Theology Thursday: Lent

I figure, if we can have Selfie Saturday, ManCrush Monday, Selfie Sunday, Taco Tuesday, Selfie ANYday, WomanCrush Wednesday…why not Theology Thursday? I can’t guarantee that this will be a consistently weekly series, but I can guarantee that it will happen today.

Disclaimer: As I clearly state in a blog that I haven’t written yet, but would like to, I believe that the internet is one of the worst — if not THE worst — place to discuss theology, religion, politics, or pretty much anything that you don’t want to degenerate into hate-speech, ignorance, and racial slurs. So as a general rule, I disagree with what I’m about to do. But general rules were made to be generally broken. Like everything on this blog, I present the following as an OPINION based on my personal experiences (and as with all my blog posts I don’t usually go very far out of my way to research anything, so expect inaccuracies), and if you feel the need to address anything I say, please do so respectfully and briefly, and know that if you want to have an actual discourse about any topic, I’d be happy to do so with you someplace where it’s actually appropriate for that sort of thing (for example: a coffee shop or a park or anywhere that’s not the internet).

Now let’s see if we can proceed as intelligent, well-reasoned, adults who don’t feel the need to speak in hyperbolic absolutes for no reason.

Lent is the dumbest thing ever and should be banished to Canada along with everything else that doesn’t make sense (milk…IN A BAG??? Nickelback?? The following exchange: “I’m from Canada” “Oh, so you’re Canadian.” “No, I’m FRENCH Canadian” …????).

Okay so that was a bit of an overstatement, I don’t really think Lent is that dumb, nor do I have any problem with it at a core level.

Oh also, for those who don’t know:

Lent: The period of 40 weekdays that in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence. —Google

It says the Christian Church, but I’m pretty sure this reference includes the Catholic Church and their subsidiaries as well.

The quote states that Lent is for fasting (giving something up, usually food), abstinence (in this instance abstinence doesn’t strictly refer to sexual activity, though it certainly could include that sort of thing, as any hardcore Josh Harnett fan would know), and penitence (that’s the thing from the end of third Indiana Jones movie right?).

And what people generally seem to interpret that as, is: give up soda (or candy or swearing or social media or R-rated movies or whatever) from Ash Wednesday to Easter and just continue life as usual outside of that. Oh sure, maybe you’ll belabor to your friends HOW DIFFICULT it is to not have chocolate during the Valentine’s Day weekend, or maybe once or twice you’ll sneak a Mountain Dew anyway because honestly it’s not that big of a deal, it’s the thought that counts and God should be happy that I mostly gave up one sort-of essential-ish thing for most of 40 days and man when this Lent thing is over on Easter Sunday I’m gonna go HAM on some chocolate bunnies!

You’re doing it wrong.

Second disclaimer: Some of this is gonna come off as self-righteous, or know-it-all-y, and for that I apologize. Most of that is just my own flawed personality and writing/living style coming through, and you shouldn’t hold any of my inherent douchiness against God/religion/Christianity. I’m working on it.

My intent here isn’t to bag on those of you participating in Lent by giving something up. My purpose is merely to have you examine (or maybe reexamine) the why behind your participation. The purpose of Lent (by my interpretation) is to take something that is essential or very actively present in your everyday life, and remove it — not so you can “suffer” without it and feel like a real martyr for your cause, but so that every time you would normally have or think about what you gave up, you would instead replace that object or activity with God. The idea being that removing something so vital to your everyday life, mixed with your already-present faith, will give you an added, laser-like focus on your relationship with God.

I have no doubt that many of you already interpret and are participating in Lent this way, for which I applaud your efforts. And again, I can’t overstate enough that this is my explication of the purpose of Lent, meant to be a challenge to the active Christians out there, not a condemnation of people who aren’t doing things the way I think they should. But it’s easy for people to use Lent as a sort of second New Years Resolution, where they grudgingly give something up just to say they tried, then immediately fall back into the habit once an acceptable amount of time has passed. And just like my stance on New Years Resolutions, if you need to give something up or make a lifestyle change, don’t wait for an excuse to do it, just do it (man, that would make a great shoe slogan). However, if you’re going to participate in fasting or abstinence specifically for Lent, make it worth your time. Go all in, as the poker players say, and use that season as a tool to fortify your relationship with God. In the bible, Revelation 3:15 & 3:16 (man what is it with quotable 3:16s in the bible?) says “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” If you want to half-assedly try a new diet, do it on your own time, don’t drag a lukewarm Christianity in as an excuse. Because like any gift given out of obligation versus one given from a true love of the recipient, you’re missing out on the true joy that is intended to accompany the act of giving.

In closing, know that I am praying for you — regardless of your religious affiliation or your Lenten participation — that you would feel the warmth of God’s active and present love in your life during this, and all, seasons. God bless.

Play on,
Dustin

Like to see me stumble my way through some rudimentary theology mashed up with my own thoughts and experiences? Try this blog I wrote on for size.

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