Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Sever And Ambulate
I know my God is better than your God. I tell that to myself, yes, partly to get me through the day--Ash Wednesday today--where we Catholics deprive ourselves of food just about all day in order to fashion... something, I don't know what. But we're supposed to, so we do.
It sounds stupid and short-sighted and maybe more than a little masochistic, but that's how we roll. Have you seen our church services? They're all based around the idea of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of another human being. What's a little masochism and self-denial in the face of so much cannibalism? Hell, it almost seems quaint.
Not only that, but we get to do the fasting thing again six weeks from now on the ironically named "Good Friday", one of the holiest days of the Catholic liturgical year where we celebrate--celebrate--the violent torturing-to-death of our primary associative theological-foundational avatar. We are not a people to be trifled with. We do that in the name of our Lord, just think of what we'd do to our enemies. Or, well, I guess, have done, past and present. Yes, I mean the Jews.
As tough as self-deprivation makes us, I know my God is better than yours because even though he likes us to suffer a little bit, the Muslim God makes His people fast for a whole month during Ramadan. At rates like that, you have to start wondering if their God wants them to sharpen their awareness of faith and His divine presence in all things with a little delayed gratification or if He's just got some kind of anorexia voyeur fetish. You know, kind of in the same way the Greek gods were into bestiality.
Sure, my God likes a good snuff film narrative, but He knows those people are going to die anyway. It's not like HE kills them.
In addition to the two days of voluntary fasting, we now enter the long period of Lent, where we are also asked to give up something meaningful so that we may demonstrate our fidelity, breaking our routines in order to allow a bit more room for the love of Christ in our lives. For six weeks. Then it's back to the boozin' and the whorin' and we just hope God remembers that we gave it all up for Him way back in the early springtime. Or at least gave the ole college try. I tend to think it's OK as long as you set a personal record. I once gave up whorin' for a whole 11 hours! Man, I thought that vasectomy would never heal.
Some people give up alcohol or caffeine or red meat or whatever. The quality of the sacrifice depends entirely on the subjective context. I could "give up" cigarettes every year, but since I don't smoke, it wouldn't mean much. Which is why this year, I'm giving up cigarettes. Again! You are welcome, Jesus.
The gestures don't have to be entirely personal. Any collective--family, community, even a whole nation--can decide it wants to give up something as a whole, to show both their faith and their unity.
For instance, this year, apparently, the government of the United Kingdom has decided to give up freedom. And manliness. And reliability. And the trust of its partners. Basically they've decided to become French, as far as I can tell.
Look, this Lent is a personal thing and you're not supposed to judge others for what they choose to give up, but come on. One story about sending one of your horsey-faced royals to Iraq and you're suddenly out? Don't you remember that Falklands thing when you sent Prince Andrew in on a helicopter and he killed all them awful Argies all by himself? To this day all those Malvinas sheep still bleat in English. Remember how it made you all seem so butch?
I'm not going to pretend I didn't see this coming though. This is what happens to a national character when you make the collective decision to allow yourself to be ruled by chicks. It's a mistake we've yet to make. And I think the results are clear.
We Americans are a paragon of rugged individualism. What kind of a pussy knows his neighbors' names? So we don't make any collective decisions on anything, let alone delayed gratification like your typical British person might for Lent. But if we were going to give something up as a whole, I like to think it would be something kind of gay like American Idol or fondue.
But not ass sex. No. That's not actually gay. Highway rest-stops are dark at night. For all you know, it could be a chick.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.1