Skip to main content

Thanksgiving Paradigm Shift

Thanksgiving Day and paradigm shifts.

I got to thinking about the connection between the two when I read the following sentence:

“Do you realize that OK looks like a little stick figure man, sideways?”

At first I didn’t know what the writer was talking about; I’d never seen OK as a sideways stick figure before. But sure enough, if you stare at it long enough and think, “sideways stick figure,” something in your brain shifts and bam, all of a sudden the stick figure appears.

Except of course it doesn’t appear…it’s always been there. It’s just that my brain, in 48 years, had never seen it that way before. And now each time I see OK I see a little stick figure man on his side.

That’s called a paradigm shift.

The term “paradigm shift” has suffered from overuse, but it’s an important concept with solid roots: I remember hearing it for the first time in a philosophy class in college, when we were studying Thomas Kuhn, who coined the term.

Kuhn’s argument was that advances in science are not evolutionary, but rather are a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions." During those revolutions -- think Copernicus, Galileo, germ theory, quantum physics -- "one conceptual world view is replaced by another."

A paradigm shift, in other words, is a change from one way of thinking to another.

We don’t see things “as they are,” Kuhn argued -- there is no such thing, even in the supposedly “objective” world of science and math, as “the way things are.” There is only the way things are, the way we see them, as we are.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving, and another paradigm shift. It’s one I had while taking a long hike on the Appalachian Trail one day, when -- I swear -- I heard God almost audibly say, out of the blue (I wasn’t praying at the time, just hiking!) the following:

“John: I’ve already given you everything you need for your happiness.”

Wow.

Paradigm shift.

God has already given me everything I need for my happiness?!? There’s nothing more, nothing else, nothing yet-to-come that will make me happy…or happier? It’s all, already here?

Like I said, I wasn’t praying at the time. I just heard that still, small voice of God say those words, and it literally stopped me.

I stopped hiking, and just stood there, letting the message echo off the insides of my head and seep down into my heart. (My dog Mariah, unlike Balaam’s donkey, did not seem to hear God’s voice, and so was surprised, and a little irritated, that we were stopping for no apparent reason.)

God has already given me everything I need for my happiness?!? There’s nothing more, nothing else, nothing yet-to-come that will make me happy…or happier? It’s all, already here?


It’s a paradigm shift, where one conceptual world view -- that happiness awaits me, that happiness will come with the accomplishment of X, or Y, or Z, or when I finally ________________(fill in the blank)… is replaced by another conceptual world view, which is “God has already given me everything I need for my happiness…it’s all already, right here.”

So…try it, just try it, this Thanksgiving weekend, adopting that as your mantra, as your world view:

God has already given me everything I need for my happiness. There’s nothing more, nothing else, nothing yet-to-come that will make me happy…or happier. It’s all, already, here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Irresponsible to be Silent

A sermon preached June 19, 2016 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…

Let's Unpack One Trump Tweet on Refugees

No one can  -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.

No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.

But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal. 

Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this: 



“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” 

Let's unpack: 

"What is our country coming to..." 
Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…

The Beatitudes, Lady Liberty, and Refugees

A sermon preached January 29, 2017
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…