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Forward Friday: Where Physics Meets Metaphysics

If you’ve ever had a philosophy class, you probably know that we get the word “metaphysics” from the placement of books on Aristotle’s bookshelf.  Next to the book he titled Physics was another book without a title, so scholars came to refer to the book as meta-Physics or the-book-after-Physics-on-the-shelf.

As far back as Plato, there has been a conscious separation of the physical and spiritual, as though the two were not intimately intertwined.  One of the profound experiences of the Lenten season is the remarriage between the physical and the spiritual through the spiritual discipline of fasting.  We’ve been talking a lot this week about how fasting allows us to experience our spirituality in a physical way.

1) For this Forward Friday, reflect on how your chosen Lenten fast joins the physical and spiritual sides of your experience together.  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

2) If you haven’t chosen to observe Lent this year, try choosing to fast for the weekend and come back to share what you noticed about the link between your spiritual and physical life.

 

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Guest Post: 3 Must-haves for Lent: Part 2

My friend Jenn Cannon has graciously agreed to share her experience of fasting during this Lenten season and its impact on her body theology. If you missed it, check out Part 1. You can find more of her writing here.

Many people, in modern Christianity, have taken the idea of a fast during Lent and tried to turn it into a positive action.  Instead of simply abstaining from certain foods, people are opting to try another way to express the same idea without the physical side-effects.  As an example: my former pastor gives up his morning Starbucks and all fast food and then donates the funds that he has saved to his favorite charity.

Unhealthy Fasting

As I have journeyed to get healthier in the last 8 months, I have found that I cannot outright deny myself a certain food without the danger of a binge looming on the horizon.  If I tell myself I cannot have chocolate for 40 days (or 46 depending on how you count it), I will most certainly have a meltdown and gorge at the end when I finally allow myself the chocolate – or I will be frantically trying to find something else to fill that need.

Either way – I lose sight of the meaning of the fast, and also do myself more harm than good.  Many people who are journeying back to health will tell you the same horror stories – fasting from any certain thing is a recipe for a binge.

Healthy Fasting

So I have learned to eat things in moderation.  Great.  But then what am I supposed to do about Lent?  If I want to participate in the spiritual journey of preparing myself for the coming sacrifice of Christ, what then can I do instead of giving up meat (which I already eat very little of) or chocolate (again, a minor part of my diet and not really a sacrifice) or anything similar?

I am fasting from laziness.  Fasting from sitting on my butt.  My Lenten practice, this year, is to commit to some form of intentional exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.  I am choosing to observe Sundays as the mini-Easter that they are, and so are not part of the fast.

So – that is my physical piece.  But, as a Lenten practice, it is fruitless and self-serving unless I add in the other aspects of prayer and service.   So, my prayer (or God-focus) part of Lent is to read Scripture more regularly, pray while I’m on the treadmill, and change the music I listen to to help keep my thoughts centered on God while I’m walking.  As for service, I am always looking for the people who cross my path that I believe God sent to me.  Also, my discipline for service will take the form of writing.

Writing as Spiritual Discipline

I have a lot going on in my head as I journey back to health – and with nudging from good friends (like Laura) – am realizing I have much to say and share as I do.  So I will be writing – intentionally – during the full season of Lent.

My writing is intended to help others understand this journey of getting healthy, encourage those who are struggling with their own health, and – selfishly – to help me process some of the stuff I need to think about – specifically regarding my self-image.

Join the Conversation

So have you thought about what you’re giving up for Lent?  Do you have a reason for your choice?  And how does your personal choice (Self-focus) tie back in to the other two aspects of Fasting: God-focus and Others-focus? Leave a comment in the box below to share your journey this Lenten season.

I am a musician, a photographer, a theologian, a customer service rep.  I am a wife, a stepmom, a sister, a daughter, an aunt.  But mostly I am a child of God striving to live my crazy life the best way I know how.  These writings have been born from my journey back to health that I started in June 2011.  At that time, I weighed over 300 pounds and needed to lose at least half my weight to be considered in a healthy range.  Since then, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds through adjusting my diet and adding exercise.  The surprising side effect is the emotional changes that go along with getting healthy – and that is what has prompted me to begin to write.

Guest Post: 3 Must-haves for Lent: Part 1

My friend Jenn Cannon has graciously agreed to share her experience of fasting during this Lenten season and its impact on her body theology. You can find more of her writing here.

I am a musician, a photographer, a theologian, a customer service rep.  I am a wife, a stepmom, a sister, a daughter, an aunt.  But mostly I am a child of God striving to live my crazy life the best way I know how.  These writings have been born from my journey back to health that I started in June 2011.  At that time, I weighed over 300 pounds and needed to lose at least half my weight to be considered in a healthy range.  Since then, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds through adjusting my diet and adding exercise.  The surprising side effect is the emotional changes that go along with getting healthy – and that is what has prompted me to begin to write.

Last week, Christians around the globe marked the beginning of the season of Lent.  This season of 40 days (well, really 46) of preparation and repentance is observed so that we can prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Holy Week and Easter.  We intend to spend these 40 days focused on God and Christ and the upcoming sacrifice that saves us.

At least – that’s the intent.

Lenten Fasting

Historically, Lent has included a fast of some sort: abstaining from certain foods, from all food, from bad habits, from sex… The Lenten fast has taken so many different forms over the years.  In more Orthodox congregations, the fast is prescribed and required (with some dispensations granted for the extremely ill or weak).  In many Protestant churches, the fast is voluntary (at most) and unknown (at least).  Some congregations don’t observe Lent at all.

What then does this Fast, this abstaining, really mean?  What is the purpose and how do we observe it correctly?  And really – what does fasting have to do with Body Theology at all?

The Lenten practice was originally a 3-part one: prayer, fasting, service.  The idea is that one practice without the other 2 is incomplete.  So – if we choose to fast simply to fast, we miss the mark.  The whole point is to prepare ourselves for Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and life-giving resurrection.  If we focus ONLY on the fast, we miss the rest of the preparation.

Lenten Prayer

Fasting without prayer is simply denying ourselves.  If we use the popular example of food – we are simply denying ourselves sustenance, and missing the point.  Prayer – focus on GOD – is crucial.  Without it, we are perhaps using the fast in a multitude of incorrect ways: pride at our will or self-control; attempting to manipulate others (as in the case of a hunger strike); proof of our own piousness; and many others.  And physically, denying ourselves a certain food can enhance the desire for it – to such an extent that it could lead to a binge.  Unhealthy AND ungodly.

When we add prayer – or scripture reading or any other discipline that focuses our attention on God instead of ourselves – we immediately rescue the Fast from the worldly concerns and it can become, again, a part of worship.  We can worship through our physical acts, provided our hearts and minds are in the right place.

Lenten Service

As we worship God physically and spiritually, we must remember that we are called to love our neighbor, as well. When pressed by the Sadducees to name the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus answered:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. ~ Matthew 22: 34-40

Christ didn’t make a distinction between loving self, loving God, and loving others.  They are all tied together into one answer.  The Greatest Commandment.  And so, too, should our Lenten practice be….

Come back tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!

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