I've heard that a lot from people of late, because I've chosen to give up television (and Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime) for Lent. With one morale related lapse (my house was down, so I ordered a Guardians of the Galaxy Night) and assuming my willpower won’t erode in the next 6 days, I’ll have done it.
But why? While most Lutherans (and I do still consider myself a Lutheran, albeit a heretic, and not ELCA) do observe Lent, I do not remember ever giving up anything for Lent. Nor do I remember non-Catholic friends giving up anything, but Catholic friends, yes. I remember a friend who gave up pizza for lent in High School, but then we were on a fieldt rip on a paddle wheeler, and all we had was pizza…
So why this year? Well, part of it is a matter of Will. I am a heretic, if a well read one. I’m looking at old practices and rituals, to bring me closer to G_d. I wanted to see if I could make a commitment to Him and myself, and give up something that is common and everyday. It has been enlightening on many levels.
First few days were, of course, the hardest. To (maybe incorrectly) use the term from Judaism, my yetzer ra, was trying loopholes. “You could watch Prime on the computer, that’s not breaking it… Catholics eat meat on Fridays…” and I was tempted. As I’m fond of saying, I’m a Hermit, not a Saint. Then, it got easier. I listened to audiobooks and the radio. I've been listening to the Bible as well, I read more. The temptation was still there, but I resisted.
The more I did, the more I realized what the purpose of the sacrifice was to me. It started as proving I could do it, but it evolved into something more. A realization that I didn't *need* what I gave up. A separation from the distraction and the ensnarements of the mortal world. Does that sound vaguely Gnostic? Maybe, but I don’t know that I’m in a hurry to catch up on The Flash, Agents of Shield, or any of the other shows I enjoy.
I joked years ago, I gave up organized religion for Lent. It’s not far from the truth, I left the ELCA years ago, in part because of their stance on Israel, and in part because they seemed to be embodying the worst aspects of a hierarchy. Checking over the ELCA webpage, the repeating of the lies of Ferguson, their condemnation of Israel’s right to build in their own lands, and other official documents do not make me regret this choice.
So this past Lenten season has gone from a challenge to a revelation, and has strengthened myself in a dark time. He has again shown me the Way, and maybe a new view in the complexities of how His will, self-determination, and the promise of His Son all interact into one greater whole. So while it is a time of great grief, amplified for me with the upcoming anniversary of losing Donna, it’s been a quite time of revelation as well.