| Christianity reduced these
practices, not by understanding them but by summarily rejecting
them, because they were too diverse for its monotonous creed.
Have those of you who came from Christian or
Islamic religious backgrounds ever asked what the religion of your
ancestors was before they converted? Was their religion mere
idolatry, superstition, and eroticism as paganism is portrayed to
be? Or did it have its own nobility and spirituality, its own sense
of the Divine and a great history and ancestry? We can better
understand these older beliefs because their counterpart exists in
native traditions throughout the world, above all in India.
Native religions are not credal
beliefs based upon a church, scripture or prophet. They are rooted
in the land and in the sky, not in a book or in an institution. They
are part of a people, culture and way of life. While some of their
beliefs may appear primitive or crude to our casual glance, we can
find great meaning in them if we would but look upon them with
sensitivity and openness.