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The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston

The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston is senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.

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Dr. Scott Black Johnston: Thanksgiving (in Reverse)

November 24, 2010

 A couple of years ago, The Journal of Personal Social Psychology described an interesting study at UVA.

In it, college students wrote essays in which they were asked to "mentally subtract" a positive event or person from their lives.  The exercise was intended to stimulate the "George Bailey effect"-recalling the classic Frank Capra film, It's a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart-that fine Presbyterian) experiences a world in which he never existed.

"Imagine your life," the students were challenged, "without a major blessing.  What would it be like?"

The responses that came back surprised the researchers with their power and poignancy, as students imagined life without certain friends or mentors, without parents or partners.  Most of them also remarked that the exercise made them want to rush out and say "Thank you" to these people!

The whole thing has made me think...

What would life be like without the sweet blessings that have steadied us, shaped us, empowered us, and comforted us?  It is not the most joyous thing to imagine, but it's a good thing; especially if, like those Virginia students, it makes us want to hop on the phone and call people... saying, "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you."

I thank God for all of you, good readers, and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

[Taken with permission from "Sharp About Your Prayers," the blog of the Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston. Originally posted Nov. 23, 2010]


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