I just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I was surprised after I began reading it to find that it is a companion piece to Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and it includes many of the same characters and the same events only from different perspectives.
Honestly, I think Oryx and Crake is a much better book. The plot is tight whereas The Year of the Flood is really all over the place with a lot of magical coincidence (I just made that up).
One particular aspect about the book interested me quite a bit. In Oryx and Crake, we see a character try to create a perfect species. In The Year of the Flood, there is the attempt to create a perfect religion.
Atwood is taking this religion on the road with her oddly enough. The songs she wrote for the book are performed on tour by a choir. She also mentions in her acknowledgments that she has celebrated one of the feast days of the religion with her partner.
It is funny isn’t it that religion can be consciously created? You can will yourself into a new religion. I remember once when I was taking Classics in college my professor mentioned a man who had tried to adopt Greek mythology as his religion. He celebrated the right events and prayed to the appropriate gods based on what he wanted to accomplish. He found that he actually started to believe and would instinctively call out to certain gods without even thinking about it.
In The Year of the Flood a character does not believe in the religion that she is a member of, yet she continues the ritual despite that. By the end of the book we have indications that on some level she believes, and there are some events that could be construed as miracles which prove her religion.
Perhaps all religions begin this way.