1.†† Strictly speaking, religion is concerned with absolutes, whether diabolic or divine.† There is a relative phase of religious development, as in Christianity, but the anthropomorphic god, viz. Christ, is endowed with divine attributes, becomes transcendent in His alleged conquest of death.† Christians don't simply worship a man but a man who became divine through His Ascension into Heaven, that is to say, through attainment of the supra-atomic plane in pure spirit.† This is perhaps a Protestant bias on Christ, whereas a Catholic bias will often lay greater emphasis, by contrast, on His stemming from the Father and, hence, link with the Mother.† Either way, whether the stress be on alpha or omega, the relative is endowed with absolute significance.† But, for all that, the Christian stage of religious evolution essentially corresponds to the relative, and we may take it that both aspects of Christ's theological integrity have been equally stressed whenever an evolutionary balance has obtained between the Father and the Holy Spirit, but that this has not precluded a simultaneous worship of the Father.
2.†† In religious affairs, we may distinguish between worship of the Father and/or Christ and self-realization, as to some extent taught by Christ but necessitating, at some point in evolutionary time, a denial of the Father and wholly transcendental orientation rooted in the impersonal cultivation of spirit for beatific ends, whether or not such ends are formally acknowledged.† Thus in an extreme stage of human evolution, worship and self-realization become mutually exclusive.† The breaking of the link with the Father presupposes a simultaneous denial, in a manner of speaking, of the Son, since He is rooted in the alpha and thereby entitled to worship.† However, that is precisely what a transcendental stage of religious evolution can have no truck with.... I concede, though, that worship can imply more than service.† Christ has been worshipped for his divine attributes, as, from a Christian standpoint, the first 'man' to attain to transcendence.† Thus the positive attitude to worship presupposes homage, or admiration for a quality or achievement beyond one's own powers.† And yet even this style of worship would be irrelevant to a society which had made self-realization the foundation of its religious integrity, since worship (as implying prayer, adulation, or devotion to an image, a book, hymn, etc.) can impede self-realization to the extent that awareness is directed at something - namely, the object of worship - outside itself, and so functions as will, which is precisely what must be overcome if self-awareness is to be cultivated to any significant spiritual extent.
3.†† If religion is primarily concerned with absolutes, either in terms of worship of the alpha or, in its highest manifestation, an aspiration towards the omega, we cannot discount the fact that it is possible to worship, in a quasi-religious context, manifestations of life which stem from the subatomic absolute in varying degrees of materialism.† Thus it is possible to worship - as at various times men have in fact done - nature, animals, women, and (last but not least), men or, at any rate, certain categories of men, including avatars.† Now my fundamental contention here is that the lower the stage of human evolution the more likely it is that men will worship the subatomic in one form or another, whereas as human evolution attains to higher stages of advancement, so the focal-points of worship correspondingly change, in consequence of which first nature, then animals, then women, etc., become the principal focal-points of human worship.† Of course, they don't have to change in a strictly logical order or within the compass of any given civilization.† There are civilizations that specialize in one or other of these focal-points of quasi-worship - the ancient Egyptian in animals, the ancient Greek in nature, the Roman Catholic civilization of medieval Europe in women (the Blessed Virgin), with the possibility of a shift from one level to another or, indeed, the simultaneous combination, in varying degrees, of more than one of these natural objects of worship, as in the case of the ancient Roman, with its compromise between nature, animals, and women.
4.†† I do not wish to over-simplify, but there are many people alive today, within the confines of the bourgeois/proletarian West, who are essentially worshippers of nature, animals, and women, though their mode of worship may be less sacramental and correspondingly more unconscious than were the parallel modes of the ancients, with their pagan bias.† Of the three focal-points listed above, I would argue that the third is the most popular, because the least natural, and I am prepared to see in coitus a sacrificial confirmation of a quasi-religious attitude towards women.† After all, a man doesn't make love to a woman unless he finds something to admire in her!† More usually this something is physical.† Admittedly, it is possible for a woman to worship a man, but more often than not a woman, as a creature capable of self-consciousness, will worship herself - the attention she lavishes on make-up, clothing, and hair being the visible embodiments of this self-worship.
5.†† Of all modes of natural worship, the highest is for man, who is the least natural of nature's phenomena.† The motivations for worship may vary considerably with the individual concerned, but most worship of men will have transcendent motivations, as when someone is admired because he is clever or can box well or has just scaled a high mountain, etc.† Institutionalized worship of a religious figure, like Christ, signifies the apotheosis of male hero-worship, beyond which it is impossible to go.† Of all the Christian faiths, it is Protestantism that best illustrates institutionalized worship of man as God ... in the person of Christ.† Roman Catholicism is more given, as already noted, to upholding worship of the Virgin, a fact which accords with its semi-pagan, grand-bourgeois, alpha-stemming integrity in sensation.† Probably Eastern Orthodoxy is more biased, in its relative fundamentalism, towards the Father.
