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In the dusty old pages of Christian chronicles of the crusades, we find there a curious and remember themeent repeated. When the Crusaders won the battle, the writers of the day said it was thanks to the grace of God, but when they tasted defeat, it was "for our sins.
Centuries later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln invoked similar solemn thoughts in his proclamation announcing the Thanksgiving party .
With the nation ravaged by civil war , Lincoln underlined the great blessings of everyday life that the nation still enjoys, saying: "No human council has designed nor any mortal hand has worked these great things, these are the gifts of grace. of the Most High God, who, while treating us with anger for our sins, nevertheless remembered mercy. "
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What Lincoln and the Crusaders both understood is that gratitude is a function of fallibility. living testimony of forgiveness. We do not feel gratitude for what is owed to us, but rather for what we hardly deserve.
As we know, not everyone participated in National Thanksgiving Day. I'm not referring to modern progressives calling him racist, but rather our third president, Thomas Jefferson. His objection to this puritanical New England-born tradition was due to his strict belief in separation of Church and State. He didn 't think government had a role to play in thanking God.
One need not doubt that Jefferson ' s faithfulnessto the disestablishment of religion was sincerely bound to point out that it was also very convenient for a man who supported the continuation of the institution of slavery. The separation of Church and State was a rallying cry for the pro-slavery mob, for obvious reasons. He kept pesky moral questions out of the political realm, giving back to God what was God and to Congress what was Congress.
An elegant historical symmetry is at work here. Lincoln, in proclaiming a national day of thanksgiving, referred to our sins as the cause of our pain and distress. He was surely speaking of slavery, in particular, as the sin that caused the horrors of war to steal young lives and tear the country in two. In a sense, then, we can say that the United States was not ready to offer thanks to Go d in this way, until he freed black Americans from thebondage.
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Jefferson 's positions on slavery and Thanksgiving would lose over time, but his position on separation from the Church and State fared better.
During the 20th century, public displays of state piety, such as prayer in schools, would decline. And yet, even though so many Americans do not see religious or objective morality as a righteous goal of government or body politic, for those who make Thanksgiving is a powerful tool and a reminder. We do not thank each other for our blessings on this day, but rather God.
Let us remember that our nation can do good, but it can also do good. Most often this is the case. It is something that we can both feel gratitude for.itude and pride.
But like Lincoln and the Crusaders, we are joyful in our disposition to be reckoned with our sins and faults, and those of our great nation. It is only then, as we enjoy the bounties and blessings of America with our friends and family, that we can truly thank God, that despite our too often lack of dignity, he will accept our thank you, protect us from our worst inclinations, and continue to watch over the United States of America.
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