Let’s Discuss . . . Mardis Gras


I don’t normally put two posts up on one day anymore, but today is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before the Lenten season begins, and I would like us to talk about something. Let me put my thoughts in a brief paragraph for you to consider and respond to today:

One measure of our grasp of the freedom of the Christian life is how we view and participate in celebrations like Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Seems to me many of us are quite ready to beat ourselves up in Lent, but don’t feel comfortable letting loose to celebrate, feast, and revel on this day. Jesus was known more for his gluttony and wine-bibbing than for his asceticism.

82 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss . . . Mardis Gras

  1. For many, what they were delivered from becomes a weird focus for them, and something they use to measure up against other people. How did I know I was a sinner? I did these things. And then Jesus, and now I don’t. So how the heck do you call yourself a believer and do those things I know makes you a sinner?

    Like former horndog-turned-celibate-priest St Augustine and “concupiscence”.
    Or recovering alcoholic Billy Sunday and Demon Rum.


  2. Many years ago, I was in Nawlins for Microsoft Tech Ed. Stayed in the Quarter, ate beignets for breakfast at Café du Monde, sampled the local specialties each night — Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice, Shrimp Etoufee. (Tip — Jambalaya from The Gumbo Shop on St Peter Street (and a three-inch stack of paper napkins, you’re going to need them) is THE best cure for sinus headaches. And watch out for Shrimp Etoufeee — the Willie Pete burn aftereffects are on a delay fuse.) Technically, this was during Lent, and if that’s the way they eat during Lent, I understand why Louisiana chefs look like they weigh 300+ lbs in their cookbook cover pics.


  3. Technically, they’re a secondary sexual characteristic. (As well as figuring in George Carlin’s famous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”.) Stephen Jay Gould had an essay on “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples” touching on why men have them.

    But in the Big Easy on Mardi Gras, they’re the Pickpockets’ Greatest Friend:

    What a town, huh?


  4. The fact is there are only 4 verses that even mention gluttons, and all them also mention alchohol. It seems only drunkards can be gluttons. Which makes perfect sense. Who would overeat for real, but someone too drunk to realize they’re over-eating? Everyone else would stop before they burst.

    Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:21, and the false accusations against Christ in Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34.


  5. Where does this crap about “Freedom” even come from? All Paul ever meant by freedom was freedom from sin, you know, because the forgiveness of sins in Christ frees us from bondage to sin. He didn’t mean freedom to get drunk and engage in orgies.


  6. “Oh crap, they must not be a Christian!”

    You must be a Baptist or some other type of Calvinist. Anyone who believes in Jesus and has been validly baptized is a Christian. But that doesn’t mean they’re a good Christian. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t in a state of mortal sin.


  7. And what is it that you are measuring up against other people? If you tell me that you’re not, I won’t believe you. You’re comments fairly crackle with measuring up others.


  8. Overweight and obesity are caused by a complex confluence of genetic, physiological, psychological, and behavioral factors; to assume that a person is overweight because of being gluttonous, because of being sinful, is to make an unwarranted and unjust assumption. The fact that the only two “sins” thought worthy of public shaming and criticism in the contemporary popular sensibility are being overweight and polluting the environment does not ameliorate the injustice involved.


  9. Rick: I mean, “philosophically”, I think they are somewhat right. However, we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. For instance, “ideally”, we shouldn’t have to lock our homes, but we don’t live in such a perfect, theoretical world (yet).


  10. David, your post reminds me of Luke 3, when John the Baptist is kinda scolding the crowds amassing around him, thinking he might be the Messiah.

    First, it says:
    When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”

    The crowds then go ask him “What must we do?” and John’s answer is pretty dang funny when you think about it. Basically, he says, “Stop doing bad things and wrong things!”

    So it’s easy to play the “in Christ I’m free” card, but there has to be some element of “Stop doing wrong things, bad things.”


  11. Point taken, however, I think many people are quite aware of their own struggles; there is no deception necessary. Many who idolize drinking to excess in order to escape reality know before they go to the bar what they’re getting into and that their motives aren’t in the right place–they don’t need to do that much introspection to deduce that. If you’re doing something that clearly violates your own conscience and is something that you know is drawing you away from God, then I don’t think we can simply adapt the “meh, whatever, I’ll just do whatever I feel like because I’m free in Christ” mantra. Not saying we ought to be the one in charge, on the contrary, those are the very times when we ought to most heavily deny ourselves and rely upon God to work in us.


