Couldn’t help but notice a big difference between our president’s Thanksgiving message and our president-elect’s Thanksgiving message. There is no mistaking to Whom President Bush expresses gratitude for "all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the loved ones who enrich our lives." They come "not from the hand of man but from Almighty God." Unclear what to make of Obama’s recurring de-emphasis upon God and Providence. I recall Obama’s Victory speech, where he bowdlerizes Martin Luther King’s "arc of the moral universe" quote, turning a clear reference to God’s moral ordering of the universe into a praise of human beings bending that arc themselves!
To be sure, a belief in a personal God who takes interest in His creation should not lead folks to sit on their hands and trust the Creator to do everything for them: this disrespects God’s will that those made in His image put head, heart, and hand to the work to which He calls them. Nevertheless, Obama’s reticence to ask humbly for God’s blessing upon the United States, coupled with his call for unity by Americans to "make a new beginning for our nation," suggests that he believes that what makes America great is that individuals can do whatever they put their minds to, and not so much that what they put their minds to should be informed by the fixed and eternal truths discerned in the created order. The fact that our president-elect chose to make no reference to God whatsoever, while placing himself squarely in the middle of a Thanksgiving Address (to wit, "why I’m committed to forging a new beginning from the moment I take office"), is strikingly at odds with an address that traditionally highlights our national humility before our Maker.
It’s this latter approach to celebrating Thanksgiving that has always struck me as a fitting complement to our July 4th celebration of the nation’s Independence Day. By celebrating our independence from England (July 4th) and dependence upon God (Thanksgiving Day), whose aid our greatest statesmen have always solicited and acknowledged, Americans call to mind great truths of human existence that can keep us on the straight and narrow path as a self-governing people. May God bless President-elect Obama with a better understanding of Lincoln’s greatness, a deeper insight into the principles of the American regime, and a more profound sense of the glory of the great Father of us all. For these things, may we all be truly grateful.