Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I'm fairly ignorant of the world's religions, and I confess that when Sarah (friend/teacher/awesome possum person) told me she was giving up soda for Lent last year, I didn't really know what she was talking about. I got the explanation in a round about way, through a story about some guy who said that he needed to go on a diet so he was going to participate in Lent, and he didn't actually believe in God. Sarah, being a very religious person, was of course extremely offended, so I gathered that that was NOT the way to partake of Lent.
When she mentioned it again for this year's event, I thought, is Lent a verb? Can I Lent?
"So do you want to go to the movies?"
"I can't, I'm Lenting."
"Nope, Lenting here, thanks anyway."
So all of this extremely pious and deep thinking brought me to the grand idea that I might participate in Lent. I say "might" because I'm still wondering if I could possibly give up anything significant for 40 days. For example, I could easily give up commerical watching for 40 days (see previous post). I could also give up grading for 40 days. I guess that is significant, but it still wouldn't be hard. I guarantee that my students would love the idea and immediately resolve to participate in lent next year. I could give up... carrots, probably.
Sarah's giving up soda. I could definitely do that. Of course, that would be after I drink the Ting that I just got from Cailin and Iz.
Well, I do think that Lent is a good idea. Not just for the sake of giving up something, but the religious aspect of it almost makes me feel guilty for not even considering it before. It's not an LDS practice, but I can see how this could be an appealing thing to any type of religious person. Remembering God in place of a more prominent habit of your life is exactly what we should be doing, every day, even if it's not usually just a one piece specific thing that we're giving up. One thing shouldn't be too hard, right?
There's the added benefit of quitting something that is probably not very good for your personal physical and/or spiritual health. I certainly don't want to experience Sarah's wrath for doing it only for that reason, however. If I do pick something that I should probably be doing anyway, am I doing it for the wrong reasons? Or am I not wanting to commit to it because I really don't want to give up ice cream for forty days?
All of this Lent-ing thinking is kind of exhausting, and still confusing.
I'm thinking that I am giving up "obvious treats"-- meaning, I can still eat granola in the morning, and fruits, but ice cream, chocolate, cookies-- that stuff is out. If I gave up one kind of treat, it would be too easy, because I'm good at substituting.
The pudding in the fridge is calling to me. Since when did pudding have any pull at all? Since when did I start rationalizing whether pudding counted as a "treat"? I previously considered it a healthy substitute to my cravings.
It's also making me wish I had partaken more in Fat Tuesday, because now it's Wednesday, and I'm Lenting.


Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

Your rant is Hilary Clinton? we need to talk!

Lent was huge with my family (catholic family). Don't give up all your treats I think you should just pick one.

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

Oh yeah most importantly I hope you sinned a lot the 4 days before lent to make up for what you're giving up. If you were in Brazil you could've paraded naked with glitter all over your body during carnaval.

Smiths said...

I remember finding out some catholic friends in high school were doing lent. I was suprised to hear about what it was and that they were participating because it was the first time they showed any sign of active worship. Looking back they were probably "lenting" for the diet factor or the parents making them factor rather than for any spiritual gain. Good for you giving up treats. I've been threatening to do that for months now.

sienna said...

i threaten to give up treats a lot too. Tony likes to have them around because he has self-control. But I don't. Lately, I have been thinking, what about everything but dark chocolate.

Unknown said...

You can't just give up something you don't really want or shouldn't be having anyway! You have to give up that's okay to have and that you really want. Otherwise, you're not "lenting" properly. :)

Mariko said...

Who says it's not okay to have treats?! It's totally okay to have treats, at least that's my belief. I really don't have anything else that would even be difficult to give up. And who wants things that are "good" for you anyway? Should I give up exercising? Does that count?

Bekah said...

So here's the difference between Catholics and Mormons, to paint in broad brushstrokes. Mormons are monists (all commandments are spiritual, spirit is just more refined matter, etc). They believe that what is good for you spiritually is good for you physically as well and vice versa, thus the word of wisdom, affirmation of married life, exercise. Cathocism, on the other hand, believes in the spirit/matter dualism, which, some might say, was inherited from neo-platonism, especially in the Nicean creed. Anyway, this means asceticism, self mortification, celibacy as the spiritual ideal. At least it's consistent, as opposed to those who are mired somewhere in between, or have beliefs more like Mormons but without a theological rationale to back it up. Anyway, so of course a Mormon lent would entail giving up stuff that is actually bad for you as well, but why for only 40 days? But also, Mormonism's focus is more about cultivating good habits than getting rid of bad ones. Being a good person, rather than avoiding sin. But, Mormons have plenty of health problems, and holidays and festivals in traditionally Protestant countries are way less riotous than in traditionally catholic. Super bowl versus Carnival? Anyway, I think we can claim that anything good comes from God, so I am always interested in how other spiritual traditions can expand my perspective or deepen faith. Jesse

Mariko said...

Believe me, I've already wrestled with the 40 day thing-- I realized already that stopping at 40 days is kind of a cheap way to get out of a good habit (remembering God in a physically demanding way), but at the same time, I'm not one of those people that believe that you can get MORE blessings from fasting for the whole entire day, including the nights, making it a 36 hour run. At the same time, there's a minimum to do. You can't fast for the 2 hours in between meals and expect it to be spiritually fulfilling. Anyway, I figure, 40 days is a good excuse to start, and we'll see how well my willpower can withstand it. Not that I'm going to give up on it, but you know, I don't really think that God wants us to give up treats forever.

Mariko said...

with regards to Jesse's(bekah's) comment. one time I said something almost as high browed as your comment at a family dinner and michah(jill's husband)responded by saying "ok we get it, your smart. Shut up already!" he meant it as a joke/rebuke and we all laughed...but I did shut up. (take what you want from this anecdote.)At any rate I think that there are aspects os mormon theology that are similar to monism, but if you think about it we have a sort of spirit body duality/ everything is one substance hybrid because in this life our bodies are imperfect and seperate from our spirits and the perfect unity of spirit and body wont come till later. this has all kinds of ontological and theological implications. Also did the saducee vs farasee argument over spirit body duality as aposed to materialism predate the neoplatonists? Furthermore I think that a lot of lent is a pastiche of a pagan holiday isn't it? you did say that you were using "broad brushstrokes" though so I guess it's cool. if you are displeesed by this comment just think about all the spelling errors and blow it off.