What I’m Giving Up For Lent*

We were talking to Athena today about Lent, and what it means in a religious sense that during Lent people give things up, and how, if you’re serious about Lent, you don’t give up something you won’t miss, you give up something you’ll miss a lot. This concept intrigued our daughter, who announced that she wished to give up something for Lent. I suggested she give up the Internet. She said, “I’ll give up the Internet, if you give up Coke Zero.”

I told her fine, I would. And then we shook on it.

So, effective at midnight, I’m off Coke Zero (and in a general sense, sodas) all the way through Easter. As I’m not religious, I’m hesitant to say I’m actually giving Coke Zero up for Lent, so as not to offend those who are in fact performing Lenten self-denial (hence the asterisk). I’m doing it largely to support my daughter as she experiments with what it means to give up something you really like. But inasmuch as we’re doing this until Easter, all you folks giving up something for Lent, we totally feel you.

Anyway, wish me luck on this. Also, as a warning: The next couple of days I will be going through some gnarly caffeine withdrawal symptoms. SO DON’T PISS ME OFF I WILL SET YOU ON FIRE. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

130 Comments on “What I’m Giving Up For Lent*”

  1. Every year when Lent comes around, it makes me glad once again that I was not raised Catholic.

  2. Well you could always get some of that caffeine enhanced soap, and be really really really clean all the time.

    Me, I’m on a diet. I’m giving up not feeling hungry several times a day.

  3. I love Lent. LOOOVE IT. Because all the stores and restaurants do some great fish specials for a whole month! Other people give up stuff they like and I get rewarded? Heck yeah, Lent!

  4. Been on fire before. Never met an author who was up for actually setting me on fire again (though, I have to admin, I irritated the heck out of my wife 10 min ago with an insufficiently short random babble about giant truck-eating moose when she asked about what we should have for dinner… she may be back with an igniter).

  5. My eyes are a little glazed as it’s time for bed, but I could have sworn that said “don’t piss me off while I set you on fire.” Which is a totally reasonable request.

  6. I love my Coke Zero… but I’m giving up something more beloved in my eating vocabulary: Hamburgers. This includes cheeseburgers, too. Easter morning, I’m going to have one for breakfast, I foresee this.

    Good luck in your Lenten* journey.

  7. Linden flower is really good for caffeine withdrawal headaches.

    I’m just sayin’.

  8. holy crap. I hope there is a camera crew following you around because it sounds exactly like the OPPOSITE of Super High Me. and I would pay to watch it from afar. poor Krissy

  9. Wonder if Linden flower has caffeine. As it stands eating a flower with a chemical in it that does something to help headaches is basically eating an untested, unpurified drug. Just sayin’..

    As for Lent, if you aren’t religious I am not sure why you are doing it. I get your daughter experimenting with giving up something you like, and both of you experiencing it together. The idea of Lent is a kind of psychological self-flagellation, followed shortly after by wearing ASHES (on the forehead). Ironically, this is something Paul outright prohibits in the same place he suggests praying out of sight in a closet because that sort of thing (wearing ashes and self-flagellation, symbolic or literal) are acts of ostentatious faith. You do it so other people see you doing it, not so your God sees it.

    There are better reasons to experiment with lack of things. Better times. Like giving up Internet for a week to empathize better with people in a disaster area who are out of power. But ultimately it seems a cheap symbol of real suffering. Why inflict fake suffering, symbolic suffering, when there is already so much in the world, and so much that you and your daughter will have to endure in the course of your own lives (like caffeine withdrawals). I see my mother suffer every day from end stage liver cirrhosis (hepatitis C, not drinking) and lupus and if I went around giving myself caffeine withdrawal, or just not eating cookies as a token of empathy for her, it would ring hollow and look ridiculous to someone who is actually suffering serious pain and facing real death in a short time (less than five years possibly at this point).

    I can’t stand Lent for that very reason.

  10. You, sir, are a great father. And your daughter has you wrapped around her little finger, as she should. I’m not sure which of you is luckier. Oh! Your wife / her mother. Blessings for all three of you.

  11. now would be a good time to start drinking coffee. soda rots your teeth, anyway.

