(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.