Ash Wednesday 2004

Mardi Gras is over and now that Lent begins it is time to repent for all the crass, vulgar, indulgent and legion other sinful things that I have done since last Lent. I wonder if forty days is long enough. More than the long stretch of Ordinary Time during the summer, more even than Advent and, masochistic as it sounds, I like Lent. It is a time for sackcloth and ashes, recognizing mortality and attempts to whittle away at imperfection. Since I tend to spend most of the year in a state similar to this, Lent is a natural favorite. So, I am supposed to sacrifice something for the forty days and I am supposed to strive to improve something. This is supposed to make me a better person, and what it boils down to is discipline. If I have the grit to hold on to what I am working on and the gumption to deny myself some sort of pleasure then I should end up stronger. [possibly more annoying to people, but that is there problem].

This Lent I am giving up sweetmeats, candies, pastries [not muffins though] and most importantly, chocolate. If I want something sweet, fruit will do. I am going to improve my patience [especially while driving], which has been in relative short supply since my time in NYC] and to admit when I am wrong, or ignorant on some topic. [this will be hard because I never know what I am talking about].

So I’m walking around today with a smudge mark on my head. Someone told me I look like I’ve been punched. I’m also fasting. No meat. I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and will have macaroni and cheese for dinner. I might put some tuna and some veggies into the macaroni as well. Even though Fish on Fridays [and Ash Wednesday] was initially started to feed poor fishermen, I feel that it is useful still. Now it is another sacrifice that is a reminder of the sacrifice that Lent culminates in.

Many of the people bitching about The Passion of the Christ, which opens today, complain that it is violent or anti-​Semitic or historically inaccurate or blah blah blah. Well, it is supposed to be violent, it is about the arrest, torture and crucifixion of a person. As for anti-​Semitism, there might be subtleties that I am unaware of [not having seen the film] but people who complain that it makes the Jews seem responsible for killing Jesus are fools. Jews and Romans or Romans and Jews if you don’t like the order of the billing, were there. The type of people that killed Jesus isn’t the point, that people killed Jesus is the point. The fact that it opens on Ash Wednesday, when the Church enters a time of repentence and recognition of mortality [Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return] is no coincidence. Humans suffer and die. Jesus, a human, suffered and died. Other humans did this to him. I was taught that Jesus went through the torture and indignity and crucifixion willingly, for humanity. I really have no desire to see The Passion of the Christ, I have not seen any Mel Gibson interviews [since I don’t have cable] but I think the point of his film is to make us aware just how much was sacrificed. I don’t talk about religion often because it makes me sounds like a fanatic instead of just a lunatic. If you are still with me I am surprised.

13 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday 2004

  1. I think the issue with the “Passion of the Christ” movie is that it brings up some latent anti-​Semitism in certain believers in Christianity, whether it means to or not (and having never even seen a preview for it, I wouldn’t’ judge). Quick preface, as I don’t think you know: I’m a ex-​catholic atheist, who has read the bible (as an atheist, not as a catholic). The idea that I’ve heard is that, in short terms: “The Jews killed Christ. Jews bad, Christ good”, which, in my opinion, is complete rubbish, considering that well…Jesus was not a Christian (that would be kind of pompous, don’t you think? 😉 And by his maternal line being Jewish, he was a Jew himself. Add that to the fact that the crucifixion of Christ exists as one of the “great” moments in Christian history. After all, it was through his death that Christians were supposed to achieve forgiveness and salvation. Slap in that, in fact, the Romans killed Christ, then I don’t see what the deal is. I mean, it doesn’t seem to be what you believe, many people in the town I grew up in did though (well, they also ran the few black families who moved into town out..but anyways..), so it’s a subject I tend to spout about.

    I always thought the smudge mark was kind of icky. Our church used too much oil.

  2. i’m with ya Patrick.

    and it sounds like you grew up in the same kind of town I did. Fundamentalists used to hand me brochures telling me that I was going to hell because I was Catholic. I had quite the collection. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have them any longer.

  3. I’ll probably see the movie, mostly so I can speak about the subject intellgently. I don’t think it is right to criticize something you haven’t seen. Some tidbits that are causing some of the stir:
    Mel Gibson is Catholic, but not Roman Catholic. The church to which his father (and he, I think) belongs no longer recognizes the papacy. This came about before the second Vatican council. This splinter catholic group believes that the second Vatican was a conspiracy between the Jews and the Masons to take control of the church, so I guess that is where the Anti-​semite cries are coming from.

    I am distrubed by the fact that people talk about taking their kids to see this. This coming from families that won’t let their kids see PG-​13 movies until the kid is over 13. They also complain about violence in movies. Some of the groups protesting this movie support the showing of other violent movies. So you have the Christian Conservative groups for taking the family to see an admitedly violent movie and you have some very liberal groups crying foul. Next thing you know I’ll get hit upside the head by a flying pig.

  4. i suppose that i should add that i intend to keep my improvements [if successful] even after Lent is over.

    i’m gonna go back to eating toothrotting stuff though. yeah, boy.

  5. that is hardcore. i try not to worry about life after death and all that. it is hard enough making sure i am living well right-​here-​right-​now.

    i’m sure Catholic fasting was like that back in the day, but now since everything is about ‘feeling good’ about religion things have changed.

    the reminder that came with the ashes this morning was feel-​good too. Nothing in your face like ‘Remember you are dust…’ Instead it was something like ‘Repent and rejoice in the Lord.’

    Yeah. what does THAT mean?

  6. I guess it means that God is no longer wrathy? Did Jesus take away the smite button? If so can I have it? I have a long list of people who could use a bit of smiting(?).

  7. Ooo, I could really use a smite button right now. Though I do agree with jmay though, that people shouldn’t take children to this movie. From what I have heard, it is extremely gruesome, which perhaps it should be in order to show the suffering that took place, but I would be very concerned about the Fundamentalist parents bringing young children who will probably not really appreciate what is going on historically and see the movie more concerned with gore than the message. I suppose I will just have to wait and see the film, however, before I make a final judgement call.

  8. Where did you grow up? Judging by the comment on fundamentalists, and the anti rebel flag bumper stickers you mentioned on Lauren’s blog, I’d say you have to be from the South. There was one Catholic church in all of Durham that I knew of, and it was about as common a denomination as Mormons and 7th Day Adventists. Tons of Baptists tho.

  9. We have a President proposing a nationwide ban on homosexual marriages (which thankfully will never see the light of day) and a bunch of other people complaining of anti-​semitism where none exists. Boy, am I proud to be associated with a country full of these dumbasses.

  10. Funny story about religion and atoning for sins. During Yom Kippur, you atone for your sins and ensure that you are written into the book of life for the following year. When you fast you’re not even supposed to have water. When my mom was little, she was terrified that if she swallowed a little water when she brushed her teeth that she would have failed and would not be written in the book of life.

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