Living Religiously Without Church–From Sensual to Trees
A theme in Joanne Harris’s Chocolat is the influence that religion has upon people’s lives. Not one religion, but all sorts of different religions: tarot, Wiccan, Catholicism, or atheism.
Before I start sounding too academic, let’s simplify this theme: what you choose to be religious about, even if it’s not religion. In Chocolat, one guy is religious about movies and his dog, and some people are religious about chocolate. It sometimes provides a sensual taste–I love to explore the definition ofsensual–but is very approachable in form.
I’m looking forward to our discussion in book club, as I always do, because this religious-without-having-religion thing has been bouncing around in my head before I picked up the book. Even if you don’t have religion, it’ easy to find something to be religious about. Here’s a list I’ve come up with that starts with movies, dogs, and chocolate:
-Food. You can blog about it, make a career out of it, and spend lots of money on it. You might do this by buying lots of specialty ingredients and cooking n your own kitchen, or you might eat out every day. You can become obese because of it and then spend large resources to reverse that effect food had on you. Or you might insist on only buying local, fresh food, only seasonally appropriate food, or being vegan.
-Recycling. This might mean you make a commitment to avoid the purchase of any plastic, plus you compost, your home is made of all recycled materials, and you only wear cotton clothing. You have four bins in a row for the trash in your home. You might only bike or walk everywhere you go, and you only use cloth bags to carry things out of stores.
-Consumer Consciousness. The No New Plastic thing would apply here, too, as would only buying things made in America, only buying used books, or only buying things from artisans. You could be so bent on supporting only local economy that you mine your own gas. Or you just sigh when you look at the label of the thing you just bought and see that it was made in China. And then maybe you take a vacation to China just to tour a factory there.
-Personal Consumption. The vegan thing plays in here again, but so do ideas like no-poo and no carbonation. This is the point where you call me a hippy.
In all of these instances, you can be extreme or you can be casual in your religion. I bet I’ve listed some things here that you do, but you’re not religious about them. You eat chocolate, but it’s not an everything-in-the-world-stops-while-the-cells-in-your-entire-body-all-celebrate experience. You use cloth bags, but you don’t live in a tree.
But you see, sometimes I dream about living in a tree. While going to church every Sunday, of course.