Sunday, March 23, 2008

Postscripts to Lent

(Author's Note: I originally wrote this entry as part of this article I did for Click the City on 25 March 2008, exactly three years ago on Tuesday. Although now there are pieces of information that may seem obsolete now, the essence of the article for me remains true and makes for an interesting post-Lenten reflection.)

I had a particularly erudite discussion on death with my brother days ago. (Actually we’re just brooding over his diet.) You see, he’s doing Atkins. Since carbs are a big no-no, he has resorted to using artificial sugar substitutes whenever he has a craving for sweets. I was telling him that synthetic sweeteners are cancerous and he might get cancer sooner or later. To which he replied, “At least, I’m not going to die of heart attack or weight-related problems.” Which got me thinking. I think dying from heart attack is better; at least you get to keep your hair and die a (nearly) glamorous death.

In many ways, this reflects the psyche of religion (where on earth did I get this term, I had no idea). No matter whom we worship, we are all still bound to die. And I guess this is the mystery of why we worship in the first place: we want to be “glamorous” in death, or as my religion teacher put it, we all want to go to heaven.

Whether we spend our Holy Week among votive candles or among scantily clad people on the beaches of the Philippines, we all have to return in front of our computers or behind our desks. We have to resume having meetings, calling tons of people and printing gazillions of documents. A weekend of rest comes to a screeching halt when we notice that we are again taking the same crowded MRT on our way to our same (ho-hum?) cubicle.

We then realize that we measure a good life not within a seven-day period, but within a lifetime. The way I see it, brownie points are not gained by banning The Da Vinci Code or by breeding like rabbits. Niches in heaven are not solely reserved for those who shunned pork, or whipped themselves to bleeding, or offered masses in all churches possible. Holy Weeks come and go and in a race as amazing as Life, they are just the pit stops. Real winners win at the finish line.


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