Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Give it Up for Lent OR My Religious Rant
Facebook, soda, sugar, bad words, yelling, etc., etc. So many things I've heard this week about what people are going to "give up" for Lent.
My oldest son and I have had a few (short) conversations on the subject. His take is that there is no point. He calls it all Malarky (yep, he's making good, clean fun of our Vice President, Joe Biden, with that one). My take is that you have to take it with a grain of salt. To me, the point of giving up something for Lent is about a reminder of what Jesus gave up for us - his life. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that we should be able to sacrifice a bit. Temporarily, of course.
I know I'm going to catch some hell (you're welcome) for this one, but Religion is a business. It is a business, my friends. And any organization as large as Christianity, for example, must have set rules, leaders, boundaries, a mission statement... all of these things in order to keep it (hopefully) running smoothly. In this case, the book of rules is, apparently, the Bible. This is good. Except that every religion sort of "picks and chooses" which parts of the Bible they should follow, listen to, take seriously.
I, for one, don't believe that no one of the Jewish faith can go to heaven because they haven't accepted Jesus as their Lord. Come on, now, people! Jesus was a Jew! He went to heaven! Heck, he's seated at the Father's right hand, is he not? So, God in all His infinite wisdom is not going to say, "Hmmm... you're Jewish? Out ya go!"
I have a very strong faith. I really do. And I don't feel that my faith needs to be constrained by rules that some very old, uninformed men place upon me. Heck, these same men are the ones who still insist on calling all its followers "Men." Ummm, I'm no English major (oh, wait, YES I AM!) and maybe these guys didn't get the memo, but "Men" means MALE. As in... pees standing up. "Men" does NOT encompass all people. "People" encompasses all people. "Men and Women" would also be acceptable.
But I digress.
This never really bothered me until I had my daughter. As parents, we sort of say "mess with me all you want, but if you even so much as lift an eyebrow at my kid..." So, as I stood next to my mom in church all those years, I was mortified each time she'd speak the word "She" loudly, as the congregation was saying "He." And replacing (out loud, mind you) the word "men" with "people." Why does it matter, I thought? It never really bothered me. Except that now, in church, I refuse to say "men" - not because I don't like them. I do. I mean, I really do (ask my friends). More than that, I happen to be raising two of them, who, in my humble opinion are pretty kick a*#. But I don't want my daughter to feel left out. I don't want her to think she's not every bit as important or worthy.
Remember last year when the Catholic Church changed some of the congregational responses during mass? Instead of saying "And Also With You," as we all did for our entire lives up until that point, suddenly, when the Priest says, "May the Lord Be With You," we are to respond, "And with your spirit." Really? How many man (yes, that was intentional) hours do you think it took, how much budget, to get that line changed? There were a few others, too. Did they not think it was high time to finally change some of the wording to encompass ALL congregants? No? Well, why not? I have a little girl who is going to grow up hearing "for us men..." Do they think she won't catch it? Forgive me, but she's smarter than that. And if this religion can give pardons to priests just for listening to confessions during Lent (oh, yes they do) then what, pray tell, is the point? And please don't get me started on the whole business of confessing your sins to the man behind the curtain.
But I digress. Again. Deep down, I believe in the traditions passed down by those who came before me. I think it's a good idea to remind myself of the sacrifice, the love that is my God. So, this year I'm going to quit those four letter words that seem to flow so smoothly from my mouth. And maybe, after four weeks, it will become habit not to say them. I'll also avoid meat on Fridays. I realize not everyone does it, but it's such a small thing to do. And it serves to remind me of the season.
Fellow Catholics: What do you give up? And do you follow the practice of avoiding meat on Fridays? And for anyone of another religion, how do you feel about the business side of your faith?