Lent started today, I’m told. So what is Lent, exactly?
Lent in the Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Lent is a time of sacrifice for Jesus. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Trading in your sugary goods for sweet Mexican bread in return is an honored tradition during the time of Lent.
According to the Canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan. Thus, Lent is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently.
But what interest do I, a non-believer, have in this holiday? As an atheist, shouldn’t I be snickering at the silly superstitions of the spiritual, and chasing the nirvana of self-importance by reading the latest from Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens?
Hardly. Militant atheists – i.e. sophomores who just read the God Delusion and can’t stop telling the rapidly dwindling pool of people who’ll listen how clever they are – are among the most annoying people on Earth. More importantly, having an annual tradition of picking a habit and giving it up for forty days is a good idea for anyone, regardless of their thoughts on the origin of the Universe and the eventual fate of their soul.
The holiday actually started this morning, but I only learned this at work today, so my Lent is going to be a day late. Depending on when you read this, it doesn’t matter if your Lent starts two or (blasphemy!) three days past Ash Wednesday, unless you’re actually a Christian. But in that case, you probably already knew it was Lent. Either way, here’s my brainstorming list of potential vices to give up:
1 – Sex
2 – Masturbation
3 – Alcohol
4 – Coffee
5 – TV/Movies
6 – Reading Blogs
7 – The Internet
8 – Sleeping In
And some potential good habits to temporarily acquire:
9 – Volunteering at a charity
10 – 20m of yoga first thing every morning
11 – Taking a class in something new and random
12 – Reading a meaty book for a half-hour per night
So many ideas. What’s an ambitious pseudo-Christian to do?
I’ll tell you what:
I WILL DO THEM ALL!!!
OK, not really. I’m getting laid tonight, drunk tomorrow, and in all likelihood having a big cup of coffee first thing in the morning. If I do any charity, it’ll be by accident. But my one true Lent promise that I will commit to is this:
I will be awake and out of bed at 7:00am, six days a week for the next 40 days.
Fuck off tomorrow morning, feel free to not ever arrive. Then again, maybe I will come to love the blissful quiet of the early morning air. I guess we’ll see.