Friday, March 6, 2009

No SMS Day this Lent

Catholics traditionally give up a vice or a special treat for the five weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, but for some adherents, figuring out what to give up has always been a challenge.

Giving up meat on Friday is a classic idea, and many of the faithful are prone to giving up sweets, coffee, or alcohol.

But the Church is muscling its way into the modern era, like it or not, and Rome has suggested a new way for Catholics to show their devotion to their religion and preparation for atonement during Easter: Give up text messaging, and other guilty pleasures of modern society.

"No SMS day" does more than just inconvenience the user and remind him of both the blessings of technology and the importance of personal, human interactions: One diocese notes that abstaining from texting was a helpful way for Catholics to draw attention to war in the Congo, where many mines producing minerals essential to the creation of cell phones are located and where violent and bloody conflict has raged for years.

And texting isn't the only modern vice the Church would like you to avoid for the next 40 days. In Turin it's suggested you shun television. In Trento, Italy, a calendar of tech-free living has been generated, suggesting different gadgets be given up for a week at a time -- no cars one week, no iPod the next.

That said, even the Church is pragmatic on the realities of living in the 2000s without modern trappings. Says one Roman priest: "If the use is capricious, then abstinence is welcome, but if technology is needed for work it makes no sense."

What do you think? Could you go 40 days without texting? (yahooblog/jem)

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