It seems to me that anxiety and Compassion are the two main – and mutually opposed – deep drivers of religiosity. All secondary drivers build on these.
This goes beyond a God-fearing stance and any concretely conceptual belief. FYI, I am not an adherent to any denomination on the planet nor the universe. Nevertheless, I ‘feel religious’ ― the religion of Compassion itself.
Please read Compassion, basically.
The difference between religion of anxiety vs. Compassion is crucial. Yet, it may need to be put starkly in the foreground for the sake of how religion motivates people to, for instance, vote in a political election ― even in secular countries such as Brazil or the US. Clearly, many do not realize the difference well enough.
People may be innerly drawn toward religion of Compassion and, for that sake, adhere to someone who pushes them toward religion of anxiety ― politically or otherwise in a sociocultural context.
An example: Abrahamic religions
The Old Testament speaks of an eye for an eye. The New Testament speaks of the ultimate sacrifice out of Love and Compassion. The Qur’an starts with an invocation of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. Are these merely details, or are they crucial for understanding the whole endeavor? Of course, in these three religions, we find much anxiety and Compassion, intermingled in many ways.
Let’s tear them apart for the sake of argument.
Religion of anxiety
For instance, the anxiety to go to Hell, or to not go to Heaven. For instance, the anxiety to be excommunicated in the present life. For instance, the anxiety to have to deal with existential problems without easy answers.
This is a contradiction from start to end. How could anxiety bring anyone – as a total person – closer to God? At most, it can prevent ego from running away from an idea-of-God. I don’t believe that it makes the ego readily run toward God. Anxiety closes all doors except some made of matter.
Moreover, anxiety straightforwardly leads to aggression ― the defense against quickly found enemies. Actually, looking at it more closely, the defense is frequently oriented against the enemy inside, the total self, in a state of inner dissociation. Eventually, this can be a defense against God since it is the same direction.
Indeed, the reverse of what religion is supposed to be ― certainly in my view. Namely:
Religion of Compassion
This may be a part of the action inside any person who deems himself religious ― even the most anxious ones. Every religious person should strive to recognize it inside.
This, dear reader-believer, is what your religion is eventually about, not that, nor anything else.
If you cultivate Compassion, God knows you and is near you. In that case, a specific tradition may support you in opening your doors to Him. He’s patiently waiting at the other side. If you let Him in, please be hospitable.
Any tradition can be beautiful and interesting and helpful.
And it’s OK to live within a specific poem. But to the core, it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is your response to the knocking on the door.