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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ASH WEDNESDAY, AND THE SEASON OF LENT

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the season of Lent in the western Christian church. It is a season of inner reflection, doing penance for the wromgs one has done, and fasting, which prepares one for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, by which all Christian believers get the chance for redemption.


Modern Christians will be anointed on the forehead with ashes today. These ashes signify three things: that one should always be humble; that one should emulate the ancient Ninevites, who followed Jacob's advice to repent by doing penance in sackcloth and ashes; and that all will not remain here on earth forever - the human race will someday return to the dust from which it was first created.

As this Lenten season begins today, each and every one of us can engage in sacrifice for a higher purpose. One need not even be a Christian to achieve some good with this. One need not do something monumental, either: each of us, in his or her own way, can engage in this sacrifice for a good cause of our own choosing. Doing so certainly won't break us or kill us. For example, business owners and corporate CEOs could hire one extra employee off of the unemployment rolls, or give existing employees a little unexpected bonus or raise. Employees who are accustomed to engaging in unproductive activities on company time (like internet surfing or shopping) could refrain from doing that for the season so as to quit taking advantage of the boss. Office employees and CEOs alike could agree to donate $1 each per month for the next year or two to support orphans or needy children somewhere. The American Institute of Philanthropy publishes a guide to charities you can trust, and this guide is available for only $3. Just contact them at this address:

American Institute of Philanthropy
P.O. Box 578460
Chicago, IL 60657



Mortgage bankers could give those facing foreclosure 30 to 60 more days grace. In the lunch line, or at the highway toll booth, one could pay the next person's fare as an act of anonymous kindness. Each of us could easily spare some pocket change or even $5 to give to the next homeless person we see on the street. Politicians and pundits alike, such as Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, could all refrain from telling lies about their opponents for political gain during the next six weeks. Children could step up and do the dishes or other chores out of turn every so often. Oil company executives and Wall Street speculators could refrain from raising gasoline prices every time there's the least little bit of tension reported from the Middle East. Come April 15, just for this year, taxpayers could refrain from taking deductions they aren't really supposed to. Fundamentalist Christians could stop their holier-than-thou attacks on Muslims and gays just long enough to realize Jesus Himself would never approve of their hateful actions.

If all of us take the time and make the effort to find little ways we can each sacrifice, the net result will be something very large and meaningful indeed! I invite readers to suggest other little things which could be done this season to make our world be a better and fairer place for all.


If each of us will only look within ourselves for the next six weeks, we will certainly find our own individual way to improve the world situation and we may help develop some true and lasting peace as a side benefit. There is nothing to lose, and VERY much to gain, by doing these little acts of sacrifice. Let's give it a try, shall we? What are YOUR suggestions, readers?

15 comments:

Michael Scott said...

A great read Jack. I was raised Catholic and I remember keeping those ashes on my forehead for days after. I have changed a lot.

As to doing the little things to make the world a better place I think we should give the president a break and not be beating him up at every turn. It is "divisive" and unhealthy for us as individuals and for the nation as a whole.

Jack Jodell said...

Mike,
I agree. He DID get almost everyone covered by health insurance, but I think after the horrid 8 years of Bush, people were hoping for and expecting a bit more from Obama. He has ditched, at least for now, a number of his campaign pledges (to close Cuantanamo, ending Bush's tax cuts for the rich), and this has caused a great deal of disappointment across the board, not just the "hard left" as you referred to them in your piece. If you have been reading me, you know I haven't been one who has ditched Obama. I, too, am disappointed at the way he has constantly given in to the GOP, only to have them slam the door in his face and press for even more of their nonsense. That is why I urge you to save your criticism for the real enemy, the Republicans, and not be too hard on the more impatient (but good-hearted) folks on the left as they express their disappointment in how things have turned out. Remember, too, it was Blue Dog Democrats who mostly went down to defeat in the disastrous 2010 election. I think events in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere in recent weeks may yet serve to reignite the progressive flame for 2012 and allow Obama to get back a good share of them as well as independents. Once he is re-elected, as I believe he will be, he willfeel more free to chart a less centrist course...

mud_rake said...

Well, yes they COULD do those things, Jack, but, you know, that 'Christian' thing goes only so far.

Jack Jodell said...

mud_rake,
I presume you mean it doesn't go far enough among those whom it should go furthest for...

Oso said...

Jack,
GREAT post my Christian brother, I agree completely and along with you condemn those hypocrites who give lip service to Christianity.

Mike, you equate "beating up" with honesty.Supporting war and opposing affordable healthcare as well as opposing financial reform-as both you and the president do-is unhealthy.Wanting a better world for our children is a good thing, not a bad one.

Jack Jodell said...

