Recently I've seen business capitalizing on Lent, namely restaurants. I see more offerings of meat free meals, in observance of Lent. I wonder how much less booze, chocolate, and deserts are sold during lent? I bet most people only observe lent around their fellow zealots, and not at all when they are free of others judgements?
Either way I challenge everyone to celebrate Lent this year, but first we need to understand what Lent is......
Observing Lent has 3 parts
1) Justice towards god (prayer)
2) Justice towards self (fasting)
3) Justice towards neighbors (charity and volunteering)
So I think it would be great if people observed Lent in the following ways;
1) Pray to god if you'd like, just do it in your home or church. Leave it out of my workplace and government.
2) If you want to fast then go ahead, means more steak and beer for me! Seriously, if you want justice towards yourself quit believing in fairy tales. If you want to be a stronger person take responsibility for your life, and quit using religion as a way to explain and justify your shortcomings. Other than cleansing your body, fasting will not make you a better person - the guy in the sky won't reward you because you are hungry. In reality, you'll be less productive and more likely to make stupid decisions because your body is starved of nutrients. If you must fast why not send the $ you saved on not eating to some kids in Africa or even some homeless people in your neighborhood. Odds are they care more about being nourished than they care about god.
3) This is a big one! Help people for the simple reason that society grows as a sum of it's parts. Help others because it is the right thing to do. Help others for the joy of being able to make someone's day better. Don't pretend to be helping someone when your motive lays in bringing up conservations about god and religion. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, clean the elderly neighbor's yard, donate time and materials to a public school. Whatever you do just help out in anyway you can, but don't do it for god's grace do it because our world needs compassion from the heart not from religious based guilt.
The ultimate sacrifice for Lent would be to give up religion! Religion is more gluttonous that chocolate, meat, sex, coffee, or jewelery. Religion is used as a way for people to avoid their problems and avoid confrontations with the world around them. Take charge of YOUR life, your destiny lays in YOUR hands. You may not control what happens to you, but you surely can control how YOU react to it. Instead of being passive and letting some mythical being guide you do something strong; TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE! It is vain, and egotistical to think that you don't have to have a direction in life as long as you give your heart to god. Instead give your heart to those you love, those your work with, and those less fortunate. Instead of bashing homosexuals, pro choice people, look into your heart and find compassion for them. Everyone is going through some difficulty in their lives at any given time. Praying for people is like saying "I feel bad for you, but instead of getting off my ass and helping you, I'll just say a quick ineffective prayer" Praying for those less fortunate that you is a slap in the face and more offensive than NOT praying. By praying you are acknowledging their struggle, but telling them you're leaving their fate to some imaginary person/thing instead of actually inconveniencing yourself to actually help.