It seems that human beings cannot really survive and thrive without something like religion (though how to define ‘religion’ is a task best left for another day). Attempts to do so (as in many communist countries) tend to devolve into nihilism free floating aggression and sterility. Much of the ideological weirdness of today is most easily (and maybe best) understood as attempts to recreate religion in the absence of belief in the traditional supernatural forces that power traditional religions.
From weird diets (from veganism through the paleo diet to breatharianism) through various ideological causes (from MRAs to SJWs and back again) people are trying to tease out the non-physical properties of the universe and to establish a priori independent moral tenets to guide their daily lives and relationships.
Personally I lack any propensity toward religious faith but I find belief itself to be endlessly weird and absorbing and so I’m always interested in the mechanics of how systems of faith are built and maintained.
One of the ersatz religions I find the most interesting are the various conspiracy theories. I’ve always loved the theories themselves in all their intricate goofiness but they were much cooler back before everybody and their dog didn’t know about the 12 bloodlines or the Great Work or secret space programs. One cure for the spread of the more traditional theories is to find ever more arcane theories (humans are alien bigfoot hybrids, mountains are remnants of giant trees). Another is to be on the cutting edge of conspiracies playing out right now as we speak. For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a lot of youtube channels that are updated each and every day covering the latest developments in an underground ideological war going on inside the US government as an anonymous source (Qanon) drops hints about dread doings going on and each enthusiast struggles to find meaning in each mysterious word and/or connections to their pope king Trump. Similarly I’ve been listening to the latest on the giant planet approaching us any day now! any! day! now!
When I finish listening to these and look up more… conventional news sources I feel a little bit like a medieval peasant probably felt has he left the cathedral and headed back to his mundane hut. The existence of another higher realm has been glimpsed and longed for but meanwhile there are crops to gather and garments to weave. The cathedral may be beautiful and fascinating but it doesn’t put the potatoes in the pot of light the fire underneath.