Tuesday, May 2, 2017


AL: There is nothing like gratefulness! Ah, just to breathe in its message. It reminds me that life is worth living. It puts a smile on my face. When I am grateful, I feel great and others are drawn to me. But I think that there are even greater rewards. Gratefulness enables me to live the life of virtue proactively. It is empowering. I awake with a purpose, even if it is to help that elderly woman with her shopping bag across the street. Gratefulness is the greatest elixir for the negativity that has taken our age captive. Consequently, I have no time for bitterness. Not when you’re no the move, pushing forward, your eyes focused on what you can do for the needy.

B: I love what you said. Just today, I received some bad news about the job. We might have to be relocated to Tulsa, the last place we ever dreamed of living. But I am grateful that I still have a job. Even if I decide to go elsewhere, I’m grateful that I have the health and abilities to make a new start. Gratefulness is the oil that makes my engine hum.

AL: It makes me hum also. Bob, we both have learned that we are not governed by our situation but rather by our attitudes to our situations. With the right attitude, we can scramble hard-boiled eggs.

BOB: Love it! Hard-boiled eggs are whipped cream when we approach life with a grateful spirit. Like you said, this attitude of mind is empowering. When you got it, you can roll. When you got negativity instead, you are stuck in the mud.

CHRIS: I agree. Gratefulness is a necessary tool, but I also think that more is needed.

AL: Of course, more is needed. I think that we need some common sense to maintain gratitude. For instance, if we are not forgiving, we will weigh ourselves down with bitterness. If we abuse others, we will feel guilty and vulnerable. Only by living a life of virtue can we achieve gratefulness.

CHRIS: Al, I certainly agree with you there too. If we abuse others, we will feel like hypocrites when we try to bathe in gratefulness. After all, how can we be grateful when we deprive others of their gratefulness!

BOB: Chris, I don’t get it. You seem to agree with us but you also are saying that we are missing something.

CHRIS: Well, I think that you are. As important as gratefulness, virtue, and forgiveness are in leading a rich and full life, I think that more is required.

BOB: Yeah???????

CHRIS: Look, how can you expect the terminally ill to be grateful, especially if they are in pain, all of their loved ones have died, and they can only look forward to death?

BOB: You always cite these extreme examples.

CHRIS: Well, it’s the extreme examples that help to highlight the fact that more is needed than mental self-control. Besides, dying and death are realities that we all face. But how can we face them when gratefulness becomes unattainable.

AL: We can always find something to feel grateful about, even if it’s only a bowel movement or a glass of cold water.

CHRIS: Al, theoretically, you are correct. However, life presents us with challenges that are overwhelming.

AL: Perhaps for you.

CHRIS: Yes, there are things that I find overwhelming. There is suffering that surpasses my ability to cope. This is one reason why I believe in God. There is only one way that I can remain grateful. It is by knowing that I will be with my Savior forever.

BOB: Haven’t we already warned you against proselytizing! But here you go again.

CHRIS: Yes, I am aware that you find this repugnant.

BOB: Then why do you persist?

CHRIS: Don’t you want me to interact in an honest way with you?

AL: You can’t be honest without invoking your Jesus god?

CHRIS: Well, for me, everything comes back to Jesus, even this conversation about gratefulness. If I would agree with you about the sufficiency of gratefulness and virtue, I would be agreeing inauthentically. I would be misleading you about my deepest beliefs. Is that what you want?

BOB: Well, if your Jesus is everything to you, perhaps you should take him into your church and keep him there!

CHRIS: Is that really what you want?

AL: Look Chris, Bob is trying to tell you as gently as he can that we do not want to hear it anymore. We find this Jesus-talk offensive.

CHRIS: Perhaps you need to reconsider what you regard as offensive.

BOB: We are tired of your forcing your crap down our throats.

CHRIS: How does this differ from the two of your forcing your “crap” down my throat?

BOB: What you are doing is proselytizing. We are not!

CHRIS: I still fail to see how you putting forth your worldview is any different from me putting forth my worldview.

BOB: Don’t you get it, you idiot! You are pushing religion; we are not!

CHRIS: How is it that if I talk about my religion, I have violated some rule? While if you talk about yours, that’s perfectly okay?

BOB: Ours is not a religion. There is no god involved.

CHRIS: Your distinction is immaterial. Instead, it comes down to this – for you it is okay to proselytize me to your worldview, but it is illegitimate for me to proselytize you to my worldview.

BOB: What a lot of crap!

AL: You see, Chris, how your god-talk is just antagonizing Bob. Aren’t you concerned about that?

CHRIS: Al, what would be the consequences if we empowered everyone who felt antagonized to close down needed discussion? Is that the kind of society you really want?

AL: Of course not! I just think that you need to keep your higher power out of it.

CHRIS: And how about your “higher power?” As secular humanists, you have elevated yourselves to the highest position of power. You have convinced yourselves that you have the power, which you don’t have, to always be grateful and even virtuous.

BOB: Al, you see what this son-of-a-bitch is doing. He is now degrading us, laughing at our virtue. Who the heck does he think he is!

AL: Bob, I think you’re on to something. Chris, you are clearly an arrogant and condescending piece of garbage.… This is why they had to put your god Jesus to death. He too believed that he was superior to everyone else, denigrating their religions. Only his mattered. How repugnant! And you are the same way.

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