  12. Oh how I miss the days when we had these sanctification debates regularly!

    What’s exhausting? Putting myself in charge of managing my spiritual condition.

    Checking my heart? What does that look like? Last time I checked, my capacity for self-deception was inexhaustible. I couldn’t identify one of my motives accurately if it were written across the sky.

    Paul himself said he wasn’t aware of anything that could be held against him, but that didn’t mean a thing – only God can judge that.

    Live your life. Reins off.


  13. Finn, your comment was nonsensical. First, who said it was exhausting? Is lifting a pencil off the desk ‘exhausting’? Is spending 5 seconds of your time to reflect and check your motives when in a questionable act ‘exhausting’? Seeing as we are not God, then it is prudent to adapt a habit of introspection/meditation. Second, even “if” you deem it exhausting, so what? Many things in life are exhausting. Love is exhausting as well, should we quit that? Going to gym and working out is in and of itself exhausting as well, but the joy and rewards from doing it certainly make it worthwhile. Furthermore, as Rick stated, either way they are not mutually exclusive (freedom vs checking your heart because you care), so your entire response is based on a false dichotomy.


  14. It’s always funny to see a pastor rail about the evils of alcohol, worldly pleasures, etc when he himself is so large that he can barely stand without breathing. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen/heard of that plenty of times. Hypocrisy much? And really, who is doing more damage to their body? The guy who went to a wedding and got hammered or the pastor who is constantly cramming potluck dinners into his mouth? The answer is the guy who makes a lifestyle out of it, i.e. the pastor. Therein lies the problem. I also find it interesting that pastors love bringing the hammer down on alcohol, but never say a word about gluttony. Because alcohol is the other guy’s sin. Gluttony is sitting right in the pastor’s church though and we can’t offend that person. The key is in all things moderation, except of course for moderation. As far as I’m personally concerned, I have difficulty “cutting loose.” I am very health conscious so lots of food usually doesn’t tempt me and when I do eat a lot, I feel the need to go exercise or else I’ll feel bad about it. I’ve never had alcohol before since my parents never drank it and I’d be afraid I’d be something embarrassing in front of people while under the influence, so alcohol is out. Finally, not even random sex tempts me all that much because I’m too monogamously minded to like that sort of sex. So there you have it. I’m a terrible reveler.


  15. I’m not fond of crowds, especially overly raucous, loud, irreverent types, but I’m very partial to good food, good wine, good cocktails with good friends and family on a regular basis…

    celebration for me involves the communal enjoyment of loved ones. doing in an atmosphere of excess with complete strangers somehow loses its appeal to me quickly.

    there really is no theological or religious motivation, or angst, that forms my perspective here. I don’t even need a reason, or excuse, to party within the boundaries of what I expressed above. I do like to, “eat, drink and be merry”, but not because I’m a libertine casting off the restraints of civil, moral, religious codes of conduct. I simply like being part of gatherings that do celebrate life in the time-honored fashion of feasting…

    during these times drinking is not the goal, but it is definitely expected. getting drunk can happen, but not because getting drunk was the goal, nor is overeating ever a contest.

    the Carnival expressions, or Fat Tuesday’s, were an artificial traditional development in reaction to the Lenten season with its own emphasis on self-denial, piety and being mindful of the communal call to moderation. like any of the basic Christian disciplines, trying to legislate them through the official observation of feast days, holy days, and high holy days cannot transform any disciple from the outside. God bless those who willingly follow the Liturgical Calendar and participate regularly in the disciplines they feel are of value to their own personal transformation.

    as can be determined from my brief commentary, most readers can see that I tend toward the Romans chapter 14 view of Christian liberty that does not ‘define’ my faith, my maturity, my orthodoxy, my commitment, my spirituality, my witness (heaven forbid!), my self-control, etc. I don’t demand that every other Christian believe, or behave, the way I do, but if you have a real problem with my lifestyle and the manner which I embrace life, please, keep it to yourself. I have no tolerance for finger-pointing, feigned disgust, holier-than-thou platitudes or just plain ol’ self-righteous BS. such attitudes will be the only reasons you will quickly disqualify yourself from being on my next guest list!



