‘Grueling’ Starbucks fasts latest 40-day fad

starbucks fast     WILMINGTON, Del. — At 9:40 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Jim Thorpe stole away from his church’s all-night prayer meeting to grab a last-minute latte at the local Starbucks.
    "I needed one more hit before the Great Denial," he says. The next day he and hundreds of people in his church began their first annual Starbucks fast.
    "It’s a killer," says Thorpe. "I thought forty days without food was tough, but this is psychological warfare."
    Some churches, tuckered out after long, sobering group fasts in past years, are opting for "fun fasts" — giving up Starbucks, scrapbooking, even Bed, Bath & Beyond and other habits. But in many cases, those fasts are proving more difficult than simply giving up certain meals.
    At Abundant Life Center in Clearwater, Fla., a church-wide Starbucks fast has led to headaches, heart flutters and general grumpiness. Nursery workers and ushers are clashing over trifles, and the worship team "has gone mutinous," says an associate pastor.
    "During last year’s 40-day juice fast, people’s headaches went away after a day or two," says Renee Gaven, the church’s keyboardist who started her fast on the day after Christmas. "I’m a week into the Starbucks fast and I feel like a druggie gone cold turkey. I’m snapping at everyone."
    Some people say the worst part of giving up Starbucks is the social interaction they miss.
    "I still go stand in line, but when I get to the front I don’t buy anything," confesses church usher William Pluss, 46. "Half my social life takes place in that store."
    One church offers emergency classes in caffeine withdrawal and headache-management. One church gave its people small "aroma-therapy" packets of coffee beans to sniff when they felt the Venti urge.
    "We’re all looking forward to February 9," says one pastor. "We thought this would be an easier fast, but it’s a challenge. I can hardly get a sermon on the page without the caffeine, which is sad, I guess."
    Elsewhere across the country, men’s groups are fasting PlayStation; women’s groups gave up Target stores and scrapbooking.
    "I won’t do this kind of fast again," says one scrapbooking fanatic half-jokingly. "My fingers are itching to get to the books. It’s hard to concentrate. I can barely pray for five minutes." •


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