July 12, 2020

Mardi Gras: One way we learn to reverence God

Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field. In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose as a dwelling for his name, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if, when the Lord your God has blessed you, the distance is so great that you are unable to transport it, because the place where the Lord your God will choose to set his name is too far away from you, then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together. As for the Levites resident in your towns, do not neglect them, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you.

• Deuteronomy 14:22-27

In all my years in the church, I don’t think I’ve ever heard heard a pastor or teacher talk about one of the purposes the Law gives for people bringing tithes to the Lord and the sanctuary. Supporting the sanctuary and the Levites, who had no other means of earning a living, is a primary reason given for tithes in Leviticus and Numbers. But Deuteronomy 14 sets forth a different purpose.

According to this text, the Hebrew people were to tithe from their harvests annually, take the animals and crops (or the money they exchanged it for if they lived at a far distance), and there prepare a great feast that they themselves would enjoy. They were to share it with those who had no harvest stuffs to tithe.

The purpose was pure enjoyment. There were no bounds prescribed — “…spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire.” This was to be a religious feast, enjoyed in the Lord’s presence, with one’s family and community. But no concerns are expressed about the possibility of over-indulgence. Indeed, it is encouraged: “Whatever you desire.”

I find it interesting that the ultimate reason for this tithing and feasting is “so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (v.23). Learning to let go and enjoy unbounded partying before the Lord is one way we learn to reverence God!

And so we’ve come to Mardi Gras 2020.

Have a blast.

Comments

  1. I am very relieved that that all is well with the I Monk staff and glad that the site has resumed. I am not that familiar with the schedule of the site and check it out quite often. Due to my human nature of always assuming the worse I was concerned when there was no post over the weekend. I trust all is well with all the fine people who manage this site, Getting a different perspective on things like the above Mardi Gras piece is rewarding to me. I would not ever looked at it that way or explored the subject too deep. So keep up the good work on the site and I appreciate the work and intellect that goes into this site. Based on the advice above I will super a large fry at McDonalds next time.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      The site taking a brief hiatus is not unusual.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I will super a large fry at McDonalds next time

      Yes, I love potatoes, especially fried. It’s terrible how much I love potatoes. 🙂

      A mash of lightly fried potatoes, red onion, and chorizo (the good kind from the actual butcher) baked – preferably with a spritzing of bacon grease. That’s the bomb!

  2. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    We ate this. It was very good, and it pretty much cleaned us out of eggs, milk and cheese. Highly recommended for Shrove Tuesday feasting purposes.

    https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/24/rachel-roddys-recipe-for-cheesy-crespelle?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

  3. I see tithing, in part, as a way to escape from a mindset of scarcity and enter into a mindset of abundance. Money often has a very tight grip on us and a spiritual power over us, and one of the ways to break that power is to give it away.

    Similarly, sometimes the “Protestant work ethic” convinces us that our value as human beings comes from being productive 100% of the time, and taking time off to just enjoy the world or to do something fun counteracts that message.

  4. “strong drink?” STRONG DRINK! That means goat’s milk, right? Otherwise my Baptist teetotaling parents are going to be in for quite a surprise when they awaken in the Kingdom.

    When I was a kid a German couple settled in our community, bought and managed a local hotel, and joined our church. They were quite conservative theologically but I remember how flabbergasted they were when they first heard good ole Preacher Sisson came out with one of his patented anti-drinking sermons. That was a very big deal along with dancing and going to the “show” (movies). This was in those dear and long departed days before the church devoted its energies to politics. The county I grew up in did not become wet until 1972 and that effort was a bare knuckles street brawl. But times were changing as they always do. Now all these years later I still have a bit of a disconnect when i visit back home and go into grocery store and see beer on the shelves!

    • “Strong drink” was likely beer, and it would be helpful to translate it as such. Stills hadn’t been invented, so whiskey, rum, gin or vodka were unheard of. Wine and beer, however, naturally fermented, were part of the landscape, and it’s hard to justify a hard-core baptist sermon against these beverages if we’re to believe Deuteronomy.

      Now, how to incorporate booze into our worship? Can it be done, outside of communion? I hope Mike and Gail figured that out while sipping mojitos on the beach a few days ago. I was away too on a mission trip, and brought back some fine Dominican dark rum. But not enough.

      • Are you familiar with the concept of “sunday beer”? For many many years after the county went wet it was still illegal to sell on Sundays. So the serious drinkers would go get their “sunday beer” the night before. Which had the predictable result that they usually bought twice as much beer as they actually needed (don’t want to get within a light year of -horrors!- running out) and wound up drinking twice as much as they would have. Just another example were bad laws make things worse.

        Mixing our favorite recreational drugs with our worship has suddenly become an issue again with the loosening of laws in many places. One can only speculate how funkier the observance of the Lord’s Supper would be if the congregants ingested a bit of hash cake instead of unleavened bread!

  5. Let me just say that I am delighted for you that you felt the liberty to take a little time off. A cumulative total of two or three weeks would be my recommendation. That gives you the equivalent of an average vacation allotment. The world has continued and no one is worse for wear. Cheers!

  6. Take all the time you need, but please keep returning. As Dan said in the first reply I appreciate the work and intellect that goes into this site. Thanks to all of you who comment as well, I am an 85 year old great grandmother who still enjoys learning and hearing new ways to look at matters of our faith.

    • –> “I am an 85 year old great grandmother who still enjoys learning and hearing new ways to look at matters of our faith.”

      God bless you, Myra! I hope to keep realizing how mysterious this whole faith thing is even as I age and mature in it. Learning and hearing new ways, indeed!

  7. Amen to this post. If we believe God and Jesus to be the authors of Life, we should enjoy what they intended: Life!

  8. senecagriggs says

    I’m glad God gave us humor!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    PERSON: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?

    ME: Awfully bold of you to assume I’ve peaked.

  9. thatotherjean says

    Happy “Fat Tuesday!” Eat, drink, and be merry, for the sacrifices of Ash Wednesday start at midnight.

    I suspect that Lent, originally, was making a virtue of necessity, since food supplies that had lasted through the winter were getting low, and wouldn’t make it until the next harvest without a considerable amount of fasting and deprivation. We are incredibly lucky that most of us can count on a stable food supply. We can deprive ourselves as a religious discipline, not because there’s nothing left to eat.

  10. Lent is (a bit more than) a tithe of a year’s time, so that ties in to the tithe of what people produced in the Deuteronomy quote.

    Orthodox ease into Lent. We have a fast free week (eat anything you desire!), then regular abstinence on Wednesday and Friday for a week, then meat goes away, then cheese/eggs/dairy/olive oil & wine go away. This is the last week for us for the dairy/egg foods. We get fish on Annunciation Day, and wine and olive oil on weekends and certain other days. Sunday is still Resurrectional and not strictly part of Lent, so we get a little rejoicing Sunday and its anticipation.

    We start Lent by everyone in the parish asking everyone else’s forgiveness at Sunday Vespers (technically Monday) this year 1 March, while the choir sings the hymns of Pascha (leaving out the refrain “Christ is risen from the dead” because, not yet). It’s the beginning of a journey – every year is different.

    Dana

    • Burro (Mule) says

      March 1 is also my Saint’s Day.

      Saint David of Wales, pray for me.

      “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd” [Do the little things you have seen me do]

  11. I just ate a dish of vanilla ice cream. It was good. Does that count as having or blast, or too lame?