I just returned home from Ash Wednesday matins at my Lutheran congregation. The children of our day school were also in attendance. We read from Jonah about how the people of Ninevah repented, fasted for 40 days, put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. God saw their repentance and how they turned away from evil and showed the city mercy.
During the sermon, our pastor told us that the ashes that are imposed on our foreheads this day are not a mark of piety so much as our mortality. They are a call to repent and, as they are imposed in the shape of a cross, also a hopeful reminder of our salvation.
As I sat there, I was thinking of tonight's debate and what I would do if I were to be asked to do something public on Ash Wednesday, an important Christian day that includes such an ugly, if hopeful, marking on my forehead.
The only thing that ever came close was that the American Enterprise Institute once held its annual formal dinner on Ash Wednesday. I went wearing a ball gown and ashes. It seemed inappropriate but I wasn't sure which part of it was inappropriate.
In any case, I'm curious what you all think. If you were to be asked to do something public on a day when your sinfulness, mortality and faith were on such shocking display, what would you do? Would you wash it off? Would you keep it on? Would you worry about how it comes off?
And while I'm sure that many people are curious whether Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will show up with ashes, or one or the other, I'm also curious if we'll see any media so arrayed.
At the very least, I wonder if the media thought through whether a debate should be held on this day.