We are what we believe. How we live shows what we really believe.
The Amish believe that modern constructs like electricity and television and zippers are paths to the devil. They really believe that, because they live without those things.
Terrorists believe that the only way to continue living successfully in this world is to impose their beliefs (whatever they are, as they are not overly forthcoming in sharing them in a hospitable way at first, as in, maybe with a TED talk), by killing everyone whom they assume does not believe as they do.
I find Jewish tradition to be delightfully down to earth and practical, though some of it dated. Like keeping kosher, which I believe was to keep the tribe alive before the invention of refrigeration and hot water heaters. The ceremonies have lovely chanting prayers and shawls and candles. And the appreciation for family and community, I find to be very healthy. Though, heaven forbid I should marry in, being a shiksa and all.
Many Christian conservatives believe that the world is only 6,000 years old and that while it is perfectly all right to eat unconsecrated foods, such as shrimp and lobster, you will go straight to hell if you are homosexual. And factions of these believers want to impose their beliefs on everyone else in the world, in the name of "love", while they seek to destroy the lives and opportunities of everyone who does not believe as they do.
Most Wiccans I've met, or pagans as they sometimes like to be called, love us all, no matter what we believe, and wish for us love and light and peace. They believe that caring for the earth and each other in all ways is a happy way to live. Many folks in so-called mainstream society look at Wiccans and pagans as "nut-jobs" or "kooks" or somehow inherently wicked because they find healthy pleasures in their adult flesh. And they smile a lot. Which modern America often finds unnerving.
Now, Satanists, from what I've read and heard, want us all to die horrid bloody ritualistic deaths, unless we qualify to join their covens and they're short their required 13, and agree to help each other to attain riches and power and pornographic sexual experiences, which will involve blood sacrifices and only wear black all the time, with maybe some blood red accessories.
And so on. And each group derides the others, except maybe the Wiccans, and makes fun of their ceremonial choreographies, while judging them harshly, if not outright causing them pain and suffering one way or another. That's a party!
And they all involve some sort of ritual, and spell casting, or chanting, or ceremony, or tribal gathering with ceremonial programs to be followed in specific orders. Christianity has liturgies, and services and rituals just as Wiccans, Satanists and any other religion in the world. Catholics have an entire choreography one must learn, involving the correct use of beads and hand signals. When the alien species come to take us over, they will probably add airport ramp agents (the folks who guide the airplane to the gate with batons) to the list of priests and pastors. The only ones who seem to be able to sleep in on Halloween and Sunday are the atheists. Although even many atheists seem to want to change every one's mind to their way of non-belief by deriding belief in anything but nothing. They might find far more success if they had at least a secret handshake. And agnostics hedge all bets by allowing for the great "perhaps."
And this is just in the realm of religion and the origins of the universe, without bringing science and scientific discoveries into the equation. No time for that today. I do have errands to run. After turning counterclockwise three times under the noon day sun while making the anti hex sign.
Plus there are still every day issues of our physical, emotional and economic health and well being based on our beliefs; our societal function or dysfunction and how we see ourselves in the world based on our beliefs. It's a huge concept when you don't have it. And extremely simple when you do, or have one you cling to stubbornly as exclusively right over all others. There's a whole book's worth of explorations!
But only one way can be correct. Which one is correct? Just like Highlander, there can be only one, right? There's just one road to Olympus, after all, yes? In this huge, grand universe where so many miraculous things like the sponge can be made into an entertaining children's cartoon, we have to have reasonable limitations, after all. The idea of dinosaurs alone is enough to turn one purple! And if there were dinosaurs, they must have been Christian dinosaurs, who might have eaten shrimp, but certainly never lusted after their own gender. And wore a canopy of trees as a Friday services hat.
Personally, these days, I like to stick to what I find in as scholarly and close to original translation (and I don't necessarily subscribe to Aramaic Prominence Theory), of the gospels. Because I am a latter day Anglo Saxon American of multiple European bloodline descent. And my family does not have one solid tradition. (Though I have relatives who might argue we have a Seventh Day Adventist tradition. But that only came from my mother's mother who was a matriarch to end all matriarchs). I don't like church. These days I find it mean-spirited and silly. And churches haven't been all that fond of me. I think Jesus had good ideas on how to have a happy life. That's my choice. I shall not inflict it upon you by hitting you on the head with a book.
If I succeed in my happy life, and you want to know how I did it, I'll tell you. I have to go look up the scripture that supposedly said "there is only one way to the Father, and that's through me." Personally I don't believe Jesus said that. Not when everything else he taught was so inclusive. And maybe I'll end up rehearsing hell's various choreography for writing that. But I don't believe there's an exclusive development deal for God.
Then, I have to go out and live in the world each day. A world which is made up of a potpourri of all these different traditions, religions, beliefs, etc. And the cacophony of unspoken, judgmental dialogue constantly at odds with each other is enough to send me back under the covers with a mindless romance novel and a bottle of scotch.
For some bizarre reason we just cannot wrap our minds around "All of the Above" as a box to check on the multiple choice exam of day to day life. Perhaps this stems from a belief founded in massive insecurity, "If your way is right, then my way must be wrong," and we never ever ever can be "wrong." Even entertaining such a thought will require punishment of some sort, after all.
What if there is no such thing as "wrong." Which, I admit, is hard to fold Satanism into. But inclusive is inclusive, kids. What if there is a way that works better for you, than for me, and at the base of it is crazy, happy love? Just plain old love.
I'm naive. It'll never happen in my lifetime. But maybe somewhere, out there, there is an elephant sitting in the middle of a living room, being experienced all over its body by blind people, thinking, "this feels nice." It would be a pink elephant, of course.