  12. Shawn, for what it’s worth, “giving up something” for Lent isn’t exactly supposed to be a form of self-flagellation or imposed false suffering; it’s supposed to be a reminder to think of everything that the season means, a way to remember every day about everything leading up to Easter. For this reason, I’ve always kind of preferred the idea of “doing something” for Lent, as opposed to “giving up” something.

    That said, a curious kid really deserves parental support, too–this is cool, John.

  13. Well it isn’t like she wanted you to give up bacon.

    And I can’t believe no one else said it.

  14. I anticipate that this will be difficult, but rewarding. That said, if you see cans of coke dancing around the room in a few days, they are *probably* just hallucinations.

  15. Speaking as a Catholic, one thing that really makes Lent easier… Sundays aren’t part of Lent. Each Sunday is a little Easter, so you can get your Coke Zero (or internet, or whatever) fix on Sundays. :) (the math works: 40 days doesn’t include the Sundays :)

    I agree with Mary Frances @15 – it’s as much in the spirit of the season to do something as to give something up.

    @Dirk #3: LOL!

    Finally, to agree with a number of commenters: awesomely supportive parent!

  16. I’ve been caffeine free for 18 months. Once you get past the first week it isn’t bad.

    Giving up the Internet though? I don’t think I could do that. I get the shakes just thinking about it.

    Good luck to you both. I hope you and she benefit from the experience.

  17. OHMIGOD giving up the internet is so much harder. i should totally do that. i mean, i would have to give it up at home only, since i use it all day at work. i could get some reading done anyway.

  18. What I like about this is that it’s basically in the right spirit for Lent – self-sacrifice undertaken as a gift of love (from father to daughter), rather than as some kind of religious version of a New Year’s resolution.

  19. I’m caffeine sensitive, so I avoid it with a vengeance. But for whatever reason I do okay with small amounts of the similar substance in dark chocolate. (Probably mind over matter, because life without dark chocolate? Not gonna happen.)

    Anyway, it’s worth a try if you’re a fan of the dark and lovely fruit of the cacao tree and need something to get you over that first week’s withdrawal.

  20. I applaud Athena for her curiosity and for being willing to give up internet! (So many people out there would quiver in fear of doing that for much shorter periods of time!)

    Having gone to a Catholic school, and having friends raised Catholic now, I’m fairly familiar with the giving up of things for Lent, but I fear I’ve become rather cynical about it – too many people I know seem to do it so they can complain about how much they miss X or Y and I often feel that they are missing the point of it entirely. And then I feel that I’ve no right to get upset over them “not doing it right” when I’m not even Catholic myself. But Catholic or not, I think something like Lent can be a valuable experience when done for the right reasons. Good luck to the both of you!

  21. Had to give up my Dr. Pepper for Kidney Stones (Lent sounds like a better reason to be honest) I feel you dude, it’s hard but you’ll get through it, and feel better once you’re on the other side.

  22. TEA. The hard stuff, like vintage pu-erh.

    I gave up diet sodas because recent research said that they were correlated with a higher incidence of stroke (and yes, researchers controlled for stuff like weight). I have doubled-down on tea.

    Hope to Ghu they don’t find out that tea is bad for your health.

  23. A good idea. I hope you use this time to talk with her about what the Internet is for her, and how it affects her life. But from what I read, you two are pretty good parents in general, so this is probably covered.

  24. Some years back I gave up religious observances for Lent. I’m so devoted, I still haven’t gone back. ;)

  25. I just had a vision. A photoshoped image of you. with your arms wrapped around a Kuerig machine, or possibly, an espresso machine, with little horns coming out of your head and a devilish snarl on your face.

    I was on a six cans of Mt Dew a day habit for a while. I tried to quit cold turkey, I had massive headaches for a month. I ended up getting back on the Dew habit and then doing 6 cans a day for a week. THen 5 cans a day for a week, and all the way down to no cans of Dew a week.

    So good luck.

  26. Does Athena’s Lenten observance include approved educational uses? In other words, will she have to actually dust off BOOKS?

  27. I gave up smoking (successfully) for lent* last year. Even though it was successful (thus far), I’m gonna use it as my lenten sacrifice from now on. I figure giving up a strong addiction like that is good for a few hundred lents.

