It's interesting to hear you say that, if only because I heard someone on the radio say that watching totality is like having a deep, spiritual experience. I'm not gonna lie, I rolled my eyes at that and thought "Whatever, it's the moon blocking the sun. It's not that amazing." Knowing someone (kind of, we're internet buds, right?) who actually had a somewhat similar reaction now? Maybe the dude was on to something.
One of my PhD advisors is a United Airlines premium (or whatever) member, in part because they've accrued tens of thousands of miles over their lifetime from flying around the globe to experience totality over and over and over. I will agree with them (and you) that a partial eclipse is pretty cool, though "not that amazing", but totality is a different beast. They warned me of such, but there's simply no way to prepare yourself for the contrast in experience between even 95% partial coverage and the moments leading up to, during, and immediately following totality. The experience was only rivaled by the time I watched an Atlas V blast off into space a couple of years ago, carrying thousands of hours of my own blood, sweat, and tear-inducing labor. I wouldn't say that either qualifies as a "religious" experience, but I guess it's about as close as an agnostic space scientist can hope for.
Also: We're definitely internet buds, buddy.
Dala tried to get me to look at the sun through her glasses multiple times. I told her no every time. I have few hard "nevers" in my life. One of them is never willingly stand in front of the barrel of a gun unless I'm being foolishly heroic. Another is never handle a visibly rabbied animal, unless again, I'm being foolishly heroic. The big one though? Never stare at the sun, ever, under any circumstances. If I want to see what an eclipse looks like, that's what the internet is for.
There's probably nothing I can tell you that she hasn't, but I, too, had a pair of coated lenses that I made sure were ISO certified from an accredited source... and I think you're totally missing out. A pinhole camera projection works too, though, and I understand your concern. Among other bodily calamities, I fully expect my blue eyes to develop cataracts in a few decades. Save me, modern medicine!