In a world of magic ritual is the trick by which otherwise helpless humans manipulate the magician into doing the human’s will, not the magician’s own. Ritual is how Jacob steals Esau’s birthright, the god’s rule stipulating that Esau be favored. Ritual is how Christians, though their behavior is indistinguishable from the killers of Christ, sneak into heaven anyway. If you’ve got the right ritual, if you did the magic right, the god is helpless and in your power.
The congregation swears it loves its god: love him, just love him. What kind of love can there be between unequal parties? If Henry owns Britain and Catherine owns Spain then maybe they can love each other. But how likely is the showgirl to love Diamond Jim Brady?
The congregation employs this and that ritual to make the god bring the game, to change the weather to prosper the crops, to bring victory in an attack, to make Diamond Jim decide to give her another diamond. Fine, people are self-centered, what else is new? But this pretense of loving the solicited force?! Unregenerate selfishness.
I’m reminded of Joyce who just love-love-loved Lenny when he loaned her $10,000 to renovate her loft. Lenny was flush then, and Joyce was cute and moist; but when things got thin, Joyce told everybody, Oh, Lenny never really wanted me to pay him back, that loan was really a gift. She said that Lenny was begging her for at least partial payment!