Theme is defined as the universal, underlying message an author tries to communicate about people, society, nature, or another broad category.
In Paul Zimmer’s “The Day Zimmer Lost Religion,” the speaker and the author are conflated because of the title. If one examines the title, it is clear that one should focus on the thematic idea of religion when writing a thematic statement.
In each of the three stanzas, Zimmer seems to define his understanding of religion. In the first, Zimmer worries about abandoning religion, because he fears God’s retribution. In the second stanza, Zimmer describes rebelling against the religious traditions he used to hold dear. By the third stanza, Zimmer experiences an epiphany that religion and a spiritual connection with God are not the same thing. Instead of punishing Zimmer for rejecting religious traditions, Jesus knows that Zimmer “is grown up and ready. . . now.” This means that Zimmer, no longer attached to the hollow ceremonies of organized religion, is finally free to pursue faith.
Therefore, one could argue that the theme of this poem is that the institution of religion is an unnecessary tradition based on fear, that creates barriers for those seeking spiritual fulfillment.