Friday, April 27, 2007

More questions

(The last one was just a warm-up - this is the real thing.)

We're starting a new campaign at work, and it's primarily centred around the idea of fasting. We want to invite people to engage in the work of ending hunger by considering different kinds of fasts. This quote from Isaiah 58 is our inspiration:

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

According to Walter Brueggemann, fasting is " ... the disciplined withdrawal and regular retreat, in order to break the familiar linkages and dependencies and loyalties."

Some of the ideas so far are:
Fast from Food - giving up a meal once a week, or giving up a portion of a meal (like meat)
Fast from Over-consumption - for a week a month buy nothing but absolute necessities
Fast from Faceless Food - buy only things that are locally grown or fairly traded
Fast from Speed - parking your car and walking once a week (yeah, I know this seems like more of an environmental issue, but climate change is having a huge impact on hunger, so it's all related)
Fast from Silence - speak out about hunger, write letters to people in power, etc.

It's a way of getting people to consider what they can do or what they can live without in order to bring more balance to the world. It is largely symbolic, because deep down we know that giving up a few meals does not directly impact the person with no food in Ethiopia (hence my question about solidarity in the last post), but I think that if more people in North America at least begin to think about their over-consumption and waste we might get somewhere. (Did you know, for example, that if everyone consumed as much as North Americans do, it would take 4 to 7 earths to sustain us all?)

I've already written several drafts for the material we're producing for this (brochures, website, etc.), but now I want to write a longer background piece about why people should fast, what the benefits are, what might be accomplished, etc. That's where you, my friendly blog readers can help. If this is something you're interested in, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Write whatever you want, or respond to these questions:

1. Have you ever fasted before? If so, what was your experience with it? Was it a positive experience? Did anything change as a result?

2. If you've fasted before, what influenced you to do so? Biblical text? Advice from a friend? Something you read?

3. Do you think "fasting" is a familiar language to people? In what context - religious or health-related?

4. I've mostly heard of it in a religious context, but I'd be interested in hearing from people who live mostly outside of organized religion - is it a concept you understand at least partly? Are you comfortable with it?

5. What would you consider fasting from to participate in the work of ending hunger?

Thanks! Even if you're largely unfamiliar with fasting, I'd still welcome your comments.


ccap said...

1. Yes. It was a positive experience but I don't know that anything profound happened or that anything changed as a result.

2. Biblical text. I've done it three times for the first week of lent to help me focus and medidate more.

3. Yes. Both religious and health-related?

4. N/A

5. I would definitely consider fasting from food. I'm not saying I would do it for sure but I would consider it.

Vicki said...

I will tell you my fasting story. It might be too long to post here, so after you read it and digest it feel free to delete if necessary.

(correct spelling is not promised. I am in a hurry to get out the door.)

I had attended church for 5 years with only my children. My Husband was in such spiritual turmoil our household was a wreck. I needed this man to attend church with me, and he needed it also. His need for it drove him to be a hateful and bitter man. Running from God is exausting.

So one morning while I was fixing Breakfast I just "knew" I was supposed to fast for Brian. I didn't have any real education on fasting. I went into blind.

By Lunch I knew I was supposed to fast Lunch as well. By Dinner the same. Next morning Breakfast the same. Then Evenutally I realized my fast was not going to end soon. I went 7 days fasting. On the 7th Day, Sunday, I was ironing my dress for Church, just having a pity party for myself. I had not told Brian I was fasting, I think he had a clue but we didn't discuss it. He walks into the room I am in and says, "Vicki I think I need to go to church with you today."

Thank you Jesus.

So We went to church as a family. On the 30 minute drive there tears streamed down my face. I knew today was a day for healing! Today was Brian's day.

The service was just for him. Talked about being prosperius in your business (we were not), being kind to your family (uhhhMMmmm), Being the spritual head of the household (THANK YOU GOD).

7th Day at Lunch my fast ended.

I felt like when I was fasting I was saying to God, "LOOK HERE! I need your Attention RIGHT HERE." Once I remember during that fast while praying for Brian I could see the hand of God over Brian's head,cupped and holding all the power and annoiting over his head. I said to the Lord, DUMP YOUR HAND! I felt as if it was just sprinkles of annoiting and sprinkles of Gods Presence I said outloud, "Dump your hand!" The next day is when Brian went to church with us.

2. It was a God led fast.

3. My friend owns a Health Food Store. Fasting is something he does every 3 months to cleanse his body.
4. I would fast food and ... ahhh diet coke. (that is a toughie for me)

Liz said...

#4 I have fasted in the way that you mean, although I have a tendency to give up things for good, rather than for short periods of time.

About 7-8 years ago, there was a terrible article in the Washington Post about the slaughter of beef cattle and how they weren't always dead by the time the butchers started hacking at them. I gave up beef for good that very day.

I don't have any notion that my little bit of fasting makes that much difference in the long run, but I feel better that I don't contribute to that particular bit of barbaranism.

Karmyn R said...

I've fasted twice - but both for medical reasons and NOT my idea at all - so hated every minute of it.

Gina said...

I would consider fasting from overconsumption in a heartbeat.

I have fasted before, but it was a Catholic/Lent thing where you have to give up something you love in honor of Jesus giving of his life. It wasn't usually easy, but I did it and felt good about myself afterwards. But, did it permanently change my habits? Unfortunately, the answer is no.