  16. Seems like there’s another point that hasn’t been raised – reveling on the last night before Lent often has much to do with one last hurrah before heading into the drear and drudgery of Lent. But many of us don’t dread Lent, do we? Instead of viewing it as a time of deprivation and restriction, we can enter it as a time of contemplation and reflection – a welcomed stripping down to the life-bringing basics . So, if we don’t feel negatively constrained by Lent, it stands to reason that there is less need to have a wild farewell to “freedom” before it begins.


  17. -> “so long as when doing so, you are still able to maintain a genuine heart of gratitude and love towards God.”

    -> “Wow, that sounds exhausting. Constant self-examination regarding if I am maintaining a genuine heart of gratitude”.

    This is why I love, absolutely LOVE, Eugene Peterson’s take on Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message:

    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

    “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” has become my motto. I think it’s possible to have freedom AND live in a mode of self-examination and maintenance of a heart of gratitude. It’s by learning it through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not through religion. Religion and most religious people will FORCE it, only Jesus and the Spirit will make it easy and unforced.


  18. “so long as when doing so, you are still able to maintain a genuine heart of gratitude and love towards God.”

    Wow, that sounds exhausting. Constant self-examination regarding if I am maintaining a genuine heart of gratitude”. So much for Freedom. This new law is an order of magnitude worse than the old law.

    “I think either way though, it’s still a fine line that we ought to have heightened awareness whilst approaching…”

    Naw, forget about a “heightened awareness”. Just sit back, relax, have a cold one, and enjoy the beautiful day.


  19. truly revel with a spirit of freedom

    You are probably right, and that is such a medieval way of thinking…lol


  20. That before/after aspect of christianity can be tough. For instance, I had no before debauchary or drunken carousing, but I have had that after (or some would call it). I never had a drop of alcohol before, I enjoy alcohol now. Never had tobacco before, now do. etc…

    For many, what they were delivered from becomes a weird focus for them, and something they use to measure up against other people. How did I know I was a sinner? I did these things. And then Jesus, and now I don’t. So how the heck do you call yourself a believer and do those things I know makes you a sinner?



  21. lol, thanks Rick, though I’d say I’m very religious, just very sacrilegious. Too many golden cows in the world, and burgers are tasty.

    Is there any scriptural support? Probably not, it’s mostly inferred, as is a lot of things. Good point about Jesus doing something that wouldn’t give the Pharisees ammo, in this instance at least. They were definitely rocking the tyranny of the weaker brothers.

    As for that line…I agree. But being drunk or eating too much isn’t the line. Making a lifestyle of it, aka, being a glutton or a drunkard, most definitely is.

    Did Jesus ever wake up with a hangover? Why not. Maybe even got backed up a few times too at the local fish fry. (I’m all for humanizing Jesus as much as possible, as my background had him at basically 0.1% human, 101% God)


  22. The verse that comes to mind for me is: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I suppose it’s possible that eating or drinking to excess now and then isn’t wrong in and of itself, so long as when doing so, you are still able to maintain a genuine heart of gratitude and love towards God. For some I imagine that is probably much harder and comes less naturally than others. I think either way though, it’s still a fine line that we ought to have heightened awareness whilst approaching…


  23. I don’t think all that happens during Carnival is anymore Christian than what happens during Christmas. For some reason, the debauchery of Carnival is sin but that of Christmas is not; in fact, it’s ‘Merican.

    Define the terms: what is fasting and what is feasting? It would explain how improperly observed both Lent/Easter and Advent/Christmas truly are. But still the prudish tradition of peitism keeps us from expressing true joy through the feast, perhaps even why Puritans banned Christmas celebrations. I think that is why feasting is replaced by excess: we eat, spend, and revel too much, but we justify ourselves by detaching any joy from our actions.


  24. I’m willing to bet that most people’s version of Fat Tuesday runs more to “eat, drink, and be merry” than drunken debauchery. It was, once, more a matter of using up food that wouldn’t be eaten during Lent–not that most people had that much extra food around the house–than partying day and night. But sexual relations were forbidden during Lent, so people made have been making up for the time that they would be required to abstain.

