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.