by Lakota AIM member Russell Means. In 1970, the Wampanoag people had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor of that colony. After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre.He also encouraged other colonies to do likewise and every autumn after the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate the murders with a feast. Mr. Means spoke at the foot of the statue of Massasoit protesting Thanksgiving near Plymouth Rock in 1970.
I've spoke of this story before and it never surprises me how historically inept people are.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

According to Oklahoma God just needed his people to get your people out of the way, so he could found this christian nation. I find this morally reprehensible, but since I am not god my opinion matters very little.

independant1 7 years, 6 months ago

There is no argument in the world carries the hatred that a religious belief one does. The more learned a man is the less consideration he has for another man’s belief. Will Rogers

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