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An Athiest’s Lent Sacrifice
Posted: 08 March 2011 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A large number of Christians will be beginning the period of Lent tomorrow.  American Christians may choose to give up an indulgence as part of their Lenten observation.  While this stems from a religious belief having to do with the life and death of Jesus Christ, I think a fair number of Christians would describe it as a time to practice will power over vices and to make a conscious effort to lead a more moral life.

I am an atheist, my boyfriend is not.  His beliefs are somewhat nebulous, but he does practice will power once a year for 40 days.  This year, in honor of my beliefs, he’s giving up meat for Lent (a somewhat Lent practice related choice to be sure).  After careful consideration I decided to give up caffeine.  I do this in part to show my gratitude and support and so that we both may understand each other’s views.  I do it also because caffeine is one of my crutches. 

I think Lent falls at a useful time of year for all of us where perhaps New Years resolutions have been forgotten too quickly.  Here is an opportunity to brush them off and make an effort, if only for 40 days. 

I’m curious to see what all of you think: am I being respectful or disrespectful towards Christians?  Is this a good practice or hypocritical?

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Posted: 08 March 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not at all hypocritical.  There’s nothing that says one can’t do something just because it happens to be connected with a particular religion.  I enjoy Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, and Easter to name a few, even though I’m an atheist.

At my age I’ve given up enough things that I’ll be damned if I’ll give up any more.  LOL

However, I don’t think you should give up something just to show that you have willpower (really a miild form of masochism?). 

And I believe in the old duPont phrase, “Better Living Through Chemistry.”  As long as it doesn’t harm your body or mind, I don’t see any reason to avoid any chemical such as caffeine, aspirin, vitamins, Plavix, a beta blocker, etc. 

I understand it if you and your boyfriend are both using this as a way of demonstrating your mutual love.  That’s different, and perfectly OK.

Occam

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Posted: 08 March 2011 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My gf does the Lent thing.  And she’s an atheist like me.  She says it’s because it was a thing she always did growing up and just can’t shake the habit.  Though at other times she says it’s because she want to test her willpower.  (Yeah, Occam, I’d say it’s masochism.)  I usually just shrug and say, “Whatever makes you happy dear.”  Then go back to my usual state of not arbitrarily giving things up.

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Posted: 08 March 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Sarah Pseudoproblem - 08 March 2011 09:09 AM

Is this a good practice or hypocritical?

I think it’s great! As long as you know that religion is only a myth, why not enjoy its art or even the psychological tricks it can play on our mind? I do it too. I can walk into a cathedral and feel “the presence of God” and I enjoy it as much as watching Star Trek and experiencing the evil of the Klingons. Why not?

BTW, Sarah, I am really enjoying your posts.  grin

[ Edited: 08 March 2011 10:56 AM by George ]
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Posted: 08 March 2011 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks to you all for your support (especially George)!

I think I misspoke, err, miswrote when discussing willpower.  If a person gives something up for Lent as if to say “look how awesome I am at giving things up!” then that is certainly a somewhat masochistic show of willpower.  I was thinking more of practicing will power. (Check out this article for an interesting, if not pedantic, article on this topic.  I can find some of the actual studies if you like. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/opinion/02aamodt.html)

Occam, in response to your comment about caffeine: I’d agree with your stance on chemicals.  I’m very happy with the OTC and prescription drugs I take on a frequent basis.  Caffeine is a tough one though, while it does have benefits, even health benefits, drinking it regularly reduces its effectiveness and when consumed in large doses regularly through out the day it can cause sleep to be less productive.  I think by cleaning out my system for 40 days I’ll be able to gradually bring caffeine back into my diet in a healthy and helpfully manner.

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Posted: 08 March 2011 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I hope you don’t get caffeine headaches…they can be horrid. shut eye

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Posted: 08 March 2011 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Just an FYI, if you’ve been a moderate to heavy caffeine user for a while it can actually be hazardous to your health to just quit it cold turkey for 40 days. I’d pick something else, like not having chocolate, or not missing a day at the gym, etc., and do the caffeine thing over time in a gradual step down.

