Cancerland has no established religion. It welcomes — well, it vacuums up — people of all faiths, and of no faith at all.
But once they get here, they pretty often begin to develop peculiar beliefs of their own, which they graft onto whatever their official, born-as religion may be. They become what I think can fairly and accurately be called Idiosyncratics, with home-made religions of their own, along the lines of juju, santeria and those other gumbo religions that spring up wherever people are forcibly resettled far from home. Gumbo in the sense that whatever the stock — Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu — these jury-rigged belief systems have in them all sorts of strange and exotic ingredients, zesty borrowings from other faiths, often in wacky forms those other faiths themselves would reject, or deem heretical.
And then there are additions of notions that just happened to be handy, happened to be right outside the door and seemed somehow right for throwing in the pot. Kitchen-garden additions, you might say, tossed in on a why-not, looks-good, ain’t-gonna-waste-this basis.
So you get people who believe in the power of powdered peach pits (laetrile), people who believe in visualization (you run a movie of yourself cancer-free through your head over and over and over), people who believe in leaving plums and pats of butter at the bases of little statues of elephants.
As they say on the street (Do they still say this on the street?): It’s all good.
Put your forehead down on a prayer rug, kneel in a pew, rock back and forth from the waist while keening Herbrew — comfort is comfort.
I was about to say that, as far as I am aware, I personally do not have any bespoke religion of my own. But then I realized that I do actually believe in the curative power of music. But I believe that music cures only while it is being heard. That is, while you are snugged down in a good big chair, listening, say, to Tom Waits, or Glenn Gould playing The Goldberg Variations, or Paolo Conte, or Mavis Staples singing Stephen Foster’s Hard Times, Come Again No More, you are in fact cured of anything and everything that ails you. And so, at least I believe, is the world cured of whatever ails it. But when the music ends, everything that has been elevated by it — your spirit, the world — falls back into place as it was before.
So, if religion at root is something that changes a believer permanently, then I guess music is not really a religion for me.
Just the most glorious stop-gap measure I know.