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A Minor Irration


MathGeek
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I teach in the rolling hill country of east-central North Dakota and this place is like any other rural area. Certain people have their agendas and when they grasp power, certain practices go on until the reigns of power change hands. This irritation isn't so much about a personal agenda being undertaken, but a persistent need to continue needless traditions.

 

This particular tradition involves meatless meals being served in North Dakota school cafeterias during the Lenten season because a large portion of the North Dakota population are practicing Catholics. It's a common practice from what I've seen because I graduated from a small town school and I have taught in two other small town districts. When I was practicing my former faith, I was pretty consistent in observing my Lenten obligations. That meant no meat on Fridays and on Ash Wednesday, and many non-Catholic children had to eat the only selection on the lunch menu. I felt that the practice reeked of hypocrisy. On the surface, Lutherans and Catholics in rural North Dakota basically acted, thought and maybe even worshipped the same way. Below it, the differences between the branches of Christianity could be seen and this was just another piece of bullshit that kept the population divided, not united.

 

As I was munching on my cod sandwich during my lunch break today, I mentioned to my fellow staff members that I never believed one branch of Christianity could wield that much power in our rural communities, but I was dead wrong. I had seen it all along and I guess it took me becoming an atheist to finally see it for the utter bullshit it is. I am mad about it because my Lutheran and other Christian students are being denied a choice of meat or no meat. This may seem trite to a great degree because I have seen cases where an option was offered but those are counterexamples in my overall experience. Of course, there are maybe only 7 meals that are affected by this during the Lenten season, yet the subtle invasion of Catholicism into defining what the cook is allowed to serve just irks me. At the same time, a veteran staff member told me that several Catholic parents in the past complained that the cook served their children a meal they shouldn't have. The staff member commented that it was a case of neglected parenting if the child didn't know that their particular sort of Christianity disallowed meat consumption during certain times of the year. At the end of the meal, I shrugged the thoughts off and went on with my normal day.

 

Even though this doesn't rank on par with the bullshit that ensued in Dover, Pennsylvania a few years ago, it still feels like that the local culture will always bow to the subtle whims of Christianity in other ways. My students will talk about Sunday School and Confirmation Classes because those are the places where memories are made for small-town students out of school. The teachers will continue to pray because their teenage students are hormonal and rebellious.

 

And bringing up needless trouble in a small-town where I am not from is almost never a good idea.

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Several school board members led a successful campaign to rename 'Winter and Spring Holidays' to 'Christmas and Easter Vacation' in our local school district.

 

Not really the same thing, but I understand school districts capitulating to community religious preferences. It's petty, it's frustrating, and like you said, it's definitely not worth fighting.

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When I attended public schools (way back in the day) the cafeteria always offered both meat and non-meat dishes on the holidays.

 

In your case, I would take my own big, very meaty lunch and make a show of eating it.

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I was talking with some other staffers this morning (both in late 30's) and one told me that he was served non-meat dishes when he was a kid. This seems to be a statewide trend from what I can tell.

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I've never understood the whole Lent/meat thing, myself. Why does fish not count as meat? It's the flesh of an animal. I really don't care about the cutback on beef and chicken too much though, since I'm actually really fond of fish and it's in such abundance this time of year! I like to think of it as a very extended fish festival.

 

You could always complain during Ramadan that NO food should be served.

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Didn't the whole no meat on Fridays thing start because there was a shortage of food somewhere? Then it got incorporated into the religion, I think.

 

Nice idea about Ramadan, Prysm.

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I've never understood the whole Lent/meat thing, myself. Why does fish not count as meat? It's the flesh of an animal. I really don't care about the cutback on beef and chicken too much though, since I'm actually really fond of fish and it's in such abundance this time of year! I like to think of it as a very extended fish festival.

 

You could always complain during Ramadan that NO food should be served.

 

 

This will help explain------------------------------Catholic rules of Lenten and Friday dietary matters---------------

 

Q: Are chicken and fish considered meat?

 

A: Chicken yes, fish no. The Catholic Church's abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cattle or pigs-all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Fish are a different category of animal.

 

From this link---------------------------

 

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Lent/faqs.asp

 

It's all some really arbitrary stuff that the Bishops and the Pope came up with in 1966 (the last time the stupidity was revised). A lot has to do with local customs too, so it's not entirely scriven in bronze. So yeah----------it's all made up bullshit. They just waved their magic wands, and POOF!---------------fish becomes a different kind of animal---says them you see.

 

There are some interesting links at that site for anyone wanting answers to some of the other Catholic doctrines.

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I heard at work today (but don't know how true it is) that the reason they allowed fish was to allow the pubs of the time to make money.

 

Fish is meat. If you abstain from eating meat except for fish, that is called a pescatarian diet, not vegetarian, contrary to popular belief. I actually had that type of diet for a year, until I started craving meat again.

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