Yup... It's that time again... time for the Lenten Season, which begins on Wednesday.

I am what I would consider a moderately religious person. I am a church-goin' guy. I send my children to the private school affiliated with my Church (and do so at a tremendous expense), I have faith, and believe in the existence of good & evil, God & Satan, and live my life doing more "good" than "bad".

Yet, I do not blindly follow what I believe to be "decisions made by man" on arbitrary issues. For example. I doubt (and who knows.. I could be wrong) but I doubt I will spend any time in Gehenna or Purgatory for not fasting 60 minutes before mass. The church has MANY rules like this... Some I choose to follow, others I follow a bit more "selectively".

Now, here is where I become a confusing, contradictory (and perhaps hypocritical) mess of a man. While some of these "arbitrary" rules I follow "selectively", others I embrace. After much reflection on this over the years, the only thing I can seem to associate this to is a fondness for traditions. Yes, much like Teyve from Fiddler on the Roof, I choose to cling to some of the traditions of my church, even when I have a hard time finding significant merit in why they are in place. I can not find any real consistency to how or why I choose which rules I embrace as tradition, and which ones I dismiss as arbitrary. That would be the confusing, contradictory, and perhaps hypocritical aspect of this whole conundrum.

Lent is one of these examples. Among my Church's Lenten requirements are fasting from meat on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent, and we are also asked to partake in the practice of asceticism (a self imposted constraint from certain pleasures - i.e. Giving up something you enjoy). I do not believe that I (or anyone else) will be barbequed in the fires of hell for eating meat on Fridays in Lent. Nor will I be forever damned for not "giving up" something for Lent. Yet... each and every year, I do follow the traditions of my faith, and abstain from the consumption of meat on Fridays in Lent. I also participate in a form of asceticism.

When I was younger (as a child) our family would talk about what we were giving up for Lent, and (for the most part) by the end of Lent I would have a hard time remembering what it was that I gave up. As a teen, and then into my young adult years - I continued the Friday Fast, but had pretty much dropped the asceticism from my Lenten ritual.

Many years ago, (I think as an example to #1 of 5) I decided to reintroduce asceticism to my life, and gave up something I would have a hard time giving up. I gave up Soda pop. Yup, may not seem like much to many people... But (and Mother of Five will testify to this) I am addicted to Soda. I have tried many times in my life to limit my consumption to only 1 "serving" (be it can, bottle, glass, or whatever) a day.. but that constraint only lasts so long, and I am back up to two or three. Oh, I know.. the stuff is horrible for me, and each year I give soda up - I drop between five and ten pounds, but yet the call of the glorious cold, wet, sparkling (carbonated) beverage, and it's associated qualities of "caffeinization" is just too great - and I am back to my 2-3 "servings" a day... There are days that the only thing I drink is Soda. No water, no milk, just soda. Yes... It's sad. (bowing my head in shame).

It is never easy. The first week or so each year is VERY hard. It is almost constantly in my thoughts. Then, it slowly gets a little better. I replace soda with fruit juice, and ice tea, lemon-aid, and sometimes I even "push the envelope" and have a SoBe Lizz Blizz. As the years have progressed I have continued the tradition. Last year I added another "guilty pleasure" to my list of sacrifices. Fast Food. Yup. It's another one of those things. This comes more from convenience (and lack of planning) than from an "addiction". It's just too darn easy to not pack a lunch, and either run out and grab a "number two", or just go without eating at work - knowing I can hit the drive through on my way home and grab a little somethin'-somethin' that will hold me over until dinner. It's a horrible habit, and another unhealthy and shameful activity. (again bowing my head (even further) in shame).

So, once again, as we approach the beginning of the Lenten Season, (even though we are taught from Matthew 6:16-18)

"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

I pledge my continued ascetic practice of giving up soda pop and fast food this Lenten season. To make sure I am not a complete hypocrite - you will not hear me lament on and on about this. This is my one and only post in regards to this year's Lenten asceticism.

The original purpose of this blog is to archive some of my thoughts and feelings for my children, so that one day, when they are old enough to understand, they may comprehend why their father was the way he was (odd, weird, contradictory, etc), what was important to him, and why...

That is the purpose behind this post - and I sure hope I don't have any extra time in purgatory for doing so! (wink)


  1. Being a Pentecostal has it's merits. As a reward for sitting through marathon-length sermons on Sunday morning, then again on Sunday night, and then again on Wednesday night, I'm not forced to give up anything for any great lenght of time (except for all the things I'm giving up while I'm sitting there in church all that...HEY WAITAMINUTE!)

    Anyway...it must be the "Day of the church/temple blog" cuz everyone is doing it...myself included.

    I think they should start a Website called, "True Religion Confessions." I think there's a lot of folks that feel about religion like you/we do.

  2. Yes, yes, yes...

    It was one of the funniest lines I've ever seen in a movie, but in Trading Places, when Coleman the butler (dressed as an Irish Catholic Priest) said...

    "Religion is a good thing I say, taken in moderation"

    The funny thing about humor is it has to have some truth in it to make it funny!

    (shrugging shoulders)

    Oh well... I'll still be in Church on Sunday!


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