    Despite its religious context, Lent in practical terms was about making a virtue of necessity, at least in Medieval Europe. Food stores were at their lowest in late winter/early spring, and nothing was growing and ripening yet to replenish them. If everybody didn’t cut back, people would starve before food was available again. Forty days of religiously-motivated fasting assured that everyone would participate, and got everybody but the poorest of the poor through to Easter with enough food to last.


  25. That was an odd IM thread; it went everywhere. This is what I don’t understand – “Salvation is by faith, not by works”, or so the law-vs-grace people declare much too often [so often I think it looses meaning], but there seems a real concern with “how can we do this without sinning?”.

    I have been in many parades, of various types; mostly this is because I own a 1919 Model-T Ford Depot Hack and people love that for floats or pulling floats. Once I was inside a green 40ft long Chinese dragon. “How to do this without sinning?” is something that never occurred to me – It is a parade! Is this comment bias? Maybe there are many readers who can throw a party without this concern, and they simply didn’t comment?

    The *apparent* dissonance seems like something that merits further investigation. When in the dreaded Galatians verse Paul mentions “drunkenness, revelling” … immediately following *MURDER* … how should that be read? What is the stem of the term “revelling”… that could mean a lot of things, and very different things to different people? In other places we are enjoined to rejoice with those who rejoice… what is the practical distinction between Revelling and Rejoicing?


  26. Maybe it’s not about setting criteria for who is and isn’t a Christian, but discouraging behavior that is not a true expression of Christian liberty, and that obstructs one’s growth in Christian life. My youth was full of drunken carousing and debauchery, and I can tell you from my own experience that it was an expression of self-centeredness; loving neighbor as self had no chance when I was so focused on having a “good time.” In fact, what I was seeking to do was forget completely about my neighbor, except insofar as they could help facilitate my having “good time.” I think this is why Paul is clearly opposed to drunkenness and debauchery.


  27. Our priest says that when the Church proclaims a feast day, we are in fact supposed to feast — extra dessert, glass of wine, chocolate bar. Being too busy or distracted to feast is as bad as being too busy or distracted to fast.


  28. Maybe I’m wrong, but the schizophrenic nature of the discussion on this thread pretty much proves my point. Many of us don’t have a clue about what it means to truly revel with a spirit of freedom. In all likelihood, myself included.


  29. -> “…and must have to the point of excess a few times, enough to have been drunk.”

    Stuart, I often like your non-religious/out-of-the-box take on things, but this is too far out there for me. There are absolutely ZERO scriptural accounts that would support this viewpoint. In fact, I’d suggest just the opposite, that Jesus would want to avoid putting himself in a position that the Pharisees COULD use drunkenness and gluttony against him that he’d make sure he never crossed that line. And while I view drinking and eating NOT to be sins, I think there’s a line that can be crossed, and I’m pretty sure Jesus never crossed it. He was perfectly obedient, remember, despite being a human.


  30. I think Americans are pretty repressed about our bodies and our own physicality, compared to many societies in the Caribbean and Latin America. The differences really show during Carnival.


  31. One of the most abused and tortured scriptures in the Bible.

    Find me a Christian who isn’t one of those things at some given time.

    Oh crap, they must not be a Christian!

    Hmm…or not. Wait, maybe Paul was lying! Hmm…or not. Maybe…maybe our interpretation of that verse is wrong?



  32. Nah. Jesus drank and eat, and must have to the point of excess a few times, enough to have been drunk.

    Does that make him a drunk/drunkard? Or a glutton?

    Hardly. Nor does it to any of us who do the same. Words. Meanings. There IS a difference between the two.


  33. “…but don’t feel comfortable letting loose to celebrate, feast, and revel on this day.”

    Galatians 5:21 “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Hmmmm….I wonder why….


  34. Not explicitly Mardis Gras, but this reminds me of Arcade Fire’s Here Comes the Night. A song about the people of Haiti dancing and celebrating in the streets at night, while the religious people bunker up and stay inside.

