Lent fast almost done

In the old Beavis and Butt-head cartoons, Beavis becomes Cornholio when he eats lots of sugar. Example:

On Easter Sunday, I break my Lent fast. I will drown myself in sweets. I may become the Great Cornholio. (How’s that for introducing a spiritual exercise?)

Some interpret the Lent fast to exclude Sundays because those are feast days. I decided to fast straight through without stopping. Dessert and candy and explicitly sweet stuff haven’t passed my lips since Shrove Tuesday.

I recall a poignant study on grace from a few years ago. It showed how a rigid, rule-bound religious group was transformed by an infusion of grace.

I could see a valid argument that failing to observe sanctioned Lent fast breaks may be an example of a grace-less, rule-bound, spiritually rigid exercise.

However, I also considered what I am giving up: stuff that my body doesn’t need. Stuff that isn’t in any way essential to my life. Stuff on which I should have no dependence. As much as I love my Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, I am better off for skipping it for these 6.5 weeks.

Even though giving up sweet junk foods is a common Protestant form of Lent fast, it’s really such a light fast that I can have a fully grace-ful Sundays without it.

So I held my Lent fast straight, not giving it up.

As an average American, I life a life full of material comforts that even the richest from 2000 years ago could only imagine. I realize that this trivial fast is nothing, absolutely nothing compared to temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness. But it still gives me a glimpse, and for that I am thankful.

2008 Lent Fast

My wife and I picked a difficult Lent fast: giving up foods full of junk carbohydrates.

Junk carbohydrates are a feature of foods with disproportionately more carbohydrate content than other healthful substances. Example junk carbs include simple carbohydrates (enriched/white flour, white and brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, et al), fruit juices, and white potatoes. Disallowed foods include:

  • Almost all bread products
  • White rice
  • Virtually all snack foods or desserts
  • Fruit juices
  • French fries
  • Most barbecue sauces, many of which I call “meat syrup” because of their vile sweetness. (Do you like maple syrup on your bacon? Why put equally sugary junk on roasts? Yuck!)
  • And many others.

Foods with junk carbohydrates only as accents are OK. Generally, I want to see the junk carbs follow behind an ingredient that I intuitively know is sparsely used in the food. Examples are a sauce thickened with a little flour, 85% dark chocolate in moderation, or salted peanuts that have a little corn syrup. Even Nature’s Own Double Fiber Wheat is OK in moderation: it has more wheat gluten (4th ingredient) than white flour (5th ingredient)!

Even though junk carbohydrates are counterproductive in a human diet, it is hard to give them up! You don’t know how addicted you are to them until they are out of your diet.