Maybe this shape - but with a ribbon coming out of the top just like the little tag on the Kisses. And encrusted with shiny chocolate wrappers. There's gotta be a little glam.
Now before anyone freaks out, let's look at the definition of religion:
A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.
Now I see no reason why chocolate can't fall into this category. Obviously this whole blog uses chocolate as a way to "give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life." And there have indeed been times when I felt that chocolate was a higher power.
So, I need to get organized, but I can assure you I will not be making any moral claims and we will have no religious "laws." Suggestions, yes - laws, no. In fact, now that I have my ceremonial garb, let's move on to the Seven Suggestions, the foundation of our religion.
The Seven Suggestions
1. Thou shall not take chocolate (or anything else) for granted.
The Church of Chocolate is all about gratitude. Being grateful for all those who came before and figured out how to make this heavenly substance from random beans. Being grateful we live in a world where we can readily obtain some of the most amazing chocolate available. Being grateful for all those who make it for us and package it and ship it. Being grateful we are able to earn the money to purchase the chocolate. Being grateful we are healthy enough to eat the chocolate. Being grateful for all of those friends who give us chocolate (or time or attention). This process can go on and on and on. Each of us is so very, very fortunate. At the Church of Chocolate we come together to celebrate all we have, not bemoan all we feel we lack.
2. Thou shall savor.
This is a suggestion that you slow the heck down and actually enjoy your life. When you eat chocolate (or any other food), you would use all your senses, you actually focus on it. You notice the way the chocolate melts in your mouth. (Thus the chocolate communion wafers.) You are not talking on your cell phone and driving while you eat. You are in the moment. You do not do this just with food, but with many things - conversation, music, the weather. You actually see the person you are speaking with. You take the time to feel the sun on your face or the breeze in your hair. You revel in all the juice of life.
3. Thou shall not settle.
You know that your days on this earth are limited. You know that you can take the easy way out or with more effort, you can have something you really want. You can eat that leftover Halloween candy or you take your lazy self to the drugstore and get a chocolate bar you adore. You can just stay in the job you hate or you can work hard and find something you love. Members of the Church of Chocolate always want to make the most of their lives. They are not perfect, but they will not give up.
4. Thou shall be happy.
The Church of Chocolate is all about being happy. And you get to define happiness for yourself. We don't want you to come to Church if you don't want to. We only want you to come if it makes you happy. We do not think you get more chocolate if you suffer more. We think happiness is a chocolate magnet and those who are happy actually draw chocolate to them. We want to help you learn how to manage your own happiness - it's one of the few things we believe you have control over.
5. Thou shall practice moderation.
While we believe that chocolate is a higher power, we know that eating too much chocolate is not a good thing. There's is a point in the eating of chocolate at which it no longer tastes so good, a point at which you are full. Then there's the point at which you are sick. This is chocolate desecration. Moderation is an art which we are learning to practice at the Church of Chocolate (C of C). Most of tend to want it all, to want it now, and to want it in mass quantities. This leads us into all kinds of bad places - debt, addiction, obesity. At the C of C we just want you to stop while it's all still good.
6. Thou shall accept responsibility for thine own self.
This is an important tenant of the C of C faith. We believe you are about as happy and fulfilled as you decide to be. We believe that, for the most part, you will reap what you sow. We believe that blaming someone else for where you are is giving your power away and makes you a victim. Even if someone else wronged you, you get to decide whether that will devastate you or make you stronger. You will not count on anyone, not even the Church of Chocolate, to bail you out. You will know, at the end of the day, your best resource is you.
7. Thou shall laugh.
If it's not fun, why would you ever come to the C of C? Chocolate and life is all about fun. If we are going to expect you to stand up and take charge of your destiny, we're certainly going to provide some fun along the way. Most members of the C of C expect extraordinary things from themselves. We have to remind them (and the Holy Hat of Hershey can only help with this), that's it's okay to have fun. It's okay to not take everything so seriously. That beating yourself up does not make you a better person. That laughter really is the best medicine and we don't laugh nearly enough. In fact, if you DON'T laugh and smile, we will excommunicate you.
Can I get an amen?
I'll also take a "hell yeah", "Chocolate Rules", and just about anything else you'd like to shout out. As long as the spirit moves you.