6.†† Thus in this ultimate form of natural worship it is homage rather than service that constitutes the basis, indeed the essence, of worship.† It is of course possible to pay homage to beauty, and hence to women.† Yet the actual worship of women usually takes the form of service, as manifesting in propagation and the material support, by a husband, for his wife and offspring.† Similarly, animals are more usually served than paid homage to.† But man, except when service of a tyrant is at stake, is more usually the focal-point of homage worship, and primarily on account of what he signifies, what he has achieved or is capable of achieving.† Higher still than the homage paid to a particular man for his achievements ... is the homage paid to the achievements themselves, whatever their nature, and here worship becomes artificial.
7.†† The highest mode of artificial worship is the homage paid to great art, and this whether the art in question be pictorial, literary, musical, or sculptural, though a sort of hierarchical distinction will obtain between each mode of fine art in a descending order, so I contend, from painting to sculpture via music and literature.† Also significant in our assessment of artistic hierarchies will be the historical or epochal integrity of any given mode of art, so that worship, say, of twentieth-century abstract painting will rank higher than the corresponding worship of nineteenth-century romantic or eighteenth-century classical or seventeenth-century baroque art.† Nevertheless, when all's said and done, one cannot go beyond the worship of fine art on worshipful terms; for homage paid to the creative achievements of man is the ultimate homage, the raison d'Ítre of our commitment to and interest in art.† Art doesn't fulfil itself for us until we desire to pay it homage, having come to perceive its creative or symbolic value.† I don't regularly listen to music I dislike, either because I cannot understand it or because I consider it of inferior quality.† I have to like the music and, in regularly listening to it, I pay homage to its excellence, since it represents an achievement worthy of admiration.
8.†† Thus regularly listening to certain kinds of music or contemplating certain paintings or reading certain books or stroking certain sculptures ... constitutes a quasi-religion, the essence of which is worship of a remarkable artificial achievement.† Such worship, manifesting in homage, corresponds to the ultimate form of worship and constitutes the final stage of worship-centred religious development, a stage superior to each of the preceding naturalistic stages ... from absolute service-worship of the Father (or some theocratic equivalent thereof) to relative homage-worship of a particular man or group of men for his/their sporting, creative, educational, or other achievements.† I would say that, in the case of worship of a particular football team, the homage paid in this relative context is divisible between the individuals and their achievements, in consequence of which a degree of service of the individuals, manifesting in the turnstile fee, enters into one's worship.† By contrast, the ultimate stage of worship, as applying to fine art, implies the attainment to a kind of homage absolutism which embraces only the achievement, without simultaneous or accompanying reference to its creator.† We are at leisure, in an admission-free public gallery, to contemplate many fine paintings without having to pay anything to their creators (or trustees) or, indeed, even think about them.† So we can take it as a general rule that the purer the worship of fine art, the less the artist, as an individual, will enter into account.† Worship thereupon becomes predominantly absolute, albeit on grounds diametrically antithetical to its earliest manifestation in service of the Father.
9.†† Needless to say, not everyone is given to this highest mode or worship, a mode which appeals, as a rule, only to a small percentage of humanity, and to them in varying degrees.† The majority of people are given to the service/homage relativity of worship of a football team or pop stars or film stars or sportsmen generally.† The worship of women cannot be excluded from a reckoning of majority habits, though women are gradually losing ground to the above-listed focal-points of popular worship.† Beneath them, however, comes the worship, mainly from a service angle, of animals and nature, which nowadays appeals only to a minority of people, albeit a minority at the opposite remove from the admirers of fine art - a grand-bourgeois as opposed to a petty-bourgeois minority who, from the evolutionary standpoint, constitute a backward and generally primitive class of people.† Yet not so backward or primitive, for all that, as the even smaller minority who could be described as genuine Father-worshippers, like Christian fundamentalists.
10.† Considered from a class-evolutionary standpoint, the evolution of worship from absolute to extreme relative stages may be said to extend from aristocratic absolutism in Father-worship through various relativistic bourgeois stages, beginning with an earlier and a later grand-bourgeois phase (the earlier implying nature-worship and the later animal-worship), progressing to a bourgeois stage-proper (as implying the worship of women), and culminating in a petty-bourgeois stage also divisible into an earlier and a later phase (as implying some kind of hero-worship in the earlier phase and, by contrast, an almost absolute worship of fine art in the later phase).† The present century being, despite its bourgeois/proletarian status, a largely petty-bourgeois age, it is hardly surprising that worship has entered into extreme relativities of human achievement, the earlier relativity biased towards the achievements of various people without, however, allowing the individuals concerned to be eclipsed by them, the later relativity more radically biased towards the achievements of various, in the main, artists, who are largely, though not exclusively, eclipsed by their works.† It is here, with the later petty-bourgeois relativity, that civilized worship ends.† However, with the future development of proletarian civilization, only self-realization will be upheld, as a return is made, though on completely antithetical terms, to a religious absolutism - the absolutism, one might say, of a direct aspiration towards omega divinity.