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Thanking Someone
by Tom Goodman
November 19, 2014

Seth MacFarlane is alive today because of a missed flight.  His reaction to this reality is worth thinking about as you get ready for Thanksgiving Day.

MacFarlane is the creator of the animated show, Family Guy, a popular but definitely-not-family-friendly comedy program on TV.  He was booked on American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston to New York on September 11, 2001 but arrived too late to board.  As we know, hijackers flew Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

As a guest on NPR's Fresh Air program, host Terry Gross asked him the inevitable question:  "After that narrow escape, do you think of the rest of your life as a gift?"

"No," said MacFarlane.  "That experience didn't change me at all.  It made no difference in the way I live my life.  It made no difference in the way I look at things.  It was just a coincidence."

He's not alone, just blunt.  In fact, Romans 1:18-21 tells us that ingratitude is the human condition.  Paul wrote that humanity has suppressed the evidence that God exists, and the end result is failure to give thanks to God.

Did you catch that?  Of all the things Paul could have listed as evidence that we're off the road we should be on as humans, he says ingratitude is the very bottom of the ditch we've rolled into.

Why would Paul regard it as the worst of human behavior?  In his latest book on prayer, Tim Keller wrote:

We did not create ourselves, and we can't keep our lives going one second without his upholding power.  Yet we hate that knowledge, Paul says, and we repress it.  We hate the idea that we are utterly and completely dependent on God, because then we would be obligated to him and would not be able to live as we wish.  We would have to defer to the one who gives us everything.

I think that's what's behind MacFarlane's indifference to being spared death at the age of 29.  As Peter Jonker put it, the comedian had created "a missile defense system" against the threat of incoming gratitude which might have lodged in his soul and changed him forever.

But if ingratitude is the bottom of the ditch, gratitude is how we start the climb out of that ditch.  We'll talk more about that this Sunday at 10am.  Join us!


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