Thanks to a timely reminder from By Common Consent, I will be celebrating Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, tomorrow. I’ve always meant to celebrate it but always forgot when it was time to do so until half-way through Lent.
Like some Mormons, I’m jealous of other religions who have a liturgical calendar. I consider myself a very spiritual person but I’ve never been good at adhering to strict religious practices within the Mormon church. It may seem strange that a person like me wants a liturgical calendar, but there’s something about a religious structure that reminds you of various religious topics at the same time year after year that become a tradition bigger than itself, and there’s something incredible about a prolonged, shared communal experience (and I’m not talking about those horrible marathon testimony meetings). I do my best to read my scriptures and pray every day, but there’s something said about a portion of the year set aside for the same thing every time which you as a global Church consciously experience.
Maybe I’m a Law of Moses kind of guy. I like daily reminders of the gospel scattered throughout my life. And call me an elitist, but I like cultural markers that help demarcate us from the rest of the world. However, our culture is, when compared to other religions, quite silly. Disaffected Catholics still generally go to church on Easter and Christmas. Disaffected Jews may still gather together for their various feasts and fasts. What do disaffected Mormons do? As Scott B. wonders, “Wouldn’t that just be the nerdiest thing ever if a huge crowd of disaffected Mormons gathered together once a year to celebrate their cultural Mormonism by partying without coffee, tea, and alcohol while consuming ridiculous quantities of Jello and funeral potatoes. They could call it a Linger-Less-Longer.”
So I’ll be borrowing heavily from others’ liturgical calendars this year. The wife and I will probably try and celebrate Passover to the best of our ability, as well as other Jewish holidays. We might even take a stab at Ramadan this year, though we’re both technically not allowed to fast for long periods of time for medical reasons. General Conference is nice, but when it only comes twice a year, with large gaps in between lacking of any regular, yearly important dates of purely Mormon celebration (with the exception of Pioneer Day, which I don’t celebrate as it’s not really a part of my actual heritage and the wife’s hatred for anything folksy pioneer-y), sometimes you feel disconnected from the greater communal experience.
And for those who are wondering, I’m giving up eating out for Lent this year.