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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,050
November 24, 2020
Thankful for Thanksgiving
By Mike McManus

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for so many things.

First, I have been blessed with my wife, Harriet, for over 55 years. And we were delighted to have three sons, who married wonderful women, each of whom had three splendid grandchildren. All are a joy and a treasure to us.

Second, I have been blessed with a rewarding career of writing. I first wrote for the Duke (University) Chronicle and then three local newspapers before joining TIME as a correspondent, one of a hundred people covering the events of the world. I was a foreign correspondent for TIME in Argentina and then worked in the Washington bureau, reporting on domestic policy.

Nearly 50 years ago, I began writing and self-syndicating a newspaper column I called "The Northern Perspective." My goal each week was to suggest a solution for the troubled economies of the old industrial states. It was published by 60 papers at its peak. Then I heard a sermon which prompted me to start this column, which I call "Ethics & Religion." At its peak, it was published by 120 newspapers.

Editors at Zondervan Publishing House read Ethics & Religion in the Grand Rapids Press. A number of those columns suggested ways to help couples prepare for a lifelong marriage, enrich existing ones and save those in crisis. Zondervan suggested that I write a book, reporting upon those answers with enough detail that both pastors and couples could do a better job.

Delighted with that opportunity, I stopped writing The Northern Perspective to have time to write the book which became Marriage Savers: Helping Your Friends and Family Avoid Divorce. It was published in 1993.

I am especially thankful that the book prompted church leaders in many cities to invite my wife and me to help them create what we called "Community Marriage Policies." Over a two day period, we trained "Mentor Couples" in about 10,000 churches in 230 cities to:

  1. Prepare couples for a lifelong marriage,
  2. Revitalize existing marriages,
  3. Restore those in crisis,
  4. Help separated couples to rebuild their marriages and
  5. Enable couples in stepfamilies to be successful.

The Institute for Research & Evaluation studied our work in the first 114 cities and concluded that Community Marriage Policies cut divorce rates across a city or county by 17.5% - enough to save about 100,000 marriages from divorce. That was in 2006. With 14 more years in those cities and twice as many communities added in recent years, probably 200,000 marriages have been saved from divorce.

I've continued to write Ethics & Religion for nearly 40 years. However, 2,000 newspapers have closed and my number of subscribers has fallen. However, I'm thankful for the opportunity to try to make a difference each week.

This Thanksgiving, I'm also thankful for the election of Joe Biden as our next President. He has been a solid, experienced political leader for four decades, both as a U.S. Senator and Vice President under Obama.

I'm also thankful that President Trump has finally allowed an orderly transition to President-Elect Joe Biden.

Finally, I am thankful to live in America which offers opportunities to every man and woman to achieve their maximum potential as a citizen. No other country offers such a wide range of opportunities to live and serve others.

Consider Barack Obama whose father abandoned him as a boy, but who rose to become a U.S. Senator and the first black President of the United States. I have been reading his new autobiography, A Promised Land. He notes the irony that the founding documents of America "could simultaneously proclaim all men equal and yet count a slave as three-fifths of a person."

He wrote that his book is for young people - "an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination and a big dose of imagination, an America that finally aligns with all that is best in us."

I am blessed to live in a nation which has offered me so many opportunities as a writer to put a spotlight on people and organizations who are making a difference.

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.


Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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