A while ago, I wrote a post about how authoritarian Christians decided to adopt a 'no Fat Tuesday, all Ash Wednesday' brand of Christianity. Even more worrisome, they adopted a bizarro form of Christianity entirely devoid of Christ... the gentle Nazarene was thrown over in favor of his smitey Old Testament dad. I used to be a fairly devout Catholic, but the sexual abuse scandals combined with a conservative orthodoxy which made friends of mine into second class citizens shunned by their families, made me decide to give up religion for Lent.
I actually used to observe what for me was the ultimate Lenten discipline... I would go coffee free for the forty-day season. Being a caf-fiend, this was quite a sacrifice, though it would end up with me 'resetting' my coffee addiction, returning to coffee the punch it should have. Now, I couldn't even be bothered, it's not like I live a profligate lifestyle, why give up an inexpensive luxury, even as an exercise in secular self-discipline?
I actually continued my Mardi Gras celebration into Ash Wednesday, meeting with friends at a Mexican restaurant not far from my workplace for a nice pre-work dinner. Who needs fasting and abstinence when one could have a nice, somewhat luxe dinner with close friends? Giving up Lent for Lent was a gradual thing for me, the cultural associations with not eating meat on Fridays used to be a point of pride, a mark of solidarity to a community. I'm a member of other communities, though, most of which haven't forced me to choose sides in a culture war that I would never have chosen.