What, really, constitutes a meaningful fast?

I’ve been thinking about that question as Lent approached – it seems useful to have an answer before Lent arrives …  Or maybe just to arrive at an answer during Lent …

When I was growing up, I remember, I was encouraged to give up desserts, or to watch less TV, or not to eat meat one day a week.  And as I grew older, I became less certain how meaningful any of these acts are.  At least on the level at which I practiced them, they were pretty trivial (and non life changing) disciplines. (more…)