Reflection by John Kane

November 26, 2016

Excerpt from a Thanksgiving and pre-Advent reflection by John Kane, emeritus professor of Religious Studies at Regis University, where he taught for 30 years. He has occasionally been a public voice in local media and for more than 20 years edited a newsletter/blog called Leaven, “an independent Catholic voice in the Rocky Mountain region,” and subsequently co-started Denver Catholic Network with the GCCM blog editor.  John Kane publishes occasionally in The Denver Post.

There is much admiration an act of kindness or an act of courage in the face of suffering — whether in a favorite photo, a particular verse, a special scene in a story or film, a tree out the window, a soaring hawk, the flowers of spring and leaves of autumn and the first white snows of winter.

Admiration is one of our most fundamental forms of love, and perhaps the most necessary. It leads us out of ourselves, out of the darkness of problems and preoccupations, into the light and goodness of our world. It forgets fear, at least for a time, and combats contempt. It is not romantic sentimentality, but good strong realism.

We all need nurturing streams and even rivers of admiration. We need our young to be baptized and continually cleansed by such waters, lest they drown in the tides of contempt, which so easily flood hearts and imaginations. We need our media to remind of how much there is to admire, even when they know that contempt sells much better. We need our religious leaders and politicians to remind us, and our artists to show us as well. Above all, we need to call ourselves away from the seductions of contempt back to the far more fundamental force of admiration.

Thanksgiving gives us all occasion for such gratitude, to refresh our spirits with the cleansing waters of admiration, whether we be Christians, Jews, Muslims, people of other faiths or of no faith at all.

Gratitude for Ali’s life and for the gift he gave in his funeral service — the gift of racial and interfaith respect, the gift of remembering and celebrating the good he embodied — remain with us despite rising tides of contempt. So does gratitude for many other admirations, if we but regularly call them to mind.