Busted Halo
feature: politics & culture
November 17th, 2006

The Grace Guide

A brief guide to understanding meal blessings this Thanksgiving

by and Joe Marchelewski
 
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In uncertain times, we are invariably drawn to absolute truths that help us make sense of the world. One such immutable verity is the ancient Thanksgiving Law: there can be NO turkey until we say grace. But in a pluralistic society such as ours how are we to know what is the appropriate expression of thanks?

What if you were actually charged with offering grace this year? When the moment of truth arrived would you stand there frozen while the host stares impatiently at you holding a carving knife and fork ready to be given the final dispensation to go ahead slice up the bird?

Fear not. After exhaustive research, BustedHalo offers these 7 tips for how to recognize and participate in the most common Thanksgiving blessings that will be uttered from turkey-lusting mouths all over this chunky nation on November 23.

The Name Dropper

“Dear Lord, Jehovah Jirah, Jesus God on High, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Messiah, Y’shua, Christ our King, Our Holy Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Master, Jesus of Nazareth, Emmanuel, Alpha and Omega…”

Take a seat and start passing the gravy, this guy isn’t finishing any time soon.

A common variation on The Name Dropper is The Misnomer (better known in the 1970s as “The Norm Crosby” and later referred to as “The Cliff Claven” in the late 80s). This imposter is always just slightly off with his recollection of God’s names and could benefit from a Sunday school crash course:

“Jesus we thank You, Oh Lord, Master and Commander, Scorpion King, Master of the Universe, King of England, Jew of Jews, we honor You…”

Neo-Trad

“Dear Jesus, thou art so great and we worship thine greatness in thy glory.”

Response: “Thou art a doofus. We beg thee to sit down and shut thine mouth.”

The Red Flag (aka A Cry For Help)

“Lord, we ask for your blessing over this food, over our family and over the Lions today as they struggle to beat the %$!@ spread.”

Alpha Male

Recognizable for its quasi-political/military bent. Typical language might include:

“Lord, we pray that you would cast down our enemies all over the world and let America emerge triumphant.”

There are alternative versions of course, but if the term “vanquish” is used at any point during grace, there should be no doubt that the Alpha Male form is being employed.

The Obsessive Compulsive

Difficult to distinguish at first…it is best characterized by its excessive length and enormous detail. Symptoms to look for when trying to recognize the
O.C. Grace:

  • How many brand-name cleaning products have been mentioned in the course of the prayer?
  • Is the Johnson & Johnson Company thanked at any time?
  • Has the “Specific Blessings We Thank You For Over The Past 12 Months” litany reached the ten-minute mark and the reciter is only up to the first week of last January?

The Passive Aggressive’s Prayer

(aka Airing the Dirty Laundry)
Thanking the Lord that your son “finally dumped that skank of a girlfriend,” would be an archetypal example of this prayer. Other notable versions include “The Guilt Trip” “Please Lord, enable those among us to understand that the mountain of dishes left in the meal’s wake won’t wash themselves.”

Classic Rock (aka the “Hello Cleveland” Grace)

“Father, we know that You are amazing and eternal, and we are just dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.”

Surprising as it may seem, people all across this rock n roll nation will be quoting lines to songs thinking it’s the Bible this Thanksgiving. Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” (see above) is an all-too-common example but there are other noteworthy cases. If you find yourself at a Thanksgiving meal where songs by Lynrd Skynrd, Night Ranger or .38 Special are being quoted, the polite response is to sing along with your hosts and say amen.

Keep an eye out for an 80s variations to this prayer that involves Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” or The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.”

Of course the classic rock grace is a fairly loose form and is open to multiple interpretations depending on region and personal taste. I swear I once caught my uncle quoting Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler” for a good 30 seconds before he finished.

 
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The Author : Bill McGarvey
Bill McGarvey is co-author of Busted Halo’s Freshman Survival Guide. Bill was editor-in-chief of Busted Halo for six year. In addition to having written extensively on the topics of culture and faith for NPR, Commonweal, America, The Tablet (in London), Factual (Spain), Time Out New York, and Book magazine, McGarvey is a singer/songwriter whose music has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Billboard and Performing Songwriter. You can follow him at his website billmcgarvey.com or on Facebook.com/billmcgarvey
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