Someone recently asked me what I gave up for Lent. I replied "I'm not a Catholic". So the person pressed me again and asked why I still didn't feel the need to give anything up since Jesus gave up so much for all of us. I thought about this long and hard before I gave my standard answer when anyone asks me why I'm not religious: "I think it's hypocritical to give up something for 40 days just because some religion preaches that it should be so."
Later, I actually gave some thought as to why I feel the Catholic religion in particular is hypocrisy personified. I wasn't baptized when I was a baby. When I would tell people this growing up you would have thought that by their reaction I told them I have heinously defaced the grave of Jesus himself! They would say "you know, you're gonna burn in Hell if you die without doing it!" Aside from that being BULLSHIT, it is incredibly malicious coming from a God fearing Catholic who obviously doesn't think it's a sin to tell someone that they're going to Hell. I can assure you that I didn't fear these people but rather they acted as deterrents for me to join their "crew".
I don't believe that you have to be religious to be Spiritual. It has taken me many years and heated debates with people that have extensive organized religious facts and informed opinions, but I really do think that as long as one believes in a being higher than themselves, and then that same person practices this belief, mediates on this belief and then tries to be the best person that they can be, they're not going to Hell. These people that spend all this time giving up chocolate, not eating meat on Friday's, I have to say "good for you." Self sacrifice is healthy food for the soul. I also think that if, and hopefully when, I am standing next to the person that gave up cursing for 40 days on the line to get into heaven I move ahead of them because of the quality of life that I lived. So that I can say "I told you so" and stick my tongue out at them as the angels come and tap me ahead. Of course, I wouldn't stick my tongue out because at that point, I would try to show off my "grace and respect for all that is holy" and because I don't want to go back to that spot in line. My point is that I don't think that choosing to practice in organized religion opposed to dedicating your heart to the Spirituality you've came across on your own, in your heart, makes any difference or proves to be any better than.
I sat in those Catholic services as a child and watched the basket go around. I watched people drop money in there hoping God would forget about their drinking problem. The Catholic's pride themselves on charity yet if the Vatican sold one painting hanging in their fortress we would be able to end the starvation problem in at least one third world Country. I 'm not saying that any one religion is better than any other. All I'm trying to get across is that morality and ethics are completely separate from organized religion. When a person tries to combine the two they can get very confused like I have so many times when trying to choose the religion that was calling my name.
I'm still not baptized. I don't know if I ever will be. If and when that ever happens it will be because I feel a calling from a Higher power telling me to go to church. Honestly though, I think that power can speak to me anytime it wants, because one doesn't have to be in church to hear it.
So for lent this year I have chosen to give up my truth about why I don't need an occasion to forego my vices. If my spirit is meant to go without, I will do it because I think it's right. I don't think Jesus is keeping score on these things. But hey, if you see me in the "other" line, now you'll know why (but that could mean you'll be there too, so don't be so quick to judge ;)