Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Reflections

For some reason I am more conscious of Lent this year, maybe because I'm conscious of Mardi Gras, maybe because Lent is a reasonable but unrecognized part of the year (by Baptists). Giving up something for Lent is, of course, a misunderstood cliche, and not what this is about.

If Christians, especially evangelicals, understood the origin of ceremonies or rituals such as Lent, we would appreciate them more and seek to weave them and the cycles of the natural world into our spiritual focus.

Which, of course, has nothing to do with Mardi Gras, the New Orleans version of Carnivale, which of course comes from "carne" or "flesh", that is, a celebration of the flesh before repentance. Party before you straighten out; get really drunk before you sober up. Eat a gallon of ice cream before a diet, something like that.

Yesterday a coworker had brought in a king cake. I "got the baby"--the little plastic doll that's baked into the cake. It is symbolic of the Christ Child; finding it in one's cake apparently means you get to bring the cake next year. I'll have to save the baby and bake my own cake; they aren't sold in Chattanooga (an entirely non-Mardi Gras city).

The baby doll reminded me of the little plastic babies that prolifers use to show how perfectly formed even young fetuses (feti?) are. It was a little freaky to find it in the cake; I suppose there's a slightly macabre tone to the practice.

Regardless, I propose to use the 40 days from now til Easter, April 12, on a spiritual journey to find an answer to a particular thorny problem of mine.


Amanda said...

Lent, Wow!! Our family has been observing Lent for several years now. We actually had to remind the kids this year to not even try to explain it to our fellow Baptists -- it always seems to lead to more misunderstanding than understanding. You can order Kings Cake from Federal Bakeshop -- comes complete with baby! :)

I loved your post on anger.

The Varnells have given up...
Phil - desserts
Amanda - 3 W's: white flour, white sugar and wine
Jack - meat
Luke - TV
Sophie - chocolate
Sam - saying, "Rosie (our recently deceased dog) is dead."

Barbara Tucker said...

Thanks for the post! I think I will observe Lent from now on. It should be seen as spiritual preparation for Easter, not as some dead practice to impress somebody. Where do you go to church now?

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