Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Day of Thanks

Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays. Now that the whole extended family is growing up and lots of the cousins have their own families and don't live nearby, we don't get together as often as we once did. Yet Thanksgiving is still one of the few times a year when we all get together. (I'm not sure how long that last statement will hold accurate, but for the time being such is the case.) I've always loved getting together with the family on Thanksgiving and partaking of the wonderful foods that the women in the Anderson Family have such an awe-inspiring talent for preparing.
However, though I love the food and the camaraderie of the family, there is a higher reason for the celebration of this great holiday.
On Oct 3, 1863, when the United States of America was in the midst of a great civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation that declared the last Thursday of November to be celebrated universally to give thanks. If you've never read this proclamation I highly recommend it. Here's a link.
In this proclamation, after listing off the many and varied ways in which the nation had been blessed, despite war, President Lincoln says the following:

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great (blessings). They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Would that our current President would/could make such proclamations today.
And so this week of Thanksgiving, let us, in our merry-making, remember the fount from which our many blessings flow, and let us strive to do that which we are able to do to show in our daily lives how grateful we really are for the merciful blessings of heaven in our lives.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Holy War

I would like to make sure that all readers know that this post was written before the game was played. I don't know how things will have turned out 20 hours from now. I want that understood so that this post won't sound pridefully magnanimous in case of victory or bitter excuse making in case of defeat.
As is well known, I'm a hard core dyed in the wool true blue through and through BYU fan. That's how I was raised and I would have it no other way. Growing up the color red made me sick to my stomach, and so on and so forth.
This week I've been doing some thinking as a result of something my roommate Sterling said. He said that in the time we've lived together, nearly three months now, he's only seen me angry once. When he said that I felt pretty good because I try to be an agreeable bloke. But the incident he cited as me being angry caused me to reflect a bit. He was talking about last Saturday when, as I was making a cake, I was listening to the BYU-Air Force game streaming over the internet because it wasn't on any channels that we had. I assume he was referring to the moment when Max Hall threw an interception to end the first half and I threw my green playground foursquare ball at the cupboards in the kitchen and stormed away in a huff.
As I've contemplated this over the past few days I've really come to wonder if football, even BYU football, is worth getting so worked up over that it changes my attitude and demeanor. These thoughts have been especially poignant as we are gearing up for yet another "Holy War" in but a few short hours.
The media has been having a field day with this game since this is the first time that these two teams have come into the game so highly ranked and with so much on the line. Even national news outlets (The New York Times will be running a feature on the Holy War on the front page of their sports page later on today) are running stories on this rivalry. As the The New York Times article says, The Wall Street Journal has this rivalry listed as the fourth best in the country.
As I've read over these articles, that which tends to be focused on more than anything else is the hatred and animosity that is shared between these two schools and their fan bases. Just as a way of illustrating this hatred, this quote came from a Utah fan and was published in The Denver Post, "I want to see Austin Collie's head go rolling off in his helmet down the field." By no means do I intend to target Ute fans and say that they are the only ones taking part in this hatred, because to do so would be entirely off base. I have heard, and lamentably even been known to say, things that are filled with animosity towards the Utes. For example I had an editorial published in the Deseret News back in 2004 which read,
"As I have walked around BYU campus this previous week, I have heard countless students/"BYU fans" say that they would be pleased to see Utah win this Saturday. I cringe to hear such blasphemy. I was born and raised a true blue cougar fan. As good as a Ute win would be for the downfall of the BCS, as well as provide a monetary boost for the conference, I can not bring myself to cheer for the school to the north. In fact, to do so would grind against my very soul and be contrary to my upbringing. I can't think of a better way to end the season, than a victory over the crimson heathens. When such happens I will call the season a success. I would therefore urge all BYU fans to get off the bandwagon, grab hold of all that you know to
be true, and cheer your cougars on to victory."
While those words still tend to ring true with something deep within me, I am now somewhat ashamed of them. Nothing really merits my calling someone a heathen. Such profiling is uncalled for and, frankly, un-Christlike.
There is really nothing that anyone can say, do, or be that truly merits hatred towards them. While this is a hard thing to actually put into practice (Can anyone really say that they truly love Osama bin Laden after all that he has done and is?) it should be what we strive for right?
These things that I've said may come across as blasphemy to some of my friends and family members, and I may well be ostracized for saying them, but these are some of my musings from this week.
Don't get me wrong, I'll still be cheering heartily for a Cougar victory tomorrow, but I'm going to try to not get so absolutely emotionally attached to the game that my happiness is dependant on the outcome. I'm going to try and sit back and have my attitude reflect the words, "Come What May, and Love It."