“the Lent 4.5 faith-formation program developed by the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, Ky., and Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl. Lent 4.5, a seven-week program, gets its name from the fact that if the world were divided equally among all its residents, each would receive 4.5 acres of land from which to derive all of his or her food, energy, clothing, housing and “gadgets.” “But it takes 22.3 acres to maintain the average American lifestyle,” the program’s website notes. “There is a new way of observing Lent that helps us care for God’s creation by taking steps toward using only our fair share of its resources. Moving in the direction of 4.5 is essential for anyone walking in the footsteps of Jesus today.”
I have slight concerns about the exclusive focus on individual measures for changing over-consumptive and excess waste. But as individual “giving up for Lent” practices, I like the focus on our ecological mess and calling for reflection and patterns of self-denial, which is a key component of the Lenten practice. However, churches do also need to stress that we have systemic problems in collective irresponsibility and inaction (and massive “Overshoot” of Earth resources that require governmental and societal and global change). We need theological teaching that does not let us forget or neglect the necessary challenge to the status quo that has brought us here in a very short time.