The Washington Post has a weekend religious services directory that prints notices and advertisements from local churches. I was surprised to see how many churches besides the usual liturgical denominations (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran) are holding Ash Wednesday services, in a number of cases complete with the imposition of ashes.
The same issue included a wire article on how Protestants are increasingly adopting Lenten fasts: via Lent Gets a 21st-Century Update – Religiontoday – News – Christianity.com.
It cites evangelicals who are taking on Facebook fasts and online fasts. Methodists are asking their members to abstain from alcoholic beverages. (I thought Methodists do that anyway!) A number of liberal mainline Protestants are joining in an “Ecumenical Lenten Carbon” fast, in which members will mortify their flesh by lowering their carbon footprint. The article mentions Catholics who are obliged to give up meat on Fridays and also the really rigorous Orthodox fast, which cuts out all meat and dairy every day for the entire season. (Does that include Sundays, which are feast days not counted in the 40 days? If any of you are Orthodox, please let us know.) In effect, this is a Vegan diet, and vegetarians in England are urging Christians to adopt the Eastern Orthodox fast this year.
Why do you think, in this age of constant indulgence, the Lenten disciplines are being taken up, to a certain extent, even by those traditions that normally haven’t practiced them? What’s the attraction?