It’s a strange thing, as an atheist, to be in on the early days of a religion. It’s even more strange when that religion is started by other atheists and when it grows mostly through the actions of yet more nonbelievers. Then, one day, you find yourself building a shrine.
My friend Kelly McCullough wrote an essay at Uncanny Magazine talking about how he’s created religions both on purpose–as a writer–and more or less accidentally–as someone who likes to throw a party and has weird friends.
Chris—still foolishly possessed of the idea that if it was in the fridge, it had probably at one time been food—was deeply disturbed by this discovery. But after a while, he worked up his nerve, prodded the alien life form with a fork, and discovered it was harmless. However, this experience made him very cautious when he approached the rest of the contents of the fridge, which turned out to consist of one never–opened jar of red currant jelly which had expired some two years before his arrival.
When I finally returned from my wanderjar, Chris naturally enough wanted to share the tale of his adventures in my apartment, and to question me about the candle (now tucked away in a box in a cabinet—but still unidentified) and the jelly. After some careful inspection of the items in question and dusting off of old memories, I was able to identify the candle. But the jelly defied my powers of memory.
Or, at least, that is one explanation. However, since I have never in my entire life eaten red currant jelly, nor to my knowledge has it ever been a staple in my family’s household, I have darker suspicions. I tend to believe that it condensed out of the mysterious cosmic stuff of missing hangers and lost socks, and that it happened some time between when I left the house on my trip and when Chris arrived a day later—and that it is possessed of inhuman and sinister motivations.
And so, I have never opened it or discarded it—for fear that someone else might open it. Instead, once a year—near the expiration date listed on the jar—we bring it out and throw a festival to appease it.
That time has come again.
Yeah, I’m one of those weird friends. No, I don’t believe a jar of expired jelly that spends the bulk of its year sitting in a fridge in a bag labeled, “Do not open or throw away”, is going to wreak havoc if we don’t bring worshipful offerings. I still tell people I’m going to “appease a jar of jelly” when I head out to the party. I still built the thing a shrine. Continue reading “The Death of Jelly and Birth of Religion”