    “Here Comes The Night Time”

    When the sun goes down,
    When the sun goes down you head inside
    Because the lights don’t work,
    Nothing works but you don’t mind

    Here comes the night time

    The missionaries tell us we will be left behind
    Been left behind a thousand times, a thousand times
    If you want to be righteous, if you want to be righteous
    Get in line
    Here comes the night time

    Here comes the night time
    Look out, here comes the night time
    Now here comes the night
    Here comes the night
    Look out here comes the night time

    They say heaven’s a place, yeah heaven’s a place
    And they know where it is,
    But you know where it is?
    It’s behind the gate, they won’t let you in
    When they hear the beat coming from the street the lock the door,
    If there’s no music up in heaven then what’s it for?
    When I hear the beat, my spirit’s on like a live wire
    A thousand horses running wild in a city on fire
    It starts in your feet, then it goes to your head
    And if you can feel it, then the rules are dead
    And if you’re the judge, then what is our crime?
    Here comes the night time.

    Now the preachers they talk
    Up on the satellite
    If you’re looking for hell, just try looking inside

    When you look in the sky, just try looking inside
    God knows what you might find
    Here comes the night time


  35. I don’t think we can let loose, most of us. “In everything you do, do not sin” is our mantra and default understanding of the expected Christian life.

    Perhaps back in ancient days, maybe even pre-Reformation, people could cut loose because sin was dealt with in a different matter. You could sin for days and days, but as long as you go to confession or something similar (I’m not familiar enough with the correct forms) and do penance, you can get absolved, and you are good to go. You could really “sin boldly” back then, if you so chose to.

    But that’s not how we view things today. We don’t have penance, we don’t have absolution. We have some vague notion of Jesus dying for and forgiving us our sins, but those are alway the pre-conversion sins. Pre-sins. The expectation now, the goal, is to be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect, and whatever you do, do not sin. You can can then twist that understanding even further, depending on your bent: since you sin, God will never hear your prayers…if you do sin and confess your sin to another, that other may hold that over you and prevent you from sinning again…sinning means you were never saved to begin with…and choosing let alone planning to sin means you NEVER were saved to begin with.

    And what will the neighbors say? Have to keep the perfect mask on.

    I don’t know. It’s a really good question, and the idea of Mardis Gras sounds amazing…but how do you do it without sinning?


  36. To celebrate Mardi Gras today, I ate four fasnachts. And, as you say, at some point my mind became a blur; when I regained my clarity, I found that I had indeed crossed over the line from good to evil, though I can’t be sure exactly where.


  37. If being afraid is a crime, we’ll hang side by side,
    at the swingin’ party down the line…

    –Paul Westerberg


  38. I think that feasting, including the festive consumption of alcohol and good-natured revelry, is one thing; the sexually debauched aura surrounding the popular image of Mardi Gras is another. Never having been there, I don’t know what the reality is. A Trinidadian acquaintance, who has been to both Mardi Gras (once) and Carnival in Trinidad (many times), expressed disappointment with the lack of sensuality of the American celebration in comparison with the West Indian one, so maybe it’s tamer than its reputation.


  39. “You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat
    You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat
    You can dip your foot in the pool but you can’t have a swim
    You can feel the punishment but you can’t commit the sin.”
    – Howard Jones.


  40. Yeah, I don’t see how throwing beads to drunken revelers so that they will expose their breasts can in any way be seen as a legitimate expression of Christian liberty. Should the Christians of ancient Rome have participated in the orgiastic Saturnalia as an expression of their liberty? I think the Church Fathers would have been aghast at the suggestion.


  41. Feasting isn’t about sin and excess anymore than fasting is about legalism. Oddly, peistism may be the real culprit.


  42. ” Lewis couldn’t understand the teetotaler point of view at all.”

    I have trouble understanding it myself. One reason I don’t attend the big Lutheran church here in town is their rule against alcohol at church functions. Presumably the eucharist is not included in this prohibition, but I’m not absolutely sure of this. In any case, my response is that they have sadly fallen away from Biblical Christianity.


  43. Hmm…that’s really stretching a line of scripture to make a point. Who viewed Jesus as a glutton and wine-bibbber? The Pharisees, who proved over and over that they were completely clueless as to Jesus’ nature and character. There is no “truth” in this line, just a statement by Jesus that this is how the Pharisees viewed him. In fact, if anything, his contrast with their view of John the Baptist and himself is supposed to show how far they were FROM THE TRUTH.


