“Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances from cars to iPods and abstaining from surfing the Web or text messaging until Easter.”
Traditionally Lent is about self-sacrifice — giving up the things we enjoy — in order to commiserate with Jesus, who spent 40 days fasting. These new trends in Lent also have a more overtly political message.
For example, the Modena diocese “seeks to draw attention to years of conflict in Congo fueled in part by the struggle for control of coltan mines. The mineral is an essential material in cell phones,” the AP reports. I’m not familiar with that conflict, but clearly turning off one’s cell phone won’t make any difference. What is needed is a defense of property rights and the rule of just law, not some anti-technology stunt.
Other aspects of the new Lent have a distinctly environmentalist twist, such as taking mass transit or recycling. So now Christians are supposed to sacrifice, not only for God, but for the environmentalist agenda. This is another indicator of the convergence of religion and environmentalism. Self-sacrifice is a key element of both movements, so theirs is a natural alliance.
The only thing I’m giving up for Lent is self-sacrifice.