Friday, November 26, 2010

roadkill religion

"Roadkill" refers to an animal left dead on a road after being hit by a passing vehicle. As such, it is a plain-spoken word, direct and clear.

And yet its richness spreads outward like ripples in a still pond. Roadkill can denote poverty when it comes to what's on the dinner table. Or ineptness when it comes to successful hunting. Roadkill is an accident one man might take advantage of while another might look down his nose on such a prize... what comes out of the road is not as sanitary as what comes out of the supermarket...who eats burgers with tire marks?

Today the phrase came to mind: Roadkill religion. Aside from the pleasant alliteration, the phrase felt as if it did mean something, but what was not entirely clear. Somehow it meant something dead, an accident elevated to a feast, a delight that lacked intention or effort, an unexamined meal surrounded by accolades, a bit of nourishment that relied on the praise of others: Someone else ran over the possum and now it appeared on my dinner table and I took the credit and extolled the find as if I had done something miraculous.

Roadkill religion -- I can't quite get my hands on it and yet seem determined to hold on. Full of dumb, unexamined insistence and delight ... finding agreement with others and yet lacking the kind of agreement anyone might want to find in themselves. It reminds me of a report I once heard that Soen Nakagawa Roshi, a Zen teacher, assessed the self-serving misdeeds of one of his students and said, "Now it comes -- dead rock!"

Dead rock -- roadkill religion.

Second-hand authenticity. Like waxing a used car to a fare-thee-well.

What is interesting in all of this -- at least to me -- is not the criticism or analysis I might heap on someone else's behavior or beliefs. What interests me is the ease with which I too might nourish myself on roadkill religion. Dumb, dead stuff buffed to a high sheen. "Authentic" without ever having been authenticated. It's impoverished horseshit, but my barn too is full of scents.

I guess it's just something to keep an eye on. Everyone lives on one kind of golden rubbish or another, but that doesn't mean they have to.

Maybe I just like the phrase: Roadkill religion.

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