I thought this book might be made somewhat pointless by the progress of theory, from a religion within democracy to democracy as a religion. But no, it was my thinking that had lost its point, lost the soul for the body. It’s an easy mistake. From “democracy is a religion” you’re thinking “so I just have to fix our democracy”, and the ever-dominant focus in all this on analysing present society takes over. But you can’t articulate a religion by tweaking a society where the only religions experience is formal religions and the family in any universal spiritual sense, and they’re both declining. You need also a full independent conception of what religions are, and to bring the two together.
Revisiting the title volume got me morally back on track. Other people are not to be viewed freely perceptually for what you can get from them – hopefully reciprocally – but morally servingly of whatever upliftment of reason or love they seek from you – hopefully reciprocally. We’re not individually free just not to hurt, but morally bound to help, as sought. It’s a religion, other people are sacred, freedom being its god, other people its Christ, God made flesh. Or you could say Mahommed. Only others can save us, we. each other.
Through all the millennia of Western civilisation, except the last century or two, I gather people have viewed the world through such a moral lens of religion. Achieving the next form of that, CODE, will be arduous. It’s down to the individual, no divine instruction, holy writ, or transcendent authority, just each of us. Way to go.
I don’t think you’ll find many books on what religions are, and even less on Earthly religions co-extensive with society. I should add that as well as that, the majority of the book is analysis of current and historical institutions and thought, and human nature, and their implications for reason and love, freedom and democracy. I think it’s what we need.