Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nor meat nor drink for 46 days

It's that time of year again. As of midnight, I'm off alcohol, coffee and meat until Easter Sunday. For the 22nd consecutive year. And lesser things - confectionery, cakes, biscuits etc - and salt snacks (which I've given up pretty much altogether anyway). This Lent, I shall still be drinking green tea (it has many health benefits), eating small daily amounts of 85% cocoa chocolate (good for the brain) and will not be giving up cheese or butter or natural yoghurt. But the steaks, the red wines and the Lavazzas will have to wait.

Back to exercises - press-ups and sit-ups - get myself in shape. Winter gets one complacent; time to toughen up, return to form. Must remember not to over do it in the first few days (like I did last year). Ten sit-ups yesterday, 15 today (twice), just to warm up. Weight - 11st 10lb (75kg). Not too bad. Girth - 39 inches (99cm) measured around the navel. Too much belly fat. Sit-ups are the only effective answer.

One way or the other, I must give thanks to God for giving me health.

And to matters spiritual - I shall be reading Tischner czyta Katechizm, Jacek Żakowski's best-selling book-length interview with Polish priest/philosopher Józef Tischner (1931-2000), written in 1996. The aim being to understand the thinking, questioning section of Polish Catholicism (generally seen as losing out to the Radio Maria crowd), to see whether it brings any meaningful (to me, anyway) insight.

I have no doubt as to the existence of God within our universe of 200 billion galaxies each of 200 billion stars. God meaning order, progress, a will to perfect. But how we understand God (as a Lord, as a King, as a Father - as male), is, I think, based on anachronistic metaphors that have failed to keep up with the advance of science. Bible-bashers offering literal interpretations of the scriptures are as wrong as Richard Dawkins categorically denying the existence of God on the basis of the current state of scientific knowledge. God is not dead, but our understanding of the nature of God has to move on from a limited, anthropocentric view.

All things to ponder upon over the next 46 days. Why? I ask myself. Tradition. A frame of reference.

"May faith not be only a value in its self, but may it help make life worthy, joyous and happy."

This time last year:
Feeling at home on the ice

This time four years ago:
Wetlands in (a milder) winter

This time five years ago:
Railway miscellany


Anonymous said...

"But how we understand God (as a Lord, as a King, as a Father - as male), is, I think, based on anachronistic metaphors that have failed to keep up with the advance of science." Do you really believe, that science has anything to do with our perception of God? Substitute "science "with "propaganda" and you get an answer.

Bob said...

Go for it Michael - I have been following your Lent practices for many years now and enjoy your missives during the period.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bob - thanks as always for your support :)

@ Anon - I'm looking for understanding, clarity, in an area that by its very nature - metaphysical - can seem beyond comprehension. From the Prologue to the Catechism: "God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life." God - male? Created man? OK - but what about sentient life that must abound throughout the universe? In His image too? Or just on this planet? It's a bit pre-Copernicus to me...
Yes, science does have a bearing on how we perceive the Creator of Everything.

Michael said...

Michael - in regards to Radio Maryja, would you agree that their support within the Church institutions is dramatically out of touch with their support within congregations?

However, I don't agree that the intellectual wing of the Church is losing to Radio Maryja at all. You can easily believe that if you look at the activities of Radio Maryja - but my understanding is that the intellectuals are very much determined to stop Rydzyk from ever gaining a serious position with the Polish Church.

The interesting issue to me is why the Church has allowed Rydzyk so much autonomy with his affairs. I know the technical reason, but it is quite frankly absurd that he has been allowed to get away with nonsense such as the Radio Maryja "family" and other pesudo-sect behaviour.

And finally, it terrifies me to watch the attacks on any member of the priesthood who dares to speak out on such issues. Perhaps a schism might not be such a bad thing...

Michael Dembinski said...

@ [the other] Michael:

Certainly in my experience this is the case - but in well-to-do Warsaw parishes. I don't know what it's like in rural or small town churches. Schism? A split into two soon becomes a split into many (Protestantism = Methodists, Baptists, Calvinists, Anglicans - high and low, Adventists, Episcopalians, etc)

jel said...

You're right. We enjoy God's gifts, we forget to thank him for them.
Thank you for reminding us the book "Tischner czyta Katechizm". Good thing to read on Lent days.