If you’re like me, you want to know why so many people walked into ash-colored doors on Wednesday. I mean, look up from your iPhone once in a while, people.
Of course, agnostic that I am, I’m not that ignorant of the traditions of the Catholic, and broader Christian church. As an outsider, though, I’ve decided to give some unasked for and certain-to-be unheeded advice at this momentous time of year – Lent! Not confident about your annual 40 days of sobriety? Feeling predictable for giving up chocolate again? Realizing that swearing off reality TV is as pointless as it is impossible? Never fear, Christian soldiers, I’ve got a list of alternative Lenten sacrifices that will make you this season’s hottest ascetic. You’ll be invited to every dinner party, where you will be expected to stylishly eat only certain things. Read on for the wisdom:
1) Meat – I know this is a fairly common one, and already fits in with the religious tradition, but I want to throw my non-religious support behind it. A meatless existence comes with all sorts of benefits. You want a happy colon, don’t you? Of course you do. Who wants an angry colon? Well too much meat can damage your innards. Meals full of leafy, green things instead of savory, red things can fortify your health in all sorts of other ways, too. More importantly, however, for the health of our species and planet as a whole, eating less animal flesh is one of the best things you can do to ice the rising mercury. We’d all benefit in the long run if everyone ate less cow muscle, so Lent presents as good a time as any to back out of the McDonald’s empty handed. Cutting out meat just one day a week can make a difference. Plus, can you ever really be sure you’re eating what you think you’re eating?
2) Reproduction – The world is completely stocked up on infants. Living in Park Slope, I witness this first hand, every day. We, as a species, do not lack for tiny, adorably disgusting versions of ourselves. I know the Bible says “be fruitful and multiply,” but I think we can, at this point, mark off that one as “Mission Accomplished.” As a species, humans have done pretty well for themselves–our club now claims over 6.8 billion members, and we’re running out of t-shirts. Plus, honestly, there’s no need to bring them into the bar.
3) Steve Jobs – At what point will we realize we’ve purchased a sufficient quantity of Apple gadgets? Hopefully soon, because I think we actually reached that point at least a decade ago. For a company with such a hippie, liberal image, no one’s perfected planned obsolescence quite like the makers of the iPad. In fact, there’s a movement (so long as you define “movement” as a collection of people numerous enough to warrant a light, features profile) of gadget-fetishists awakening to what I assumed was a common-sense idea: your iPod from last year still works even when the new one debuts. Apparently, the economic downturn inspired such revelations, though it really shouldn’t have taken that.
4) The Prospect Park YMCA – Ok, this is a selfish one. The New Year’s resolutions folks have largely disappeared from my gym, though it’s still got that conspicuous, overfull-in-January feel. So, how about you remaining lingerers put that limping resolution out of its misery with Lent – the second resolution of the year (this time with Deity enforcement)? In return, I will remember to wipe down the machines after I use them, so they shine like new when you return in 2011.
5) Your Time – Here’s an unselfish, but sanctimonious one. (Sorry, those are your two choices in an advice column.) Why do people shouting about keeping the government out of Medicare get all the grassroots press? Partly because Fox News more or less created and sponsored the Tea Party. But also, people of a different mindset need to get involved again. Next week, an excellent opportunity to help reduce the number of people ruined and screwed over by health insurance presents itself.
That’ll do it. Enjoy, my religious friends, your self denial. Or, don’t enjoy it, if that’s the point. I don’t know. Right now there’s some chocolate sitting next to me that I have in no way sworn off of. Gotta go.