The purple bug and conversations on fasting.

All week long I have been repeating the same phrase in my classroom: “There are no purple bugs in here.” On Monday, we created something with feathers and a small purple one found it’s way into the bathroom. Monday afternoon from the bathroom came this exclamation: “THERE’S A PURPLE BUG IN HERE!!” Since then, I have been battling the idea of this non-existent purple bug with the entire class. It struck me as odd that someone would label a feather as a bug, but then again, I always think it’s interesting to assess how someone identifies something that they don’t recognize. My students probably thought it was a bug because it was about the right size, the movement of the air made the tips of the feather move look like bug legs, and well, kids are fascinated by bugs, whether terrified or not. 

Last night I went to the church that I grew up in because my brother was visiting with his son. I’ve only been away from the typical conservative church of Christ for a little less than 2 years, but it still amazes me how much nothing changes. The conversation topic for the class was fasting. The teacher, horridly boring and obnoxiously conceited, posed the question “What if fasting is commanded?” 

Well, there were many jokes about how as long as a certain Chinese restaurant was open they wouldn’t be fasting. The version of the Bible that he was reading, anytime it mentioned fasting it was preceded by a “when you are fasting”; not ‘if’ but ‘when’. Now to some denominations this is a minor point, but to the CoC…if the Bible implies that something must be done…it must be done, and done correctly. 

In this class session fasting was their purple bug. The teacher basically screamed from the ideological bathroom: “THE BIBLE REQUIRES FASTING!!”  This sentiment is about the right size (like the feather), it seems like it fits into our religious lives, the idea of devoting prayer time to God. It looks like a commandment by an example, like the feather looked like a bug. And Christians in this sect are fascinated with being commanded to do something; just like the kids… terrified or not.

These people weren’t really trying to discover whether fasting is really required, although they may think that that is their purpose. Some people were arguing that this was a long time ago and that we can’t/don’t have to do that now; while the teacher was posing a mandatory situation. This is what we do when we are facing a change in our dogma…we resist and enforce.

I posed that both alternatives invalidate the idea of fasting. We shouldn’t dissect it so much that we are demanding that people not eat (yes, the idea of other types of fasting was rejected) for a certain amount of times to mark it off of our yearly Christian To-Do List. Also, we can’t just reject it because it doesn’t apply to us. It was a practice used in that time to gain peace and closeness with God. I can’t speak for others that have fasted, but I know for myself…this practice being mocked is almost painful.

When we try to label everything in the Bible as commandment/not commandment we are only subjecting it to our perception of what makes sense. One kid in my class labeled a purple feather as a bug and by the end of the day, the whole class was concerned and convinced of the existence of said purple bug. One Bible class teacher chose to label something as a commandment and we all panic apply the label presented to us and doctrine is set. Christian dogma today is filled with far too many purple bugs and not enough oddly placed, yet still feathers in the bathroom. We are often left battling non-existent purple bugs of ideology instead of living a righteous life. 

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