Do you like laughter? I love it. Personally, I need not look any further than at the way many modern Catholics practice Lent. Of all the great Christian traditions, from slaughtering non-believers to fingering children, this is probably my favorite. I’m not attacking religion here. Not really. I’m not exactly defending it either. Quite simply – as a fascinated observer of people and the endless ways in which they astound and disappoint, watching people celebrate Lent is up there with This Is Spinal Tap in terms of how many times I can see it and still laugh. It’s like a lavish fruit basket of base hypocrisy.
Jesus rides from the desert victorious, thus creating Lent.
For those of you who aren’t big into fantasy novels, The Bible says that Jesus spent forty days in the desert, alone, battling Satan’s temptation. He then emerged donning an immaculate white cloak and rode to Helm’s Deep with the Riders of Rohan to defeat a large army of Orcs. Lent is meant to symbolize this period of fasting. So, in keeping with that, participating Christians head to the desert to fend for themselves.
Oh shit, wait. No. That’s not what happens at all. My train of thought was following something that kind of makes sense. I apologize. No, the idea is, for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, people abstain from something OF THEIR OWN CHOOSING. Common examples include junk food, television, critical thinking, and self-reflection. What’s better is that many “Catholics” don’t even do this. No, their contribution to this period of sacrifice is simply to abstain from eating meat – [long, dreadful pause] – on Fridays.
What I typically eat on a Friday during Lent.
So to recap:
I. Jesus spends 40 days in the hot, dry desert, battling rattlesnakes and Satan and drinking his own piss to stay alive. He succeeds. He goes onto die on a cross “for the good of all of mankind”.
II. To commemorate this, believers either:
A. Give up a luxury of their choosing for the duration of Lent(40 days).
B. Give up meat on Fridays for the duration of Lent(5 Fridays, I think).
If there is, in fact, a heaven and Jesus is watching the mortals of Planet Earth, there’s a pretty good chance he’s looking down at these petty sacrifices and saying, “Wait…they’re serious?”
For Lent, Candee(above) gave up Doritos.
Many seem to approach Lent like it’s one of those too-good-to-be-true debt consolidation programs: “Is your debt larger than the GNP of Africa??? Give us a few grand and we’ll leave you alone!” Only here it’s, “Are you vain, selfish, and terrible? Is your vagina a yawning chasm of sin? How would you like to get into Heaven anyway???” There’s a distinct joy in watching conveniently religious folks make accommodations concerning their faith, so they can appear religious while altering their lives as little as possible. Watching them make half-assed attempts at penance for a few weeks each year is like watching Tyra Banks cry. I’m not sure what the relevance is there. I simply hate her. Some of these people are just perpetuating what their families have done for generations without the self-awareness to ask — Why? Others, you get the sense that they truly believe their abstaining from meat for a few Fridays will offset the myriad shitty and “sinful” things they do on a day-to-day basis. If their religion has it right, they’re all going to burn with the rest of us.