" To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"
Thanks to the Byrds, these may be some of the best-known words of scripture in American culture. I started thinking about them yesterday in conjunction with Thanksgiving.
It's interesting, I think, that we write our values across the face of the year. The Jewish calendar, both ancient and modern, does this: there are holidays for triumph, for mourning, for relief, for judgment, for repentance, for miracles. A season, so to speak, set aside for various doctrinal remembrance purposes.
Most cultures today probably operate in similar ways, though they don't know it. In the United States, for example, national holidays accompany religious holidays to create a sort of ad-hoc liturgical calendar in which holiday and value correspond something like this:
New Year's: Accountability/Progress
4th of July: Community
Halloween: Curiosity about the Unseen
September 11th: Awareness of Vulnerability
In each case, of course, the values can be undermined by commercialized vice. New Year's can be devoted to drunkenness, the 4th of July to jingoism, Halloween to immodesty, September 11th to vengeance, Thansgiving to gluttony, and Christmas to the twin sins of envy and greed.
As an optimist, however, I prefer to see our calendar of holidays as having important moral and spiritual potential. May we allow each season to turn us toward that which is right and good.