Every year at this time my Facebook feed's full of what my disciplined friends and acquaintances are giving up for Lent. I always consider it, even though I'm not religious. It just seems like a missed opportunity if I don't, like failing to make a good New Year's resolution or two (yup, I'm bad at that too).
So why does it appeal, even to those of us who don't participate in other religious traditions? Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune talked to Richard Rosengarten, associate professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, to figure it out. She writes,
I think that's the main reason self-denial — or call it self-restraint — can be so attractive. We all sense, occasionally or often, that we've strayed from our best self. We sense that we could return to that better, truer self, if we could give up, say, gossip or Cheetos or hulu.com.
Read more about how Lent came about in her column, "Self-Denial During Lent Is One Of Life's Great Attractions."