  44. If you’re going to use his reputation in the eyes of Pharisees as “who he was,” we’re in big trouble. I don’t normally call foul on people here, but that’s a gross mis-use of scripture to make a point.


  45. No, you said he was known for *his* gluttony and wine-bibbing. If you had left out the word his, I’d have no problem with the statement.


  46. Not sure what that verse is supposed to prove, Chaplain Mike. That Jesus was accused of being a glutton and drunkard? Ok. That doesn’t mean he actually was one.


  47. That reminds of something C S Lewis wrote about being mystified by some of his American fans who were shocked when he would rhapsodize about social imbibing. There’s a place in one of his letters where he talks about inviting someone on a visit to the local pub to “go get high”, of course not having quite the same meaning it came to have. Lewis couldn’t understand the teetotaler point of view at all.


  48. Yeah, that’d be like saying “Jesus was known more for his sinning…” A sinner he wasn’t.

    More appropriate to say “Jesus was known more for not throwing stones at sinners…”


  49. In the Orthodox Church, our Gospel readings for the few weeks leading up to Lent already start talking about our need for God and turning toward him (repentance). We ease into it, instead of having a wild indulgence the last day or two beforehand. This doesn’t preclude partying heartily, which we do at any appropriate time… This past Sunday was Meatfare Sunday this year – we are now abstaining from meat, but this week we still get to have eggs, dairy, fish, olive oil and wine (except for the regular fast days of Wed and Fri). This coming Sunday is Cheesefare Sunday, which is our last chance to eat dairy and most fish until Pascha. Our Lent begins the following Monday – actually Sunday afternoon, when we participate in the Vespers of Forgiveness, when everyone in the church building asks forgiveness of everyone else.

    Teams of parishioners prepare a whole meal for us all to eat after Liturgy each week. My favorite of these is on Meatfare Sunday: blini (Russian pancakes) with bacon, sour cream, hard boiled eggs, herring or smoked salmon, caviar and fruit. We’re emptying out the cupboards in preparation for much simpler food.

    An interesting tidbit of info is that olive oil used to be stored in animal skins, and that is why it’s not allowed during Lent. Olives are, though, which is a big consolation for me – I love them! We are allowed fish, wine and olive oil on the feast of the Annunciation. We are allowed wine and olive oil on Saturdays and Sundays. And of course, if one has special dietary needs, the fast is modified accordingly. The point of fasting is not fasting. I do often wonder, though, how our attitude may be different now than in previous times, when people did not have non-dairy creamer, soy baloney, vegetarian mayonnaise, and the like…

    Once again, there is a distinction between how things are viewed and done in the East and the West. And of course, non-sacramental “low church” Christians in the West want nothing at all to do with Carnival or Lent.



  50. “Jesus was known more for his gluttony and wine-bibbing than for his asceticism.” Not sure I buy that, although he certainly was known for associating with gluttons and wine-bibbers.


  51. “Jesus was known more for his gluttony and wine-bibbing than for his asceticism.”

    – how true!


  52. I like the idea of using the day(s) before Lent to indulge a bit. We throw a fajita dinner at our parish on Shrove Tuesday. Yesterday I ate waaay too much ice cream, and for lunch I enjoyed my last bit of bacon for a few weeks. I think because my vices and indulgences tend more toward food than anything else, I tend to look at the feast and fast in those terms.


  53. The popular culture has had a tendency to retain the feasts and revelry while discarding the Christian celebration. And then to go overboard on the revelry. Mardi Gras, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are all examples. Mardi Gras is an extreme example here, where the popular culture image of it is drunken revelry without meaningful content.

    I’ve got no clue how to steer between Scylla and Charbidis here, retaining both real revelry and real Christian celebration.

    The Jewish tradition of Purim comes to mind. They have built a tradition that involves both the reading of the book of Esther and feasting and imbibing. The Talmud records a command to get sufficiently drunk to “no longer distinguish between the phrases arur Haman (‘Cursed is Haman’) and baruch Mordechai (‘Blessed is Mordecai’).”


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