    *my lenten asterisk means the same as John’s lenten asterisk.

  28. What Andrew Hackard said … hopefully she doesn’t need any research in the next 8 weeks. Many libraries are falling hopelessly behind now, because the internet is so full and does not come out of their budget… Good on you both for doing this. I have done Lent* a few times, and it is an interesting way to bond with someone. :)

  29. I think we can all look forward to a Scalzi with vastly altered brain chemistry in the next few weeks. For me (Anglican, it’s not just Catholics), Lent is about declaring that one is in charge of one’s moral self, and can, you know, give up something *any time we want*, and also about, as one of our Bishops emphasised this year, doing something positively good, rather than just an offhand negative. (Like Paul said.)

  30. Tim M: It had BETTER get better. I’m on day 9 of my caffeine withdrawal and the headaches are crippling. Unfair as I only consumed one coffee and no other caffeine a day. I have eaten 2 tradesmen, 1 friend, 1 acquaintance and a white van man, and I’m taking no shit from anyone on this planet. Do I see myself becoming more serene without caffeine? Not if it carries on this way! Am I enjoying eating people? Well, yes. But seeing as it’s Lent, I’ll abstain on Fridays.

  31. I gave up Starbucks for Lent one year; I was about $200 to the good on Easter. And had also shaken my tall double nonfat decaf habit: not that I don’t get one now and again, but it’s a rare treat, not a frequently indulged habit.

    I’m not Catholic, either, but I’ve found that it’s good to find out what I can do without. So congratulations to both of you, and may this be a good experience all-around, unlike the time I gave up hope for Lent.

  32. Congratulations and good luck!

    My very first thought? Have you told Minicon? When I was more actively involved, we tried to make certain we had beverage-of-choice for GoHs. I assume they still do so. So, what’s your new choice?

  33. John,
    I wish you and Athena the best of luck on your abstinence from Coke Zero and the Internet respectively. You are a good dad for encouraging her curiosity regarding such things. I applaud you for being willing to join in on her experiment with self-denial.

    I have always found Lent to be a curious observance. I wasn’t raised Catholic but had a number of friends who were. When I asked them about Lent and why they did the things they did relating to it, almost every one of them was at a loss for an answer other than “We just do.” or “The Church tells us to.” I always thought such responses were odd because even as a youngster, I figured there always had to be a reason behind doing something of that scale – if there wasn’t a reason for doing it, then why do it? I have a young gal (she’s 27 – that is young to me) who works for me who is Catholic. She and I and another employee were talking during a break today. During the course of the conversation, she brought up that she was fretting over the fact that she still hadn’t decided what to give up for Lent. I asked her a few of the same questions I had asked my friends back in the day and guess what? I received basically the same answers I got back then. It’s comforting to know some things in life truly are resistant to change.

  34. Thankfully you finished your most recent novel before the Coke withdrawal hit. We might have a completely different ending otherwise.

    I gave up religious observance for Lent when I was about 12 and forgot to go back. ;-)

  35. I gave up my Diet Coke habit (2X2liter bottles per day) a month ago, but would never have been able to do it without switching to soda water (club soda). It made quitting a hella lot easier. Think of it as sody-pop methodone – a non-toxic way of easing out of the habit. If Athena (and yer own judgement) allow you the crutch,that is.

  36. First of all good luck to both you and Athena in your Lenten sacrifice.

    Most people think of Lent as being 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. But Sundays are not included in the count for Lent. This year Lent is actually 46 calendar days 9 March to 24 April.

    So technically you are not violating the “letter of the law” if on Sundays you could take some Coke Zero and Athena could use the internet some on Sundays, but not in the spirit.

  37. Awesome that you’re so supportive as to give up your Coveted Coke, just to show solidarity with Athena! Good thing it was agreed to give up coke and not The Internet, as I would be missing you on the Whatever.
    A couple of weeks ago, The Internet was down in our area (only for a couple of hours, not really a big deal). But I was all like: “What happened? What happened? Let’s Google to find out. No, wait! Aaaagh!” Not having The Internet sucks.

