Colbert holding fast to his Lenten fast

I found this blog, who had linked to us, and I thought it might be nice to share a little of this Catholic-themed writing with the rest of you.

Giving Up Sweets for Lent
Mar 21st, 2007 by Diane

Watching The Colbert Report tonight, I found myself wondering whether other people have noticed the ongoing subtext of Lent and the Americone Dream. And in fact I discovered a nice compendium of accounts of Stephen’s Catholic identity here. And this. I’ve just loved the way he’s so typically understated but determined about it. Periodically over the past few weeks he’s reminded his audience that he has yet to taste his ice cream, counting down the days of Lent. Tonight’s showdown with Willie Nelson ended with a mediated taste test of Willie’s Peach Cobbler ice cream and Stephen’s flavor. Stephen reminded Richard Holbrook that he’d given up sweets for Lent. We saw Willie tasting the ice cream, but at the end of the day, Stephen held out. The spoon sat in the pint of ice cream with no indication that he’d tasted it. But no comment, either. Wonderfully ambiguous. Let those who have eyes to see….

As commentary, let me offer this: The opening line of the show was “Hey camels, stop showing off and drink something.” There’s such a fine line between endurance and showing off, between setting an example and being self-righteous, between witnessing to one’s faith (and traditions) and beating people over the head. And this small example from the world of comedy and satire shows a really classy way of doing that. People who aren’t Catholic may miss the references or take them as a jab at traditional Lenten practices. He couches it as a a schoolboy statement, naively pious: “I promised Jesus I’d give up sweets for Lent.” But then he leaves it there, he doesn’t go over the top with it. “Moving on….” Fasting, abstinence and other Lenten practices are one of those tricky areas. Ideally they’re a way to grow spiritually. They can become ends in themselves, or they can be a mark of Catholic identity. So much depends on the context. And in this particular case, it’s the Catholic identity that wins out.

Full text of blog post


  1. I admire is adherence to his Lenten fast. though what may be really killing him is no vente caramel macchiatos….. I also admire his faith. Too many say “Look at me”and have none.
    he simply does.

  2. As a card carrying Catholic, I would like to point out that Stephen has conveniently forgotten the “out” of Lent. On every Sunday during Lent, one can partake of whatever it is that one gave up. So on Sundays, he can enjoy sundaes without breaking any of the rules.

  3. Hey, I gave up BEER for Lent. Even Col-beer. No Sunday breaks. That’s right, strictly liquor based beverages for me. Stephen and I go the distance!

  4. I love how much attention this is getting … but honestly, not to be the bearer of bad new or anything but I was at the March 20th taping and Stephen definitely gave in, and broke his Lenten promise. He had a spoonful of Willie’s ice cream after finally agreeing to settle the conflict. Initially, while Willie tried Stephen’s ice cream Stephen hesitated and managed to get Willie to call the Americone Dream a good ice cream, giving Stephen the validation to declare himself the winner before even trying the Peach cobbler. Stephen made mention of how his ice cream had waffles but he himself didn’t waffle. Yet the combined pressure of Richard Hollbrooke and Willie finally got Stephen to try some for the sake of diplomacy, even though Stephen kept on saying that it was lent and he couldn’t. I was sort of surprised that he did wind up giving in (having given up sweets myself) but he did take a hesitant bite, to the fervent applause of the Nation, finally declaring Willie’s ice cream ‘too wheaty’ Hollbrooke meanwhile smiled on, while Willie crossed himself and said something along the lines of Jesus will forgive you. Apart from that tiny taste of the Cobbler though he didn’t touch the Americone Dream, which seems like the greatest sacrifice. Hollbrooke wound up trying both of the ice creams after the segment and then handed off the two ice cream pints to the audience – the Cobbler one, amazingly wound up in my hands (and I held on!) So, as unbelievable as this sounds I am now in possession of both the Cobbler carton and spoon used on the 20th! I took plenty of photos, believe me. And if anyone doubts that Stephen wouldn’t break his Lenten promise, just run a DNA analysis of the spoon! Or ask Gwen Ifill, she was at the show too and hopefully wouldn’t lie about something this significant.

    (photo in the site link)

  5. That makes me sad a little. But such is life, huh?

  6. TheLakeEffect says:

    Lackadaisical, you look absolutely beaming in that. That open mouthed smile says, “I’m going to save this spoon along with Stephen’s DNA and CLONE him.” Don’t do it! We’re still years away from the technology that will enable us to infuse the clone with Colbert’s soul! (The Formidable Opponent bit is actually done with an android!)

    Oh well. *still beer free*

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