I'm often at a loss for what to put up as a new poll on our web site, and last week I put one up asking whether readers planned to give something up for Lent. Probably not the best possible poll question, but it's what I could come up with on short notice.
I've never personally given anything up for Lent, but I have friends and family who do, and I was kind of shocked at a couple of comments left at the T-G web site:
The first was a two-word comment: "not Catholic." Lent may be more heavily observed by Catholics than others, but it is not exclusive to the Catholic church, by any stretch of the imagination. There are a number of protestant denominations that observe the liturgical calendar -- seasons like Advent, Epiphany and Lent. That includes the United Methodist Church, of which I'm a member. By definition, any church observing Ash Wednesday is observing the beginning of Lent.
Now, recognizing Lent as a season in the liturgical calendar is not exactly the same thing as giving something up for Lent; there are individuals who do the former but not the latter, and I guess that describes me up to this point. But to imply that Lent is just a Catholic thing displays a lack of knowledge about other denominations.
But the really troubling statement was this:
"Saved folks don't do Lent."
Really? Even if you or your denomination don't follow the liturgical calendar, in what way is it in conflict with being saved? I don't understand that at all. Lent is generally not observed from a legalistic standpoint -- as something you have to do to earn God's favor, which would be contrary to most Christian theology -- but as a spiritual discipline, something that benefits the practitioner. If it's not your particular spiritual discipline, that's fine; but it's hardly the kind of pivotal issue that justifies questioning someone else's salvation.