I've been reading Harvey Cox recently, in particular "The Seduction of the Spirit", which contrasts the use of religion to maintain the status quo against religion as a tool of liberation.

I had an ah-ha! moment with his comments on mariology. Worship of the Virgin Mary, and belief in the Assumption, is to him a much more obvious invention than the rest of the Christian story. Nevertheless, Mary is a potent element of South American liberation theology. He could sense the same kind of power from it that he did in other forms of worship, despite thinking it pretty idiotic considered as a true story.

I think you could take Cox's attitude to religion, remove all the counterfactual elements from it, i.e. the God bits, and still retain its core: what he calls "interiority", by which I think he means an inner symbolic life and story, and collective interiority in which there are shared symbols and stories. He's big on images and stories.

We have the same experiences, feel the same feelings. You call it holy. We interpret it differently.

We could make up stories and images, and build a community around them. We could decompose the human condition into independent components, and make visual icons for each component. An iconography.

Of course this goes on all the time already.

Why didn't Humanism take off? Well take a look at their anemic idol. Who could love this guy? This is not the product of a healthy culture.