I have a forthcoming post about what I made, ate and proposed everlasting love to on Fat Tuesday (steak and potatoes, but better!) So it feels odd to start talking about Lent before the last hurrah before Lent, but chronology is out of my hands at this moment.
Lent is mostly a time when Cradle Catholics and non-Catholics alike make a declaration to “give something up for Lent.” This is sort of keeping within the spirit of the season, but I think there’s always one fatal flaw people make that causes them to miss the point entirely. The idea of Lent is not to take something you like and stop doing it for 40 days, the point is to take something you like BUT! that you feel you over-indulge in, and give it up for 40 days, WITH! the understanding that you intend to moderate or separate yourself from that indulgence from then on out.
Maybe you want to give up Coke for Lent because you drink 10 a day. Great! But the point is not to prove come Eastertide that you *could* do without, but to come to the hopeful realization that you can live happily without it for a substantial period of time, and thereafter put the indulgence into check. If your plan is to slam three 2 liters the moment Lent ends, then you’ve done nothing. The indulgence is what Fat Tuesday is for.
I’ve moved away from the “give one thing up” tradition and taken to a much older tradition of merely cutting back on all indulgences. I am not going to deprive myself of chocolate or meat or ice cream during this season, I’m just going to make myself more aware (hopefully) of what I am doing when I eat, speak, enjoy, fuck and such. To me, the Muslims keep it legit with Ramadan, Ramadan is closer to my ideal for Lent than most of what goes for Lent. Another way of looking at it, is I am putting my hedonism under scrutiny. Hedonism sounds nicer than penance, but done to excess both can be a loss of control.