Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sound Off 02-26-09

Is giving stuff up for Lent a Catholic thing? I'm not sure. When I was in middle school, I once gave up TV for Lent. It was a long 40 days when you couldn't watch the "Dukes of Hazzard". Greater love hath no man...

What, if anything, are you doing or giving up for Lent? If nothing, have you ever done or given up something in the past?

18 comments:

  1. though I have never done Lent, I have done seasonal food deprivations. On Yom Kippur I did not eat, on Tish-b'av I did not eat, on tzam gadaliyah I did not eat. similarly, during the eight days of Pesakh I did not eat chametz (leavened products).

    I always found it odd that the Torah placed such steep punishments on eating chametz during Pesakh (Passover). Eating will result in being "cut off" from Israel ('god's people'). Silly how biblical theists can't even agree on what chametz is. in the messianic movement, christians abstain abstain from the wrong foods while they eat chametz all eight days. shows how pathetic their sola scriptura systems are.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pfft. I couldn't even manage to abstain from meat on Fridays.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ah, the real reason why you gave up religion--you selfish, twice begotten reprobate following after the curse of Esau, forsaking the truth of God for a meat pot on Friday. I can see that you are a like a cloud without rain, a vexation of the spirit, a blasphemer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cloud Without Rain was my Native American name :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unfortunately, I have given up male enhancement for Lent.

    ReplyDelete
  6. that's what I thought, man I am good

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hesitate to jump into this conversation . . .

    :-D

    I never did anything for Lent. However, our congregation had one routine day of fasting once a week.

    Fasting was more than just not eating. You couldn't drink any fluids, no TV, no sexual activity (that assumed you were married, BTW), no idle conversations-- especially on the phone.

    Exceptions were made for people on medications like high blood pressure pills, insulin, and the like.

    Yep, we all did that every Monday.

    Well, some cheated. If you went to school or worked with a church member, you'd see them sometimes eating on Mondays. You could feel the awkwardness, regardless of whether you were the one caught, or the one catching someone else at cheating on their fast.

    Sometimes you catch each other cheating!

    Then, there would be the fasts that would last for 16 hours out of the day-- but the fast was to be practiced each day over one -- and sometimes -- two weeks.

    So, from late afternoon until midnight, you could "break your fast" and eat, have water, and take advantage of your extenze capsules.

    Once midnight came, the fasting period started-- back to the regimen again until later that afternoon. Every day. One, maybe two weeks. It usually depended on when the pastor felt God wanted us to end the fast.

    And sometimes, a little voice in your head would tell you to fast when no one else around you is fasting.

    I admit, there were times I felt like I was on a spiritual high and didn't want to ever end my fast. I felt like food was a temptation of the devil and would only weight me down spiritually.

    Then, there were days when a droplet of water looked soooooooooooo good. My lips were so dry. Just one little sip.

    God won't mind . . .

    ReplyDelete
  8. Uruk,

    What do you think motivates connections between diet and deity? I mean, why do people feel a need to abstain from certain foods for the sake of God, etc.?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm not giving anything up for Lent and I've never given anything up for Lent. I have fasted for religious reasons as well as for medical testing.

    The intention of religious fasting is that all the time that would be spent getting, preparing and consuming food would instead be spent in the presence of God through prayer, worship, or meditation on the Word. The heightened sense of awareness obtained through hunger serves as a reminder of the purpose of the fast. The goal is to replace the feeding of the needs of physical hunger with the feeding of one’s spiritual hunger by the means of intimacy with God.

    It is common to hear reports from people fasting that their mind is sharpened and focused after a period of fasting. This is because the cleansing process of fasting actually gets rid of cementing and intrusive particles of the nerve tissues. As a result a greater number of our brain cells come into contact with purified blood and the improved flow of blood to the brain helps to clarify the mind. Either that or its all in their heads.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Script:

    What do I think motivates the connection of diet and deity?

    I'm not sure why there is a connection. But, if I had to make a guess I'd say it was for several reasons depending on the religious group.

    I think a lot of tribal societies may have dietary habits linked to their worship because they felt their deity was directly responsible for provision of their foods. Some societies even felt the planting, growing, harvesting, and replanting was a cycle of death and rebirth that mirrored the nature of their deity's existence.

    And an animal that was the staple in a society's diet usually was personified as a deity. Sacred rituals were usually developed in connection to that animal as a result. The deities gave the animals to the people to be hunted. The people in return, were respectful to the herds and the envionment and payed homage to the deities that resembled their hunted food.

    Then, there is the potential for certain "foods" to have hallucinogenic influences. And in the case of the absences of food, you have what Zee mentioned-- a sense of heightened awareness. Though, there were some times I felt downtrodden and really drained. But, I must agree, you can get a big high out of fasting.

