I wonder if there's another way to observe this day and the season of Lent which it inaugurates by considering where those ashes come from. I don't mean their traditional origin in last year's Palm Sunday palm fronds that are burned to ashes and mixed with oil to create an adhesive mix, but a deeper origin.
Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey fail in their newly-released film The Son of God, because their interpretation of Scripture is simplistic and triumphalist. Where there are choices to be made -- and with the Gospels, the choices abound -- Burnett and Downey have an unerring urge to favor the safe ones.
What follows is a modern-day parable. I think it's important to point that out up front, in order not to cause any undue offense. The scene: the near future, when Arizona (or any other state, for that matter) becomes a bastion of religious freedom by passing laws shielding businesses from penalty for discrimination on the basis of religious belief.