An Eternal Career, by Frank and Lydia Hammer, , at sacred-texts.com
"God will not ask thy race,
Religion is the instinct to worship and varies with the age, the race, the time and the place. All religions serve some purpose, and every age requires its particular form; and different revelation is given to man at different times according to his ability to understand. There are as many interpretations of religion as there are men, for no two persons think exactly alike about God and His attributes. But unfortunately, some who are seeking God according to their own ideas are not always called brother by those who worship the Creator in a different way.
Basically all religions are one, and all creeds but various aspects of the one religion. They all agree on the truths, on the fundamentals; there is no difference of opinion as to what constitutes these, for they are based on the moral and spiritual laws
which admit neither of argumentation nor dispute.
All religions believe in a Supreme Being; in the immortality of the soul and in the brotherhood of man. Most of them are in accord that the soul was originally pure and perfect but through ignorance and disobedience "fell" from this divine state. They also agree that man will regain his original purity by redeeming himself through penance and suffering; and that through the acquisition of knowledge he will throw off the bondage of ignorance and superstition.
There has been much rancorous dispute as to what constitutes fundamental doctrines. But there are no fundamental doctrines, only doctrines which are fundamental to certain established systems of theology. Conflicting doctrines which are emanations of men's minds, not God's, are the cause of all the division and dissension existing between sects.
Religion is founded on truth, and truth never conflicts whether found in science, art, music, literature, mathematics or philosophy. For truth blends with truth as light blends with light. It is only theology which cannot reconcile itself with other aspects of truth. Proof of religion is in demonstration and not belief, for all truth is demonstrable. We all know people who believe much but demonstrate little.
The perfect religion of all the ages is "Love thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself." Religion is only another name for love,
and love never employs weapons or force. Therefore it is a contradiction in terms to talk of religious and holy wars, since there never has been a war waged in the spirit of love and holiness. Theological strife, doctrinal jealousies and sectarian dissensions have countless times drenched the earth with blood. Even today some sects, in the name of duty, would gladly run all others off the earth if they had the power.
Religion unites men; it never divides them. Whatever divides men, sets brother against brother, creates disunity, fosters intolerance and breeds hatred, assuredly is not religion but a counterfeit. If religion does not make one kinder, more tolerant and more charitable, it is spurious. If it makes us feel exclusive and sets us apart from our fellowmen, we are better off without it.
People have confused religion with creeds which frequently have little true religion in them. Some consider themselves religious when they are only superstitious. Many imagine church attendance to be synonymous with being religious. If you would know whether a man is religious, ask not if he attends church; observe how he lives, whether he keeps the moral and spiritual laws. Do not ask how he conducts himself on the Sabbath, but how he acts on all other days, proclaims his religion. As we live, so is our religion, and our temple of worship. For we do not worship God with our lips, but with our lives. Men are instinctively religious
and need neither churches nor ordinances to make them so.
True religion is dynamic, equal to all of life's vicissitudes. It sustains one under all trials and ordeals. It is false religions which fail to work under stress and strain. True religion is a lifeboat at its best when the sailing is rough, and keeps one afloat on the stormiest sea. False systems uphold one only in smooth waters. True religion gives us a staff to lean upon. True religion makes us strong, fearless and invincible. Religion is man-making, not man-made.
False religions like false friends fail one at the first sign of distress. When a man faces trouble, illness, sorrow and loss, his religion is tested. If at these times he gives way to self-pity, despair or goes to pieces, his professed religion had no foundation of truth; he had no faith in something higher than himself, and no support from resources beyond his own.
True religion proves itself when put to the test. When death enters the home and takes from it a loved one, real religion comes to the rescue and sustains one with the inner strength based on conviction and knowledge. Theology, on the other hand, offers only a vague belief, a desolate perhaps. Those to whom immortality is a truth, and not merely a theory, do not subscribe to the pagan belief that their departed lie in cemeteries. They know that no soul ever inhabits a tomb or a grave but returns to the spiritual home from whence it
came. Christ demonstrated the truth of immortality when he left his body on the cross, never again to take it up.
While churches do not make a man religious, they are nevertheless of incalculable spiritual value and a means of social control. Most people still require spiritual leadership, and without this would be like a ship without a rudder. Rites, symbols and ceremonies are still necessary as concrete methods for the training of men's minds. How many can bear testimony to God from personal experience? How many can comprehend and worship abstract Truth or Spirit? How many can see God embodied in man?
