Green Room

Why I’m giving up Twitter for Lent

posted at 12:08 pm on February 13, 2013 by

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the observance of Lent for Christians around the world, when we recall the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and reflect on our faith through our own small sacrifices.  The observance is common enough that nearly everyone understands the concept of “giving up [something] for Lent,” whether it be certain foods, activities, or perhaps even time in order to study and reflect more.  Wikipedia has a pretty decent description:

The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches devoid their altars of candles, flowers, and other devotional offerings, while Crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious paraphernalia are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of this event. In certain pious Catholic countries, the consumption of meat is traditionally yet varyingly[1] self-abstained by the faithful, while grand religious processions and cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary.

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the Devil.[2][3] However, different Christian denominations calculate the forty days of Lent differently. In most Western traditions the Sundays are not counted as part of Lent; thus the period from Ash Wednesday until Easter consists of 40 days when the Sundays are excluded. However in the Roman Catholic Church Lent is now taken to end on Holy Thursday rather than Easter Eve, and hence lasts 38 days excluding Sundays, or 44 days in total.

This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, as well as some Baptists and Mennonites.[4][5][6]

This year, I have decided to give up Twitter for Lent.  Not too long ago, I wrote about Twitter on the main page, explaining its value to me as a social outlet:

I see it more as a water cooler experience rather than an alternative medium for argument and debate.  Yes, I tweet links to my posts, but now the Hot Air admin site does that automatically, so even that need has disappeared.  I mainly use it for personal connections to friends and readers, touching on politics but not as a means for conducting debates.

However, it’s also very tempting to become negative on Twitter.  People try to provoke others, and the format makes it easy to respond in kind very quickly without considering whether (a) it’s useful to do so, and (b) whether it just makes the situation worse.  Perhaps especially during Lent, we should be considering how to best express love for our neighbors rather than anger or snark at them, and I think a break will be valuable.

So, I won’t be tweeting at all during Lent, nor watching my timeline or mentions column at all until after Easter.  I’m hoping to use the time for improving my study and prayer life, and to think about how to put my faith into action.  And I have to tell you, just five or so hours into it, it’s already apparent to me that it will be extremely difficult to stick with this commitment, which is perhaps the best argument in favor of the decision.

What are readers giving up for Lent, if anything at all?  I’ll be curious to see your answers in the comments.

Update: One commenter raised the question of even discussing this, as it tends to dilute its impact.  I thought about that, but (a) I haven’t disclosed all I’m doing to observe Lent, and (b) I wanted to give my Twitter followers some kind of heads-up about my status.

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I actually started my Lenten observance at New Years and tried to tie in my Lenten & New Years Resolutions to give them more meaning. Basically I’ve given up Coke, and, with certain work-related exceptions, I’ve given up eating out.

But I’ve also resolved to be more prayerful, and I’ve been doing a Rosary every time I’m on the Elliptical instead of watching the scroll on Fox news or HLN.

As for Twitter, I gave up on that a while ago, just because I don’t need to get blips of information that fast.

Nethicus on February 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Good Friday is a calender flub. Christ actually died Thursday (3 days AND 3 nights).

nobar on February 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM

What are readers giving up for Lent, if anything at all? I’ll be curious to see your answers in the comments.

In truth, I should give up HotAir for Lent. I spend an inordinate amount of time here. I do like keeping informed. Perhaps I should give up commenting on HotAir for Lent. I have been nasty to others at times. A cooling off period would probably be good for me.

Bitter Clinger on February 13, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Good Friday is a calender flub. Christ actually died Thursday (3 days AND 3 nights).

nobar on February 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM

No, the Gospels make it clear in several places that Jesus died on Preparation Day before the Passover, and that his body had to be hurriedly entombed before the day ended. Preparation Day was Friday, before the Saturday Sabbath (people prepared food for consumption, as cooking was not allowed), which began at sundown on Friday.

That’s why the Nicene Creed says, “On the third day He rose again,” not “three days later.”

Ed Morrissey on February 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I give up all news media for Lent. And I try to fill the time with more meaningful reading and writing. Here’s last years experience.

Argonaut USA on February 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I’m starting to think that Twitter and texting are starting to have a real negative impact on people. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems like people can only read the first sentence of an e-mail lately. If I ask two questions or address two issues in one e-mail, I only get answers to the first one. It’s gotten to the point where I’m consciously making my e-mails extra short and on one question only. This post is already way too long and I’m sure nobody is reading anymore.

forest on February 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

That’s why the Nicene Creed says, “On the third day He rose again,” not “three days later.”

Ed Morrissey on February 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Ed, I’m aware of the many places where 3 days are mentioned but then there is Matthew 12:40:

40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

Something don’t quite add up.

nobar on February 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Ed Morrissey on February 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

nobar on February 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Paul would say you’re both emphasizing ritual too much. The only thing that matters is He rose.

John the Libertarian on February 13, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Paul would say you’re both emphasizing ritual too much. The only thing that matters is He rose.

John the Libertarian on February 13, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Actually, the thing that REALLY matters is that He died. The resurrection was wondrous and miraculous, and necessary, but sometimes we focus too much on Easter and lose sight of Good Friday. It was Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross that saved us.

Shump on February 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Most Lutherans do not follow this practice. By requiring that we “give up something”, Lent becomes a checkbox item of self righteousness. There is nothing we can do to please God.