    I think with Jews particularly, dietary restrictions started out with separating themselves from the cultures around them. Archaeological finds show that the first distinguishing markers of the early Hebrews when compared to the surrounding Canaanites was the layout of their settlements and the absence of pig bones from their camps. This dietary restriction may have generalized to produce more food laws which further distinguish them from the surrounding cultures.

    As far as abstaining from food goes, I think that act represents depriving your will and your sinful nature to allow God to have more control. You give up the very substance that sustains you from day to day and trust that god's supernatural powers will sustain you. You are surrendering. You are taking a step closer to the spiritual and temporarily detaching yourself from the "earthly".

    In Christianity, we see Jesus fast for 40 days and then deny Satan's temptation to turn stone into bread. Jesus also says that certain levels of spiritual growth and power (like casting out demons, for instance) only come by fasting and prayer.

    I think that's the reason why the congregation I attended would fast so often. We wanted to grow to a place where we could command over demonic spirits and pray to see miracles happen at our words-- though God's power, of course. So, fasting was a requirement.

    We even had a saying around the church:

    If you don't pray, you can't stay. If you don't fast, you won't last.

    The Apostolic Faith is very stingy with the concept of grace. You can fail God to the point of total spiritual ruin. You can lose your salvation. You can still be genuinely filled with the Holy Ghost, washed in Jesus' blood, yet still end up in hell. You might even be trying to live a holy life, but maybe you forgot to do something God required.

    That's another reason why you needed to fast. Fasting gave you practice in being obedient. If you'd give up food, water, sex, and TV -- what won't you give up at God's command-- or the preacher's command?

    I've heard some say that if people are deprived enough of food, they lose a little of their edge when it comes to clear thinking. While I admit that fasting seems to sharpen the mind, prolonged fasting for long stretches could do the opposite. I have no proof, but I've heard that cults often push lots of fasting on their members. This keeps their mental faculties just a little bit more dull.

    That last idea might just be total hogwash, though. As compared to my other ideas, that are only partially hogwash.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Uruk,

    I really like you sharing this. I don't think it is possible to universalize the psychological connections between deity and diet as there seem to be so many different reasons and/or mythologies. Paul's imperatives about abstinence from idol meat relates to not impelling a brother to stumble (I Cor 8). The book of Revelation's Jesus' reasons for abstaining from idol meat is that the practice is offensive to God (Rev 2 & 3). The Jerusalem Council's rationale is not given for the same restriction other than the general universality of Torah reading/teaching (Acts 15). So, even within the Bible there are different psychologies of diet restriction.

    I used to believe that the absence of the miraculous in my life was due to not "fasting enough." I found, though, that fasting made no difference toward the frequency of miraculous happenings. Miracles simply did not happen even when I begged and pleaded in "Jesus name," etc. I discovered, though, that I might be God because when I prayed, I was the only one listening. Hence, if God hears prayers and I could hear my own prayers, then I found that God must be an object of the mind.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gee Script, I didn't even think about all that other stuff you mentioned.

    And yes, the miraculous was often expected after a fast. Either that or you were honing your sense of obedience for a period of time where God might test your spiritual development.

    The miraculous seemed to be reported a lot after fasts. New jobs, unexpected money in the mail, new cars because of unexpected acceptance of credit applications, good grades on term papers and final exams . . .

    And a whole lot of praise, worship, "shouting", running, jumping, dancing, and tongue speaking.

    > I discovered, though, that I might be God because when I prayed, I was the only one listening. Hence, if God hears prayers and I could hear my own prayers, then I found that God must be an object of the mind.

    Your unanswered prayers caused you to become an atheist? Just like that?

    I couldn't make a leap like that. But, I suspect my interpretation of what you said isn't quite right.

    Either way, that is interesting. I always believed that if God didn't "answer" your prayer, he had his reasons; He was not obligated to answer them in any way other than he saw fit.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey Uruk,

    I am on the way out the door to pick up Philo. I was making a reference to the "death of God" theology in my last statement. It was a bit of my stale humor and does not represent how I felt (being God). It was in retrospect, after having come to enough faith-lethal conclusions, that I realized that my prayers had never been answered as I offered them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Script:

    Naw, man, you humor isn't stale.

    Every quip or joke needs context.

    I just didn't grasp the context, that's all.

    I get it, now.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Gave up caffeine for Lent one year. I learned an important lesson: caffeine is in EVERYTHING.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lion said: "Gave up caffeine for Lent one year. I learned an important lesson: caffeine is in EVERYTHING."

    Caffeine?? I could never do that; I could easier give up my right hand for lent. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. >Gave up caffeine for Lent one year.

    Wow!

    I couldn't do it. Just take me out back and shoot me.

    I'd need an intervention from family and friends. Then, I'd have to be locked away in a detox clinic for the caffeinated.

    ReplyDelete