For this reason most men do better when allied with a spiritual organization. The specific name of the affiliation is not important provided its leader is worthy of emulation. One who can help them to keep order in their lives and assist them to adjust their lives harmoniously with the spiritual laws. Religious organizations are a spiritual fraternity, a spiritual tie which binds men together.
Some sects are alarmed that religion is being abolished in some foreign countries. This is, however, a groundless fear, for religion is not a matter of externals, but is an internal bond between man and God, and over this relationship no earthly dictator has any control. True, he may curtail the outer observances, suppress or forbid church attendance, but no ruler can prevent man from worshiping God; God is omnipresent and is immediately
available in all places. Religion is in the heart, and this kingdom no footsteps can invade.
That religion will ever be exterminated is an unfounded anxiety. Destroy all temples of worship, abolish all ecclesiastics, demolish all shrines and burn all holy books and men will still continue to worship God. It is folly to suppose that religion can ever be extinguished, or even endangered by the arguments or ridicule of the profane, or by enactments of earthly agents. Forms of worship may change, certain religious tenets come and go. But while the human heart continues to beat, awe and reverence for the Divine Being will ever animate the soul. The worshipper will cease to kneel, and the hymn of adoration fail to rise only when the race of men becomes extinct.
Moreover, freedom of religion means freedom to reject any or all forms of worship, if the individual so desires. No one has the right to impose his system of theology on others because he assumes his to be superior. If it is superior, he should prove it by a superior way of living. A moral man is a religious man whether or not he conforms to any set of ordinances or rites. There are other ways of worshipping God than by church attendance. Man can worship in labor, love, devotion and in service to mankind. Many prefer to worship God in this manner.
The world is athirst and hungers for a spiritualized religion; it is perishing for lack of one. Futilely men have sought happiness in material prosperity
and found only bullets and bloodshed. Yet out of this terrible debacle of murder, rapacity and hatred a revitalized religion will arise to meet the spiritual needs of man. Pain and suffering are excellent awakeners. The tragic distress now unfolding everywhere in the world must stir all minds.
Man is naturally spiritually inclined and requires a corresponding religion. Man is a spirit NOW and his religion should acquaint him with God, with his own true nature, his origin and his destiny. Instead of erecting more public monuments to an Unknown God, men need to know God better, to understand why they worship him.
Since men are immortal the coming religion will be the gospel of immortality. No longer are people content to lower their buckets into empty wells. No longer are they satisfied with husks. Men are surfeited with rituals, dogmas, creeds and ordinances; it is the bread of life they crave. They seek an answer to their constant search for the purpose of their existence.
Men are seeking knowledge; knowledge of their souls and their relationship to the Creator. They want logical answers to logical questions. WHEN, and not IF a man die shall he live again? He wants to know something of the place to where he is going. He wants to know where his loved ones are, what they are doing, and whether he will see them when he dies. No longer are people appeased with a desolate "perhaps." They demand proof of the things that for centuries they have been told
to accept on faith. They ask for proof that death does not close the door on life but opens to a wider and fuller expression. Too long the soul has been denied its rightful heritage, but it will not be denied forever.
The value of true religion cannot be fully estimated in this life. It shines like a beacon through the darkness, like a beautiful star in the heavens. When sorrow and despair are about you true religion will guide and comfort you. Without religion man is as a boat at sea without a compass. He is like an organization without a head. Without religion one may flounder into some port, he may even achieve a measure of happiness and success, but not the ultimate goal.
The value of true religion cannot be fully appreciated without the experience of it. Those who have come into the full understanding of their earthly mission realize the value of religion. And those who ever have felt at one with the Deity can understand it, too. Do not confuse the outer forms with true religion. Do not always expect your brother to have the same color of skin, or to speak the same language.
When man outgrows ritual and creed, and seeks the truth unvarnished, just the truththen he realizes the deep value of religion. He looks within the heart to see the motives which actuate man rather than listening to his words.
It is well to know something of your brother's religion; you will understand him better and become
more tolerant. Never despise or ridicule any man's religion; listen to him reverently, for man can only worship God according to his capacity and understanding. We attend many forms of worship and nowhere do we feel alien. Often we are profoundly moved by the eloquence and sincerity of the speaker, often greatly uplifted by the sublimity of the music and the beauty of the surroundings, often highly exalted by the awareness of Divinity.
Religion belongs to all races of men, for it is a gift of the Deity to His children, to keep them on the path of right and to direct them into the Inner Kingdom. The value of true religion will most surely be brought home to you when you are ready to depart for your future home. THEN you will be most happy to have its support and comfort.