Monday, March 26, 2012

Rule-lawyering Lent

So, I got to the bottom of my Lent issue. It turns out that the reason the "40 days and 40 nights" runs for more than six weeks is that Sundays aren't included. Apparently, these are always considered celebratory days in the Christian calendar, and so cannot be included in Lent. Which has both an upside and a downside. On the one hand, it means that Lent does not finish on the 6th of April (as previously believed), but rather at dawn on the 8th. On the other, this presumably means that the prohibitions associated with Lent don't apply on Sundays - I could have been drinking Irn Bru all along.

And therein lies my issue with the whole notion of Lent, at least as it is currently practiced. Or, perhaps rather, at least as it is currently practiced by me.

I've given up Irn Bru for Lent. It's really hard. Except... I've adapted by drinking Sprite instead. And Pepsi. And Coke. And many other drinks in the "sugar-water" genre. Some sacrifice!

Plus, of course, there isn't any nutritional value in these drinks at all. Giving them up shouldn't be any sacrifice - it's a pure gain. In effect, the 'sacrifice' of giving them up amounts to stopping slapping yourself in the face on a daily basis - it's good for you.

Besides, here in the West we live in absurd luxury, at least comparitively speaking. The sacrifice of giving up Irn Bru is absurdly trivial, especially when you consider that a single can has a higher calorific content than a great many people get in an entire day.

I think there is some small benefit in simply maintaining the discipline over the six weeks. And there's some small benefit in the symbolism, especially if it makes you more conscious of your comparitive wealth. Finally, there's a very significant benefit if this gives rise to a genuine lifestyle change - a six week break from some bad habit could potentially be enough to break it permanently.

But, considered purely as a sacrifice? No, it's trivial.

Anyway, I'm now pondering the notion of an "Extreme Lent" for next year (or, as people who actually observed it would call it: Lent). To whit, for the period from Ash Wednesday through to dawn on Easter Sunday, giving up:
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Butter (and margarines)
  • Bacon
  • Chocolate
  • Irn Bru, Coca Cola, and all other drinks in the 'sugar water' genre
  • Sugar
  • Chips (well, real chips, anyway. Oven chips would be fine)
  • Cheese
  • Cakes

And whatever else I've forgotten.

Basically, my philosophy (as always) amounts to: do it properly, or don't do it at all.

That sounds like a challenge...


Lady Chocolat said...

No chocolate?! That's it, I'm not marrying you :P

Kezzie said...

A good idea! Yes, we've often talked about this at church! This year, I have given up buying clothes because I really really felt it was a habit I needed to break, I was buying far too much, being really materialistic. We also take up things such as fasting once a day, a regular prayer meeting, slot, giving the money you would have spent to some charity, but yes, totally agree!