Let’s Get Ashy!

Image courtesy David Henson

Today is Ash Wednesday, and that can only mean one thing: Lent is here! Ah, yes, that most wonderful time in the liturgical calendar all about prayer, penance and preparation for Easter. And, what better way to kick things off than by  getting your ash on?

Yes, friends, today is the day when hipsters and yuppies, soccer moms and Jesus hippies, walk around all day with black shit smudged on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. But, what if you can’t take time out of your busy schedule to attend an Ash Wednesday service (or don’t want to spend the day looking like a weirdo)? Well, friends, Episcopal priest David Henson has your answer: #AshTagWednesday.

That’s right, instead of going to church and listening to some boring ass crap about sacrifice and being guilted into giving up something  for Lent, followed by having someone you may or may not know rub those icky ashes on your forehead, you can simply share the image above on your favorite social media platform. Isn’t that great? Finally, I can satisfy may religious, attention-whore impulses without all that pesky worship and prayer!

Of course, there are some drawbacks to #AshTagWednesday. Like, how do I post a selfie with my ashes prominently displayed? And, how am I supposed to feel superior to those dim-bulb evangelicals who don’t even know what Ash Wednesday is, much less why I’m walking around with a dirty face? Perhaps worst of all, it doesn’t even begin to address how to deal with the whole “giving up ______ for Lent” situation.

What’s that all about, anyway? Why do I have to give up something for Lent? To bring myself closer to God? Crap, there’s no way I can weasel out of this and not look like an asshole. Okay, fine, you win. So, what do I give up? Coffee? Not happening. And, that’s a public service, as no one wants to see me caffeine-free. Soda? That would work except for one thing: I’m a diabetic and I don’t drink much soda. I’m not sure how “giving up” something I almost never do anyway is going to bring me closer to God. How about a social media fast? No. That is not happening. How would I post my Ash Wednesday selfie (or my #AshTag) and brag about tell you how great my Lenten observance is going?

Does all this trivialize what Henson refers to as “the holy call for self-examination”? Of course, it does. But, isn’t that the American way? We turned a national day of Thanksgiving into an orgy of materialism and the birth of Christ into a bacchanal of greed and gluttony. All Hallow’s Eve is nothing more than a good reason for a party and St. Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for buying your significant other more shit they don’t need. Do you actually think Lent and Easter are any different? Please. Trivializing the holy is what we do best.

So, run right out and get your ashes. And, when you do, be sure to post your selfie, you might get something out of it. Besides all that spiritual crap, I mean.