  38. Welcome to the land of the non-soda drinkers! It’s so happy and peaceful here – and no-one ever believes that there’s someone who doesn’t actually like soda.

    PS I don’t like bacon either.

  39. Is the giving up restricted to sodas, or to all caffeinated beverages? If you’re not a big fan of espressos you could maybe make a jug of sweetened green tea and keep it in the fridge to ward off the caffeine withdrawal.
    Green tea is also full of antioxidants*

    *note: I’m not actually sure this is true, nor that the fuss about antioxidants isn’t mostly just hype. I just thought it might be a useful prop in case you wanted to pretend it wasn’t all about the caffeine.

    Good luck with this, by the way. I’ve given up caffeine for a couple of weeks before, and I discovered I much prefer life with caffeine.

  40. …I don’t even think I could give up the internet or caffeine. Good luck to both of you!

    Of course, I’m giving up something for Lent myself. (And also trying to work through having some things I thought I had taken away…)

  41. You are HARDCORE awesome in the parenting department.
    Wow. I’m sort of terrified for you both. This is going to be an intense, and I hope really good experience for you both.

  42. @Shawn – Wow, aren’t you a ray of merry sunshine?

    No caffeine in linden flower, and you don’t eat the flower, you use the extract. Are you opposed to willow bark, too?


  43. Personally, I’ve never given up anything for a “religious holiday.” Never felt the need, as I believe most of the time we deny ourselves things we like on a day-to-day basis. My personal cross to bear with caffiene is I have an allergic reaction to the stuff if I get more than the amount in two cups of coffee.And to think I used to drink it by the pot… @John, kudos for supporting your daughter in this experiment.

  44. Hey I’m not religious at all, but I totally understood what you are doing, and support it, if it is meaningful to you.

    Just so you know, I had been reading your blog for a LONG time before our household became a Coke Zero household….and now I know exactly what you’re giving up! Good for you.

    Hmmm, giving up the Internet. I did it for a week on vacation – but then again, it was a week on Martha’s Vineyard, AND I had lots of (offline) games on the computer. So technically I didn’t have access. But I still had a working computer with games.

  45. I’m glad you’re supporting your daughter in her experiment. A little voluntary sacrifice never hurt anyone. It will help her discover who whe is and what she can do when she puts her mind to it.

    I don’t support the whole “Lent” thing for the same reasons you don’t, John. I gave up religion for Lent decades ago. ;-) If I gave up caffeine, the entire global coffee market would crash overnight. I keep drinking it to save all those jobs…. :-D

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find my Nomex flight suit before I post on this board again. LOL

  46. I felt a great disturbance in the Force… as if millions of Coca Cola shareholders suddenly cried out in terror, and were silenced.

  47. I am also making the lenten* sacrifice in support of another (and have over the years in support of religious roommates/significant others). This year, she challenged me to do coffee, which my athiestic “HA!” has upped to caffeine more generally and a good natured mocking of “Little Easter”. Yesterday sucked, I feel it starting again for today, but I’ve done it before.

    There is something to be said for any tradition, whether religious or secular, that challenges you to do without for over 10% of the year.

  48. Religious observances aside, I find giving up something cherished is a good way to remind myself that no, I really won’t die if I can’t have it. It’s enabling to know that I can survive.

    Of course, sometimes I didn’t do it by choice. That sucked. But I survived, and now I’m able to bore people with stories about it, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

    Now let me tell you about how my favorite minivan went up in flames…

  49. While I still give up things for Lent, yes, raised Catholic; I try to take on something as well, like being a bit nicer to someone I may not be found of , etc. I don’t think of it as being ‘psychological self-flagellation’ as more of a not so gentle reminder that there are people in our world who do with a lot less then we do. And we can do with less while trying to do more. Giving up meat on Fridays, like anything we give up, is difficult in the beginning but gets easier as we go along. I try not to think of it as a loss but as a gain in eating fish or other meatless dishes more. Which in the end is better for us.

    I applaud you for being a great parent and supporting your daughter.

  50. Good teaching tool. Think of all the people that don’t have luxuries, or even the simplest necessities of life. And not just for 40 days.

