Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mardi Gras

"All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God." ~ Voltaire

Well, Fat Tuesday is over, and now more cleanup in New Orleans is needed. Before they even finished cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina.

I admit I have a problem with the Mardi Gras celebration. According to Wikipedia, Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and is also called "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day". It is the final day of Carnival.

This is how I understand the reason for the festival:

Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the day before the Catholic season of Lent, when devoted Catholics voluntarily give up at least one vice for 40 days, the 40 days immediately preceding Easter Sunday.

The number 40 is significant because that is the number of days that Jesus fasted at the beginning of his 3 year ministry. So, the idea is to fast for 40 days, as a way of cleansing the Spirit, and getting close to God. I have been told that long periods of fasting, coupled with intense prayer and meditation, brings one to a better understanding of God. I don't know. I've never tried it.

I am not a Catholic, but I have many friends that are. Laura Ingraham converted to Catholicism, after being raised a Protestant. I have no problem with Catholics.

Fat Tuesday is so named because typically, Catholics, through the centuries, knowing that they were going to go hungry for the next 40 days, cut loose and feasted on the day before the beginning of Lent.

This is what Mardi Gras is all about. One last day of feasting before fasting.

I explained what Fat Tuesday and Lent and Mardi Gras was to my son this morning. He thought it was a weird idea that a Church could be that strict to insist their members practice so many rituals. How do you explain that the whole thing is strictly a voluntary obeying of what Catholics consider to be God's command? I just told him they don't have to practice those rituals, that it is something between them and God. It has been my experience that most Catholics are not that devout, but I would never tell him that.

So why do I have a problem with Mardi Gras?

I wonder if all of these drunk people are Catholics, or even religious.

Well first, it has become anything but a religious celebration. Second, it is not practiced as it was intended, nor is it practiced by only Catholics. Not that only Catholics should be allowed to participate. But if non-Catholics are going to participate, they should do it the way the Catholics intended. It is now a hedonistic display of debauchery and perversion. It was originally intended as a feast of food, not a feast of nudity and drunkenness.

And so, less than a year after the devastating Hurricane came and destroyed most of New Orleans, the city leaders knew where their priorities lay. Clean up enough of the city so they can still have their festival of debauchery.

I am pretty confident that the Catholic Church did not have this kind of celebration in mind when they came up with the idea of Shrove Tuesday.

Oh, I understand why they worked so hard to make sure Mardi Gras would not be cancelled. There's gold in that thar celebration. There's no denying that. If I was a business man in New Orleans, I might very likely take advantage of the influx of pleasure seekers to pad my wallet, too.

Even so, it doesn't make it right.

17 comments:

Lone Ranger said...

Well, I have a problem with Catholics. There is no Biblical support for priests being the middlemen for God (John 14:6
"Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."). When I want to talk to God, I just do. I don't make an appointment with a priest. And the Bible specifically prohibits praying to dead people (saints). That's called necromancy. Much of Catholic doctrine simply isn't supported by Scripture. I also don't like the way Catholocism has been mixed with other beliefs simply to gain new converts. Mardi Gras is a prime example of that. Converting from Protestantism to Catholicism is like going from college to high school. That's why I am a PROTESTant.

Sheila said...

Good Morning,

This celebration has gotten as far away from the origional meaning as Easter and Christmas. Yet we all seem to find the true meaning and celebrate for real.

Shrove Tuesday and ash Wednesday, as with the whole lent season are very meaningful for Catholics.

I have friends who have explained to me that it's a time to become more intimate with the Lord, as in Jesus. They take it very seriously and I aplaud their spirituality.

You might explain to your son that all religions have a time for quiet and contemplation on God.

While most poeple wouldn't have the couragage to really fast, alot remove something that has become a personal "wrong" in their life like an obsession of some sort.

Some people do take certain foods out of the season. The point to modern day Catholics is sacrifice.

Jesus Sacrificed for us and this simbolic sacrifice maybe small, but its a poignant point of faith and a show of faith.

Most Christian faiths have some sort of renewal of faith time around the Passover/Easter season.

I'm sure you didn't mean for people to start making comments about whats wrong with Catholics.

I was a seriously curious teenager and studied Islam, Judeism, and Christianity and their relationships with each other.

What I learned about Catholics roled up in a sentance? "The first church of Christianity."

How wonderful to see something of how Peter set up the church. Living History of Christianity.

I personally don't make judgements of which religious afilliation is better anymore.

I'd rather admire where I (my religeon) came from and also rejoice in our freedom to worship how we want.

OK, Got to go to Work!

MadMustard said...

Quoting Voltaire always looks impressive but he oversimplified concepts that do not exist in reality. You might as well update his quote to read, All religious celebrations are different, because they come from men; morality is relative because of man’s interpretations.

Christmas has become a debauchery of spending money for senseless gift giving, Easter for spring sale marathons. Why be selective and pick on Mardi Gras? It is stupid to me too, but who cares. Let ‘em have their fun.

Whenever people gather for any type of celebration, they bring their own interpretations of what morality is. Next, there will be a great outcry to examine the drinking habits of NASCAR or football fans. Some choose to go to church while others opt for a Bud Light a recliner and John Madden.

I do not look down on those who pick church.

Mark said...

Mad, your comments are appreciated, but as a Christian, I cannot and will not accept the concept that morality is ever relative.

Voltaire was a humanist, meaning he was a moral relativist. But even he acknowleded that morality is not relative, at least, not for believers in the Judeo Christian God of the Bible.

To say that morality is relative because it is man's invention is to open a Pandora's box of everything that is evil. To believe that gives moral relativists permission to commit any sort of perversion they want to, notwithstanding laws or common decency.

