Driving home from the in-laws after Thanksgiving lunch today there was a program on the local NPR station which featured a segment with someone called Anne Lamott (I think. It could have been Lamont- either way, I have never heard of her).
During her chattings I noticed something interesting about Lamott: she talked much of being thankful and gratitude but she never mentioned God. She, evidently, holds to what I call the farce of generalized thankfulness. It’s the sort of farce which says ‘I’m so grateful for X’ or ‘I’m so thankful for Y’ but no person or deity is ever mentioned in connection with their gratitude as the recipient of that thankfulness.
Thankfulness without a named recipient is empty silliness. We aren’t capable of being thankful ‘in general’. Our gratitude is expressed to particular beings. ‘Thank you’ is always understood when we say ‘thanks’. So, these people who do not believe in God or who do not express their thanks to particular persons; to whom are they grateful? The thin air?
Generalized thankfulness is one of the silliest of our rituals. It means nothing. It is a farce. Thanks expressed to the thin air are as much a waste of time as praying to the ceiling or a block of wood or an idol carved with one’s own hands.
We give thanks to God because he is the source of our blessings. We thank people because they are the instruments of God’s merciful acts. But we don’t, if we have any sense at all, just say ‘thanks’ without a ‘you’ attached.
Ms Lamott may not have intended to sound like a participant in the farce of generalized thankfulness; but her failure to mention God was telling, and revealing.