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Capybara during lent (7) Fri, Mar 21, 2008
I don't really know what lent is because it's a Catholic tradition and I'm a Christian.  But it sounds like it's a time when you stop doing something you don't normally do anyway for the purpose of adhering to a dead, meaningless tradition.  That's what I've gathered from the many Catholics I've talked to. 

One of the other fun things about lent is not eating meat on Fridays and instead eating fish, which is the farthest thing from a meat before you start getting into the tofus and eggplant-based food products.  In the 16th century, Europeans exploring Central and South America submitted a petition to the Catholic Church to classify the capybara as a fish since it spent much of its time in the water.  Capybaras are the world's largest rodent, weighing in at over 100 lbs, and their meat resembles that of chicken and pork.  The Catholic Church, in their infinite God-absent wisdom, obliged the request, and the practice of eating capybara during lent continues to this day

For the record, I believe the Bible and have faith in God, but my God would never allow a rodent to be called a fish.  Never! #religion

Wendy Fri, Mar 21, 2008
While Lent is usually just a "tradition" to most people, the idea of Lent is pretty cool - to sacrifice something in order to remember the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross.

Most people I know give up something edible and, for me, that falls into a similar category as fasting. When we fast, we're supposed to use those hunger pangs as times of devotion/meditation about God. The Bible also says that we shouldn't be like the spiritual leaders of His day. We shouldn't complain/look like we're fasting (giving something up for Lent), but we should keep it personal - just us and God.

Here's what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18: "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Dave Fri, Mar 21, 2008
So what about the ashes on people's foreheads on Ash Wednesday?  Sounds like they forgot to read the book of Matthew.

Rus Fri, Mar 21, 2008

I love your comment.  You saved me some typing.  I think we often think of fasting as something that only means from food....and usually all of it.  I believe there are other methods of fasting from types of food to certain activities,(1 Corinthians 7:5 being one of the more explicit), all of which can be of value, if held privately and is Spirit led. 

As for the ashes...beats me.  But now that you've asked, I will probably be in Wikipedia before the day is through.

Dave Brown Mon, Mar 24, 2008
It also says in Matthew: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Traditions like Lent, Ash Wednesday, and I'll lump in Easter, Christmas, and Sunday are all about the private intentions of the person, not about how other people perceive them. God doesn't look at the things your looking at. You're looking at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart.

Dave Brown Mon, Mar 24, 2008
Romans 14:1-12

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:
  " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
  'every knee will bow before me;
      every tongue will confess to God.' "
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Dave Brown Mon, Mar 24, 2008
I don't think there's a way to edit previous comments so I'll just keep adding stuff:
Saint John Chrysostom had a good one on criticizing other people's fasting status.

"For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?"

Dave Mon, Mar 24, 2008
That's true about judging, and I'm pretty sure I adhere to that verse.  It says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged..."  I take that to mean I'll be judged by the same standard as I judge other people.  In this case, I'm judging people's obligatory following of empty traditions.  I personally don't follow any empty traditions (that I know of), so as far as I can tell, it's ok for me to judge in this instance.  Correct me if I'm wrong. 

As for God looking at the heart, I completely agree.  However, of my many Catholic friends and acquaintances, very few of them put any amount of heart into it at all.  And you're right, I could be judging their outward appearance a bit, but I could also be basing my opinion on the things they tell me.  "I do it because this is just what we've always done."  "I do it so my parents won't get mad at me."  To me, that sounds like the heart is completely absent.  It sounds like there's absolutely no amount of faith or thought of God at all.  Hence, these are empty traditions.  And I don't think empty traditions get us any closer to God.

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