Last week I started flirting with the idea of giving up television for Lent. I say “flirting” because I had too many questions to label my thought process “soul searching.” Here is what I started to think about when it came time to decide whether to give up TV for Lent:
1. Can I watch shows on Hulu.com? If I give up TV for Lent, can I just watch everything online and still feel kind of holy?
2. OK, let’s say Hulu.com is out, that my Lent mission is really about giving up all television programming so that includes shows online too. What about clips on youtube? What if a friend, that’s a Christian, emails me something that touched his heart? Still no? What if it’s a clip from a church service though? Of a baptism? Of his grandmother? Whoa, curve ball.
3. What if we’re at North Point Community Church and right before service starts they show a video in the segment they call “10B4?” Do I have to turn my eyes away? What if the clip is integral to the message Andy Stanley is preaching that day?
4. What if I write a script for a freelance client and they ask me to review the rough draft of the video? Do I say no?
5. Does it still count if part of your motivation for giving up something for Lent is because someone else did it first and you thought that “seemed cool?” Author Mark Batterson gave up TV for Lent one year and I think reading about him doing it is part of my motivation.
6. Will I run into people that want to correct me about what Lent is really about? Some people say, “Well actually, the Sabbath is a Saturday” over and over again and that kind of drives me a little bananas. Are there people that do that with Lent too? If I say I gave up TV for Lent, will someone tell me, “Well actually TV is not something that technically you should be giving up for Lent if you were really following the tradition correctly.”
7. What if I become one of those people at dinner parties that are constantly berating people about how they don’t even own a television? Am I going to “Lent brag,” always telling anyone that makes eye contact with me that, “No thanks, I gave that up for Lent?”
8. Should I go ahead now and assume that my favorite team, the University of North Carolina Tarheels, are going to win March Madness since I won’t be watching them? I mean that’s what happened the very minute I moved away from Boston. After an 86 year drought the Red Sox decided to win the World Series after I left the city.
9. Have I really learned anything if I just gorge myself on all the shows I missed the minute Lent is over? If I lock myself in a closet the day after Lent concludes and watch 19 hours of Lost and 30 Rock and the Office and the Soup, has anything in my life changed?
10. Since I didn’t realize until Friday that I had missed Ash Wednesday can I just tack on two extra days at the end and call it even?
11. Is it bad that not one of the first 10 things I thought had anything to do with God?
Probably, which is why I didn’t give television up for Lent. I’m probably not going to watch it in March because I have to turn in the manuscript of my book this month, but I honestly have not invested enough prayer to try to piggyback that reason on to Lent.
I’ll probably start thinking about that next February and actually pray about it, but not this year.
How about you, did you give something up for Lent? Have you ever?
What did you give up?