Back in biblical times, different tribes had different gods. These “local” gods essentially looked out for the best interests of the local people by doing things like ensuring a good harvest, ensuring victory in battle, and supporting the social order. To translate this into
contemporary terms, Milwaukee had its gods, Chicago had its gods, Kansas City had its gods, and so on. All of these systems were poly-theistic, which is to say that the people in Milwaukee knew that the people in Chicago had other gods and for the most part agreed that Chicago gods held sway in Chicago, but not in Milwaukee. Even households had gods that ensured that all was well at home. When competing gods went to war, if Kansas City attacked St. Louis and won, then the Kansas City gods displaced the St. Louis gods (oh, if only that would happen to the St. Louis Cardinals once and for all). This might seem a bit silly to us today, but should it?
Despite the fact that the “religions of the Book” claim to be monotheistic, they in fact believe in other gods – they just think that their version is better. Perhaps George Carlin summed it up better than others have (at left). The truth is that a plausible religion for the future will be inclusive of not only all people but all perspectives. It will recognize that there is only one God, but also recognize that God is so large that the best individual religions can do it to have a small piece of God, a small understanding of God, that becomes more complete (not less) when we consider the views of others and so enhance our own understanding.
The truth is that every institutional religion that exists, by the very nature of it being institutionalized, is to one degree or another a tribal religion claiming to be better than that guy’s religion over there. Not only is that an antiquated perspective, at its core it is a violent one, and it has to go. The religion of the future is NOT a tribal religion.