Why Non-Christians Should Observe Lent

As any student knows, we are now approaching the hardest part of the year—that miserable limbo between winter and spring. Work and school become drudgeries, the weather is neither warm nor cold, and ground is covered in half-melted ice and snow.

The feeling is peculiar—a kind of suffocating lethargy that is unique to February and March. The human race (in northern regions, anyway) seems to think in unison, “We’ve had enough of this damned winter. Just get it over with already.”

But that’s not it. A certain group of people have even another “misery” added to their late winter: liturgical Christians. Yes, my friends, it is indeed that time of year again when Lent approaches. Good high church families spend the earlier parts of this week desperately trying to eat up all the meat in the house before Ash Wednesday, when the fast begins[1].

However, for those who are unfamiliar with Lent, let this quote enlighten you:

“Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday [February 18, 2015] and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday [April 5, 2015]. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This event, along with its pious customs is observed by Christians in the Anglican, Calvinist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions. Today, some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.” (Wikipedia)

To get more specific, the most noticeable feature of Lent is that those who faithfully observe it refrain from eating the flesh of mammals and birds on Fridays. It is also customary to spend these (approximately) 40 days trying even harder than before to eliminate vices from your life.

“Well,” you say, “This is nothing but one of those stupid Christian traditions. What the hell are you talking to us about this for? Does it have any applications to kino escalation?” This is a very good question to ask. I submit to you, brothers, that any man serious about improving himself should observe Lent, not for religious reasons (unless you want to), but rather for the reasons I will mention here.

1. It helps you develop self-discipline


In order accomplish anything worthwhile, you must have a delayed time preference. What does this mean? It means that you are willing to sacrifice pleasure right now for the promise of future reward. This concept is central to understanding how to find fulfillment in life. In almost every religion, self-denial is a central concept—the idea of limiting pleasure in earthly life to experience heavenly pleasures in their fullest.

Self-discipline is the primal struggle of suppressing your biological instincts and doing what you rationally know is best for you. It is quite literally taming the animal inside of you. Lent can help you do just that.

By setting aside a certain amount of time (around 40 days in this case) to focus on denying your base desires and cultivating your rationality and your soul, you are going into “monk mode.” You are living life for a short time with as few distractions as possible in order to cultivate your character and focus on conquering the pet vices you hold.

The obvious objection to this reason is, “Well shouldn’t we be doing that all the time?” The answer to that is “yes.” However, during Lent, you should buckle down on yourself even more and really push yourself to the limits. To use bodybuilding terms, Lent is “progressive overload” for the whole man. You already don’t masturbate? Try going without any kind of sexual release during Lent. You already read a book a week? Read two.

2. It forces you to innovate

This particular point falls under the assumption that all of you readers work out regularly. During Lent, you are not allowed to eat any mammal or bird meat on Fridays. This presents a problem for bodybuilders, who need to eat 10 chickens every day plus half of a cow and a huge scoop of ridiculously overpriced protein powder. You don’t want to wreck your diet by not getting enough protein on Fridays, so what do you do? How do you get your protein?

That’s for you to decide. Find ways to innovate. Discover new foods you never knew of before. Eat more fish. Discover the wonders of legumes. If it really is impossible for you to get all the protein you need on a Lenten diet and you don’t want to just eat at maintenance, keep on eating meat, but make sure you abstain from something else that is dear to you. I guarantee, however, that you can find a way to make it work if you try hard enough. After all, it’s just one day a week.

Your ancestors scratched a living from dirt. They dug up roots they had never seen before. They started farming. They adapted to their circumstances. And you’re going to whine and moan about not having some pre-slaughtered meat.

3. You learn to enjoy the simple things

Learning to love everyday things is cliché, but so important if you want to be a truly joyful man. Allow me a moment of sappiness, gentlemen. To be able to take a walk and glory and nature is one of the most wonderful joys a man can possess. To delight in the taste of a strawberry, or breathe in the salty air of the seashore, or enjoy the endorphin high after a good workout—all of these things are what make life worth living.

