North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

Lenten Reflection

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Artwork by Juanita Y. Kaufman Posted by Hello

Lent is not the most popular Christian season, but it affects all of us differently. As someone who generally seeks out quiet and reflective time, I think I get away lighter than some.

I make a point of doing without something that I enjoy, not because it is easy, but because I understand and appreciate the value of it. I actually think this is more important now than it was an medieval times because today we are constantly told through advertising that “we deserve it” and through politics that “we have a right to X, Y and Z.” Deny it we may, but this is kind of thinking is pervasive.

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Christianity is a necessary counterweight to the democratic capitalist world we live in; it reigns in their excesses by reminding us that there is more to the world than merely more. The ancients hated democracy, thinking it doomed to be a mob voting its’ interest today. Democracy as we have known it needs voters capable of looking at more than present self interest. And capitalism unchecked is more than happy to destroy tomorrow’s workers and inventors for a dollar today. A healthy and long living capitalism needs to see beyond this quarter’s bottom line, to see that it arose, and it stands on, the shoulders of healthy families.

I think it should be obvious that someone who can only say “yes” is living like a slave. Power comes from having the strength to say no. Lent is an aid and an encouragement to self control and self control is basic for anyone who wishes to be a giving person. You can’t give what you do not have.

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This is only my second Lent. Last year I gave up coffee and I plan to do so again this year. Coffee seems to me to be a good starting point. It is not so big that I am doomed to fail, it will give me some extra cash to donate when Lent is over. Coffee is a daily ritual in this house, so doing without it allows me to confront myself a few times each day.

I have also decided to increase my weekly tithing during these fourty days. I chose this for many reasons. This has been a challenging year for us money wise. We are a family in which even smaller purchases have to be weighed carefully. We’re young, we both work, and the demands on our income are large as we try to get this household established. Learning to say no to the frivolous or the merely nice, and yes to the meaningful, is a terrific skill.

I also appreciate the work that is done through the church. I want to see children get better religious and moral education, and I want modern culture to have a just and able critic. We all need one of those. Christianity is about voluntary giving and rights talk is about demanding. It’s not hard to see where too much demanding will take us. It would make wage and tax slaves of us all.

I like a challenge. I can can put up with the shrouded church and the missing alleluia’s. My waist can do with smaller portions and my resolution can always use a workout. Although I will miss the things that will be put aside I know that they will be even richer when they return in a few weeks.

That first coffee at Easter will be marvelous, as will the crashing, rousing alleluia that lies ahead. The shocking truth is that absence makes the sweet sweeter, and you’ll never hear that good advice from a politician or a vendor.

Mark Shea has a few words about Lent here. When is the blog coming back?


Written by Curt

February 7, 2005 at 11:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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