  51. Re: fabiobeta @ 54

    Nope, Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent ends on Good Friday (more or less)*. Good Friday is, by definition, the Friday before Easter Sunday.

    *If we’re getting technical, from sunset on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) until sunset on Easter Sunday is one long feast in the Catholic Church, called the Easter Triduum**. If you ever look at the music listings in a Catholic church on those days, you’ll note there is no closing hymn on Thursday night, no opening or closing hymn on Friday, and no opening hymn on Saturday night***.

    **Triduum = Three Days. Sunset Thursday to sunset Friday is day 1, sundown Friday to sunset Saturday is day 2, and sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday is day 3.

    ***There is, however, a bonfire.

  52. I live on the Gulf Coast. A nonreligious local might think that the point of Lent is to detox after Mardi Gras. No more booze! No more partying! No more Moon Pies!

    Good luck to the both of you.

  53. #61 Singing Wren – I thought that Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were only two days in a whole period known as Holy Week?

  54. I actually am religious (in a progressive, Episcopalian sort of way ;) so I decided to give up arguing online with Tea Partiers and similar conservative extremists for Lent. Almost had to bite my tongue clean off a few times, but I’m stickin’ to it…

  55. Go, both of you. It sounds like a most excellent experiment in self-knowledge.

    Even if I was in a position to give up the net (it’s a significant work resource), I’d find it much harder to give up than caffeine. Been there, done that, got over the headaches, eventually resumed carefully-regulated use. But the net? Man, information is a drug and the net enables me to mainline it. I have gone cold turkey off the net during vacation travel with only mild night sweats, but forty days without it at home would be harsh.

  56. I second the recommendation for tea. Tea, iced or hot, is a good, non-sugary, caffeinated alternative to soda. Also comes in flavors. I would also like to support the soda water suggestion (not club soda, but seltzer) especially when cut with juice (for that hoity-toity Italian soda feeling).

    Good luck on the giving up soda, and mega-good luck to Athena: as a librarian, I can’t see doing without Internet!

  57. That’s some serious love you have for your child. Good parenting usually involves leading by example with heavy doses of sacrifice, and right now, I’m thinking you’re a really good parent.

  58. Good job. You sound like an awesome parent.

    Personally, I’ve found that experiencing the meaning of Lent has been easiest when I paired a deprivation with a positive action.

  59. Re: Sihaya @ 65

    Also correct. Holy Week is the whole week from Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday) to Easter Sunday. Or possibly just Easter Saturday, on the logic that Easter is important enough to be its own thing. The Triduum comes at the end of Holy Week. It’s both part of Holy Week, and its own thing.

    Also, please note that everything here* is based on memory and personal experience in the choir at a Catholic church in the US. IANACL, ** just a soprano who typically has no voice left by 10:30 am on Easter Sunday, and one Mass yet to sing.

    *Except the spelling of Triduum, which I had to look up because my Latin is lousy.

    **I Am Not A Canon Lawyer

  60. Good on you for going along with Athena’s curiosity!

    Also, while it may feel like your head is actually exploding over the next few days, I’m 80% sure it’s not actually happening. Your mileage may vary.

  61. Been there done that. The first 10-14 days absolutely suck. After that, it’s only mild suckage until about week 4. Then it’s all good.

    Of course, by that point Easter should be rolling around…

  62. I was sipping my Diet Mtn Dew (where did the vowels go?) while reading this, and then I remembered that I was going to do the same thing. I drink 48 oz. every day, and I’m starting to worry about my teeth. Thank God* that my college is on spring break next week.

  63. Giving up the internet for 40 days? Can. Not. Compute.
    My processor just flakes out at the thought.
    I think I’d have more withdrawal symptoms than you with your caffeine addiction.
    Your daughter is a stronger gal than I.

  64. Having friends with a myriad of spiritual or a-spiritual views Lent is one of those traditions that seem to attract attention from all. Mostly positive with a few adamant oppositions in the mix just to remind me we’re human.

    Kudos to you for supporting your daughter and rising to her challenge.

  65. PS That photo has me thinking you have a similar sort of relation with Coke Zero as Gollum had with The One Ring.

  66. Alex @81: Yeah, but you can’t throw an ensorceled Coke Zero into the Fires of Mount Doom. The can’s explosion would be apocolyptic.

