“Sorry,” Curt Doolittle says, “but I like church“:
I like monumental architecture. I like Catholic pageantry. I like Protestant ceremony. I wish we still ‘stood and voiced our minds’. I prefer the heroic pagan ethos to that of christian suffering. I prefer the historical narrative of Athens to that of Babylonian mysticism. But mostly I like the whole listening and singing and chanting together thing – because for a few minutes each week I get to feel part of an enormous extended family – a big, safe pack.
It has never bothered me that some people do not distinguish between mystical allegory and historical fact, while others fail to grasp the value of mystical allegory as more accessible, less subject to human error, and less fragile than reason.
The reason that religion can be a problem is because we can, especially under democracy, use government to apply violence based upon on mythological principles, rather than use religion as a means of including others in our manners, ethics, morals, myths and rituals so that we extend kinship trust to those who are not our kin, and to ostracize those who will not adopt those manners, ethics, morals, myths and rituals. Not because myths and rituals are true, but because the cost of observing those myths and rituals is evidence of one’s commitment to his moral kin.
Secular ratio-scientific education provides us with myths, but few and infrequent rituals, and ignores the necessity to pay costs to demonstrate and adhere to kinship trust that facilitates the extension of kinship trust.
Consumerism is a nice temporary alternative to kin, but it’s a devil’s bargain. We are lost and lonely at the end of that selfish satisfaction.