Posts Tagged ‘lent’

Because leaving is the answer to the Lenten riddle

March 15, 2015

This year has been an odd Lenten journey.  With an early Easter and the snowiest winter in Boston history, I know the grey piles of snow will abound on Easter morning when for (I think) the first time in my life, I will not be attending an Easter service.  I’m not sure if I’ll return to the church (that being said, I know I will go with a few people on specific occasions) as a member.  A few reasons, if only to clear my own mind:

  • You asked for membership dues. No, I am not kidding.  I pledged.  My pledge is my offering to the church for the operating budged.  The membership dues should be a fixed line item on the budget.  I understand the need for campaign funds, grant challenge funds; I gave to those as well.
  • I need ritual. Yes, this is a “free” church tradition but free-church does not mean the absence of ritual.  The extended dance version of the passing of the peace is not the only ritual.  Our liturgies are full of rituals.
  • Ok, look, I get gender inclusive language is a thing in the church right now. But like changing the national anthem, the changing of the words of The Lord’s Prayer ranks among one of the “traditions” that will make me scream internally or on social media.  Maybe I just have an advanced degree in feminist thought, but as a lesbian, I am not oppressed by the prayer.  Just don’t ask my Greek professor to relate my translation (it was pretty funny).  There is something sacred and holy about saying the words that your great-great-great grandparents said in worship.
  • I watched you embrace people into your church: you know, the young, married couples with/without kids, the couples, those under 30. I understand that churches (in general) see these as “growth” opportunities.  But I am still me:  I’m not sorry I come without a child, some days I wish I had a partner.
  • Every year, I checked the boxes saying where I was interested in serving in the church. Every year, I’d read about the nominating committee having a hard time finding people to fill positions (often ones I’d learn at the annual meeting, I’d expressed an interest in).  I was never asked to participate.  The one time I did participate, I was not re-appointed.  No reason given.  No feedback.
  • The extended dance version passing of the peace is the singular most hellacious experience I forced myself to endure for over 150 weeks. It is not introvert friendly.  It is not visitor friendly.
  • I have been to church twice maybe in the past six months. The minister called, we set up a time to talk.  The minister cancelled.  We rescheduled.  This went on for a few times.  I gave up: none of the reasons for cancellation were for pastoral or personal emergency.  It might be unfair on my part, but I felt like I was not valued.

I still think you are nice people.  I also think you are a clique.  It is sad.  I had hopes for you.  But as an introvert, you’ve left me with a few scars.  I use a lot of energy to attend church (probably due to number 6 above) and what I’ve found in this year’s Lenten journey is that my faith was not nurtured by your organization.

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About this carbon fast. . . .

March 14, 2011

So, I’ve been receiving tips on how to reduce individual carbon foot print. Ok, WHO is writing these things?  Today’s tip:

“Notice what food you throw away this week. See if you can reduce it by a third.  Eat leftovers and shop more carefully using a list and planning your meals.  The amount of food thrown away by an average household adds the equivalent CO2 emissions of 1-5 cars.”

(Granted, it wasn’t as bad as telling people to take out a light bulb to save electricity because uh, in a multi-light bulb system, you are still discharging electricity – but that’s a different tangent…)

Back to food, how about some of these tips:

1)      Buy as much produce/meat that is locally sourced. Less distance between the origin of the food and where it is sold? Less of a carbon footprint created.

2)     Buy organic. Not only is it healthy for you the creation and dispersal of pesticides, additives are consumers of natural resources.

3)     Take your lunch to work in re-usable containers. Not only do you use your leftovers, you decrease the amount of waste (containers) that are non-recyclable.

Yes, I understand the carbon fast tips are for people who may not be familiar with how to reduce, recycle, reuse.  However, let’s face it: if somebody has signed up for a carbon fast, let’s bring it up a notch.  Let’s use it to create sustainable changes both in the environmental and economic arenas.

Carbon fast

March 9, 2011

As I blogged about yesterday, there are a group of people engaging in a carbon fast.  Aiming at reducing the amount of resources consumed through intentional use of products, hopefully this can create lasting sustainable habits.  Granted many of those participating are already aware of environmental issues, the carbon fast is a first step in the right direction on raising awareness of how small steps can bring about changes.

As I went through simple steps I could do to be more intentional about consumption, I realized the answer of “but I recycle” is not enough.  There are simple steps that everybody can choose to participate in that can simply reduce the colossal amount of waste generated in our country.

