Off Topic

Going back to my (Episcopal) roots with this one . . .

Lent has begun in earnest (does Lent ever begin in-earnestly?) and that means that the coffee and lunch table discussion among Catholics and Episcopalians (of whom I know a great deal) will turn to What I'm Giving Up For Lent.  Inevitably the focus will be on food.  With each Lenten conversation my mental list of these forbidden foods will grow: chocolate, cookies, cakes, sweets in general, candy, soda, chips, fried food, carbs . . . and I will stare at my friends, coworkers, and loved ones and silently wonder, "Savior or diet guru?"  Because I'm pretty darn sure that the point of Lenten forbearance is to practice meaningful self-sacrifice, to reflect on our weaknesses and our privilege, and work to live a more charitable and thoughtful life.  If we give up dessert, shouldn't it be to help us remember all those for whom dessert is not an option?  Not because pie is bad (in the interest of full disclosure - I just baked a pie).  The goal of any fast is spiritual renewal and a turning away from worldly things.  Does God want me to be a better, kinder, more patient and giving person?  Or does he want me to drop five pounds?  I'm betting on the former. 

True, self-sacrifice of even the smallest variety can teach us about discipline and self-control, and can help us to think outside ourselves for the moment.  The problem with giving up is that it only lasts for forty days.  Once Hallelujah is sung again, the fast is broken and, often, forgotten.  This is the problem with so much religious showmanship - the meaning and essence are watered down and washed away until it's just another motion you go through because you're supposed to.  There's no (pardon me) meat in it.

So this Lenten season I'm not Giving Up - I'm fixing up.  I'm going to really work on . . . wait for it . . . being less quick to judge.  This is so hard for me, so please bear with me.  Step 1: when someone tells me What They Are Giving Up for Lent, I will engage in actual meaningful dialogue instead of snarking in my head.  It's a start.

1 comment:

  1. Also, this is an official invitation to join my “Finding the ‘good’ parents in YA Lit” challenge and post your own list of books with “good” parents (in addition to the emailed message for symmetry’s sake).

    You can find all the information here: