Friday, February 19, 2010

Richard Beck on Church of Christ Ambivalence Toward Lent

Richard Beck has written a thoughtful and engaging piece on his personal ambivalence toward the Lenten season, speaking out of his history and tradition. I share this history, and was a member at the same church while in Abilene, so his post speaks volumes. Here is part of his conclusion:
And it's this voluntarism--opting in or opting out--that makes me ambivalent. The observance of Ash Wednesday at my church is an optional deal. And this, as I experience it, exacerbates one of the problems of contemporary Christianity: Its individualized nature. Ash Wednesday at my church isn't communal. It's an add-on feature. Which strikes the wrong note for me. What ends up happening in my church is that some individuals or small groups celebrate Lent and others don't. For example, some people or groups give up something for Lent like the Catholics do. Others don't. And it's this lack of being on the same page, a very different vibe than the one I experienced in the Catholic church, which leave me cold. Of course, I could celebrate Lent. But I hate the fact that this is something that I, as an individual, choose to do (i.e., opting in). It's just the completely wrong vibe. I hate that autonomous choices sit at the center of the practice. I'm not celebrating Lent with my church.
Be sure to go and check out the whole thing.

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