Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Don't Get Lent

I just don't get it. For forty days, believers attempt to do without something (that probably shouldn't be a part of their lives anyway) as a demonstration of their devotion to Christ in the season leading up to Easter Sunday.

Here's one explanation I found:

Several years ago I followed a fast through the forty days of Lent and found that it changed my view of Easter, and that it changed me. Fasting and meditating on my weaknesses helped me grasp the intense significance of the crucifixion, and gave me a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, which then became joy on Easter Sunday. I was helped on this journey by materials from churches more Eastern and more traditional than my own.

I practiced Lent once. I gave up evening dinner. Everyone says that it's the most superfluous meal of the day, so I gave it up for Lent. And then I had a big BBQ bash on Easter Sunday evening where I invited friends over & we celebrated my freedom to eat evening dinner again. It felt like more of a dare to me, though. I was daring myself about whether or not I could go through with it. And I didn't meditate so much on my "weakness longing for resurrection liberation;" it was more about my ability to go without food at the time of day I most often ate my largest meal.

I think I've always kinda liked New Year's Resolutions better. You focus on your entire life, what's good & what's bad, and you make an attempt to improve yourself. And a year later you look back to see how far you've come. And you do it again & again, perpetually bearing fruit and becoming a better person.

Maybe there are some Lent practitioners who could enlighten me. It just doesn't resonate with me like making resolutions does. So perhaps someone could sell me on it...


Dan said...

When I was young, I used to try to give up school for Lent. Then my parents reminded me that even though we lived in a predominantly Catholic area, we don't do Lent in our church, and go to school!

But, I think getting something out of Lent is in large degree your own mindset about it. If you go into it as a time of penance, to identify with Christ, then it can be meaningful, and not just a personal challenge or discipline. But I agree with you in the end, Philip, in that it is more meaningful to make a lasting change than a temporary one.

Mark said...

I always find lent in my belly button, no matter what kind of shirt I'm wearing....oh...wait...

Yeah, I'm with Dan. I think I'm going to try giving up Vitamin E this year for Lent, and we'll see how that goes.

Sara Blouin Taylor said...

I was actually planning to practice Lent this year, kind of as a short-term boost into a long-term change. I'm considering giving up the internet (minus my online courses) and possibly television, so I can spend that time making a life for myself and really getting into gear with spiritual study and meditation.

Don't hate.

III said...

Good for you. Let me know how it goes.

See you in April ;)

Sara Blouin Taylor said...

I already talked to you about this, but figured I'd put it here too for conversation's sake, now that I know what you were looking for.

Setting a very specific amount of time for a "resolution" works better for me than making a lifetime resolution. Last year I gave up television for about 30 days, and at the end of that I realized, hey, this isn't too bad, and kept going for another few weeks.

When I make New Year's resolutions, I tend to either forget them or keep putting them off until tomorrow.

I suppose different things work for different people.

Jonathan Storment said...

I think there is something powerful about giving something up, just to have control over your desires. But the more powerful thing to me about Lent is doing it with other people. Having a group of people who are learning how to die to what they want as a community, that's pretty cool to me.