detail of Van Gogh painting of old bell tower

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The words for meditation today were:

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
– G.K. Chesterton

[It’s a lovely sentiment, but once I checked it out in context, I wasn’t entirely sure I thought I liked it quite as well. It’s from A Short History of England, chapter 6.

I confess that I spent a good part of the service wondering whether this notion of thought was compatible with John Dewey’s idea, more or less, that thinking involves doubt or questioning sustained through investigation aiming at the solution of a problem. But then, checking that out in context as well (in How We Think), it seemed more compatible than I’d realized at first, because Dewey defines “reflective thinking” as

Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends …
– John Dewey

… and upon reflection it seems pretty clear that actively, persistently, and carefully considering the highest and best thing it’s possible to think of, and the grounds that support that, and the further conclusions to which that tends, in the highest and best way it’s possible to think of that, would definitely be thanks, after all.]


detail of Van Gogh painting of old bell tower

4 responses to “Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time”

  1. It seems to me the power of gratitude, if sincere, is that it is solely focused on other. I guess we can be thankful for whatever “thing” that gives us cause to say “thanks,” but that seems less sincere. I like the Chesterton quote (and the anonymous quote from last week regarding having enough), but I think sincere gratitude is less about what we got and more about the person who shared.

    And certainly those of us who have benefited from opportunities in higher education should take time in “active, persistent, and careful consideration” but Jesus does say to come to him as a little child. Wonder seems in line with that (despite the context of the quote).

    Nonetheless, gratitude is a manifestation of humility and a necessary aspect of our acceptance as humans created by a God who lives and reigns still today.

    In all sincerity, thank you for the giving me pause to think Heather.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you say, maybe “thing” is the wrong word. Thinking of which, and the maker of the suggestion, and of your taking the time to share those thoughts – thank you, Tim.

      Liked by 1 person

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