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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