Start with the Sign of the Cross
“Bless us, O Lord! and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord.
End with the Sign of the Cross
This is how dinner began every night in my family. It was also how lunch began in Catholic school. Giving thanks. It’s a noble concept. I’m all for it. I have so much to be thankful for. I am grateful for life, love, friends, family, laughter, food, sex, beer, movies, The Big Bang Theory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer… the list goes on and on. God and Jesus are not, nor should the be the recipient of my thanks. Who I thank depends on what I am thankful for. For example, I thank Joss Whedon for his body of work.
I thank Sam Adams for their beer. And I thank my friends for putting up with me. I have a long list of individuals I could thank for helping me along the path to atheism. Thanksgiving should be for the people, not for the gods. The rest of this week I am going to dedicate to the American tradition of Thanksgiving. I’m going to explore the Christian influence in yet another religious genocide movement. I’m going to try to figure out how soon people forget the past and compare and contrast that Christians who proclaim we have evidence for Jesus from 2000+ years ago. Am I supposed to buy the Jesus myth that is thousands of years old with practically no substantial documentation? But Thanksgiving origins are well documented but we forget already the atrocities. Idiots! And finally, I am going to show how most people have made Thanksgiving better by leaving religion out of it.
I want to revisit the Catholic Grace Prayer that begins this blog. Like most things Catholic, I mindlessly recited this prayer thousands of times. I never gave it thought. My parents taught it to me. My school enforced it on me and I just went along with it. One evening at the dinner table, I remember my mom choking on a piece of steak. My sister flew out of her seat, raced behind her and performed the Heimlich Maneuver.
“Bless us, O Lord!”
My mother spit out the steak and was saved.
“and these Thy gifts”
Another time, that same sister was sitting at the dinner table eating spaghetti. My brother had a date over for dinner. It was already an awkward, high-school-date-with-the-family moment.
“which we are about to recieve”
My sister was ill and she puked all of her spaghetti up, back on to her plate.
“From Thy bounty”
We were all horrified. Not one person could eat dinner after that. I have no idea how we managed not to all puke and create a barf-o-rama reminiscent of the scene in Stand By Me.
“through Christ, our Lord”
But my brother’s date was a trooper. She felt it would be rude to not eat the dinner prepared. And we begged and begged for her to just not eat. With each bite you could see her trying to suppress the urge to purge.
Was Jesus unable to bless the food on these occasions? Are we thanking him for improperly prepared meals? Why would someone choke on blessed steak from Jesus’ bounty? I can see Christians proclaiming that perhaps the person was sinful and because of this, the food became harmful to the person eating it. They could even claim demon possession, like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. But the truth is Jesus has no business in the kitchen. Humans have made food and drink safe, not Jesus. Perhaps you should thank Louis Pasteur when you drink your milk. “Bless us, O Lou!”
I say thank the FDA. Thank the butcher, the baker, the red wine maker. Thank science for discovering healthy ways to prepare and preserve food. Thank people who seek more humane ways to bring the food to the table. Thank the truck driver who lives over the road to bring your groceries to your local store. But don’t thank God or Jesus. These imaginarily culinary clowns would be the first kicked off the reality show Hell’s Kitchen.
It surprises me that I didn’t see the irony much sooner. How did I go through so many years praying for the food and myself to be blessed only to witness it fail over and over and over again. Isn’t Jesus powerful enough to cure the lactose intolerant? Couldn’t these people just pray over their milk and cheese and be fine? Is this his intelligent design? How many children discover, with great terror and a hospital visit, that they are allergic to nuts. Would the Catholic Grace Prayer be the answer for the Peanut Butter challenged? Living in a world where children can’t eat a Reese’s is all the proof I need that god does not exist.
It is interesting to note that all cultures and religions have some form of a grace prayer. I suppose it goes back to people praying to the sun or the moon so they have a good harvest. We all look at those rituals and think they are oh, so silly. Yet so many this week will gather around the table with family and thank the Lord for the delightful murdered bird they bought at Pathmark. God Hates Turkeys.