Paul Zahl, rector of All Saints in Maryland, in his penetrating 1983 book on the atonement:
Humanity's search for atonement is not restricted to explicit religious acts. In the world of religion, atonement is offered to satisfy the judgment of the gods. In the secular world, atonement is offered to satisfy the judgment of others: persons, communities, institutions, and ideologies to which we feel responsible. The guilt, the judgment for falling short, is in reference to different objects, but in both worlds it functions the same.
--Paul F. M. Zahl, Who Will Deliver Us? The Present Power of the Death of Christ (New York: Seabury, 1983), 34; emphasis original