It’s Lent again and many people will be fasting. Some will give up chocolate. Some will give up snacks. Many will give up something they enjoy eating or drinking. The idea of fasting and suffering during Lent is an ecumenical idea. A few years ago I gave up the news for Lent and actually carried my fast after Easter and did it again during the 2004 election cycle. If you buy what they sell on the news shows whether it’s Fox, CNN, BBC or Al Jazeera then you’re buying into their reality. You see the news through the prism that producer and their sponsors want you to see. It’s a real distortion of reality and it is quite crippling.
I haven’t decided what I’m going to fast from this Lenten season, but I did particularily enjoy reading Fr. Dennis Tamburello’s blog posting about a “Fast from Violence” that is endorsed by the Holy Name Province of Franciscan Friars. I’ve enjoyed reading Fr. Dennis’ posts since I discovered his blog a few months ago. Fasting from Violence is a novel Lenten idea but it is consistent with one of my favorite scripture verses, Isaiah 58: 3-14. In the United States we live in a culture of violence. We are addicted to war. We’ve been in a nearly constant state of war since 1939 and we justify our addiction by calling it patriotism. Politicians love to point the finger at Hollywood when it comes to our culture of violence but Hollywood doesn’t fund the military industrial complex. There is all manner of violence in our culture and its blessed by the keepers of the status quo. Politicians like to divide us with issues like abortion which is one form of violence, but you won’t find many politicians who will speak for a Department of Peace. Mahatma Gandhi said that “poverty is the worst form of violence.” I think the roots of international terrorism is more about poverty than anything else. We could do more to end terror by working for real justice in our world. Pope Paul VI said, “if you want peace work for justice.” If you’d like the materials that more fully describe the “Fast from Violence”, click here.