The Taser's Edge

Turkey Day Meditations: Prophetic Feasting in a World Gone Wrong

What’s with November and moral murkiness?

An Anabaptist-leaning Methodist acquaintance claims today is about celebrating genocide.  On facebook:

I am so thankful that 400 years ago, a boat full of “Christians” came to this country, accepted the native people’s hospitality, and subsequently committed genocide against them. We need new freakin holidays.

A friend points me to NY Times blog, which reminds me today of the reality of gluttony alongside starvation in America.

Winslow Homer, Thanksgiving Day, 1860, The Two Great Classes of Society, from Harper’s Weekly, December 1, 1860.

Winslow Homer, Thanksgiving Day, 1860, The Two Great Classes of Society, from Harper’s Weekly, December 1, 1860. (Click to embiggen.)

My own experience is, for the first time, spending the holiday with no one from Holly’s or my family (having grown up with no Thanksgiving with fewer than 25 people related to me in the room).  Yesterday, I had to venture out for a couple last minute things, and I dreaded it.  Instead, I found that Thanksgiving Eve buying groceries is a lot different from going to the mall on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve at the mall is about going into more debt at 27% interest for crap that people don’t need and don’t even want.  Thanksgiving Eve is about preparing to exercise the virtues of friendship, hospitality, generosity, love, and gratitude. Yes, that whitewashes things, like people for whom the holiday reminds them of the losses of the past year or of the long-broken relationships which are throbbing with pain today, or for those who will go hungry.

Yet speaking in terms of Christian morality, I actually believe that we are called to times of feasting even in a world of killing hunger.  We are called to celebrate and to enjoy and to give thanks, because God is at work, and we are indeed blessed.  The way this gets unbalanced is when feasting becomes habitual gluttony, when we never fast, and when we consider our plenty to belong to us and to be our right.

The answer is not to avoid the very real and worth-asking question of genocide behind this particular holiday (which I think we should educate our children about), and it’s not to deny that many hunger and die (which I think we should educate ourselves about).  Instead, we bring those concerns into our prayer and into our worship on this day.

In truth, genocide, starvation, and economic injustice can only be understood for how deeply evil they are when they are placed in the context of the love and abundance which are the nature of the Kingdom of God, the way things should be and shall be.  Nothing can be very wrong in a world which is not going to become as unimaginably right as ours will be one day.  Our feasting is a sign and prophetic action, proclaiming that though that world might seem far off, it is also here today, and it’s incredibly fitting that Thanksgiving always seems to fall in the week of Christ the King.
Now let’s pray this post.  I think it expresses what I’m talking about.