By James K.A. Smith November 23 at 6:00 AM
Its rituals are surprisingly widespread — pilgrimages home through packed airports; gatherings of family and friends (and attendant tensions that are the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms); the dining room altar on which the turkey is supped, then a long day of drifting in and out of consciousness while hours and hours of football flicker in our darkening dens.
Our Thanksgiving traditions reflect the country’s mix of secularization and religious fervor — what theologian William Cavanaugh calls “migrations of the holy.”
In a secular age, our religious impulses aren’t diminished; they just find new devotions: consumption, the self, the nation. Now, the NFL — in all its popularity and current controversy — sets the script for our Thanksgiving Day litany. It gives us something to worship.
Of course, the typical symbols and traditions of Thanksgiving have their own vague history, which has become both assumed and contested. Those who observe the holiday maintain a baseline spirit of gratitude and pause to “give thanks.” But to whom?
Historically, this gratitude was expressed to God, to the Creator, the Lord of the Harvest, the one in whom we live and move and have our being. Establishing our national observance, Abraham Lincoln commended the nation to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
But in a secularized, naturalized world where we are at least officially agnostic about such a being, to whom shall we give thanks? Here’s where the liturgies of football on Thanksgiving provide an alternative.
Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/11/23/the-nfls-thanksgiving-games-are-a-spectacular-display-of-americas-god-and-country-obsession/?utm_term=.1baba686f7f6