Thursday, 8 October 2009

"Canoeing is my religion"

Someone recently said to me "Some people go to church for their religion, but I get my religious nourishment while canoeing". She wasn't a friend -- in fact it was the first time we had met -- so I couldn't delve into what she meant, but it set me to wondering. All I could say on the spot was that there wasn't any reason why she couldn't do both.

But what do people mean when they say things like that? What view of "religion" is behind that comment?

I gather that "He's religious about football" usually means "fanatical" or "dedicated" or perhaps "spends a lot of time on". But that's not what this woman meant.

I think she probably meant that canoeing gives her the experience of comfort, serenity or peace that others feel in church. Maybe it goes deeper. Maybe she is drawn out of herself into a sense of awe and otherness and getting lost in the moment while communing with nature.

That "what I get from religion" approach is quite different from James' idea that true religion is "to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Nevertheless, I think comments about what people feel "religious" about still indicate a semi-conscious acceptance that they desire and value the spiritual state that they perceive religious people have.

I'd love to hear how others interpret it.

1 comment:

Phil said...

A very positive way of looking at it. Kindly fierce them to your local Christian Camp. Apparently that is often a place of Spiritual revival!

Religion is tough to use these days as many claim that Jesus came to abolish religion. Still, worshipping church or sone other ritual could easily be seen as idolatry just ad much as canoeing.

So it might be the frame of thought that people misconceive: what could be better than thankfulness toward God, who holds the neurons fo said thankfulness together and promises love and offers forgiveness?