Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lenten LOLz, Part 1

Great Lent Unplugged, by Jean Hoefling, is a guide for those hapless Western converts to the Orthodox Church preparing for the fasting season that is Lent. The conventions the "cradle Orthodox" (as the author calls them) take for granted are endless sources of wonder for those of us raised to be toe-tapping, casserole-loving Baptists (or variations thereof-the point is, casseroles are a must). Hoefling (a convert herself) manages to laugh joyfully over these conventions while portraying the beauty that can come with Lent.

Apparently the founders of the Church were not overly fond of laughter, which Hoefling acknowledges, then promptly goes out of her way to make the reader laugh anyways. Christians have as much to laugh about as to be somber about.

I decided to pull out some gems while reading this book, because when something from a book about Lent makes you laugh loud enough to cause people to look at you in concern, it must be shared.

     Like the cumin-tithing Pharisees of old, it is easy to get wound up about bonbons and butterfat and forget the Great Lent is first and foremost about abstaining from sin. This is where the Church Fathers' Lenten tee shirt idea comes in. At one of the Councils, someone proposed a somber repentance-purple tee shirt to be worn by all Faithful during Lent. It was to be inscribed in black upper case: "IT’S THE REPENTANCE, STUPID."

     But so many ask me: "It's all fine and well to ponder bloodless Eden by the hour, but how does one actually get started on that first fast? What is the key to dealing with long-term celery?" To help answer these questions, I asked several seasoned fasters in our parish for words of encouragement to people just entering the process. Their answers were varied: "Giving up happy hour is a killer."

     New Orthodox must fix this rule sternly within their hearts: animals eaten during Great Lent must be completely devoid of backbones. There is something about backbones that drove the Church Fathers crazy at the merest thought of them. This is why they organized the Synod for the Dismissal of Backbones: "Lent is to be free at last from those incessant and irritating backbones that pop up everywhere," the Holy Fathers decided. "We are so annoyed by them it is interfering with our theosis. We don’t want the Faithful uttering the word during Lent. Nobody back in Eden wanted backbones around, and neither do we." 

1 comment:

  1. The "IT'S THE REPENTANCE, STUPID!" paragraph reminded me of this poem.