The Hindus have an esoteric religion including the caste system with its built-in inequalities, the superstition of reincarnation, and the pathetic worship of The Destroyer God - Shiva. They also have a beautiful prayer: "Out of the unreal, lead me to reality." In reality, most of them have better characters than we do in this perverted society. We seem to worship the opposite of what we are - we laud meekness and mercy, and are aggressive and vindictive.
This is not the way it was supposed to happen.
A liberating truth - with beauty - occurred when God became Man in order to make Man God. But in the West, both "Holy Mother State" and "Holy Mother Church" are corrupt beyond belief. There is some small hope for them.
Obviously not all religions can be true, because they at many places contradict each other. There are practical limits to ecumenism.
Why do we need a religion anyway? It's not a random gene in our makeup, but an existential plea of a conscious being for meaning. It's absurd when you have no meaning in your life, and makeshift synthetic meanings are no substitute.
I'm Catholic, and a member of the Catholic Worker movement which is non-violent and exalts the working man. I find meaning in this and in works of mercy - which are diametrically opposed to the works of war. Religion of this kind may - does - have survival value for the human race.
My purpose above was not to put down Hinduism, which is a mythology of sorts, but to bring up the question of when religion is superstitious. It is not superstitious to remark that we live in an evil age.
We have The Word and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. They co-exist, albeit uneasily, and I believe they are opposites in fact. We also have corporate and individual greed, adultery as entertainment, divorce, abortion, and chronic war. These are not just "punishments" for sin - they themselves constitute the essential sin. We are all implicated, if only because we pay our taxes.
"Out of the unreal lead us to reality."
The prayer is most appropriate here because almost all of us Westerners are lost in shadowlands of delusion.
Here are some of the non-superstitious issues that true religion addresses: According to the UN 2OO2 Human Development Report, the richest 1% in l999-2OOO received as much income as the bottom 57% combined. A startling 45% of the world's population lived on less than $2 per day. About 4O% had no sanitation services. About 84O million people were malnourished.
These are facts that can be addressed from the venue of religion, when religion is not superstition. But religion is only superstition with us. We are the fattest nation in history.
The truth of a religion is determined totally by the extent and quality of the loving kindness it extends. Let us stand or fall by that pragmatic credo.