If you can only find pleasure in the ecstasy of sex, or the false sense of accomplishment from a video game, or the savory flavors of fine cooked meal and not the simple smile of a little girl, the satisfaction of a job well done, or the simple sweetness of an apple, you are not living life to the fullest.

We take so many things for granted. Lent strips away the excesses of life and forces us to realize the beauty in the mundane. Once you choose to habitually refrain from meat, you begin to understand that tomatoes actually taste pretty good in their glorious simplicity. Then, once the pleasures we forsook are restored, we enjoy them even more than we did before. That ham on Easter tastes a lot better than that steak you used to eat every night before.

Some technical notes

There are some simple rules when observing Lent, according to Christian tradition. The first is that you observe a full fast from all food besides water on Ash Wednesday (February 18) and Good Friday (April 3). On regular days, you should be careful to eat the meat of mammals and birds sparingly (though Anglicans and Orthodox refraining from eating it all together).

If you are feeling really motivated, don’t eat any dairy products or eggs on Fridays, either, though this probably isn’t realistic for someone looking to continue their bulking during Lent.

In addition to observing the fast from meat on Fridays, you should devote this time of the year to developing any skills you want to and eliminating any vices in your life. I will use my own plan as an example. I am trying not to masturbate or use the internet excessively during Lent, and I am trying to practice the guitar every day, read more, and get more writing done.

Just remember, the goal of Lent is to make you into a better man. Follow this advice, and I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Hope you like fish.

[1] Incidentally, this is where Mardi Gras comes from. It literally translates into “Fat Tuesday,” and it originally started as the night when people partied it up and glutted out before fasting the next day.

Read More: Dostoyevsky And The Narcissistic Roots Of Insecurity

65 thoughts on “Why Non-Christians Should Observe Lent”

  1. What next, an article about why non-Shia Muslims should celebrate the Day of Ashura and lacerate themselves bloody with chains and knives?

      1. If it had not been about religion, the title would have been: Build self control and improve yourself through periodic deprivation. There would have been no mention at all of Christianity or lent, other than a single line to the tune of “Similar to the practice of lent for Christians, jews for X, and muslims for Y”. But instead the author decided to wrap a possibly decent idea in a cloak of religious nonsensical guilt. To that I say “I fart in your general direction”.

        1. LOL! Best response ever. It’s amazing how delicate atheists are. Any mention of God or anything remotely religious and they absolutely freak out. It’s hysterical. God rules over their lives, more so than most nominal Christians. They’re like the jilted ex-girlfriend who sees their ex- walking with another girl and then can’t stop talking shit about him. A true atheist would be indifferent to the beliefs of others; These guys just have guilty consciouses.

        2. Monty Python doesn’t make you cool. The author was sharing something about his life that he thinks would be useful to others. He’s not doing an examination on deprivation rituals throughout the world. Fuck.

    1. Actually, I just read a bit of your posting history. You certainly have an axe to grind. Did your dingleberries get diddled by a priest when you were little? I’m sorry. Maybe you should see a psychologist about that.

    2. Great troll effort! And so fucking what? Most religions have traditions that show patterns of self-control and self-constraint of the things we love to do the most, particularly negative habits. Many religions have fasting including many Christian sects(and old school Catholicism) whereas some just have giving up simple pleasures. I’m an atheist and as such I will not practice lent but the principles described within are not harmful to anyone and if anything will benefit the average man greatly.
      Self-discipline can be extremely difficult for a lot of men for obvious reasons and if religion is the mechanism by which he achieves such then I am in inclined to applaud him for that. Your little snide comment is very common among the hedonist atheists crowd and there’s a reason they’ve grown a reputation as fat, disorganized, out-of-shape, and rude snobs on the internet. BECAUSE THEY ARE. All the worse that they shit on the legitimate efforts of religious men to improve their lives by coming up with hedonistic ploys that do nothing but weaken the general culture.
      And so what if men cut themselves with knives? I don’t care. As long as they’re not going around cutting other people or forcing that belief on anyone then I don’t give a shit. Just as I don’t care if someone has lent or some other belief, they can believe what they want. Maybe the cutting themselves with knives is most likely to symbolize pain and suffering felt by others and maybe it helps them become more empathetic. But in any sense how many Shia Muslims have come up to you saying you personally should cut yourself? Zero. None.
      Usually I don’t respond to troll comments but this one gets to me. Internet atheists(myself being one as mentioned earlier) are some of the most annoying loser dweebs I’ve ever encountered. It is internet atheism itself that makes me look for some sort of middle ground with spirituality and religion because the atheist extreme is just as bad for humanity as any religion. If there is a group of human beings that needs a good kick in the pants, to dress better, shave their pube beards, grow up, get in shape, and stop being perpetual petulant whiners as the modern internet atheist community, I haven’t seen it.

