This “Lenten” exchange has been taking place on Facebook, and as my responses were getting longer and longer, I decided to leave my latest response here. I have included the preceding conversation below. To my friends in the Facebook debate, I’m not trying to force the whole debate to move to this site, so please continue the discussion on Facebook if you prefer. (I’ve used initials as a courtesy to anyone who might prefer anonymity outside Facebook.)
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Jesus, explaining how to fast, and thus contradicting the observance of Lent.