The “average” American generates 1600 POUNDS of trash per year.  There are some given items in a household (using mine for example, used cat liter) that cannot be changed.  There are others that by simple changes can be eliminated:

1) Use cloth napkins, dish towels.

2) Eliminate using one use plastic containers and other over-packaged products.

3) Bring your bags to the grocery store, box stores and other places.

4) Donate stained t-shirts, towels that you might otherwise toss to animal shelters. Many use them in the kennels of puppies and kittens (make sure they are clean!)

5) Freecycle, recycle and donate.

Reduction of our use of plastic based products is can help curb out overdependence on oil.  The two main natural resources in plastic? Petroleum and natural gas. 

Elimination of plastic is probably not realistic (just fill up a prescription!) but awareness of where we can use glass and other products can go a long way in reducing our carbon footprint.

Fat Tuesday and a few more thoughts on Lent

March 8, 2011

Yes, many protestant traditions have a stronger historical tie to Lent (namely the Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopalian) based on their respective separations from the Roman Catholic church.  Fat Tuesday, the “last” day before Lent for me, has always been some what of an oddity: Hi, gorge yourself before “giving” up something most people will resume.  Like many Christian traditions, Fat Tuesday has origins in older Pagan traditions.  As the Holy Roman Empire conquered/required the adaptation of Christianity, one could say it was done in a maverick way: keep the celebrations, change the name.  An early faster gave up butter, milk, eggs and retained fish as the source of proteins.

As Lent has become more and more common place, there seems to be an emphasis on “giving something up”.  The idea (simplistically) is to replicate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert facing temptation and the idea to understand the sacrifice of the crucifixion. I might have a simplistic view but giving up refined sugar, alcohol, chocolate, tv do not come close to mimicking the sacrifice of death for another (if you choose to believe that narrative).  I can give up chocolate: don’t buy it.  I can give up television: don’t turn it on.  All of those material items come back.  Death is forever.

Part of my disappointment in the adoption of Lent in many Protestant traditions over the past 15 or so years is the lack of acknowledgement of the basic differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.  Look at the crosses in a Roman Catholic Church: Jesus is on the cross, a visible reminder of the suffering.  Look at the cross in Protestant Church: an empty cross, a visible reminder of the Resurrection.  The Protestant tradition is grounded in the belief of a risen Christ.  The Christology of the Cross and Lent demonstrate the disconnect and dangers of co-opting traditions without an understanding of the historical context in which the tradition was developed.

As a sometimes Protestant, sometimes agnostic, I dabble in adapting first order personal changes during Lent.  40 days is enough time to create a habit that works towards a beter society.  This year, the UCC has created a daily program called Carbon Fasting looking at reducing carbon emissions during the season.  It looks interesting, I am going to try it because it will force me to change some consumeristic habits.  Shopping local is another area I am going to strive at working towards.

For me, Lent cannot be about simply giving up an item: to me, this smacks of self-rightous acts of denial.  My Lenten traditions have to focus on creating a better space in the world. Somehow, I don’t think giving up beer or brownies qualfiies.

Musings before Lent

March 6, 2011

I’ve been somewhat bemused over the past few years about the number of Protestants who are adopting Lenten practices. I remember a time when Lent was one of the hard Catholic/Protestant divides.  Most of the people I know give up items along the lines of sugar, beer, meat.  Quite frankly, I’ve never gotten those resolutions: how many people on Easter go back to what they have “given up”.

Lent is a man-made construct in the Christian tradition: the word Lent does not appear in The Bible.  Early Lenten traditions appear similar to Ramadan (one meal a day, in the evening).  While the construct is to mimic the 40 days Jesus spent facing temptation in the desert and demonstrating that as mortals, believers can do the same. I’m not sold on this as being a something that actually falls in line with the more moderate-liberal Christian teachings. Is somebody “more” virtuous because they can not go to the movies for 40 days? or skip eating chocolate?

If the purpose of Lent is to affirm and re-affirm the underlying principles of faith in the Christian tradition, wouldn’t it make more sense to do something working towards a better world, a better self or reconciliation of faith versus showing abstinence towards something an individual enjoys.

If I were to take the time to dedicate to working 40 days to making a first order change in either my personal life OR my community, isn’t that the true meaning and purpose of the faith on which Lent is grounded?