- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2000

Rather than thinking of the current political confusion as an ugly interruption of Thanksgiving week, perhaps we should think of Thanksgiving week as a blessed interruption of our preoccupation with these ugly and troubled days. After all, this season is intended to encourage a retreat from the busyness and involvements of life long enough to take an overview and put things into perspective.

This will not be easy, given that millions of Americans believe that with this presidential election, our country has arrived at a moral and constitutional Rubicon, a point of no return. We draw little comfort that America's destiny is in the hands, not of wise men and sages, but of lawyers, many of whom are for sale.

In our semi-civilized, complex world, we are all stressed. We are trapped in a cycle of increasing dependencies upon increasingly undependable people. We find it more and more difficult to distance ourselves from our concerns and worries. Our anxiety is a psychological magnet which draws us back, thwarting our escape. We are earthbound, without vision or perspective.

We set up societies to honor human achievement; we hand out all manner of praise and prizes in recognition of human triumphs. We fawn over paintings and sculptures that are nothing more than poor copies of God's originals. We marvel at ourselves. Yet, we ignore and step over God's creations without so much as a nod of recognition in His direction.

It is hubris, that is to say unjustified arrogance. Man is not capable of adding one speck of dust to the universe or taking a single one away. He cannot create or destroy matter. He can only rearrange. He can describe and label, but he cannot explain even the most rudimentary of natural phenomena.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel Boorstin put science in its place with this observation: "The great obstacle to progress is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."

We are in "sophomoric rebellion" against our own origins and identity. We whistle through the darkness in search of a rationale that will explain the nature of the universe and the meaning of life, but are thwarted at every turn by our mortality.

We miss the obvious. Intellectual elitists are alive and surrounded by life, but they laugh at the idea of an afterlife. Philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire cut to the quick of this dead-end arrogance when he observed, "It is not more surprising to be born twice than once."

We are too close to our own blessings to be thankful for them. Because they are free for the asking and in great supply we take them for granted. In our eyes, it is scarcity, not plenty, that makes something valuable. It is a reflection of the perversity of human nature that if all the world were made of gold, a wheelbarrow full of dirt would be a priceless treasure.

Nothing confuses us more than our mortality. Maybe it has to do with our growing up on stories and tales which have beginnings and middles and ends. Things are worked out. There is closure. We come to think our lives are the same way, that a story line is developing toward some rational conclusion. We are always shocked when death intrudes and does not permit an individual life to unfold. We have a sense something is wrong. We ask why, like some agreement has been breached, some promise broken.

Our logic is seriously flawed. We are evaluating God's justice and wisdom from the perspective of a single lifespan rather than from the perspective of eternity. Our conclusions are distorted because we are appraising a work in progress, still incomplete, still unfolding. We have, in effect, judged the fruit while it was still green, before it sweetened.

Our life is a prologue. Life has meaning and the universe is rational. Surely, that's worth a thank you to the Creator. My message to those who scoff is this: If the thoughts generated by your superior intelligence stand between you and faith, think again. Think grandly.

Personally, if I could identify just two things for which to be thankful, I would choose first to be thankful for amnesty, that is forgiveness for all those accumulations of sin and error that could otherwise weigh us down and steal away our freedom of spirit and enthusiasm for life. Second, I would give thanks for the promise that one day you and I will see His face.

Linda Bowles is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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