Friday, March 11, 2016

Atheist Lent?

Aligning with our long discussion about secular Christians (of which I am one), there's an article on Religion Dispatches by an avowed atheist who practises Lent.  Well, insofar he's giving something up.  I like to think of Lent as more about self-examination, than self-denial, but that's me.  He writes,  that this is not disrespectful, but rather a shared connection. 
In Denmark, fewer than a third of Catholics actually believe in God, but the traditions and practices keep them together. I think this is more or less the future of both religion and atheism in America. I don’t think the future of atheism will look much like a Richard Dawkins book signing, but neither will Christianity look much like a bible study. Like secular Jews practicing Shabbat and atheists practicing Lent, we’ll meet at the crossroads of our cultures
Will we?  Only if we are open to the possible value of different journeys.

As I've quoted many times, this comment from Karen Armstrong really resonates with me.
The myths and laws of religion are not true because they they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.” The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness


JCF said...

If you were to say something like this at JoeMyGod, I recommend putting on Kevlar, first! :-/

8thday said...

Since most of Christian holidays are derived from Pagan rituals I am curious as to why an atheist would consider them "Christian" rather than rituals practiced by many ancient peoples, long before Christ?

IT said...

I would say Lent is pretty strongly identified as a Christian practice, as is Easter.

8thday said...

Every Pagan sect and religion that I know of has a period of cleansing and reflection before the rebirth of Spring.

I believe the name “Easter” comes from the goddess Ishtar, often associated with fertility. Her son Tammuz, was killed and went into the underworld. According to the legend, after his mother wept for 40 days he was mystically revived in Spring. Tammuz was then worshiped as a pagan deity by a festival that was celebrated with weeping and fasting for forty days.

Also, Easter is not celebrated on the date of Jesus’ resurrection as one would think, It is celebrated according to the phases of the moon. Can’t get much more Pagan than that.

My point being that I don’t think people need labels to justify or otherwise explain their lenten rituals. The practice has been done for thousands of years before Christ. It is in our DNA . . probably because as Ms. Armstrong states, because it *is* life enhancing.