So how did that Lent stuff work out?

Before Lent began, I committed to two behavior changes: one to curb a vice, the other to cultivate a virtue.  In brief:

  1. I stopped taking advantage of the free food opportunities near my office in the hopes that I could stop feeling like I was taking advantage of people and feeling pleasure in pride in getting one over on someone
  2. I tried to overhaul the way I donated to charity in order to be more responsive to the people around me, instead just kicking in sporadically to malaria nets. (I added this one mid-way through)

Let’s take them in the opposite order:

I don’t think the iPhone countdown I rigged up was very helpful (when I got an ‘ask’ of any kind, I tallied it and every 5 ‘asks’ I donated to Against Malaria).  I think I probably was still missing ‘asks’ and didn’t feel anything new.  So I’m going to treat this as an inconclusive pilot I can return to in the future.

Here’s the new plan.  The largest discretionary budget I have on Mint is ‘Entertainment’ (assuming I exclude the ‘Education’ budget for ASL lessons and my NYT and New Yorker subscriptions).  For April and May, I’m going to make a matching donation for whatever my ‘Entertainment’ spending was (the expenses in that category are usually movies, theatre, and roller derby tickets).  This way I can bump up my contribution while still keeping it tied to what I can afford.  This doesn’t help with the making-charity-less-abstract-and-distant problem, but I have a different idea on that front that I’ll let you know about after I give it a go.

The free food fast is also technically inconclusive, I guess, but I think it was helpful.  As I mentioned last year in my Maundy Thursday post, I need to work on joyfully and accepting the generosity of others, and, if nothing else, this discipline was a reminder every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday that this kind of uncharity is a besetting sin of mine.

I think and hope it made me a little more sensitive to the ways I fail on this, so it would be worth it for that alone.  And, now, presumably, I’ll still be reminded on Wednesdays and Fridays when I go to the free wine and cheese tastings.  (Sadly, the cupcakes on Tuesdays promotion was cancelled during Lent).  Fixing this tendency will take more than 40 days.

Effective Altruism and Caritas [Radio Readings]
Some Tools for Failing to Live Perfectly Well
Why Make People Derive the Rules for Sex Themselves?
Effective Altruism & Ethically Questionable Cookies
About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011 and lives in Washington DC. She works as a news writer for FiveThirtyEight by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • The Ubiquitous

    Fast with a smile in part means: When considering private fasts, never say no to a mitzvah.