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Five Things

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.—Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Before I get down to the usual business, I want to respond to this idea because I’ve heard it several times in various places. I feel and express gratitude all the time. Since losing my belief in God, I haven’t been at a loss for people to thank.

I’m thankful to my parents for giving me life (and to their parents who gave them life, and so on).

I’m grateful for my wife who threw her lot in with me and risked her life to bear and raise children with me.

I’m grateful for all the innovators in science, technology, and the arts who have made my modern life of relative health, comfort, and ease possible.

I’m grateful for the groundskeepers who provide the uplifting environs where I work.

Even when I can’t find a person to thank for something (e.g. the warming light of the sun or the naked fact of our existence), I don’t miss being able to thank someone. I feel grateful—and incredibly fortunate—just the same.

This sense of gratitude without someone to thank may represent an improvement: I no longer suffer the temptation to imagine that I deserve the good things I enjoy by being faithful to God. And if I don’t deserve what I have, then all the more reason to share it with those who deserve it just as much as I.

With all due respect to Mr. Rossetti, he should have avoided offering witticisms about something that he apparently lacks experience of.

Oh, and by my count, that’s five things plus one.

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  1. Gratitude Watch - 2009-05-26 — The Meaning of Existence (and all that) said,

    May 26, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

    [...] Jonathan (I think … you didn’t make it easy to find your name) at Green Oasis, gives us “Five Things,” a short reflection that gratitude is meaningful to atheists, [...]

  2. Green Oasis » Five Things said,

    June 2, 2009 @ 9:41 am

    [...] light of last week’s five, I’ve decided to write thank you notes when [...]

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