    3. Or maybe they should publish an article about why non-atheists should practice the sacred atheist rite of shoving bananas up their assholes?
      *tips fedora

  2. I shall forego all beer under 8%.
    Seriously, if you have enough self-discipline to have a job, not be in debt and be the least bit productive to society, forget being religion shamed into things.

    1. Bearing in mind that this is the sort of fasting where you can eat all the wild caught Alaska salmon you want.
      Life is hard.

  3. If I were to observe Lent I would have to start worrying about letting myself become worldly and decadent.
    And really, if trying to practice the guitar every day is a form of renunciation for you, perhaps you should consider taking up fishing instead.

  4. I followed Lent every year for 25 years. Now that I’m living alone and independent I’m not about to start again. I will agree that self-discipline and giving up harmful things can be beneficial. However, this sentence: “If you are feeling really motivated, don’t eat any dairy products or eggs on Fridays, either” is ridiculous. I was raised Catholic. Dairy products and eggs on Fridays during Lent are okay. [Dairy products and eggs are okay anyday, they’re healthy, especially eggs (USDA just dropped cholesterol warning for eggs).]
    It’s meat you can’t eat on Fridays during Lent. But when they say meat, they really mean terrestrial animals, because fish doesn’t count as meat to Catholics for some reason.

    1. “It’s meat you can’t eat on Fridays during Lent. But when they say meat,
      they really mean terrestrial animals, because fish doesn’t count as meat
      to Catholics for some reason.”
      Look into Orthodox Lent. Fasting in Roman Catholicism was lightened almost to the point of total removal. Whereas, Orthodox have maintained the ancient traditions, only a few of the most ascetic monastic brotherhoods of Roman Catholicism would be keep what is just expected as the normal level that laymen should aim for in Orthodoxy:

      1. I’m a Classical Anglican and we also observe a full fast from all meat during Lent (except for Sundays, as all Sundays are the Feast of the Resurrection). The particular Church I go to is about as Orthodox as they get, though. If we didn’t believe in filioque and substitutionary atonement, we’d be Western Rite Orthodox (theologically, anyway). Except we don’t chant the whole service.

        1. How do you feel? Wow, that’s a very personal question, isn’t it? Answer at your own discretion.

        2. My longest Nofap streak is 9 months.
          Feel normal. A bit proud to be more than just a biological puppet, that’s what I get from it. If you’re wondering if horniness will build up until you go crazy and go hump the neighboor’s dog, it will not. The key is getting a feeling of achievement from other activities.

        3. I did it for 3 weeks. The first week is insanely hard, and then after that your body and mind adjust and it becomes normal. That’s how it is with anything though.
          I started 30 min daily cardio training and the first week had to drop it for a few days, my heart felt like it was going to explode and my calves were weak and sore and I literally couldn’t walk right. After a week of doing cardio, I can do it without breaking a sweat now.
          I want to try nofap for 40 days and report back. Honestly, I had mixed results before. I spent so much time THINKING about sex it was very counterproductive. But I think if you can go long enough you reach the breaking point and all will be well 🙂

