Friday, February 22, 2013

One fish, two fish, Pope fish, nope fish

It's that time of year again. Time to hear commercial after commercial about how every fast food restaurant is featuring their (sub-par) fish offerings, and finer restaurants advertise theirs as well. You guessed it... It's Lent. Can't you just hear Christians of various sects acting all smug because they gave up KitKat's for forty days and substitute other meats for fish on Fridays?

As a nonbeliever, I do not bother with the practice of 'fasting' for Lent. Yes pig out the day before, give something trivial up for a few weeks and don't forget to turn up the self righteousness when you go to Long John Silver's or Red Lobster for lunch and announce to your friends that you've decided to abstain from deep-fried Twinkies. Obviously, not all observers of Lent act this way, but I find it humorous when those that do, act like they are paragons of will-power and self control when Lent has been revised through the years to make it as easy as possible. Lets take a moment to look at how the practice of Lent has changed through the years...

•From 325CE:  Forty days of fasting, with only one late evening meal allowed. No meat, fish or animal derived foods allowed. Sunday's were feast days.

•800's CE: Evening meal allowed as early as 3pm.

•1400's CE: Evening meal  allowed as early as noon.

•Fish was eventually allowed.

•1966CE: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are now the only two 'fast' days. But no meat on Fridays.

As you can see, today's practitioners of Lent have it very easy indeed!

As for giving up things for Lent... I find the whole practice juvenile. I know the official purpose of Lent is a symbolic (dietary) sacrifice to echo the sacrifice said to be made by Jesus. But some pastors also say that that the purpose is to show self restraint and reduce dependance on 'things' so that they can further rely on God. Also, there is a turning from temptation, and realize that they are not as strong as they thought, thus showing their true need of God's guidance. And of course, there are those that think dropping their Tim Tam habit for a few weeks will simply impress God beyond belief. Silly, isn't it? Almost as silly as when I am now asked what I've given up for Lent, and I reply that I've given up religion!

While we are on the topic of Biblical dietary restraints, what about the prohibition placed on pork and shellfish?
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

-Leviticus 11:3

Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

-Leviticus 11:4


And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

-Leviticus 11:7
 Okay, so no bacon, ham, hot dogs, etc are allowed.
These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat.

-Leviticus 11:9

But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you.

-Leviticus 11:10
 So no shrimp, crab, lobster, crayfish, oysters, etc allowed either! How many Christians do you know that won't eat pork or shellfish. 

But take heart! You can eat crickets and grasshoppers next time you have a craving for a pulled pork sandwich.
There are, however, some winged insects you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. You may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.

-Leviticus 11:21-22
 How odd is it that many of the Christians that ignore these verses will be the first to quote this verse whenever homosexuality is brought up...
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

-Leviticus 20:13
 Yup, you saw that right. The go to verse about being gay is in the same book as the ignored verses about eating insects and not eating pork or shellfish. With such blatant cherry-picking of which verses serve their agenda over those that they don't personally care for, is it any surprise that some act like they just won the self control Olympics by not super-sizing their McDonald's for a few weeks? To this day, I see Lent as a silly tradition with it's credit put in all the wrong places. People giving up something bad for them, and then thanking God for will-power they had all along. Sadly, if they were doing it for themselves, rather than a deity they just might kick that smoking habit for good, instead of temporarily. Perhaps that is asking a bit much for this day and age. But I can hope that this tradition will one day go by the wayside in favor and true and meaningful self reflection.

-Brain Hulk

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for being one of the good ones. :)

      I had a math teacher once who was quite vocal about his Lent activities. He was big on Kit Kat bars, and announced to the class that he was giving them up for Lent. The start of class just about every other day hence was an update on how it was going. Some days you would have thought he was going through withdrawal by the way he'd go on about how tough it was to not have a Kit Kat. Then at the end, the way he bragged about it is something I can liken only to someone who just completed rehab. Day after day of that got very tiring indeed...