An Atheist Thanksgiving

atheist thanksgiving

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

This Thanksgiving, I will not be in any situation in which I will have to pray — or, at least, mouth words that sound sufficiently like prayers to please the people around me. The people with whom I will share dinner are not all atheists, but even the ones who still believe do not expect public expressions of faith from me, or anyone else.

I am thankful for that. I am thankful that the people with whom I will spend this holiday are in my life.

But I am also thankful that I don’t have to thank God for them. Instead, I can truly feel gratitude to them for being loving and kind people. Even if they give credit to the God they believe in, I am thankful that they share what is best about themselves — their pure and simple humanity — with me.

I will be thankful for the food we will share. Knowing the people who are cooking it, I am sure it will be good. It is a gift of their love and munificence; I am grateful that people can choose to share as they do.

I am most grateful, though, for what will make this year’s celebration truly special for me: During the past year, I’ve begun to move forward from the sexual abuse I suffered from a priest half a century ago. The essays I’ve written about it have, of course, been part of that process.

I am grateful to and for Bruce for publishing them. I am also grateful for the supportive, encouraging comments some of his readers left in response to my writings.

I am thankful that I don’t have to thank God for any of that. Why would I thank such a God for abating my suffering — after letting someone inflict it on me and letting that person go scot-free?

For that matter, why should any victim — whether of sexual abuse, war, poverty or other kinds of violence — thank God if and when things get better? Would we thank someone for putting out a fire after setting it?

I am so grateful to know that I don’t have to be thankful such things, for such people.

And I am thankful that I have met people who are better — than the priest, than those who inflict cruelty and destruction, than God.

All of the gratitude I will express will go to the ones who will share their holiday feast with me; and to the ones who helped me to get to where I am now, and who are helping me to understand where and how I might go next.

God is not among them.  I am grateful for that.


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  1. ObstacleChick

    Thank you for sharing with us, MJ. It is good that you are surrounded by people who are respectful and supportive of you as a person and who do not expect you to be someone you are not. I appreciate and enjoy your writing, so thank you.

    I too have many things for which to be thankful and none of them have anything to do with a deity.

  2. Brian

    I am grateful, MJ Lisbeth, that you write here and I share the feeling that Bruce’s blog allows us freedom to be whomever we choose, whomever we are and does not tell us we are ruined and fallen and in need of magic Jesus or any intermediary. Thanksgiving is a welcome opportunity to sit down in the middle of one’s life and if we choose to, count our many blessings. Having said no to abusive belief systems is one of my very greatest blessings nowadays. And to be honored with expressions of thoughful living like yours is very supportive and welcome to me.

  3. Steve p

    You went from being unsaved to a flat out reprobate buddy. You rejected the God of the Bible to believe you evolved from a rock which came from and explosion 13.8586.678 billion years ago. I agree that these old IFB pastors you pick on all the time have no spine and are just in it for the money but to believe you came from a monkey which nobody has ever seen a monkey turn into a human! Never! You just traded one religion for another. You traded Paul the apostle for that Pedo Richard Dawkins! Have fun in hell buddy

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh* you show no understanding of my story or evolution.

      So, you only believe what can be “seen?” Have you ever seen God/Jesus/HolySpirit? Have you ever seen a Virgin have a baby? Have you ever seen a dead man come back to life? Snap, you walked into that one.

    2. GeoffT

      Cells didn’t evolve from rocks and humans didn’t evolve from monkeys.

      Evolution is an established fact. That you live in a cocoon, isolated from education, doesn’t change facts.

    3. J W

      Hey Steve, I don’t know if you’re just trolling or actually believe in the things you wrote, but you’ve got a couple major problems with your argument there, buddy.

      First, the theory of evolution is a gradual process, nothing like how you described it. But here’s the thing: if you’re not even interested in trying to truly understand science or the world in general, then how the heck are you supposed to understand God? And I mean the real God, if He exists, not whatever false idol you’ve constructed in that brain of yours or borrowed from your parents or your pastor. A God which might not actually be all that pleased with the comment you wrote.

      The second is the possibility that you knew what you wrote was an inaccurate description, and you’re simply dishonest. In that case, I’m definitely not interested in whatever you have to say about God or evolution, or anything else for that matter. You’re just another liar.

      So whichever the case may be, thanks but no thanks Steve, I’m not interested in your dishonesty or lazy ignorance. I’m not interested in following you down on your path to Hell (if it exists). Nice try, though. Maybe you’ll fool someone else? Probably not here, though.

    4. Jada

      You’re so angry, “buddy.” Why don’t you have the peace of god? You should pray more.

  4. Brian

    I read Steve p’s post sentence by sentence and tried to find even one sentence that approaches an accurate statement. I was unable to see even one in the lot. Accuracy/truth seems very unimportant to Steve p. Is this true belief in God, this parrot-dull squawking? (with apologies to parrots, who at least make their dull repetitions entertaining!)

  5. MJ Lisbeth

    I have never seen an atom split. So I guess I shouldn’t believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were leveled by the power of nuclear fission. Hmm….


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