Material Devotion

Every religious behaviour comes with a cost to it, sooner or later. And by that I mean spending your own money towards it. Those raised in a Christian church will be familiar with the weekly offerings. Well, I’m talking about more than that.

Being part of a community of any sort requires more than your time and presence. At the very least, you’ve almost certainly spent money just getting there. Even if it’s just shoe-leather. But participation usually requires more than that. You might need to buy a book for a book club, or invest in sporting equipment.

Churches often have events where those participating need to bring their own resources. It might be a paid event, like a dinner, or it might be your own tools, like a working bee. For those a bit more involved, you might be making a significant purchase. I bought a $700 synthesizor a number of years ago for helping me play music in church.

This is not unique to churches. My Pagan circle requests attendees bring suitable craft supplies to both the Beltane and the Samhain events. Sometimes things are requested for a full moon circle, too. And personal altar work requires material investment.

I don’t mind but it did set me thinking. I’ve blogged before about the art and craft skills I’ve resurrected in the service of being pagan. And truth be told, I really don’t mind. There is something satisfying in creating with your hands after all. It’s easy to get resentful at the frequent small outlays, but I think I know where that comes from. Looking back at my years in the church, though, and I get the feeling that most church-goers would rather not bring anything beyond their time and presence. So my outlay on musical instrumentation was rather extraordinary. But it wasn’t under duress, either: it was an expense I willingly paid for. Compared to my Pagan craft supplies, it is considerable, but then it is useful over a lot longer period, too.

So it all balances out, really,

 

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