  67. Sihaya @82. LOL yeah!
    John without Coke Zero is sort of like Sauron; HE WILL SET US ON FIRE! ;-)

  68. Great, now I’m trying to equate my favorite authors and bloggers with characters in the Ring trilogy.

  69. I gave up caffeine for a while last summer, to see if it had any effect on my migraines. After a ten-day withdrawal migraine (luckily, it was low-grade pain instead of the I WANT TO DIE NOW pain, but definitely a migraine rather than a regular withdrawal headache), I got through it to discover upon experimentation that it wasn’t caffeine I was sensitive to, but artificial sweeteners. So I gave those up entirely, and in the months since I’ve had fewer migraines, and the one that I do get are much less intense.

    I now drink the occasional caffeine-containing beverage, but as I don’t want to get a caffeine-withdrawal migraine ever again, I keep it at low levels. I’m not sure which sweetener it was that I have problems with, and there may be some artificial sweeteners out there that I’m not sensitive to, but given the results, I’d rather not experiment.

    Good luck!

  70. Wow! I’m impressed by your daughter willingly giving up the internet. That one would be a MAJOR struggle for me. The fam and I have given up meat the past two years and have decided to continue to do so this year. Since we have already drastically reduced our meat consumption, I thought I’d ramp things up this year by pledging to do without new clothes too. Meat, no problem. Shopping, now there’s a challenge!

    I’m running a mini-challenge on my blog encouraging others to “do without” for 40 days. You’re welcome to join! http://midnightmaniac.com/post3097

    Best of luck to you and your daughter!
    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

  71. @Singing Wren 72–

    Technically Easter itself begins on the Great Vigil of Easter, which is at night on Saturday, because when the women came creeping over to check on the body after the sabbath was over (sunset on Saturday), holy moly, he was gone!

    The Sunday service is the First Sunday of Easter. Those in the know, know the Great Vigil is the *real* party. Especially when the priest sets stuff on fire (which is a part of the ritual).

    I am not a canon lawyer, I’m an Episcopalian liturgical nerd. It’s like being a Trekkie who dresses like and speaks in Klingon, except less socially acceptable.

    And I don’t tell people what I’m doing personally for Lent. Which is partially to keep me from whining about *how hard* it is, and partially because the scripture readings for Ash Wednesday includes the bit about “and whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

  72. I feel your pain. I gave up caffeine for each of my pregnancies. The first week wasn’t fun, after that not so bad. Of course, I took megadoses of caffeine beginning immediately after each of my children was born due to lack of sleep.

    I agree with Scott @23

    Do you have fire breathing fists too? If so, where can we get some?

  73. @Shawn Shelton I, for one here, agree with you 100%. Fake suffering in no way equates to real suffering. My best to your mother.
    (I can understand experimenting with seeing how much mental or physical pain one can take (hey, lots of sports have a HUGE element of that), but equating that to Lent, not so much).

  74. David H @ 67,

    I’ve given up arguing with liberals and liberal extremists for Lent. Not surprisingly, my life is suddenly much calmer.

    Good Lent to all of us.

    (And John, I’ve said it before – you’re a rocking dad.)

  75. Good luck to you and Athena on your sacrifices this year. The church I grew up in didn’t observe Lent; although I knew about giving stuff up for Lent. My current church does observe Lent; though there’s no pressure to give up anything. Some years I have made sacrifices, some years not. This year I thought I’d not give up something; rather add something in the form of spiritual growth.
    But now I’m thinking if you can give up Coke Zero and Athena can give up Internet, surely I can make sacrifices as well. Yeah, I think I will be giving up something I like very much as well as working on that spiritual aspect. It’s never too late to start.

  76. Good on you, John. I’m a (not very observant) Catholic but try to give things up for Lent (this year: sugary stuff — in addition to a recent dramatic drop in beer consumption which I intend to maintain). After 35+ years of giving stuff up, the only trick I’ve found to a successful to make sure the stuff is completely out of reach. I don’t know about you, but if I give up cookies or something, that stuff needs to be out of the house completely (although you probably have a good sized larder to hide the excess). Lashing myself to the mast won’t cut it. Whatever the motivation, I wish you both success on the journey!

