Independent Christian Voice


Robert Jensen: No Thanks to Thanksgiving

NOTE: Below is a snippet from a sure-to-be-controversial article. While I may not necessarily agree with everything the writer says, his piece is worthy of reading and thoughtful examination.
No thanks to Thanksgiving by Robert Jensen

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.


I think a National Day of Atonement is worthy of serious consideration. However, I do not agree that it should replace the Thanksgiving holiday. While the heritage of the holiday (or the nation that observing it) may not be as pure as we hoped and thought it was, the idea of a Thanksgiving holiday is. At least one day each year, we should reflect on our many blessings and express our deepest gratitude to the people around us and to our Creator.

A day of atonement (marked by fasting and reflection on the sins of our past) followed by a day of thanksgiving (marked by a feast and celebration of the blessings in our lives) would be a powerful pair of holidays, perhaps separated by a week, like Christmas and New Year's. I could support that.


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