Saturday, 3 April 2010

Lent is over

It might be actually misleading for some people who know me and who know I’m not religious that I’m writing about such issues. I’m very reluctant to declare to be a wierzący niepraktykujący (EN: believer, not practising), it sounds hypocritically and smacks of a self-contradiction – it’s like saying “I’m a driver, but I never sit behind the wheel”. I’d lie if I told I don’t believe in anything, I’m still searching, but I refuse to seek any assistance from the Church, which is these days not what it is meant to be and which sullied its reputation with duplicity, backwardness, richness, inclination to preach, but not to practise it. What back in PRL was a backbone for the nation distressed with communism has become “the Fifth Estate”. I’m not going to go on about sins of the Church, starting from the middle ages and what brought about reformation up to the scandals that plague the Church today, with which it can’t cope, I’ll only have the courage to notice that outflow of believers and mounting lack of trust to the Church is an after-effect of its conduct.

Nevertheless, I embrace some of the ideas espoused by Christian teachings. One of them is Lent – a period of forty days of ascetics followed by the Holy Week – altogether forty six days that should prepare believers for the Resurrection. Many believers make resolutions for that period – many abstain from drinking alcohol or partying. Slightly inspired by annual Michael Dembinski’s Lenten posts (this year for no apparent reasons he has not kept his readers up to date with his accomplishments regularly) I decided to follow suit and make resolutions. Whenever you think about giving something up, you should realise you have to go without something pleasurable and what you do quite often. Therefore I reckoned that holding back from drinking alcohol wouldn’t make sense (I drink once in a blue moon, but had and not wasted two occasions to drink during this Lent), the same about coffee (I don’t drink it to wake myself up but to taste it – what could be a reason to give it up). I made three resolutions:

1) Not to eat sweets – I can’t say I have a sweet tooth, but prior to the Lent I reached out for them and nibbled too often. Result – for 46 days I haven’t eaten any biscuits, sweets, cakes, etc. and haven’t added sugar to coffee (I haven’t added it to tea since summer 2008).

2) Do physical exercise every day – I did it almost every day (indeed I caved in after returning home late in the evening) and managed to lose some fat tissue from my belly, which was a goal.

3) Not to use car, as a driver and a passenger, what means going everywhere by public transport, bike or on foot – not a hard thing given my commuting habits, but surely it’s good to move in a less convenient way and unclog the roads and not contaminate the air.

After my first Lent I have one reflection – it doesn’t matter whether you are religious or not, whether you believe or not, refrain from some pleasures in a world of unbridled consumerism will do you more good than harm, will strengthen your will, will teach you to appreciate what you have, instead of yearning for the unattainable.


Michael Dembinski said...

He's back and OK after the end of Lent.

'I'm still searching' is, I believe, the only honest approach to spirituality. No honest religion should offer certainty or ask believers for money.

The main reason I didn't update readers with a week-by-week update as to my Lenten progress is that this year's Lent literally shot by - it went by so fast, it didn't hurt!

Stefan Kubiak said...

'I'm still searching'... I'm almost twice as old as you, but I can still put my signature under this statement. There are too many things I can't rationally explain to declare myself pure atheist, although no established religion satisfies my need for the Truth. Your approach is really interesting (and similar to mine), which means that you are a 'cultural Christian'. Probably someone has used this term before me but I coined it for myself after Orhan Pamuk who calls himself 'a cultural Muslim'.

Whatever the terminology, any attempt at self-discipline is good for you!
Best wishes!

student SGH said...

I believe "I'm still searching" is an outlook shared by many mature people torn between rationaly and spirituality plus those who want to believe and don't embrace the Church in the state it is today.

I have a lot of respect to Christians, those who truly believe and who are not hypocrites, I'm rather trying to distance oneself from 'warring atheists' who continually try to eradicate the Church and mostly clergy (though atheists and believers of other religions should not be discriminated - and pointing fingers at somebody and saying they don't go to chruch, don't attend religion classes or they weren't baptised is already below the belt). I also don't like when somebody associates being partiotism with religiousness. And as economist I think priests (like farmers) should pay the same taxes as other citizens (also on donations!). I think people will lose their respect for Church on their own, by means of evolution. There's no need to overthrow anything. Times are changing and if the Church doesn't get with the times it will fall behind and our we'll have empty temples like in the West.

You might be an atheist and follow most of the Ten Commandments. 4th to 10th are absolutely universal ethical rules I think everyone should follow.