        4. “I want to try nofap for 40 days and report back. Honestly, I had mixed
          results before. I spent so much time THINKING about sex it was very
          counterproductive. But I think if you can go long enough you reach the
          breaking point and all will be well :)”
          Yeah nofap alone is no easy. You need to do some drastic changes, go on monk mode ; replace sex with achievement and adrenaline. You can start a martial ar ; something tiresome and adrenaline inducing.
          And when you feel your sex drive taking power on you, you ask yourself “why would I do that, it doesn’t even feel that good”.
          Think like you’re a recovering alcoholic or something 😉
          When you’ll be on a long streak, you will feel superior to all the thirsty animals around you !
          Hope these advices will be useful 😉

        5. Good advice, but it feels pretty damn good. I’m not sure my body will accept that lie 🙂

  5. There’s a very spiritual element to all of this that runs deeper than simple self-improvement or discipline, though both of those have their role. At its core, Lent is a confrontation of suffering and death. All men must suffer, all men must die, and all men can hope to achieve a perfection of their natures by passing through both of these.
    Ernest Hemingway communicated it best I think, reiterating much of what has been known by men in warrior cultures throughout history – the greatest foe a man will ever have to face is the reality of his own suffering and death. It’s is a mindset that couldn’t be more contrary to the effeminate, pusillanimous thinking that’s rotting it’s way through Western culture right now. This culture would have you hide from the darkness, clinging to life like a child to it’s mother’s apron, and crying like the same at any suggestion that it all ends. You must break away. You must shoulder your pain, you must walk into the darkness like Dante through the Inferno or Christ through the devil’s wilderness, until you ultimately come to stare death in the face and not look away. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, it is appropriate for all men during this time to remember that they are dust, and unto dust they shall return.

    1. I am nonreligious, but just attended an Ash Wednesday event at the invite of a lady friend. I grew up with lent and the church, so none of this was new, but when the priest marked my forehead with ashes and said “You are dust, and to dust you will return” I shivered, and the message hit hard.
      We are here upon this earth but briefly, and then we are gone. Don’t get caught up in the rat race. Make your mark. Enjoy your time here. Don’t waste your efforts where they will not be rewarded. Don’t worry about conforming or doing things because others expect or want you to. Life is short, gentlemen!

      1. I thought I was going crazy today because I saw two people with weird bruises in the same spot on their foreheads. I asked the one who was not a stranger if she had fallen or something. She explained the whole Ash Wednesday thing to me. I felt like an idiot for not knowing about it, but I liked the explanation of the tradition and what it symbolized. I grew up going to a contemporary non-denominational type of church so I never got exposed to those older Catholic-type of practices.

    2. I do believe that the whole Easter / Lent thing, is a pagan festival in the first place and relates to the seasons, and the main reason for having a festival celebrating not eating is because historically, there wasn’t much food at this time of year…perhaps we can celebrate the global supply chain and local supermarket instead ?

      1. Some of the symbols of Easter (rabbits and eggs) are pagan for sure. I read somewhere that during this time of year their livestock was still breeding back from the winter so it wouldn’t be the smartest move to harvest them without a great need (hence fish being ok).
        Having a feast at the end was a celebration of life, lasting through the winter and the hard times, the first new growth and a promise of more food to come. Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, the pagans probably celebrated the resurrection of the land.
        It is interesting to think how much of out culture is influenced by pre-Christian Europe. I think the best description of western culture I’ve heard was that it’s a combination of Roman law, Christian virtue, and German traditions.

      2. Most of the Bible is stolen from Pagans. Jesus is a rip-off of a pagan god, Dionysus, who is a rip off of an Egyptian god, Osiris. Pythagoras spent 33 years in Egypt and came back to the Roman Empire with all this cool shit and knowledge e.g. Pythagoras’ Theorem. I won’t go on and write a 20,000 word essay on this since there are already books out there, e.g. “The Jesus Mysteries.” Good read, not that boring.