  77. Wait – John has most of his weight in Coke Zero sitting somewhere around the house. This is going to be difficult.

  78. You will be an Iron Man for sure if you don’t succumb to the temptations of the Coke Zero you have in stock. Perhaps a storage locker is in order.

  79. I’ve given up tolerating idiots and those who disagree with me for Lent.

    This is going to be awesome!

  80. I think it’s great you’re doing this with your kid. It’ll help her empathize more with Catholics. There’s nothing like living through something to understand how it affects people.

  81. Man, whoa. Seriously good choices – I hope you and Athena learn what you need to out
    of this.

    There was one year I tried to take up something [Lent doesn’t always mean giving up stuff, it means trying to be a better human being] – being nice to telemarketers. Now,
    as a bookstore owner, I get telemarketers like you WOULD NOT BELIEVE. Hmn. I’m not
    sure I could pull off the nice-to-telemarketers at the shop too for all of Lent. But that’s
    no reason not to try…Ok, if you and Athena can do it, I can do it.

    People, pray for me if can/do – I’ll need it.

    PS Authors don’t count as telemarketers…

  82. I am not religious but work within an organization that is (very). I’m giving up buying chocolate for Lent – not the consuming of it but just the buying of it. Which considering I buy about a chocolate bar a day will be a challenge.

    The challenge will come through not only not buying chocolate but finding other ways to get an occasional chocolate fix.

    Thankfully, there are still chocolate chips in my apartment and I have next weekend free to make cookies.


  83. And bravo to your daughter for giving up the internet – for me that would be an impossibility.

    “There is no use trying; one can’t believe impossible things.” (Alice)

    “I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” -Queen”

    Alice in Wonderland

  84. Be aware that Lent is 40 day, so it DOES NOT COUNT Sundays, so you can have your Coke Zero then…At least thats the way my church views it

  85. Stephanie F @ 85: I’d give you odds that the artificial sweetener related to your migraines was aspartame. I’m not the only person I know who has migraines after drinking something with aspartame in it; it seems to be a fairly common reaction.

  86. So, if I understand things correctly, you have a Scalzi of Coke Zero currently sitting unregarded in your house? And it is likely to remain so through to mid April?

    That seems somehow… sad.

    I can picture the carnage Easter morning: Mr. Scalzi sprawled in a puddle of soda dripping from crushed, empty cans, and surrounded by shredded cardboard from savaged cases.

  87. John@96: I’ll be fine.

    Uh oh. It’s worse than I feared. Scalzi’s already lost the capacity to form complex sentences. Soon, his core temperature will drop and he will have an insatiable appetite for…

    This might be a good time to review the rules for dealing with caffeine deprived zombies:
    #1 cardio
    #2 double tap
    #3 beware of bathrooms
    #4 wear seatbelts.

  88. I pity the poor marketing bod pouring over his/her Excel spreadsheets and pie charts trying to figure out why Coke Zero sales have plummeted in your area…

  89. So if Athena is abstaining from the internet, does that mean you’ll be telling us embarrassing tales about her for the next few weeks?

    I mean, more than usual?

  90. I’m surprised no one has asked this question yet – who takes these pictures of you (the ones away from conventions), Athena or Krissy?

  91. Greg @105 – Yeah, that thought had occurred to me. I mean, at what moment will he say to himself, “You know, my friends all have caffeine – in their bloodstream.” Oh, the carnage.

  92. Ooooh, I have a bad feeling about this. This has the potential of becoming really ugly before Easter arrives.

    I think I’m going to give up celibacy and sobriety.

  93. I gave up on caffeine once. Oh the headaches, the twitching, the sweats. It was the worst twenty minutes of my life.

  94. Athena is probably muttering darkly to herself, “I can’t believe he called my bluff!”

  95. I am fairly convinced that if I gave up caffeine (coffee being my drug of choice) that I would somehow cease to exist. I know for certain that days not beginning with the smell of fresh coffee are the very same days that I fail to function in any recognizable manner. I am terribly impressed by your commitment to your daughter.

