(Note: I don't fast on Fridays anymore because my doctor told me to stop that shit. In the past couple of years, I have begun to feel the breakdown of my body, which is why I keep saying I have no more than forty years left in me. I feel it coming, I just don't know when. And apparently, my body can't take the shock of the fasting as well as it used to. Yeah, I look forward to the day I kick, but that doesn't mean I want to bump up the schedule. That's cheating.)
An important thing to remember is the personal angle religion plays in people's lives. The whole point of any religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Atheism, whatever, is to help you understand yourself, your nature, and your place and role in the world, including how you worship and honor whatever cosmic forces or beings (if any) you believe in. This means there are some things that just don't get taught in the religious texts, you have to make the decision for yourself and deal with the results. This is something I've been doing pretty much all my life.
My mother, on the other side of the corpus collosum, never has.
A few years ago, my mom tried asking me about the technicalities of not eating meat on Fridays (she had tried the "chicken doesn't count" dodge for a couple of years until my dad started making fun of her). I frankly didn't want to listen to her. I told her, You want to know what your problem is? 'Cause I'm gonna tell you what your problem is -- you are not seeking to understand your religion or yourself. You are seeking a loophole because you are getting tired of doing without. It's not the same thing. It's cheating.
"But it's so hard," she whined.
And that's why you do it! Jesus Christ, I fast and you don't hear me bitching like this!
And that was that until last night. "Did you know that the whole 'meatless Fridays' thing was a rationing effort?"
Yeah, old news.
"The church was the dominant social group of the day, and they did it to help cut things down. There's nothing in the Bible about it."
"So...(pause for dramatic effect)...do you think I can start eating meat on Fridays during Lent because there's nothing in the Bible that says so?"
I was done being calm. I went for the throat. I said, Look. You are being asked to go without meat for one day for six weeks out of the year. This isn't even like the old days where you had to go without meat every Friday. There's other food besides fish. You can have meatless chili. You can have cheese pizza. YOU CAN HAVE ALL THE CHOCOLATE CAKE YOU WANT!!! Now, if you want to eat meat because there's nothing in the Bible about it, then resist and protest and do it with a clean conscience that this is what you feel is right. Otherwise, quit being a pussy and tough it out. You got two choices, pick one.
I suppose I should have been more understanding. But this isn't someone coming to personal realizations about how things don't fit and she needs to find her own path. She just wants a hamburger on Friday during Lent.
Religion isn't the only thing that gets abused for personal ends. Anti-Establishment thoughts get abused as well.