Loading
November 24, 2009
Thanksgiving 2009 and the End of the Decade
By Father Thomas Berg *

By Father Thomas Berg *

Next Thanksgiving will find us, please God, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. Our present celebration this Thursday finds us at the close of the peculiarly enumerated decade of the '00s.  Not surprisingly, the New York Times' David Segal recently invited readers to get a head start on one of America's favorite intellectual fetishes: "name that decade."

"You know the rules," wrote Segal: "coin a pithy, reductive phrase that somehow encapsulates the multitude of events, trends, triumphs and calamities of the past 10 years."  
 
Looking back at these past ten years, that's a tall order: from the now laughable Y2K scare, to the nightmare beyond imagining which was 9/11 and its aftermath, to America's painful soul searching about how to deal with Islamic terrorism, to our economic meltdown, to the ever widening chasm between left and right on issues ranging from stem cell research, to gay "marriage" to healthcare reform...

Segal suggests one possible name might be "the decade of the unthinkable" -- not a bad first stab in my opinion.  Bret Stephens writing last week in the Wall Street Journal suggests, on a more dour but realistic note, the decade "of American incompetence" -- symbolized by the gaping hole in lower Manhattan known to the world as Ground Zero, an erstwhile emblem of American resilience and determination.

In our more pessimistic moments, many of us are honestly assaulted these days by the sense that we are witnessing the gradual undoing of our country through a mechanism of state and federal policies, programs and regulations which are antithetical to the core principles of the American experiment.  Consider, not least among these, the aggressively anti-life agenda of the current administration, an ever more expansive "spread-the-wealth" mentality, the bloating of government, the bailout plan, the astronomical U.S. deficit, the creeping socialization of healthcare, and our paralysis in the war on terror.    
 
We know of course, that our beloved country -- obviously imperfect in so many ways, but in so many other ways truly the 'best there is' -- is not the final hope of humanity.  Christ, and only Jesus Christ, is the first and final hope of humanity. So, while it might be harder to feel thankful on this Thanksgiving Day, let me suggest that there are still plenty of reasons. How about these for starters?
  • For our faith in Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and Savior of the World;

  • For the enduring treasure of our Catholic Faith;

  • For all the good that, by God's providence, the United States of America has been able to bring to the world, beginning with the natural law principles embodied in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution;

  • For protections from evils known to God alone from which He, in his mercy, has spared our country;

  • For every new day of life that He gives us;

  • For the promise of eternal life with Him, in a 'new heaven and new earth' which he promises to those who die in his friendship.

And lest I be accused of finding purely eschatological reasons for gratitude, hope and optimism, we should be thankful for the notably growing vigor of moral discourse in our public square evidenced in the media, in town halls across the country and even in the more recent "tea party" genre -- all of these are hopeful signs of vigor that our political system can survive the current challenges.  

But returning to the question with which we began, how would I label the decade that now draws to a close?  It was, to be sure, the decade which spawned the "red-state-blue-state" dichotomy, and saw it evidenced in two of the closest (and most culturally and politically divisive) presidential elections in history. But the truth is that America has long been what Gertrude Himmelfarb famously described in 1999 as "one nation, two cultures." The conservative-liberal divide is not, in the last analysis, what characterized the decade of the '00s.  What did?  We'll need the distance of years to get it right. But that will require us to be careful, honest, and objective students of the dense history encapsulated in the ten years which now draw to a close.   

Father Thomas Berg is a priest in the Archdiocese of New York and Professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie).

« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
17

Liturgical Calendar

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Gospel
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Second Reading:: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel:: Jn 13:1-15

Homily of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Homily
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: