Right, I know, and I'm not saying I have ever actually went to Red Lobster during Lent because I actually haven't. I'm just saying that I think it is weird that there is such a huge loophole that someone could actually pig out at Red Lobster and still not have broken the Friday abstinence.
The rules give you a minimum obligation. No one prevents you from doing more than the minimum.
I think one of the things that is not good about the Orthodox fast is the legalistic and inordinate attention paid by so many to ALL those lovely tasty and expensive substitutes one can use to hold to the letter of the law but not its spirit.I think this is true with the meat abstinence in our Church too. I think it is kind of strange that I could technically go to Red Lobster and have lobster tail, scallops, shrimp scampi, etc. and not be breaking my meat abstinence on a Friday during Lent.
Once a Greek Orthodox Priest was eating out with his family at Red Lobster. They chose something a little less expensive that day as it was a Friday and they wanted to keep the fast, but a parishioner saw the Priest and came over to his table.
The man asked, "Father, since we are ordering lobster, would it be okay to have butter with it? Lobster does not taste good without the butter sauce."
Father responded, "Since you have just purchased lobster, which is a very expensive meal, sure go ahead and enjoy the butter too, but that is not really the spirit of Lent."
At a Bible Study class, we were studying the reason for fasting. Father gave this example of how not to fast. The Priest was blessing a home, and it just happened to be on a Friday. He mentioned that when we fast, we fast to curb our tongue learn to say no to sin, and curb our appetite as gluttony can lead to lust.
So the family prepared a spaghetti dinner (without the meat balls). Here was the conversation:
The father of the family: "Father, would you like to have an extra serving. It looks like you could afford to put on some weight."
Priest: "No thanks."
Father of the family: "Are you sure you do not want another helping?"
Priest: "No thanks. Really, I have had plenty of delicious food. Thanks again for having me over for dinner."
Father of the family: "Well, I am going to have a huge second helping. Honey, this food is exquisite."