What is the essence of religion? Sigmund Freud said that was the longing for the father. Others have called it the desire of the mother or for transcendence. I fear deeply that all these are idealizations, and I offer the rather melancholy suggestion that they would all vanish from us if we did not know that we must die. Religion rises inevitably from our apprehension of our own death. To give meaning to meaninglessness is the endless quest of all religion. When death becomes the center of our consciousness, then religion authentically begins.
Harold Bloom, literary scholar