  96. One of our priests has a Jewish friend who chooses his Lenten sacrifice for him every year. One year it was television, which he didn’t think would bother him at all — until he remembered March Madness. Not sure I’m up for letting someone else choose my sacrifice.

  97. Fun Lent fact of the day: Thomas Aquinas argued that red meat, eggs and dairy products were forbidden during Lent because these things make sperm in men and therefore make them lustful. And I quote:

    “…they afford greater pleasure as food [than fish], and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust.”

    Seminal. Matter.

    That is all.

  98. Good luck John, I have been caffeine-free for a year now and I wouldn’t like to go through that again.

    Singingwren@72, opera singers often use carob to strengthen their voices. I don’t know any brands in the US, some carob is tasty and some is not.

  99. I applaud you and your daughter. I’m doing something similar to you, giving up soda for Lent. This does NOT mean giving up caffeine (tea and coffee are OK). The Level 10 migraine that would happen if I gave up caffeine (not to mention driving off the road or something similarly stupid on the long drive to work) will just keep me at giving up soda.

  100. A few obligatory geek comments on Lent and the Triduum.

    The Triduum is not properly part of Lent, but it is still a fasting period and not a feast. (The Mandatum service on Maundy Thursday is festal, but that covers a couple of hours.) Both Good Friday and Holy Saturday are strict fast days. (Strict fast is not as strict as it used to be. Prior to 1956, the fast was absolute and the Vigil was held at 11:00 in the morning for “pastoral reasons” (i.e. so that people could eat)).

    The Orthodox keep a form of Lent in which both Saturday and Sunday are not fast days. However, their Lent is accordingly longer and is also rather more rigorous – for example, fish is not allowed.

    Personally, I give up meat for Lent – it’s a straightforward and traditional observance.

  101. Lenten observance traditionally involves three practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Giving up something for Lent can be considered an extension of the “fasting” idea. (The prescribed fasts themselves, as noted above, aren’t actually that strict nowadays, compared to previous practices.)

    Almsgiving reflects the idea a number of folks upthread have mentioned about the importance of doing something positive for others, and not just practicing self-denial. It’s not uncommon for people to link the two. For instance, one might give up something one would normally spend money on, and then give the money saved to help others out.

    Both self-denial and generosity are of course practiced in secular as well as religious contexts. Prayer is, by definition, pretty specific to religious contexts, but meditation is not uncommon in a secular context.

    In any case, I’m enjoying hearing how people are engaging in these practices themselves, in whatever fashion they see fit. And I’ll be interested in hearing John and Athena’s impressions when they’re further down the paths they’ve chosen for Lent*.

  102. I’m glad to hear this, John. Be careful though, your health may improve greatly. And I’m also glad to hear that Athena is doing this. Although raised Catholic, I found my way to atheism and believe that what you and she are really doing is practicing self-control, a virtue greatly underestimated. I am doing the same because I need to lose weight and although eating only salad and vegetables is not very appetizing to me, it does help me lose weight. Good luck on your quests, both of you.

  103. As someone who recently gave up the True Nectar of the Gods, Mt Dew, I’m with you. (Not for Lent, for my waistline.) All I can say is keep the Tylenol handy, and good luck!

  104. Oh. My. God.

    I just quit Mt. Dew cold turkey (last night about 7 pm was my last hit), and the headache just hit me like an icepick through my skull. I guess I was drinking more than one can a day lately, cause it’s kicking my ass right now. Shoot me now.

  105. I am not “religious” by any stretch of the imagination, but lent seems like as good a time as any to challenge oneself with an exercise in personal commitment and integrity. My seriously agnostic/athesist friends and I take on these lenten challenges just because we can! It’s not about self-denial or self-inflicted torture and suffering. It’s about impulse control. It’s making a promise to yourself and sticking to that promise. Whether it’s a New’s Year’s resolution, a Lenten observance, or a one-time only decision (walk away from the chocolate, I don’t need another glass of wine tonight, I will never smoke again), the self-affirmation and sense of accomplishment one derives from proving to themselves that they CAN complete their challenge is most rewarding.

    Good on ya John for promoting this excellent character building opportunity.

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