50 Shades of Lent – A parody looking at domineering relationships

[They’re already working on the script for a sequel to 50 Shades of Grey, but I’m not waiting for the next movie to come out. Here’s my review (first posted for Lent 2015) and I bet it’s spot on for accuracy.]


50 Shades of Lent explores the relationship between a man-with-a-religious-sounding-name and a woman-who-refuses-to-use-the-brains-God-gave-her.

As the Lenten season approaches, the man talks the woman into signing a contract that gives him total power over her decisions for the next 6 weeks. She soon discovers that when it comes to deciding what to give up for Lent the only thing she’s given up is the ability to decide what to give up for Lent.

Most astute movie-goers would suspect that the filmmakers made a glaring error in calling this 50 Shades of Lent. After all, Lent isn’t fifty days long.

This is where – Oh the humanity! – this is where the script takes its most devious turn: the contract allows him to change what she’s giving up for Lent more than once per day.

The maximum number of restrictions under the contract is fifty, but she doesn’t know when he’ll hit her with the old switcheroo next. Will it affect her diet, her wardrobe, her vocabulary?

The man acts capriciously and maliciously:

  • One day he tells her she has to give up all dairy, the next he requires that milk be back on the menu but all non-dairy products are anathema.
  • He subjects her to ridicule among her fashion-minded friends by decreeing all her outfits must comprise plaids, stripes and polka dots –  at the same time. She starts to breathe easy when he relents the next day, only to find that now all colors except mauve are off limits.
  • Then comes the worst day of all, the day she’s suspected would arrive but dreaded all along: he tells her she’s not to use any words ending with Y. The fiend has found the perfect way to shut down any attempts she might have dared to question his dictates by asking “why”.

The man is the consummate manipulator. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the opportunity to leave the theater without making too much of a disturbance.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss ten bucks goodbye:

  • You’ll laugh at yourself for ever buying a ticket.
  • You’ll cry at the thought of never getting back the 90 minutes of your life spent watching the film.
  • And you’ll kiss … well, you’ll still kiss ten bucks goodbye no matter what.

See you at the movies! (But not that one.)


[You would think that this isn’t how real faith in God is expressed, that no one would subject themselves to the whims of another person when it comes to as important a matter as exercising faith. I rather think they might.

After all, is it that much of a stretch to go from allowing a person to manipulate your feelings and dictate what you wear, where you live, what car you drive and how brutally you have sex, as depicted in the 50 Shades book and movie? That’s not love; that’s a power trip. And just as some people fall prey to people in relationships, others fall prey to those who seek to manipulate them in their faith.

Which do you think is worse?]


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13 Responses to 50 Shades of Lent – A parody looking at domineering relationships

  1. ooo, that last line . . . which is worse . . .

  2. Theresa says:

    Tim, I have two girls, ages 11 and 13. Your post is another tool in my toolbox for talking with them about the many, many unhealthy ideas they are flooded with every day by our culture. I remind them continuously to use the brains God game them! I also appreciate your appropriate use of “comprise” 🙂

  3. Jeannie says:

    It’s funny, but not funny, Tim. (BTW a friend of mine jokingly says “How come fer?” instead of “why” so maybe your heroine can work with that.) I think if we fall prey to manipulation in personal relationships we’ll also be inclined to do the same with faith: they feed into one another. It’s so easy to believe the lie that performance is what gives us our value — and there are people who are all too willing to tell us HOW to perform. But God’s not like that. If only we could see that!

  4. fiveonly says:

    Tim, I just found your blog and I think this is great satire. I was first attracted to it because I’m not a fan of observing Lent as a regular church practice, but I loved it because it was very clever, regardless of one’s view of Lent. By the way, are you familiar with the Lenten Song sung to the tune of my favorite things? It’s fantastic.

    I found your blog after searching for opinions on signing church covenants. Your blog on that topic (which is succinct and spot-on, by the way) fits quite well with the idea of domineering relationships based on performance.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks. I hadn’t thought of that post on covenants and church authority but you’re right, it really does fit with the domineering aspect of some spiritually dysfunctional relationships.

      And a Lenten song using The Sound of Music? Post a link here!

      • fiveonly says:

        I have it on my weak blog but I’m really not interested in promoting it as i have things there that I probably would probably say differently these days, but I’ll post the song here in the comments. You must sing it out loud as you read it for the best result:

        (to the tune of
        My Favorite Things)

        Sackcloth and ashes, and
        days without eating,
        Mortification and wailing
        and weeping,
        A hair shirt that scratches,
        a nettle that stings,
        These are a few of my favorite

        Penitence, flagellants, memento
        Spending nights sleeping on
        rocks in a quarry,
        The sound of a cloak’d solemn
        cantor who sings,
        These are still more of my
        favorite things.

        Tossing and turning and
        yearning I’m spurning,
        Passions aflame like an
        ember-day burning,
        Corpus and carnis and
        wild drunken flings,
        Forsaken are they for
        my favorite things!

        When it’s Christmas,
        When the tree’s lit,
        When the cards are sent,
        I simply remember my
        favorite things,
        And then I can’t wa-a-a-a-it
        till Lent.

        • Tim says:

          That is a hoot!

          P.S. I played Captain von Trapp in a junior high production of TSOM. I almost forgot how to sing Edelweiss.

  5. Erica M. says:

    In the Orthodox church Lent is actually 62 days long. So there’s that. Luckily we aren’t told to wear mixed patterns, the rules don’t change arbitrarily, and the emphasis is on increased prayer and Bible study. (I feel like I’ve said this here before. But it’s been a long time since I’ve had time to really comment on any blog posts anywhere, so I might just have college brain instead.)

    Also, on the “50 shades is terrible” note, I think everyone should read Jenny Trout’s chapter by chapter review of the trilogy, because she does a good job of pointing out every single instance that people should be frightened rather than enamored. She gets very sweary but her anger is understandable.

  6. Anonymous2 says:

    It took longer for me to ditch the effects of a bad church than a bad marriage.

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