08 February 2005

I give up

Today is Fat Tuesday and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of Lent.

(Warning: Snotty opinions from the Moral High Ground lie ahead.)

Let's get this part out of the way right at the beginning: Lent is not 40 days anymore. It's 47. But wait, I hear you say, isn't Lent the observance of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert? Why is Lent 47 days? Are you sure?

Of course, I'm sure. Pull out your calendars and count the days between tomorrow and Easter.

Aha! (you say) Jesus's time in the desert ended with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, observed on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Thus 40 days. Well, that may have been good enough for Jesus, but try finding a Lent Give-Uper who thinks that Palm Sunday is the day when we are released from our Lenten vow. Nope, the chocolate or desserts or what-have-you are gone until Easter Sunday.

Hmmmmm, (you think), but aren't Sundays exempt from Lent? Isn't every Sunday (as I was once told) Easter in miniature and therefore wouldn't it be inappropriate to observe one's Lenten vow on Sundays? One could certainly make an argument for that although I don't remember being taught in Sunday school that Jesus took weekends off. How much moral character does it take to give up doughnuts Monday through Saturday? For most casual dieters that just business as usual.

So - for me anyway, the morally lax crowd can make any decision they want - Lent is 47 days.

Along with several other childhood habits, I observe Lent by giving something up. The question every year is what? What to give up? In different years I've given up bread, chocolate, tea, and meat. I gave up tea several years running until Mollie flatly forbade me to do it again. She claimed that I was challenging to live with when I couldn't have any tea. (Which is ridiculous. I am never anything less than a joy to be around. Ask anyone.) Being Meat-Free for Lent works pretty well, but I did that for several years as well. I followed Gordon's rule of not eating anything that had a face.

I like to give things up that are an inconvenience for me, are a discreet thing, and from which I don't derive a benefit. So giving up dessert, for instance, wouldn't work because I'd derive the benefit of fewer calories and dessert is too easy to slide into the "snack" category. This? This isn't dessert. Dinner was hours ago. This is a snack.

Hmmmmm. What to give up? Suggestions cheerfully accepted, although not necessarily acted upon.


Casey Jones said...

You COULD give up coffee. I'm giving it some thought, myself. No more coffee... I wouldn't last the week. The week we're already in the middle of. My head would implode.

Anonymous said...

Lotsa options: I've known folks to give up a favorite TV show (and no, it doesn't count if you tape it to watch later), videogames, or a favorite reading passion. Also heard of folks giving up spending on a given thing and donating that money to charity come Easter.

Anonymous said...

You could give up sleep (though that might be detrimental), or qwerts (though that would have to be post-lental). You could give up being your stunning wonderful self (but that is actually a hardship on others) or white pizza. You could give up calling on Jeff Gannon ("thanks Jeff") at presidental news conferences (opps! Too late), but I would reccomend seeing if you can give up quoting Gilbert for 47 days....

Brett said...


Anonymous said...

Well, since Leta's currently in rehearsal for a show that doesn't go up until after Easter, this wouldn't be as much of a sacrifice as it could be. But still, I think Leta's as likely to give up breathing as auditions.