Now, it gets heavy — but it’s Thanksgiving, when we do that…
Day to day, I am not an overtly religious person — certainly nothing like “traditional”. On the other hand, I studied with a Reform rabbi and became a Jew after years as an atheist; a Jew in the style of Einstein, who I just lately learned was a Jew in style of Spinoza.
I maintain a very low tolerance for superstition in all of its forms (emspar and I call it “booga-booga”), but I also wouldn’t have taken the course I did, or be who I am, were it not for the inescapable fact that there is Some Thing Bigger Out There. It’s called the Universe. It has no direct relation to, or influence on, us — nevertheless (weak anthropic principle) we happen to live in it, trying to make sense of how it works.
How the Universe works — the Laws of Physics, melech ha’olam — is what Einstein called God, and so do I.
So… listening as I always do to NPR’s Morning Edition, I heard an interview with Anne Lamott, the author of a book about prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow. No need to listen to the full segment: the printed excerpts are good enough. Simplistic, surely — but that’s the point.
God, or Nature, or “Shit Happens”… Formal prayer, or wordless exclamation at the shit happening… What we say, if only silently, boils down to those three, especially when we take the sectarian language out and just blurt. I found the idea early in my Judaic studies; I cannot think of a religious tradition that wouldn’t arrive at the same conclusion.
You don’t lose any atheist cred for exclaiming, either. Shit happens; you react: human nature.
It’s Thanksgiving — in the face of all the shit, why am I still thankful? Most of all for emspar, naturally, but also for you all.
And why am I still “Wow”?
I’m alive; I can see the night sky; I know what’s in it.
Baruch ata, Adonai Elohenu, melech ha’olam, schehechianu, v’kiamanu, v’higianu, l’azman hah zeh.