In Defense of Giving Things Up for Lent (if you want to)

A few weeks ago, Kristin kept seeing articles on how Lent isn't really about giving up chocolate or similar indulgences, and doing so is missing the "true meaning" of the Lenten season. (At least, this is what she gathered from the headline and first couple of sentences before rolling her eyes and scrolling away.)

Well, yeah. Santa Claus and presents aren't the true meaning of Christmas either, nor chocolate rabbits and painted eggs that of Easter. But we're all limited in our ability to grasp and appreciate things of the spirit, and for some of us it can be helpful to embrace such practices as abstaining from good things we enjoy during seasons traditionally devoted to sober reflection, only to enjoy them all the more upon returning to them in seasons of joyful celebration.

One for each of us.

Kristin and Donald both come from Christian traditions that didn't bother with Lent, but have sometimes found it helpful as adults to borrow from Catholic practices around the season, including giving things up. Some people raised Catholic have found all the rules oppressive, another long list of ways to fall short and feel guilty. And yet, the lack of rules around fasting in certain Protestant circles can be just as oppressive, especially in Puritan-influenced traditions. Pastors of the church we attend will sometimes entreat the congregation to fast and pray, but there are never any guidelines or even suggestions as to what that might mean. No food or drink between sunrise and sunset? Skipping a single meal? Dry toast and water all day? Who knows! At least the Catholics will tell you what's expected on fast days (no meat, one meal plus two snacks). Without guidelines, you're left to muddle through on your own, always with the suspicion that whatever you did wasn't enough. 

Of course, finding fault with practices that others consider meaningful is hardly limited to Christians. In one sense, these "not the real meaning of Lent" articles are only the latest entry in the popular genre of "everything you like is problematic". But perhaps those of us who are Christians should take Romans 14 to heart, and not pass judgment on other Christians' devotional practices.

Mysterion Update

We seem to be getting through the latest batch of submissions more quickly than we usually manage, but no promises; gardening season is right around the corner. John Nadas has been helping us out again as a first reader, which we're grateful for! At the end of last week, we had 69 stories waiting for a first read, 9 waiting to be read by either Kristin or Donald, and 7 that have made it to the final round.

Our March story was "Help", by O.Z.A. Lee, a dark historical fantasy set in the American south, where the supernatural horror is no match for the evil that the characters encounter every day. Later this month, on April 25th, we'll be bringing you a science fiction tale from D.G.P. Rector: "On Charis Station". 

We do like science fiction, even though we publish more fantasy! Authors just tend to send us more fantasy; so we're always especially excited to find a science fiction story that we're both enthusiastic about, that has interesting things to say about Christian faith. Something to keep in mind for our next open submission window in July... 

Patreon Update

Each time we open to submissions, we're looking for 7 stories. We're open to submissions in January and July, and publish 14 stories a year. But did you know that meeting our next funding goal on Patreon will allow us to start publishing 16 stories a year?

It's true! And if we meet that goal before we make our final story selections from the January submission window, we'll be able to accept 8 stories instead of 7.

There's still a long way to go. Right now, our 24 active Patrons are contributing a total of $219 each month. Our next goal is $275/month: an additional $56.

We have various rewards available for supporters at all levels, including access to the Mysterion Discord server where you can talk about writing, books and other SF topics with our editors and authors. Our most popular support level is $3/month, which also allows you to read all the stories we publish a few weeks before they appear on the website, either in your email or on our Patreon page.

Please consider signing up if you aren't already supporting us!

Cat Update

We had to spend part of Kristin's birthday taking Maxwell to the vet for some GI issues that we'll spare you too much detail on. A few weeks out, after a course of probiotics and some very expensive prescription cat food that Marie enjoyed more than he did, he seems to be doing better.

Although smaller, Marie apparently has the more robust constitution of the two cats. Maxwell has more digestive upsets (often after eating grass), and was sneezing so much right after we got them that we considered giving him an antihistamine (a veterinary formulation, prescribed by his vet; we weren't going to chop up Donald's Allegra pills and slip them into his paste treat). His respiratory allergies did resolve after we stopped using lavender-scented litter, but Marie never seems to have these problems despite sharing the same environment and food.

Also, Thursday is their first birthday. 

They grow up so fast! We look forward to many more years with these adorable furballs.

Thank you for reading, and please be sure to return on April 25th for our next story, "On Charis Station"!

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