This past week, I added another tattoo to my growing collection of body art. [All of my ink is provided by Carter’s Tattoo Company, specifically Wes Carter.] This tattoo was one of my smallest with a completion time of approximately thirty minutes.
The tattoo quotes The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Told from five female perspectives, this book is broadly about colonialism, power dynamics, and patriarchal dominance. But, the plot also details the intersection of two faith traditions. A missionary family maintains dogmatic faith beliefs which hinders their cultural assimilation and their willingness to embrace their very caring and giving neighbors.
Slowly, as the plot develops and the missionary family is eventually separated, one of the teenagers wakes up one morning without her mother, father, or siblings. In this separation, a final epiphany occurs regarding her culture, her religious tradition, and what she eventually embraces as her own society. She simply states:
“Finally, I sat up to see the sun still rose in the east, but everything else had changed.”
This quote encapsulates many existential thoughts that many people formulate (including myself). For instance, it is interesting to think that there will be continued existence upon death. Thus, understanding that the universe persists might lead one to question the value of individual life. And maybe, like in The Poisonwood Bible, the continuation of the sun rising, might lead one to correctly conclude that human activity might not be the center of the universe. Who are we then? What is our individual and collective purpose? How do we even begin to construct answers? Enter religion.