Thursday, 26 November 2009

As Ye Sow: Cold Turkey In America

Americans make a virtue out of their irrationalism. Celebrating Thanksgiving barely four weeks before Christmas is typical ahistorical, exceptionalist Yankee behaviour. The original feast of the Pilgrims likely took place around the time when Canadians celebrate their "day of thanks," in mid October. It was after all a harvest, not a snowfall, that they were giving thanks for. And although they like to think they invented the holiday, in fact the rite of paying homage to the Gods after the harvest goes back into the mists of time, cultures and religions. Of course, being Puritans as well as Pilgrims, the first settlers doubtlessly ignored the pagan and "papist" precedents. Being at that time the closest thing going to what we now call "born-againers," these adherents of the "inner light" doctrine were giving thanks to the true God, i.e., the one that lived in their own brains and vanity, as distinct from Ceres, Demeter, and the idols of Catholicism, who presumably all lived in the underworld, i.e., the earth.
One upshot of their dissociation of Thanksgiving from the ancient customs was Americans losing sight of the reciprocal nature of the whole god-earth-man relationship. Again this relates in some way to that evangelical notion of exceptional salvation. Just as the born-againer imagines his being "saved" is independent of his own efforts and conduct, so the Americans generally believe that the earth will continue to offer them its bounty regardless of how they treat it or the rest of its inhabitants. The Church, however, has always borne witness to the truth that Jesus' entire message is summed up in the ancient precept, as ye sow, so shall ye reap, be it soul or soil..
Well, the harvest is in and it's now time for America to reap the whirlwind.

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