I'm one of those tree hugging, nature worshiping types. When I'm out in the garden helping things grow, nurturing other living things and actively contributing to the web of life, it gives me spiritual satisfaction. If you get pissy over the word spiritual you'll need a better word for feelings of satisfaction, of belonging, of being intimately connected to all life and the rest of the universe so that death holds no terror and life an endless abundance of awesome wonder. Sappy shit like that.
This is the harvest time, the crops are mostly in, nature is settling down to sleep for the winter, I'm left with piles of corn stalks and leftovers from her gifts this year, and in the process of helping my leafy friends to die and be reborn next equinox, I set a fire. It's slash and burn agriculture, yo, got a pedigree going back to the stone age. The ashes mix in with the topsoil, adding nutrients that will be there to greet the newborn sprouts of the next cycle. It's kind of a ceremony, symbolically tucking my symbiotic companions into their beds.
So I'm doing that, revering nature and reveling in the miracle of life, when who should pull up but the Fire Department. Uh-oh. The Man comes and says they can't have this shit, any fire has to be 75 feet from---this is a chickenshit way of saying “no fires” since the lots aren't that big---any property line or structure. Somebody complained. Have to extinguish.
They're not leaving till I do, so in the process we chat and it comes out that there are exceptions for small cooking fires—it's the South; no banning barbecues here---and religious ceremonies.
Wait a minute. Religious ceremonies? What the hell am I doing? What's religious, I gotta dress up in body paint and dance around my damn fire? If I said I was pagan these good old boys are liable to arrest me. What if claimed I was Zoroastrian? Shit, they'd probably ask to see my mask and sword. What's the use?
You can bet no problem if I was out here basting up some deep fat fried, artery clogging Sabbath animal sacrifice, chugging beer, had a statue of a guy being tortured, then went home and played first person shooters all day. That's religious, that's what makes their gods happy. All my gods ask is some moldy kitchen scraps, ashes, maybe a little manure. We're the ones who get shut down? Answer me this, who's making the world a better place, you and your megachurches or me and my garden?
Religious, my arse.