Thanksgiving, according to the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving, a secular holiday to be sure, but a sacred one for Americans.

Many of us are writing about the things that we are thankful for, and that is nice.

The expression of gratitude is always welcome, even gratitude expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging, more meaningful.

To express gratitude in this way is to, is to make one’s self humble, to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us who we are.

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God, the creator of all that is, that God dwells in a place beyond all human understanding, shrouded in mystery, in the great cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, no one can speak affirmatively as to what or who God is, because God, the infinite will not be circumscribed by language. There are no positive assertions about the nature of the Divine, there is only the via negativa; the way of saying what God is not.

This year I will forgo the giving of thanks, even though I am truly grateful for everyone in our lives. I will be selfish and tell you all what I am not thankful for.

 

I am not thankful that there is no peace in the world,

In Syria, from where millions of people are fleeing their homes

In Palestine, where there is apartheid

In America, where we are divided by class, culture, color

 

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism

 

I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere

I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it

I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it creates

 

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world

I am not thankful for the greed, for the sloth, and for the bad public policy that foster it

 

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery

I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism

I am not thankful for liars

 

I am not thankful for Donald Trump, for Ted Cruz, for Ben Carson

I am not thankful for Fox News

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