Sometime during Carnival last year, I made a religious conversion. I grew up a weird, slightly fundamentalist version of American Protestant, while in adulthood I discovered agnosticism with an atheistic tinge. Last year, though, I decided to convert to the popular religion of my adopted home region—Cultural Catholicism. It began to feel rather selfish (and terrible inconsistent) to celebrate Mardi Gras but not Ash Wednesday and to observe Christmas, Easter and Carnival but not Lent. So here I am, about to head down to St Louis Cathedral and get my ashes.
For Lent, I’m giving up cigarettes and beer. Partly for health reasons, but it seems to me that I shouldn’t “give up” something that I will benefit from giving up. That’s not what Lent means to me. Instead, I’m giving up beer and cigarettes because I really, really love beer and cigarettes. It’ll be nice to not destroy my cardiovascular health (via cigarettes) and to save some of those empty calories (via beer), but overall this is about foregoing some things I love.
I hope I make it.