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Posted: 08 March 2011 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Really?  I drink tons of caffeine and periodically stop drinking it for upwards of a month at a time and I’ve never had any adverse effects from it, as far as I’ve noticed.  Hell, I’ve never noticed any withdrawal symptoms.  Of course, I don’t really appear to feel the effects of caffeine in the first place.  So there’s that.

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Posted: 09 March 2011 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’ve actually been stepping down my intake for two or three weeks.  I have been totally off the stuff for about a week now.  The headaches were only an issue the first day or two when I was trying too hard. smile

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Posted: 09 March 2011 09:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I quit coffee last year by cutting back to two cups per day, the switching to decaf for one month. When I ran out of decaf I had no problem quitting. Now that I’m taking solar system astronomy, trigonometry and physics one in the same semester I am back on the coffee. I’m limiting myself to two cups in the morning, then a short nap between classes instead of more caffeine after lunch. I like my naps.

I gave up Lent for Lent several decades ago.

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Posted: 10 March 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Sarah Pseudoproblem - 08 March 2011 09:09 AM

A large number of Christians will be beginning the period of Lent tomorrow.  American Christians may choose to give up an indulgence as part of their Lenten observation.  While this stems from a religious belief having to do with the life and death of Jesus Christ, I think a fair number of Christians would describe it as a time to practice will power over vices and to make a conscious effort to lead a more moral life.

I am an atheist, my boyfriend is not.  His beliefs are somewhat nebulous, but he does practice will power once a year for 40 days.  This year, in honor of my beliefs, he’s giving up meat for Lent (a somewhat Lent practice related choice to be sure).  After careful consideration I decided to give up caffeine.  I do this in part to show my gratitude and support and so that we both may understand each other’s views.  I do it also because caffeine is one of my crutches. 

I think Lent falls at a useful time of year for all of us where perhaps New Years resolutions have been forgotten too quickly.  Here is an opportunity to brush them off and make an effort, if only for 40 days. 

I’m curious to see what all of you think: am I being respectful or disrespectful towards Christians?  Is this a good practice or hypocritical?

I think it’s an excellent practice, and good for you. Instead of reacting against what you don’t agree with, you found somethiing in it that was worthwhile, affirmed your boyfriend’s dignity and did something that’s good for you. You didn’t sign on to things you don’t believe in at all.

My story is a little different. I was raised a Roman Catholic. Eventually I quit. So now I look at it as having given up Lent.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 10 March 2011 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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PLaClair - 10 March 2011 06:22 AM

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

I’m curious about this.  I have done some research into what CFI stands for, but apparenlty not enough.  Care to share?

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Posted: 13 March 2011 01:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I personally don’t like to deny myself anything of want.

And instead of taking 40 days to counterbalance something I’ve indulged in…......... I practice moderation all year round.

And all this talk of caffeine?!?! Is it REALLY that horrible for you? I guess I’ve never looked in to it because I dont want to know. I quite enjoy my morning cup of coffee + caramel macciato on Saturday’s.

How much is too much?

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Posted: 13 March 2011 01:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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After much serious consideration and thought, I have decided to give up Lent for Lent. I will make an imaginary sacrifice, for an imaginary solemn ceremony.

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Posted: 13 March 2011 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I gave up religion for Lent. It turned out to be such a smart move that I gave it up for life! wink

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Posted: 13 March 2011 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Me too.

Missmac, I’m sure Asanta or McKenzie can expand on this, but as I recall, four negatives of caffeine are that since it’s a stimulant, it can make it harder to go to sleep, it causes the veins and arteries to constrict which raises blood pressure, if one’s arteries are already clogged, can bring on a heart attack, and in excess it can cause jumpiness.  On the positive side it does increase awareness and help brain functioning.

Since I have clogged arteries, low blood pressure, no problem with sleeping, and like to help my awareness and brain functioning, I usually have a cup of morning coffee and one or two later every few days.  However, I also carry some nitrates with me to dilate my arteries if I have any indication that there might be a problem.  Unless you have clogged arteries you don’t need to take that precaution.

Occam

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