Thursday, April 11, 2002

I've found that fasting and other forms of deprivation can really help you focus. Some of my deepest insights (we're still talking baby pool here) have come at four in the morning when I've had insomnia. Lent is a time where we give up something dear to us that we can do without in order to discipline ourselves. Likewise, Roman Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays and Orthodox Catholics on Wednesdays and Fridays. In this spirit, I'm going without animal products on Thursdays (nothing special about the day, except that it's the most convenient day for me as a beginner). I found that you can make do with spaghetti and non-meat sauce, salad, bread, and various forms of pastry dessert (I did have to give up my beloved Jell-O, though). My guess is that, especially as Americans, we're pretty much always satisfied. As such, when you've got a huge buffer around yourself, it's hard to think about anything more than yourself. It's as if you can only think so far outside of a certain point, and when that certain area is a full belly and a rested body, food and sleep are all you can think about. Of course, I don't recommend doing this often, but perhaps staying up all night once every three weeks or so is a good thing. We'll see.

Recently on a sleepless night, it occurred to me how God's commandments were actually liberating, rather than restricting. Prior to this, I'd shared the common opinion that while the commandments were a pain, they were a small price to pay in order to get to Heaven. Basically, I thought of them as a toll that God had a perfect right to levy on us. After all, if for several decades of suffering we can earn an eternity of pleasure, then isn't that a great deal? However, it's incorrect to think of the laws as being a burden. Instead, they free us. Think about it. Have you ever met a drunkard or carouser who's actually happy with themself? Think of Sammy Hart in The Wedding Singer. Fornicators and adulterers ultimately bring misery upon themselves and risk things like disease, unintended pregnancy, divorce, and a host of other problems. Each other type of sinful behavior listed eventually causes frustration, misery, and suffering (kind of like becoming a Dark Jedi). If you're free of these and can learn to live simply on what you've been given, what can the world do to you? If you don't get a Playstation 3 when it comes out, what does it matter to you if you don't care? If you save yourself for marriage, you'll never have your heart broken. In other words, you become immune to the troubles of the world. That's not to say that you don't care about the plight of others, since you must do that. However, you can't be hurt. You follow God's word, and become of one purpose with God. Thus, when you die, you're a perfect match to be with God in heaven. If you're simply devoted to something worldly, whether it be food, a woman, or an ideal, you can't be devoted to God, and thus would be miserable in his company. That's why God isn't being cold-hearted in not resurrecting those who don't believe. When you think about it, he's showing ultimate mercy by not condemning them to that eternal torture.

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