Praying for Gratitude

Among the many things I notice as I foray into the jungle of social media, that artificial jungle red in tooth and claw, is that nobody appears to be grateful for anything. Women look upon men as their oppressors, while men aim sour jokes at the faddish victim-pleading of women. You gain status by expressing disdain for your forebears and hatred of your nation’s ways. If you are a member of a church, you raise yourself a-tiptoe as you enter the Temple of Right Thinking, saying, “Lord, I thank thee that thou hast not made me like other men, such as this so-called Christian here. He tries to follow the laws of morality that you and your apostles preached, while I, in my great faith, break them all and encourage others to do the same, so great is my love for them.” No one will acknowledge a gift unless the acknowledgment is actually a barb for their opponents to swallow.

I am reminded of that sad and brave song in As You Like It, sung by one of the lords in exile who has followed his master the duke into the forest of Arden, where food and a dry covering for your head are not easy to find:

Blow, blow, thou winter wind;
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude.
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho, sing heigh-ho, unto the holly,
 Most friendship is feigning, most loving, mere folly;
Then sing heigh-ho, the holly,
 This life is most jolly.


Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (, on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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