Ash Wednesday is here, and for some of us, that means it’s time for the joyous celebration of Lent.

Joyous?

Yeah, there’s not often a lot of joy or celebration in a traditional Lent. Just check out the hymns and psalms, acknowledging and bewailing our manifold sins and wickedness. Whenever we start chanting in Lent, I hear Monty Python’s papier-mache God complaining, “It’s like those psalms, they’re soooo depressing.”

In years past, and often today, many Christians choose to interpret Lent as a season of scourging, of punishing yourself…