      1. I gave up recursive loops, and all I got was my machine trying to divide by zero and fucking up my porn collection.

  6. One of the beauties of true Christianity, is that there are no such “traditions” that we HAVE to follow….

    1. “One of the beauties of true Christianity, is that there are no such ‘traditions’ that we HAVE to follow….”
      1 Corinthians 11:2:
      Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain
      the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
      2 Thessalonians 2:15:
      So then, brothers, stand firm, and cling to the traditions that you
      were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
      2 Thessalonians 3:6:
      Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
      you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in
      accord with the tradition that you received from us.
      The New Testament itself? The *traditional* collection of Apostolic texts, as accepted gradually over several centuries, by consensus, for reading during the Divine Liturgy.
      Divine Liturgy?
      You know the thing that predates all the books of the New Testament much less the final canon of it? A thing Christ Himself commanded to be performed? The center of Christian life and worship and community for 1500 years before there were Protestants to wave around a Bible and sit and listen to a lecture about/from it?
      Luke 22:19-20:
      And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”
      In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.
      1 Corinthians 11:27:
      For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

  7. I never understood why you follow the literal rules of fasting, yet ignore all the sacrificial rituals detailed in Leviticus.
    Who’s to say Lent fasting is meant to be literal, but most of the other rituals in the Bible you can ignore?

    1. ” most of the other rituals in the Bible you can ignore?”
      Probably because those rules of fasting (pertaining to Lent) are not mentioned in the Bible?

        1. I see nothing about abstaining from the meat of land animals and birds in that passage, nor is the allowance of two meals not adding up to one whole meal during the day mentioned either.

  8. <>
    Something about the phrase “beauty in the mundane” is absolutely gorgeous and inducing. Maybe I’m just being trite.

  9. The Catholic Church used to mandate no meat AT ALL during lent, and no meat on Fridays all year, not just during Lent. That changed after Vatican II.

  10. This is off-topic but relevant to Christians. The recent comments out of the barry-dah-potus administration are disgusting. I’m listening to Michael Savage and he had clips of one of barry’s female state department diversity hires who was blabbering on and on in the wake of not only repeated Islamic attacks on u.s. soil, but the continued barbaric executions of Christians (and everyone else) by Islamic fanatics (ISIS…or is it ISIL???) AND a fanatical atheist just slaughtered three Muslims in N. Carolina. This fucking wrench had the temerity to mention that fanatical Christian groups are out there and that we (as in my fucking government that only exists by taking my fucking money) have the tools to deal with them? WHAT. THE. FUCK. Look, gents, I’m not here to convert, evangelize or preach. Frankly, our strength as a growing force in society is the fact that Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Agnostic and Atheist are all here working together (the New Masculinity). But this is outrageous. Are there fanatic Christians, yes, have there been fanatic Christians in the past, yes. At fucking present, if there are fanatic Christians they’re di minimus, period full stop. And anyone with even the slightest understanding and appreciation for Christianity knows that (especially the contemporary version) it’s totally intolerant of violence etc. And, yet, in full day light blasted over the whole world are videos of gleeful Islamic terrorist sawing off heads by the hundreds justified by the institutionalized Sharia Law. And at least, now, two acts of mass murder by fanatic secularists.
    I’m not asking anyone to be Christian or even like them, but, to ignore the real source of terror in this world and blame Christians, who are, as demonstrated over and over, fucking victims…sorry, but, this just points to the systemic discrimination of Christianity today. But, kindly note, Christians have yet to do one thing that is very, very, very telling…guess what that it is? Answer: By every “progressive” standard, Christians, just like Muslims, can right now claim victim status in the west. But have they? Exactly.

  11. Why in the world would/should non-religious people engage in religious rituals? Are you an idiot? Perhaps we should also do other things religious people do.. Lets hijack some planes.. Lets chop some heads off.. Lets burn people at the stake while we’re at it. Religion is something that needs to die.. Not be coddled and reinforced. Its a Plague of the mind, an infection, a disease upon our planet.

  12. Reading a couple of books on stoicism and spirituality right now and this is apropos for my life. I’m gonna attempt to refrain from two things for the next 38 days.

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