Monday, February 27, 2012

The Point of Privation

Why give something up? Not because it is bad in itself. We're not Manicheans. We don't believe that physical pleasures and physical things are bad in themselves. Instead we give something up not because it is bad, but because we are seeking a greater good. We're seeking self mastery and self discipline and self control.

So runs the standard theory behind the ancient practice of fasting. But Fr. Dwight Longnecker has another take:

Here's another idea--something more radical: by giving something up we are countering the pleasure obsessed culture in which we live. We are standing the whole thing on its head. We live in a society that is not embarrassed to call itself "consumerist". We live in a culture which considers "more" to always be better and "economic growth" to be a good that cannot be questioned. We live in a society in which "self indulgence" is called "self esteem", where unlimited acquisition is considered a sign of success and where uninhibited pleasure is called "self expression."

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