In my quest for enjoyable bedtime reading during my Lenten fast from genre fiction, I came across The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs is a secular Jew who decides to spend a year following the Bible as literally as possible. It’s hilarious, and also both touching and thought-provoking.

Jacobs attempts to practice prayer daily even though he doesn’t believe in God. A Lutheran pastor, the father of a friend of his, gave him the mnemonic ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). He likes thanksgiving best. While eating a hummus lunch, he gives thanks to God for the land, the farmer who grew the chickpeas, the workers who picked them, the truckers who drove them, and the old Italian lady from the deli who sold him the hummus.

“The prayers are helpful. They remind me that the food didn’t spontaneously generate in my fridge. They make me feel more connected, more grateful, more grounded, more aware of my place in this complicated hummus cycle. They remind me to taste the hummus instead of shoveling it into my maw like it’s a nutrition pill. And they remind me that I’m lucky to have food at all. Basically, they help me get outside of my self-obsessed cranium.”

That sounds like a good Lenten practice to me.

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