Marian, my high speed wife, has spent considerable time studying world religions and designing a religion for herself. It is primarily based on being a good person. Although raised as an Episcopalian, she has dipped into many others, including the edge of Gnostic Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. I am proud of her and the result, because it contains no jealous gods, but if you want as good a one, you have to design it yourself
At one time, in the midst of her search, we happened to be in Laos, and she discovered spirit houses, that are often seen in front of houses in Southeast Asia, and even inns and hotels, and act as a location to place offerings of various sorts to Buddha and local dieties. She decided she would like to bring the custom home, but since they are difficult to pack for air travel, and since there is no required design for them, I told her I would build her one.
Needless to say I procrastinated for quite a while, but finally built her one. That was six or eight years ago and in the interim it acquired many signs of the wear and tear of being outdoors, , including bird droppings, an interior of rotting leaves, missing parts, stained paint, and overall scruffiness. She felt bad about this. After another bout of procrastination, I just redid it, as the photo at left shows, and I must admit, I am proud of it, and have regained the points I received from my wife for building it in the first place.
In order to establish the nature of her beliefs, it is located right next to her favorite statue of Ganesh, the Hindu lord of Good Fortune who provides prosperity, fortune and success, and is the lord of beginnings and the remover of both material and spiritual obstacles.A statue of Quan Yin, Buddhist goddess of compassion sits at the base of the spirit house.
She is a member of a group of women with similarly broad beliefs, who meet regularly and discuss topics having to do with religion, spirituality, and philosophy. They call themselves the Pagelians, in honor of Elaine Pagels a Stanford classmate and friend of Marian’s, who is now a professor of religion at Princeton University and who wrote the definitive book on the Gnostic gospels, entitled, not surprisingly, The Gnostic Gospels. I sometimes overhear their meetings, which are often in our house, and feel a bit like a heathen, but I try to be a good heathen.