Angst Giving

“Angst Giving”

From the first grade I was taught the traditional story of Thanksgiving, and shown the beautiful pictures of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. From the first teaching I was taught that my white heritage was supreme, that God blessed us. We were destined to create a great nation of prosperity. We had Manifest Destiny We continue that myth, and in so doing we insulate ourselves from the reality of life, the reality of the pain has been a continuous infliction upon minorities, the disenfranchised, the undocumented immigrant, the homeless. We have inflicted that pain.  The myth is when we have money and power we are blessed, praised. Our social media is full of that myth, we are being hit up for sales—at least those of us who are privileged to have money. All of our society is centered on the status quo, from psychological counseling to our worship in our churches. It is pressed in our brains to the point we can see no other way.   We ignore the vast poverty and pain on our streets. We insulate ourselves, and in so doing we lose our humanity.

Mark Van Steenwyk calls us to view Thanksgiving from a different reality, and in so doing open our hearts to compassion for all. He calls us to allow the Spirit of Jesus, the One who was poor, and oppressed, and who walked with those who were the  “anawim”, the poorest of the poor to come into our lives, and open us up to a way of living that has integrity. Rather than observe Thanksgiving let us practice “Angst giving”:

“Instead of holding Thanksgiving as a day of thanks for ill-gotten abundance, perhaps we should hold it as a day where we see our society without illusions–a day where we look into the naked face of Empire, lament the sins of this nation, and then honestly thank God for those things that are truly blessings from God.

In the New Testament, blessing is rarely tied to material wealth. In fact, it is quite the opposite; it is the poor who are called blessed. 

Nor is gratitude tied to material possessions. We are told to be grateful and joyful because of things like persecution in the name of Christ or our shared liberation or the generosity of others. Yet, we’ve let our own assumptions about blessings spill into our spiritual lives and, because of this, we thank God for all the stuff we have (regardless of how we got it) as we actively try to avoid those situations and conditions under which the New Testament authors would actually call us blessed.

And so, this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to practice Angst giving. Not as an expression of ingratitude. Rather, give thanks to God for those things that are blessings. And repent and lament those things that flow from injustice.”

”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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