Friday, March 03, 2006

My own personal religion

I'm not Catholic, although I was raised that way. But Lent offers me a time to think back on my days as a Catholic -- somewhat fondly, even -- and remember what I did like about practicing a religion.

For those of you not familiar, Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter, and it is traditionally a time of fasting. No meat on Fridays, days of fasting, and the requisite giving something up. In years past, I've given up soda, candy, chocolate. Something to make a personal sacrifice. Recently, I've read and heard a couple of interesting items about Lent, from La Lecturess and from NPR.

I like Father Martin's analysis that having some else choose your sacrifice is more in keeping with the spirit of Lent, since we don't get to choose the crosses we bear. I was intrigued by La Lecturess's battle with personal religious experience vs. public display in (and out of) the classroom.

But mostly what I like about Lent, which is just about the only part of Catholicism that I even remotely cling to, is that it is a time of both self-reflection and thinking beyond yourself. You struggle to make a sacrifice, and hopefully from that sacrifice you can channel that energy into helping others. I know people who give up their daily coffee and then take the money and give it to the poor. I like that idea a lot.

So what am I giving up for Lent? That's personal.

p.s. How much would I love to give up my dissertation for Lent???



Anonymous KR PDX said...

I gave up chocolate again--but I did that before Lent. Maybe forever this time, we'll see. (I was eating about 1 lb/week!)

As Your Friend the Catholic, I'll add a couple of cents--for us Christians, the sacrifice helps us unite (in a small! way) to the experience of Christ on the Cross. Humanistically, it helps us see where we are relying on emotional crutches (alcohol, caffeine, swearing, money, etc.) instead of accepting God's healing--rephrased for non-theists, "finding self-healing" or "accepting needed aid/love from others." Catholics have a third option, offering up our suffering for the Poor Souls in Purgatory :).

Glad to hear at least one humanist-type digs on the Lent thing ;). --K :).

10:42 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I read an interesting piece the other day (sent to me, btw, by a Jewish friend), which focused on the idea that in a recent survey 75% of Americans said that the well-known proverb "God helps those who help themselves" was from the Bible, when in fact it's Ben Franklin. The author pointed out that in fact not only is the sentiment not Biblical, it's *counter*-Biblical. If you read the Gospel, you know that God helps those who help others.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

PS, KR PDX...who might that be? LOL.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I'm not religious at all (agnostic lapsed Episcopalian), but I always liked Lent. I like testing my willpower.

I've given up chocolate (many times), ice cream (many times), Coke (a few times), alcohol (only once, although it was much easier than I'd anticipated) and fried foods (which was damn near impossible). The only times I don't give up something are when I'm pregnant 'cause I figure I'm already giving up enough as it is, and for more than 40 days.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Quinn said...

I thought it was great in the NPR story how the roommate made the guy give up oregano one year, which doesn't sound like much until you try it. No pizza, no marinara.

3:31 PM  

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