So in a history class i was in we learned about Greek culture and gods (how the transferred into roman gods, and later into early Christianity) and I think the ancient Greek religion was probably one of the greatest in function and form. Ancient religion in a scientific sense, in a lot if not most cases, exists in order to explain natural phenomenon which are not clearly understood, and since we have perfectly valid reasons for why the natural world behaves in the ways it does, i can't vouch for the emic factors at work here.
Etically however its a beautiful function. Each nation state and aspect of life has its own deities, not entirely unlike saints (most people have heard this analogy I'm sure). Poseidon for instance has power over the ocean, and therefore a lot of oceanic states would try to get in good with him. There was also a lot of competition between nation states that would compete in various ways in order to prove their worth to their deities and themselves.
This means that people had a means of worshiping these deities in ways that benefited the natural world AND the community. People had diverse gods, and existed side by side in an elaborate and relatively sophisticated set of states. furthermore, these deities allowed the existence of friendly competition between geologically separate cities, so that they wouldn't be split apart, basically speaking.
separate regions, if not held together, will fall out of good graces. The glue in ancient greece were deities, and in america there are football teams.
thats right. societal glue that is religiously wholesome, benefits the community, leads to a healthier treatment or at least respect of the environment, doesnt cost millions of dollars, and allows a religious diversity and opposition that can only be found today between mormons, protestants, baptists, and angelicals... only a friendlier version that talks to eachother and visits eachothers temples when visiting cities, rather than constructing their own all over the place.
what do you guys think about this?