Lent and Easter are somewhat early this year. Ash Wednesday is following on the heels of St. Valentine's Day. I know that not all churches observe the season of Lent, so for those who may not be familiar, here is a bit of the Wikipedia article on Lent:
Lent, in Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Conventionally, it is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the wilderness before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.
Many people choose to give up something they enjoy, like chocolate, for the season, as a sign of self-discipline and penance. I once gave up fiction for Lent. I had gotten in the habit of reading novels when I should have been attending to other things, such as housekeeping and parenting. So I read nothing but good wholesome nonfiction for that Lenten season. Not as fun or as easy as zipping through a novel, but it definitely helped me to get my priorities back in order.
Since then, I've tried to choose a book to read for Lent that will make me think about my faith and my relation to God. These are not necessarily devotionals or theological books, but most often my favorite type of reading - novels. Here are three of my favorites:
Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead - Excellent for exploring our expectations of God and other questions of faith. Plus, it is an incredible story written by an author with great talent.
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett I know Pratchett is an atheist, but this book raised some good questions on true faith vs. following social custom, and on the way that religion influences society.
Mister Monday, book 1 in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix - While I would not say there is a Christian or any kind of religious message in this book, Christian myth and imagery is used very effectively throughout. The thing about this book that makes it suitable for my Lenten read is the hero - his choices, the responsibilities he chooses to shoulder and the sacrifices he makes.
I have not yet decided what my Lenten read for this year will be. I've been reading David Crowder's Praise Habit but since I'm already about halfway through I don't think it can count as my Lenten read.
Can anyone suggest a book that inspires the reader to really think about faith issues? White Rose authors, do you think one of your books may be a good Lenten read?
(Photo above by Roland Ally. See more of his work at Public Domain Pictures.)