Bertrand Russel once said, "I believe that the idea of (The existence of) a God interferes with our sexual mores." He was an avowed athiest and I believe that is the best explanantion of what athiest believe, and why, that I have ever heard.

Jason H. Bowden said...

"It is now a hedonistic display of debauchery and perversion."

Awesome. ;)

Fritz said...

Mark,
You are too funny. I love the commercialization of any Christian holiday, it marks the occasion and begins a conversation like yours. Lent is a contract with God, our sacrifice is real. Catholicism is not a democracy, many Americans have difficulty with that.

Lone,
We don't pray to Saints, we pray for them. Priests aren't middlemen, they are Disciples. To be an ordained Priest is quite a process, having religious experts and a hierarchy of a massive Church is a good thing. I wish Islam had such a patriarch as the Pope.

Trixie said...

Mark, Catholics are not the only Christians to observe Lent. Since today is Ash Wednesday, I've written about this season on my blog if you'd like to know more about it.

Mark said...

I applaud anyone who keeps the spirit of Lent. And I agree with it being about sacrfifice. That is a better choice of word than fasting, in this case.

Etchen
, over at her place has asked her readers to vote on what she should give up for Lent. Chocolate or coffee. I suggested (tongue planted firmly in cheek) that she just give up Catholicism, and that way she could sacrifice something and still have her indulgences.

But this post wasn't intended as an explanation of a part of Catholic dogma, but a commentary on the perversion of the the event.

Timothy said...

Sheila,
About a gizillion Prostestants disagree with your statement:
What I learned about Catholics roled up in a sentance? "The first church of Christianity."

Sorry, but because they did get away from the first church, is why there was a protestant Reformation. The church had become the authority, not the Scriptures. Peter never set that up, or the popery, or priestly system, or praying to saints, or indulgences, or Christmas, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, etc. Those were all invetions of man, never intended by our Lord to do.

All Protestants were trying to do was get away from this junk and worship sa the Bible dictates, not the church. The fight continues today.
Blessings

Mark said...

But, Titus, anything that brings us closer to God and His will is a good thing, right?

The problem here is that the current Mardi Gras celebrations in this country have nothing to do with getting closer to God unless they are wanting to be physically in His presence. And to that, they have a good start.

Mark said...

Titus. Popery? LOL! Try Papacy.

My first wife's mother was a very devout Catholic. She was probably the most Christian woman I had ever met up until then. When she died of a stroke at the age of 56, I knew she was with God in Heaven. I am still convinced of that. She was a very sweet, caring, wonderful human being. The salt of the earth.

Etchen said...

As a catholic, I have no real problem with Mardi Gras as it seems like another day to give people to celebrate and party whether they are or not Catholic. I equate it to St. Valentine's day or Easter, where no matter what religion you are, you celebrate it in one way or another. I use the 6 weeks of Lent as a time to give something up that I care about or enjoy as a reminder of the sacrifices that were made for me and to also remove a vice from my life (sometimes permanently, and others just for the Lenten period) Though previously I have giving up smoking or drinking during this time period and then never returned to them after Easter.

Sheila said...

Titus,
I don't doubt your faith is a as strong as mine. I'm just one of those Protestants that is all inclusive.

I think looking at origins and honoring our roots is as important as honoring how we choose to worship.

A Methodist Christian,Penacostal Christian, or a Catholic Christian are just as equal in the Lord's eyes.

Mark sorry for getting away from the issue.

Goat said...

Titus severed his own hand to have his son's heads delivered to him. Is this what we want for Christianity? I hope not. David A. White discussed Titus and Shakespeare'e first tragedy today on Hugh Hewitt's show. I don't think Christians should cut off their hands to recieve severed heads in return, Daniel Perle and Nick Berg.

Timothy said...

Sorry everyone,
I forgot I posted here and I do need to respond... so forgive me for being slow...
Mark,
Yes papacy is correct, popery is a term used by the Reformers.

As for doing as we please in worship, even when we think it will bring us closer to God, no we should not do so. God has given us the means by which to worship Him, and no manner of good intentions should be brought into the mix when not prescribed by God.

Look at Ahihu and Nadab in Leviticus... they brought strange fire before the Lord and were torched for it. He tells us how we are to worship. Lent is meant to bring us closer by having us examine ourselves... that is man's invetion. God's means is much better... it's called communion and should be celebrated regularly in order to cause us to examine ourselves.

See following:
http://www.grace-of-aiken.com/Page%202.htm

When we stick with what God has prescribed and do as He has commanded, we don't need silly inventions like Lent, etc.


Sheila,
I'm not doubting your faith, just your understanding... and please, I don't mean that in a harsh way. But let's look at the origins of who we are as Protestants. We are those who are returning to Scripture as our authority for belief, faith and practice. The authority for the Roman Catholic is the church, with its popes, etc. As long as we open ourselves up to such stuff, we can be deluded by the precepts of men. But with Scripture being our only authority, we will never venture far from the truth.

As for Roman Catholic Christians... I always have to ask... why would you stay in that system of false mediation when you have no need to go to the priests? Christ is our Mediator, not Mary, or any other saint, or the pope. To go to the pope instead is to heed an antiChrist... one who stands in place of Christ. That I cannot ever accept when Scripture clearly denounces such.


Goat,
Not sure what you are talking about there. Titus is a book of the Bible, named after the recipient whom Paul was writing to. It is found just after 1 & 2 Timothy
Blessings to all.

whit said...

I have the same reaction to Mardi Gras. Even a Fox News described it as "drunken deabauchery."

Anonymous said...

"Lent is meant to bring us closer by having us examine ourselves... that is man's invetion."

Sorry Titus, the "man" who invented it was Jesus Christ, who set the example for Lent by undergoing temptation for 40 days in the desert.
Peace.