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Monday, September 03, 2007

Adventures in Enlightenment: Lent (thoughts)

[follow up to this]

First a summary of how I did. As a general statement I'll say that I wasn't a perfect stickler for staying away from the things that I gave up. In fact, I have a semi-good reason for planned lapses of a sort. I think the key to giving up something is being able to engage in the bad habit (or what have you) and not fall completely off the wagon. In fact I'd say getting back on the wagon is the most important skill to have. But you can't practice getting on unless you fall off at least a little.

- cokes (sodas): this was actually pretty easy. I've been slowly weaning myself off these for the last year or two and it was time to just be done with it. I'll allow myself an occasional can or two but I'm not planning on buying these to have around the house or work anymore.

- chocolate: I eat exclusively dark chocolate anyway so I'm not so sure giving this up was a net health gain. I'm still not sure what baseline I want to return to with this. The most humorous aspect of this goal for the month is that my wife's family paid for a cruise as a sort of family reunion. For anyone who has been on a cruise I'm sure you'll agree that avoiding chocolate on a cruise is a fairly daunting thing to do. But I did pretty good all things considered.

- religion/atheism: so here's the really critical item of this month's experiment. Would I miss reading about and writing about religion and disbelief for a month and how would I otherwise fill my time? Turns our I didn't miss it too much. It's sort of like going on a TV fast. At first you miss it, but then you are thankful that you've cut yourself off and are amazed at all the fun things you all of a sudden have time to do (in my case computer science reading / programming projects). Even something as simple as simply sleeping instead of reading about or writing about religion/disbelief is so much healthier on so many levels. Anyway we'll see where this leads me. Tentatively I'm thinking of setting a timer and limiting my time with all things religious to a small fraction of my week. Interestingly, I'm not very tempted to open up my new feed reader and start catching up and so far haven't. I sort of like the extra time. *sigh*

As far as lent as a concept goes I'll have to file this under clever mind control techniques. On the one hand it seems like practicing discipline is just a good thing no matter what. On the other hand giving up pleasure to prove yourself to god is sort of warped. The point it to think about how much more important god is than your own enjoyment and how you are failing to serve him enough. So you spend a month or so of deprivation thinking about how much you suck. So now you are in a position to realize how unworthy you are and how much help you need from higher powers. Well done religion engineers. Well done.

Anyway, I'm still pondering my next enlightenment adventure, hopefully something by tomorrow.

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