David Foster Wallace, the postmodern novelist, puts it like this:
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as . . . not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual thing to worship . . . is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. . . . Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. . . . Worship power – you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over things to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
Finally, he adds that “the insidious thing” about these forms of worship is that they are not seen for what they are. “They are unconscious. They are default settings.” In other words, whatever is the source of your meaning and satisfaction in life is what you are worshipping, though you may not acknowledge it as such. You are not simply pursuing these things if they are what you are living for. If you are living for them, you must have them or you lose your purpose in life. If anything threatens them, you get uncontrollably anxious or angry. If anything takes them away, you can lose the very will to live. If you fail to achieve them you may fall into unending self-hatred. That is why they are “eating you alive.” Put another way, you are enslaved to them. You must give yourself to something, or you have no meaning in life.
Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller, pp 111-112.