Thanks for what lasts

Barack Obama won the presidency promising change.  As we enter our national season of Thanksgiving, we should reflect on the goodness of permanence.  Liberals morphed over the last three decades into "progressives."   The idea of progress is a talisman of our times.  I wonder why?  Surely if there is one idea which should have died in the last century, it is the idea that progress is good.  All the word implies is movement in a particular direction.  That direction could be toward Heaven or toward the Inferno. 
In the last hundred years we have watch the world plunge twice into wars which devoured tens of millions of souls whole; monsters who tried to exterminate Jews, Armenians, kulaks, and other innocents; people sell their birthright of liberty for baubles of government goodies; and the degeneration of education and media so that truth seems to have died in public discourse.  Most change seems to be bad and the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" seems very wise.

At Thanksgiving we reflect upon material bounty in the form of turkey, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, and corn bread stuffing.  We lounge around after our holiday feast, watch football and nap.  Americans, even in "hard" times, have all the goodies in life we need.  The fretting about our economy, the worry about financial stability, the general insecurity about money -- these are all really very silly concerns in the big picture.

We live in a nation in which the biggest health problem for most Americans, including the poor, is obesity.  We are not hungry.  We are rather, like the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffed.  The Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving knew real hunger.  Their bounty was relative bounty, and the food they ate was bland and modest compared with what any ordinary countryman today could muster from a quick trip to the supermarket.

We live in a nation in which the biggest psychological pain is boredom.  Technology has given us a dizzying number of ways to feed our senses, yet Hollywood, television, popular music, and video entertainment reeks of banality and spiritual emptiness.  Our agents of technological change, of electronic gadgetry dream up more and more ways to say less and less.  At the first Thanksgiving leisure was the oddity and amusement was a small part of life.

America and the world have changed since then, but not completely for the better.  It is not more free time or more stuff that we need. What we need is moral purpose.  All moral purpose is anchored first in a clear awareness of our specialness as divine creatures.  The natural sentiment which that awareness should produce is gratitude.  We should enter our national season of Thanksgiving not moaning about what we have lack but thankful for what we have. 

The notion of the perfectibility of humanity by material changes or scientific discoveries is an affront to the Blessed Creator of the Universe. If wealth, good looks, brilliance and comfort were all we needed, then He would have given those to us in a nanosecond. What God seeks instead is the perfection of our love, our interest in truth, our faith in His existence, and our thankfulness for his Creation.

Our hypnotic fixation on changing our world to make it Heaven is bound to lead not to the feeding of our real needs but rather to the temporary fix of a heroin addict. That is why despots, even despots with some good intentions initially, degrade so quickly into monstrosities: self-made gods.  Every monster of the last century which gave birth to an ugly new state -- Mussolini, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Castro -- promised above all action, change, progress.  As we watch Obama seek to change America, we would do well to remember that change, like mutation, is most often hideous and harmful.  Life is imperfection -- natural and normal.  Our desperate campaign to make life perfect makes life ghastly.

What we need instead of change is gratitude.  The simple blessing of being born in America is something that most people on this planet would give much to possess.  The ordinary freedom which was the object of the Pilgrims is something purchased by those before us at great cost and which is frittered away by us with gaping indifference.  The specialness of our very souls, made in the image of a loving God, transcends all the trite amusements we make.

We owe thanks to those who gave (and who are giving) their lives so that we may be free.  We owe thanks to those before us who cared more for goodness than for goods.  We owe thanks, always, for a Blessed Creator who blesses us still.  There is no virtue in progressing from freedom or benefit in changing our moral principles.  Change and progress are callous, soulless, indifferent  processes.  Let us instead embrace what is pure, noble, and timeless.  Let us give thanks for what lasts.  

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
Barack Obama won the presidency promising change.  As we enter our national season of Thanksgiving, we should reflect on the goodness of permanence.  Liberals morphed over the last three decades into "progressives."   The idea of progress is a talisman of our times.  I wonder why?  Surely if there is one idea which should have died in the last century, it is the idea that progress is good.  All the word implies is movement in a particular direction.  That direction could be toward Heaven or toward the Inferno. 
In the last hundred years we have watch the world plunge twice into wars which devoured tens of millions of souls whole; monsters who tried to exterminate Jews, Armenians, kulaks, and other innocents; people sell their birthright of liberty for baubles of government goodies; and the degeneration of education and media so that truth seems to have died in public discourse.  Most change seems to be bad and the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" seems very wise.

At Thanksgiving we reflect upon material bounty in the form of turkey, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, and corn bread stuffing.  We lounge around after our holiday feast, watch football and nap.  Americans, even in "hard" times, have all the goodies in life we need.  The fretting about our economy, the worry about financial stability, the general insecurity about money -- these are all really very silly concerns in the big picture.

We live in a nation in which the biggest health problem for most Americans, including the poor, is obesity.  We are not hungry.  We are rather, like the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffed.  The Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving knew real hunger.  Their bounty was relative bounty, and the food they ate was bland and modest compared with what any ordinary countryman today could muster from a quick trip to the supermarket.

We live in a nation in which the biggest psychological pain is boredom.  Technology has given us a dizzying number of ways to feed our senses, yet Hollywood, television, popular music, and video entertainment reeks of banality and spiritual emptiness.  Our agents of technological change, of electronic gadgetry dream up more and more ways to say less and less.  At the first Thanksgiving leisure was the oddity and amusement was a small part of life.

America and the world have changed since then, but not completely for the better.  It is not more free time or more stuff that we need. What we need is moral purpose.  All moral purpose is anchored first in a clear awareness of our specialness as divine creatures.  The natural sentiment which that awareness should produce is gratitude.  We should enter our national season of Thanksgiving not moaning about what we have lack but thankful for what we have. 

The notion of the perfectibility of humanity by material changes or scientific discoveries is an affront to the Blessed Creator of the Universe. If wealth, good looks, brilliance and comfort were all we needed, then He would have given those to us in a nanosecond. What God seeks instead is the perfection of our love, our interest in truth, our faith in His existence, and our thankfulness for his Creation.

Our hypnotic fixation on changing our world to make it Heaven is bound to lead not to the feeding of our real needs but rather to the temporary fix of a heroin addict. That is why despots, even despots with some good intentions initially, degrade so quickly into monstrosities: self-made gods.  Every monster of the last century which gave birth to an ugly new state -- Mussolini, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Castro -- promised above all action, change, progress.  As we watch Obama seek to change America, we would do well to remember that change, like mutation, is most often hideous and harmful.  Life is imperfection -- natural and normal.  Our desperate campaign to make life perfect makes life ghastly.

What we need instead of change is gratitude.  The simple blessing of being born in America is something that most people on this planet would give much to possess.  The ordinary freedom which was the object of the Pilgrims is something purchased by those before us at great cost and which is frittered away by us with gaping indifference.  The specialness of our very souls, made in the image of a loving God, transcends all the trite amusements we make.

We owe thanks to those who gave (and who are giving) their lives so that we may be free.  We owe thanks to those before us who cared more for goodness than for goods.  We owe thanks, always, for a Blessed Creator who blesses us still.  There is no virtue in progressing from freedom or benefit in changing our moral principles.  Change and progress are callous, soulless, indifferent  processes.  Let us instead embrace what is pure, noble, and timeless.  Let us give thanks for what lasts.  

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.