Monday, February 23, 2009

The liturgical colour of Lent: not violet, but green!

The C of E, that formerly venerable institution of English culture and religion which has given us such delights as choral evensong and the Oxford Movement, but which lately has resorted to frivolous gimmicks to keep up its media profile, is now preparing for the holy season of Lent.

And what are Christians being urged to do for Lent this year?

Mortifying the body through the practice of fast and abstinence? Not a bit of it.

How about rising earlier from sleep in order to give oneself to an hour of prayer before undertaking the duties of the day? Not that either.

Or, perhaps, spiritual reading and daily meditation? No.

More frequent attendance at church services, or almsgiving, or works of charity? Not these.

No, the Church of England in general and two of its bishops in particular, have recommended that Christians give up carbon for Lent. In practical terms, this involves such practices as eschewing the use of plastic bags, washing dishes in the sink instead of in the dishwasher, insulating the house and the hot water tank, switching off electrical appliances when not in use, &c. In this wise, Lent is to be a time for reducing the size of one’s “carbon footprint” rather than a time of penance and spiritual renewal.

How thoroughly, heart-warmingly secular! How totally at one with the zeitgeist! How completely and fashionably trendy! They must have forgotten what Lent is all about. There is nothing in their lordships’ prescription, apart perhaps from the occurrence of the word Lent to which any atheist could take exception.

A secular programme for what is in essence a secular goal, and with it the Christian significance of Lent is jettisoned entirely.

Lest Melancholicus be thought of as mocking the Anglicans, he assures his readers he has no such malicious intention. On the contrary, he is pleased to offer, as an antidote to the above nonsense, some edification he found on the blog of a C of E clergyman here.

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