Saturday, 23 February 2008

Sieben Wochen Ohne - a night at the pub leads to a Lenten campaign

Sieben Wochen Ohne is a Lenten campaign of the German Protestant churches. It's 25 years old this year and was born when a group of journalists and theologians had the idea of doing something during Lent that stemmed from the desire to change lifestyles. It was launched in Hamburg initially but the media liked the idea and it quickly spread to other parts of Germany. According to Stern magazine aproximately one in five Germans take part in Lent campaigns of some kind, giving up a luxury during Lent. That's quite impressive.
This year's slogan is Seven Weeks Without Waste and it fits in well with other Lenten campaigns for a carbon fast. I suppose you've also guessed that Seven Weeks for Water took its inspiration from the German strapline - though I do hasten to add that it was drawn up over fair trade coffee rather than after a night on a pub crawl.
So now I suppose it's confession time. My own Lenten observance has quite frankly been pretty pathetic so far. I'm good at having the right ideas (orthodoxy) but not so good at doing the right thing (orthopraxis). Reflecting on my own many and various failings I realise just how demanding and complex anything like spiritual discipline is in the way I lead my life. Time to listen to my own sermons and act upon them I suppose.
The general title of the German campaign is not just seven weeks without, but seven weeks without being stingy. It's not only about giving something up but also about about generosity and solidarity.