Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pardon Me While I Chuckle

From Megan McArdle comes the continuing adventures into celebrity hunger strikes. Yes, Code Pinkers and Cindy Sheehan are celebs of a weird sort:
Four of those arrested were on the 25th day of a hunger strike that is a project of CodePink. The group has issued a nationwide call for people to go on at least a partial hunger strike, if only for a few hours, to show their opposition to the war in Iraq. (WaPo)

Michael Fumento, whom Ms. McArdle links to says:
Partial? For a few hours? Does that mean if you were planning on having two Twinkies and a bag of chips between lunch and dinner you should cut out one of the Twinkies? The life of a war protestor is a harsh one indeed!

McArdle herself comments:
I have a friend who is both a peacenik, and an observant Jew; she has made fun of me more than once in the past about the wimpy Catholic notion of what a fast entails. But this makes the official RC "one meal and one snack" look positively spartan.

Growing up as an evangelical and choosing it as an adult, I have fasted many times. Fasting is about many things but not eating is the least of it. Fasting is not to draw attention to yourself, but to focus on things more important. It's to take the time you would be eating and preparing a meal to pray or do something else effective.

A rolling fast with a group of other people can be effective if you infuse your time of fasting with meaning. I once took part in a rolling fast over a month with other women to pray for elections and elected leaders from October 3rd to November 3rd. Every day one person in the group would fast the entire day, the next day the next person would and so forth. Throughout the month we prayed together and on the days when I was scheduled to fast I remember spending more time in prayer than I ever would on a normal day. The day prior to my fast day I would pray more thinking about fasting and the day after fasting I would eat with prayerful Thanksgiving.

I chuckle because it sems to me that these folks don't understand the concept of the fast. Fasting sounds self sacrificial and grand to these folks but they don't understand self sacrifice and all it is is vain posturing. Jesus taught this in Matthew 6 1-21:

1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Treasures in Heaven
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Giving, fasting and prayer are all intertwined with how God wants us to be, not that we draw attention to ourselves but that we place importance on things that are eternal and not ephemeral.

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