I recently attended a celebratory dinner with members of my extended family. Inevitably such gatherings include people with widely different philosophical religious beliefs. That’s just a fact of our democratic, pluralist and secular society today.
I know this particular gathering included people who would have described themselves as Christian, Catholic, ‘Born Again’ agnostic and atheist (me). And there were probably people present who would have answered to other labels. However, we all enjoyed ourselves and were able to communicate without problems. Specifically no-one imposed their own specific religious beliefs on the group as a whole.
This inclusive atmosphere was encouraged by the specific way we gave thanks for our meal. Instead of a Christian ‘grace’ which is sometimes imposed in such situations a non-religious form of thanks was given.
We expressed thanks for those who prepared and presented our food. And to the people who grew and transported the food.
Everybody seemed to think this was a great way of handling the situation. After all – why should we not thank these people.
The only group I would have added to list of people to thank are the scientists who through their efforts help us to produce this food.
Daniel Dennett provided another example of this approach when he gave thanks to those responsible for saving his life when he was hospitalised with heart problems (see Thank God or Thank Goodness?).