I'm not religious, but...
I’m not religious, but…. This type of person often comments on beautiful pictures, or on beautiful pieces of liturgical music. The older I get, the less the word religion means to me, because we all take part in it.
“I’m not particularly religious, but I was raised on this and to this beautifully sung carols in an echo-y church gives me chills, so beautiful :)” — Commentary from YouTube
What these people often want to indicate, is that they are not part of a religious structure. That means that they are not participating in liturgy at Sunday, or do not worship a God.
When reading about the ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian or even medieval European civilisations, you come across the fact that the word for religion did not exist. It was not separated from reality. Everything you did was for God.
This is what happened in the 18th century. All of a sudden people pretending to be outside a moral system could judge that all religions had equal value. This caused some great upheaval in France…
In this essay, I want to argue that still all is religious, making the term nonsensical.
We are all religious
All things we do towards a good, an object, a goal. All action is purpose-oriented and ritualised. With purpose-oriented, I mean that all actions we do have a goal. With ritualised, I mean that by the action, one can see which goal the person (doing the action) is trying to achieve. Reversely, the goal (greeting in this case) also makes you think of particular actions.
An example, when greeting (which is the goal), we shake hands (the action). This is ritualised. When we would (for example) put our foot out to the other person, this would seem ridiculous. This is missing the mark or called sinning. Not on the cosmic scale towards God, but towards the goal of greeting. You have not achieved the goal you wanted to achieve. Greeting is ritualised behaviour.
Another example, is clothing. Countercultural people often wear the same clothing. Even not wanting to be part of a pattern is ritualised. The fact that there exist a rebel type, with fitting clothing, means that it is ritualised.
Beauty as connecting
We all have the pull towards higher patterns. Of course, some people worship lower patterns, which is creating idols out of them. It is possible to see sins in people. You can imagine prideful people, gluttonous people…
If people do not “worship” any of these values, they will fall into nihilism, which is mental chaos.
Religion is taking a value, making it the highest in your life, and then acting it out.
God is the ultimate source of Being. Once one realises this, it makes it possible to stand on a mountain of values and look down. It is very hard to look up when your values are low. It truly is a spiritual ladder you climb.
If you do not make your higher values explicit, they will get taken by other forces, which is extremely dangerous.
To return to the beginning.
The religion of these commenters, is making clear that they are not religious. This is a contradiction, as they clearly do worship something. One of the values they do worship, is being contrarian, clearly identifying themselves apart from religion. Secondly, they see beauty as a higher value, which makes them take part in it (listening to beautiful music, pondering over wonderful paintings).
We all worship something.