Today is Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras, Carnival, beniets, beads and Kings Cake day. A day for feasting before the days of fasting.
I knew Ash Wednesday was coming up, mostly because I was reminded on Sunday. But for some reason Fat Tuesday didn’t register until today, because of Pinterest. So now there are gluten free bengiets to fry up later. I only wish I still had some coffee from Cafe du Monde to dip them in.
A movie opened this week, Fifty Shades of Gray, and if you haven’t heard about it or the book preceding, you are living off the grid and won’t be reading this anyway. So I’m just going to assume we all know.
And this week, I am going to resume my yoga workout, seems like a good week to re-start with Lent and its focus on deprivation and bettering.
There are also a lot of upset people on social media. Upset about Fifty Shades, upset about yoga pants, and probably upset about all the over indulgence of Fat Tuesday. I think these same people would all appreciate it if we could skip all these messy messages about humans and their bodies and just jump into the safe and sane forty days of Lent.
I am not upset about Fifty Shades of Gray. As far as I know, we still have freedom of speech in the USofA. Also, we have a free market system, which means you get to choose where, how and on what you spend your dollars.
I won’t be reading or seeing Fifty Shades. I have twenty books piled up by my bed to read, and I get to a movie theatre about once every season. I just choose to go to either the movies my kids want to see (almost always), or the ones I want to (almost never). Which means I often view the movies I want to when they make their way to my local Redbox.
I also wear yoga pants. I would say they comprise most of my wardrobe. I made a conscious choice on my fortieth to stop wearing uncomfortable clothes and wear what feels good. I was never that much of a fan of jeans and other un-elasticy pants anyway.
And now, my friends, my time has come. Workout Wear – including yoga pants, sweats, sweatshirts and leggings are HIGH FASHION. For real.
Maybe that’s how this whole “I am a Christian woman and I pledge not to wear yoga pants blog post movement” began. Maybe just more people are wearing comfy non-restrictive, yet oh so smooth and moisture wicking clothing.
Full disclosure: I am a follower of Christ. Not always a particularly good example of one, but that’s Who I’ve thrown in with, forever. And. As I said above, I live in leggings of some kind or another. (Also, I’ve got some super cute ones).
While there have been some very thoughtful pieces written on the subject, I just cannot get behind (oops) this cause. In my life, I’ve rarely shied away from controversial topics, I just love conversation too much. I’ve also ranted, proclaimed, debated and embarrassed myself on a wide range of topics.
I’m just wondering if the message is getting lost in translation. And I think that the vast majority of those upset with Fifty Shades and Yoga Pants consider themselves Christians.
The two topics also have a lot in common. I’d even dare to say they are not as black and white as presented, but both lie a few shades closer to gray.
They are really, both about bodies and whose property said bodies are. Let’s just say here what it is, it’s about sex. It’s about women and men. It’s about things that are uncomfortable to talk about. And that looks and feels a lot like a paint-water glass mix of all the colors from your paintbrush. It’s murky. And suspiciously gray.
Here’s the thing about messages, campaigns, crusades; they are going to get messy if you have people involved.
We have freedom of speech, and religion, but as we know, there is nothing black and white nor clear cut about either of those things. And don’t even try to tell me you know the motivation or heart of fellow human beings who actively voice their discontent in the name of religion.
That doesn’t mean I agree. In fact, I think that somewhere in last twenty years or so the Christian church in America has veered way off topic.
So I ask, more than what it is you are upset about, who are you hoping will listen? And why?
Preach to the choir, please! Literally! Let’s talk, discuss, pray over, ask God for wisdom about the very complex issues that these two lightning rods force in our church families.
But, think about, please, when you boycott, call out, draw your line in chalk on the concrete, who might be eavesdropping. If we are to use the name of Christ in the very public arena that is 2015, do you think your message invites someone closer? Creates an open, safe conversation? Builds relationships?
Or does it simply reinforce the image of what many, sadly associate with Christians; a clique of judging, hypocritical, unintelligent, rule bound, unloving people.
I admit it, I myself, I have stopped listening to the vast majority of prominent Christian voices. I grew up in the faith, have persevered in relationship with my Savior, and built a life around the Truth. If I, who believes, have grown this un-trusting of the American Christian church, what of those who we are supposed to be loving?
As true as it is to say that we shouldn’t be judged as a whole, that every church, every Believer is different, that we don’t all stand for the same issues; why shouldn’t we be?
Brothers and sisters, the early, early church was attracting people by the day to their fold. Why? Because they – as a group – were the best PR on earth for the faith. Those looking saw the new Christians loving one another, loving those who suffered on the fringes, and fed, clothed, laughed, prayed, shared; together.
Do we really have time to freak out on Russell Wilson for tweeting about (gasp!) watching Fifty Shades of Gray? Do we really need to spend our breath on re-hashing a very old debate in new (yoga) pants of “Your Clothing Makes Me Look At Your Figure”?
Seriously? I could cry at the waste of this. The waste of your precious, fearfully and wonderfully made God given gifts that you can use instead to love his children best.
I am only too aware of my own wastefulness. It seems easy, just love God, and then, just love others, more than you love life, more than you love yourself. I can tell you, though, that there are more than fifty ways to mess up at both of these jobs.
That’s where grace comes into this picture. Into our mixed motives, painful expressions of hurt, our very messy existences. And grace changes everything.
Grace asks the hard questions, but with so much evident love that you have no choice but to answer with your whole heart.
I’ve been learning a lot about black and white thinking lately, and the funny thing is, that despite our very disordered human way of charting and graphing things that can’t be, when you mix black and white, you get, yes, gray.
Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are perfect church calendar bleeding into life examples of that very point. Fat Tuesday is all about revelry, excess, getting whatever you can to make up for in advance all of your sacrificing of and fasting from.
Except that doesn’t ever work. Because God’s economy is not our economy. In his economy, sacrificial love never runs out. His supply for our demand.
In the end, these are just my thoughts, and I am learning (slowly) to run those thoughts and their offspring, words, through God’s filter.
I like what our pastor shared Sunday about what his Lenten discipline focus was going to be. He said that being a verbal extrovert (I perked up), sometimes when tired, or irritated, his responses can be less than loving.
That’s a cause I can get behind. Less of the worst effects of my design and more of the good that God designed me specifically to share. It will take time.
And in the meantime, I will enjoy the real fifty (plus) shades of gray in the world, comfortably ensconced in yoga pants, hopefully eating bengiets and drinking cafe au lait, finding out what love and community is really about.
Bedlam Magazine: The World Needs a New Kind of Christian-Copeland