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Hallo again to all.

Those of us who work on and write for Anglicans Online and who develop and curate related Anglican resources aren't paid a farthing for it. So we keep what in the entertainment business are called 'day jobs'. In general at those day jobs there are no other Anglicans and few other churchgoers. So it's not at all uncommon for a co-worker, making an attempt at being friendly and understanding and having heard somewhere that it is now Lent, to ask 'so what did you give up for Lent?'

Bishop Pike's headstoneWe've never known how to answer that question, because giving up something for Lent isn't really what it's all about, at least not for us. The easiest answers might not be true ('I gave up meat for Lent'). The true answers might not be polite, or might be too personal. We're now about one third of the way through Lent, marching towards Easter, and yesterday when we were asked that question what we really wanted to say was 'I gave up hope for Lent.' It felt so bleak.

We have a hard time with Lent. It would be easiest just to brush it off, to give up Lent for Lent. We've joked about it, we've thought about it, we've talked about it, but can't do it. Lent absorbs us, or rejects us. We can never tell which. Christ seems so far away right now that it's easy to feel forsaken.

Oddly enough, sometimes when we feel this way we think about Bishop Pike. Many thought him mad or deranged. Many thought him heretical, unworthy of being a bishop or even being an Anglican. He was an attorney, an agnostic, a spy, a former Roman Catholic, an Episcopal Bishop, a political agitator, a pundit, a would-be clairvoyant, and an alcoholic. Many of his detractors probably thought he was the Antichrist. He died of exposure in the desert of Judea because he didn't exercise good survival sense even though he knew better.

Perhaps one of his many flaws was that he 'suffered from a deplorable excess of faith'*. People who die for their faith while attempting something noble are often given the status of 'martyr'. James Pike died because his faith was stronger than his good sense and he believed that God would save him in spite of the inadvisability of his behaviour. Such people are rarely called martyrs; usually the word is 'fool'. Pike's faith was so strong that it led him to heresy, censure, and ultimately unfortunate death.

Whatever his flaws, we think that if we could have a conversation with Bishop Pike soon, he might be able to help us better see to the end of Lent and then Holy Week. Right now it feels impossibly far away.

But you can see why we might tell our co-workers that we gave up meat for Lent.

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

24 February 2013

*With apologies either to John Hammond or David Koepp.

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