If you were going to make up your own religion from scratch, what would you put in? What would be your symbols, your icons? Would you tell everybody who joined what they had to believe? Danny Wallace, who started Join Me (It’s not a cult it’s a collective) didn’t have anything at all at the start, except curiosity about who would respond to a random advert inviting joiners.
After he had a few hundred people, they started asking him what the plan was, and so he told them to perform random acts of kindness on fridays. Obviously there are similarities with organised religion : Friday is a significant day in at least two world religions, and for both Siddharta and Jesus there was a certain amount of idea development at the beginning.
Mine, assuming I am starting my own church (to be honest, I am the biggest non-joiner I know, so the chances of me even joining a church, let alone starting one, are remote at best) is the Sofa or the Road : I use the symbolic duality of these two familiar places, to examine and refurbish my daily life, and now, with its theoretical publication on the net, and readership of one (it’s me) I present it to the world :
A place of refuge and comfort, symbol of home : a place to be with friends, chatting, eating cake, drinking tea, a place to lie when you are tired or poorly or hungover or depressed ; propped up and cuddled with cushions and blankets. Its dark side is that it can also be a place of loneliness and retreat from the world : a night on the sofa with a takeaway and some rubbish telly can be a glorious rest from a troubled and/or busy world, or it can symbolise isolation from society, lack of friends, fear of rejection. The sofa can become a trap : easier to be there than out in the world : your sofa will never start a fight with you, call you a failure, scorn your declaration of love, run you over (and if it does, you can justifiably take it back for a refund). Some sofas have wheels, but this does not make them ‘road’worthy : try getting one of those things moving : they resist, they complain, they make you heave, they will even rip up the carpet in their desperation to stay put.
Main character in it’s own genre of movie : hard, ugly, uncomfortable, cold, grey, dirty, dangerous. All of these things, plus exciting. On the road you need your wits about you, there is no protection from the elements, or from the unpredictable public, who own the road. It is everywhere that is not home : if you are on the road, you are vulnerable but you are also open : things happen on the road : you meet people, you see things, your brain is working overtime knitting new synapses to understand everything your senses are pouring in. Exhilarating, unfolding under your feet, every few minutes a new view, a new experience in the world.
Like Yin and Yang, everything can be tagged as either sofa or road : and its not just about where you are : going on holiday is Sofa, because it is safe and comfortable and predictable, staying in your house for years, and digging tunnels under your neighbourhood, like the Moleman of Hackney,
is pretty Road by anyone’s standards. Sometimes, and this is part of the beauty of it, the tag seems counter-intuitive : Renting a house is Sofa, because of the lack of risk : if it burns down, move, if your neighbours are burglars or party animals, or you have cockroaches : also move, and it’s someone else’s problem. Lose your job, and the state will help with your rent. Having a mortgage is Road, even though it seems established and sensible, because of the risk embodied in handing over control of crucial aspects of your life for 25 years to a bank, which being an inhuman corporation, lacks capacity for empathy or mercy, should it become necessary in order to save your family home.
Whether something is Sofa or Road a lot of the time depends on who you are, and what you have done with your life up to now : but here is a list which will start hopefully to illustrate the principle:
Road v Sofa
Divorce v Secret affairs
Random Trip v Holiday
Local shops v supermarkets
Adsa v Waitrose
Thrift v Splurge
Freecycle v Ikea
The Pub v Facebook