I'm with you on that, Oso, but I don't want to ignite warring factions on the left here, nor do I suspect you or Mike do either. There are plenty of good things we can all do to make this world safer and saner. So I think we ought to concentrate on that rather than castigating those in our own ranks. We can count on the reactionary Republicans to do that for us.

Tom Harper said...

"As this Lenten season begins today, each and every one of us can engage in sacrifice for a higher purpose."

Well, what kind of atheist communist tripe is this? Jesus said to help the rich get richer and to hate everybody who's different.

You must be reading that newfangled liberal version of the Bible :)

Jack Jodell said...

Tom,
I must admit I'm a bit of a heretic. "Supply-side Jesus" never said any of that. :-)

Seriously, though, how in the world can those "fundamentalist" revisionists get away with preaching the garbage they do, which has little if anything to do with the real teachings of Christ? It never ceases to amaze me how these puritanical conservatives can twist and turn everything so it fits in with their crazy doctrine! No wonder Jesus said it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven...

mud_rake said...

Speaking of perfect examples of hypocrisy, I'm sure that all who listened to Newt's confession of double-infidelity were teary eyed as he confessed that his patriotism and love for the nation led his into adultery. God bless his sorry ass!

Jack Jodell said...

mud_rake,
I laughed like hell when I heard his "explanation." What a sick, sick self-centered liar. That one really takes the cake! And he thinks he's fit to be elected President with a sorry marriage and infidelity record like that? Bring it on, Republicans---the White House has NOTHING to fear!

Jolly Roger said...

I have to admit, I've struggled with it, flipped it over, looked at it, and I cannot find any reason to go on supporting this President. If he had put those comfortable shoes on and headed to Madison, then, maybe I could have swallowed hard and overlooked everything else. But that was the final nail in the coffin; I can't, and won't, pretend to support this guy's re-election. I'm not going to be terrified into casting votes I don't want to cast. Sometimes you just have to say, "that's it," and that's where I am.

I believe the only hope we have for meaningful change is to push it up from the bottom. We have to deal with the DINOs, and the current dem "leadership" in Congress, and the Ben(edict) Nelson types, and push forward real Progressive forces. This is even more important to do at the State level, as we've all seen over the last few weeks. That will be where I concentrate most of my attention, barring a real Progressive getting into the 2012 Presidential cycle.

Jack Jodell said...

Jolly nRoger,
Thanks for weighing in. I understand your position completely and agree in part. Please look at my post tomorrow when it's up and you'll see where I am personally at on this. Meantime, all I will say is that, for the push from the bottom to be fully successful, it must not be halted by an impenetrable, cold steel wall at the very top. By this I mean that if the White House is occupied by a Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, or any other corporatist conservative Republican in Jan. 2013, it is guaranteed that the progressive agenda will NEVER be realized. We CANNOT give the Republicans any more rope to hang US with! Sitting home disgustedly last November only allowed jerks like Scott Walker and his followers to assume control, and we've just seen what an absolute disaster THAT has been!

Political change takes patience and resolve. We on the left must have both to succeed. We cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. And we must NEVER EVER cede any ground to this current horrid batch of ulyra-conservative right-wingers.

Michael Scott said...

Jack you and I have been kicking around the blogosphere for a long time, and I think we know each fairly well. My position is almost identical to yours, but as we both know our views are not shared. I won't get into a battle with friends over these things. I will simply state my case, and allow others to weigh my thoughts.

I must however make this observation:

The Hard Left is looking for Harry Potter. They are looking for someone who can come in and beat Obama in 2012 and then go on to magically win the national election. That is not realistic and it won't happen.

The Democrat power brokers know that a primary fight could doom the incumbent, so it just won't happen. Fortunately, the Hard Left is a tiny, tiny, fraction of the voting public, almost to the point of being insignificant. My fear, however, is that a shadow organization, funded by the like of the Koch Brothers will offer them money to work to find a primary candidate for the president. That could doom the party in 2012.

Thanks as always Jack and I hope you spend more time at my place expressing your opinions. My readers would enjoy them as do I....

Jack Jodell said...

Michael,
Thank you, and I do agree it is fantasy land for people to expect Obama to be defeated in a primary challenge, and for that person to go on and defeat the eventual GOP nominee.

There are many, MANY reasons for leftists, "hard" or not, to be disappointed with Obama. But the fact remains that he WILL be the nominee, and I believe national backlash against the reactionary Scott Walker/Koch brothers-funded GOP will again propel him into the White House for a second term. What's more, I believe voter fury over Wisconsin will transform itself into solid Democratic gains in both houses. That should free Obama from his knee-jerk tendency to cave to Republicans and restore him to the more progressive-minded man he was at the start of his first term. More on this in my post which will appear tomorrow midday.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

* It's a post with great ideas & well, I can't "ignite" out of respect for my buddy! * So, I'll not say. Being a lady has it's breaks. LOL