By grace through faith we are saved. That’s it. Yes, we observe two sacraments to help strengthen us in our faith, but “giving up something” is not one of them.

Hat Trick on February 13, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Actually, the thing that REALLY matters is that He died. The resurrection was wondrous and miraculous, and necessary, but sometimes we focus too much on Easter and lose sight of Good Friday. It was Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross that saved us.

Shump on February 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Exactly. He died for us. What on Earth could I possibly do in return? All I can do is accept the wonderful gift of God’s grace. It’s not about me. “I, a poor, miserable sinner.”

Hat Trick on February 13, 2013 at 1:15 PM

i’m giving up empathy for lent.

I spend an inordinate amount of time here. I do like keeping informed. Perhaps I should give up commenting on HotAir for Lent.

Bitter Clinger on February 13, 2013 at 12:32 PM

does that make you a taker or a maker?

(it’s a rhetorical question.)

sesquipedalian on February 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

You’re not really supposed to brag about or even discuss what you’re giving up for Lent. It takes away much of the purpose.

Individual on February 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Most Lutherans do not follow this practice. By requiring that we “give up something”, Lent becomes a checkbox item of self righteousness. There is nothing we can do to please God.

By grace through faith we are saved. That’s it. Yes, we observe two sacraments to help strengthen us in our faith, but “giving up something” is not one of them.

Hat Trick on February 13, 2013 at 1:07 PM

At the risk of starting a religious war here, if there’s nothing we can do to please God, why bother doing anything good? Or maybe, why bother doing anything beyond the mimimal?

Disclousure: Catholic who worked 6 years for a Lutheran church.

thebrokenrattle on February 13, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Giving up giving up stuff for Lent? /

Good question – may all those who observe Lent be blessed if they do so in response to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
I’ve given up things, sometimes for a season and sometimes for good. Nothing in my immediate memory comes to mind, at the moment.
I also agree with Individual’s point – unless you’re telling just a few people who can encourage you and hold you accountable.

22044 on February 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM

OK, I’ve given up a couple of things – since the election.

Sunday morning talk shows and looking at RCP’s main page.

And I gave up listening to Obama as much as possible after his first election – I can’t stand his voice!

22044 on February 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I gave up traditional media and RCP after the election and really have been happier. Perhaps I’ll give up the internet altogether for Lent and see how much my life improves. Or perhaps something easier, like alcohol. We’ll see.

txmomof6 on February 13, 2013 at 1:54 PM

I’m giving up Lent for Lent.

Armin Tamzarian on February 13, 2013 at 2:07 PM

I’m starting to think that Twitter and texting are starting to have a real negative impact on people. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems like people can only read the first sentence of an e-mail lately. If I ask two questions or address two issues in one e-mail, I only get answers to the first one. It’s gotten to the point where I’m consciously making my e-mails extra short and on one question only. This post is already way too long and I’m sure nobody is reading anymore.

forest on February 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

tl;dr

jk

;-)

JimLennon on February 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Most Lutherans do not follow this practice. By requiring that we “give up something”, Lent becomes a checkbox item of self righteousness. There is nothing we can do to please God.

By grace through faith we are saved. That’s it. Yes, we observe two sacraments to help strengthen us in our faith, but “giving up something” is not one of them.

Hat Trick on February 13, 2013 at 1:07 PM

So Jesus, when he spent his 40 days fasting in the desert, was checking a box of self rightousness.

Got it.

unclesmrgol on February 13, 2013 at 2:26 PM

You’re not really supposed to brag about or even discuss what you’re giving up for Lent. It takes away much of the purpose.

Individual on February 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

An interesting observation, and fully in keeping with today’s Gospel reading at Mass:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

That said, there is the interesting thing which happens which you show up at work with a cross painted in ash upon your forehead. Lots of people are interested in why you observe — and it becomes a teachable moment.

unclesmrgol on February 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM

I’m also gave up Twitter for Lent. Not even halfway through Ash Wednesday, and its proving to be very difficult!

conservativeswrker on February 13, 2013 at 2:39 PM

I am giving up two foods that I like to eat nearly every day. I’m also going to try to give up drinking beer (didn’t work out too well last year, though).

As for the date of Christ’s death (Thursday or Friday); it doesn’t matter, really. The Church throughout the ages has always celebrated that sacrifice as having occurred on a Friday. That’s good enough for me.

As for the significance of the resurrection; well: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17) Seems rather important to me.

jdp629 on February 13, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I’m giving up my Coke addiction(actually all soda) for Lent. I thought about Twitter but it’s more of a bad habit that you can break, while I’m reminded at every meal why I can’t have a soda.

Also I was going to make a bald joke about where the priest put the ashes since Ed’s forehead goes all the way to the back of his head. But then I remembered he’s probaby still got his Steeler paint on. And also I’m too classy to make bald jokes.

JavelinaBomb on February 13, 2013 at 2:42 PM

forest on February 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

tl;dr

jk

:-)

JimLennon on February 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM

I knew “jk” was “just kidding”, but I had no idea what “tl;dr” was until I looked it up.

Heh!

ITguy on February 13, 2013 at 2:47 PM

I don’t regard this thread as bragging about what we’re giving up, but just sharing ideas.

I’m giving up lunch for Lent. If I have to go out at lunch to meet a friend or for business I’ll just have soup or something that doesn’t constitute a full meal.

theCork on February 13, 2013 at 3:15 PM