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non religious people and lent

(14 Posts)
Witchesbrewandbiscuits Wed 05-Mar-14 21:03:40

non religious people giving things up for lent? is it me or is that bizarre?

Witchesbrewandbiscuits Wed 05-Mar-14 21:03:54


Tubemole1 Wed 05-Mar-14 22:07:33

The Christians hijacked pagan traditions, so why can't freethinkers use Lent as an excuse to wind back some bad habits? Seems reasonable to me.

LineRunner Wed 05-Mar-14 22:09:36

Well, loads of things are bizarre. Christmas trees and easter eggs, just for starters.

gingerdodger Thu 06-Mar-14 06:24:03

I think it's just something people use as a reason to try and improve something or give something up - like a new year's resolution. I think lent for Christians can mean a whole different thing as it can be using the fasting as a way to try and focus on faith or to make a change to improve something also to strengthen faith. Just different groups of people using the concept differently.

atthestrokeoftwelve Thu 06-Mar-14 06:36:53

Periods of abstinance are known in other cultures and religions-

"Since there is no instruction to observe Lent in the Bible, where did it come from? A forty-day abstinence period was anciently observed in honor of the pagan gods Osiris, Adonis and Tammuz (John Landseer, Sabaean Researches, pp. 111, 112). Alexander Hislops, The Two Babylons, pp. 104-105, says this of the origin of Lent: “The forty days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, in the spring of the year, is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans…Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt…”"

worldgonecrazy Thu 06-Mar-14 11:35:37

I've never understood it - but it seems to fit in the with the culture of denying ourselves something because it's "naughty", so I overheard several non-religious colleagues stating they were giving up chocolate for Lent.

When I was at (Catholic) school we were encouraged to give up something of value and then donate the money to a charity.

Lent is actually 46 days long, not 40, but the Sundays don't count.

However the figure 40 is used in the bible for the 40 days and nights of rain of the flood, the Hebrews spending 40 years in the wilderness after Moses led them out of Egypt, Moses fasting for 40 days before receiving the 10 commandments, and of course, Jesus spending 40 days fasting and getting annoyed by Satan during his time in the wilderness before he began his ministry.

sunev Thu 06-Mar-14 11:41:02

I do it, it's fun (ish) and good for me. I could, theoretically, give up chocolate for a month whenever I feel like it, but it's easier to say "I'll do it tomorrow". Throw in a specific date and a bit of tradition and it's much easier.

GrendelsMum Thu 06-Mar-14 11:47:43

I rather like it - I feel it's nice that my colleagues are also giving up things for Lent alongside me, even if they don't have any religious context for it. Snacking in office is on hold, and the money is going into a charity pot instead.

Re the idea of 'Christians hijacking pagan traditions', I was reading an interesting book last night that put this in a broader context. He talked about the religious context that early Christians would have been used to (e.g. Jewish traditions, Roman traditions, etc) and that they would have seen certain practices as being part and parcel of religion / spirituality / worship. Some of these might have been apparently small things such as incense, candles or music, but which would have provided a familiar context for people moving into a new religion.

So perhaps we should see today's secular fondness for giving up things at Lent in the same way?

msrisotto Thu 06-Mar-14 11:58:44

ok, there's been a few threads like this recently. It seems like Christian people are resentful of non religious people partaking in cultural events, even going to lengths like trying to claim that religion was the originator of most of them. Why is that?

GrendelsMum Thu 06-Mar-14 12:11:34

MrsRisotto - it's an interesting question.

Firstly, I guess there's the specifics - so, is the idea of fasting or a time of purification historically a religious concept (note that I'm saying 'religious' rather than Christian)? I think that this is probably the case, although it would be interesting to see an argument against it by a historian.

Secondly, the broader point. So, are some people who actively practise a religion resentful of people who don't practise that religion adopting some of the cultural practices in a non-spiritual way? Well, I guess that there's such a huge range of religious people, faiths and opinions in the world that some are probably resentful, while others are absolutely delighted. So from that aspect, you could probably find people to agree with you and others who would disagree.

I would guess that some Christians think the idea of giving up chocolate etc for Lent without having a spiritual aspect to it is a little bit odd - what is the difference between that and an ordinary diet? And if you dont' believe in Lent, then it seems odd to do something to mark it. But, on the other hand, I do appreciate my colleagues joining me, and I'm told that lots of Muslims celebrating Ramadam really appreciate their colleagues supporting them in that.

Does that help give a broader context on your thoughts?

GrendelsMum Thu 06-Mar-14 12:12:33

Sorry - should have put 'Ms' not 'Mrs' Risotto there!

AMumInScotland Thu 06-Mar-14 13:43:19

msrisotto Do we know that Witchesbrewandbiscuits is Christian? I tend to see more threads started by non-religious people asking what people are planning to do about Lent/Easter/Christmas/etc and pointing out 'hypocrisy' than I do religious people.

And most of the religious contributors to the threads say "Whatevs. Do it or don't do it. Your life, your choice"

Personally, as a Christian, I think it's fine if people use Lent to give something up, or take up something positive, or generally think about their priorities. It's an excuse, like a New Year Resolution, not really about religion.

Same if you want to give each other chocolate eggs - fertility symbols long before they in any way 'represented' the rock in front of the grave sit. Or eat, drink, see family, and decorate a tree - again, popular long before anyone claimed that the 'light' coming back into the world was anything to do with the birth of Christ (which probably wasn't in midwinter)

I assure you that I, and most Christians, don't resent it in the slightest.

Witchesbrewandbiscuits Thu 06-Mar-14 19:58:16

sorry to abandon thread. I am not resentful in the slightest, I am genuinely intrigued why non religious people do religious things such as christen their children and nominate GODparents, especially when they make a big fuss that they absolutely don't believe in god. some of you make some very good points, and I suppose there is a religious side and a non religious side to everything such as easter and Christmas where non religious traditions take place. I guess I was just shocked to hear the most non religious person I know saying what she was giving up for lent when I associate it with religion. first time for everything and I will go with it as a good thing smile this is why it is good to get different viewpoints, opens our minds.

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