In a blow to tribalism, such a view allows us to see that God broke through and all of the great spiritual and religious teachers and prophets, both those whom we have historically acknowledged as Divine and also in those who have been marginalized because of gender, class, social status, race, or any other factor we now recognize to be the product of bigotry rather than truth. So, in the Christian tradition, God breaks through just as much in the Virgin Mary as It does in Jesus. In fact, we can come to see the claims of Mary's virginity in the same way we see the claims of Jesus being born as a virgin, a claim not of physical, literal, historical fact, but rather as a claim of God breaking through in Mary and being evident and present to all who encountered her. This frees us from the horrible, discriminatory practice of valuing women on the basis of whether or not they have been sexually active and in so doing frees them to be both fully human and fully Holy.
Of course, because we all come from different cultural traditions we will find that one or more of the great historic traditions speaks to us most powerfully, but we must see that that fact does not diminish the power of the other traditions for other people. The fact, for example, that the Buddha, Quan Yin, Mary, and Jesus speak powerfully to me does not exclude the Prophet Mohammed speaking most powerfully to someone else. We must learn to excise our Western obsession with competition from our spiritual lives. The place where I find Divinity is not objectively better than the place where you find It, it is just different. This is pluralism at its best, a religious future in which violence is not only unnecessary, it is understood as counterproductive. This is a future in which God is not limited to being some old man in a three car garage, but rather It is freed to be what Jesus said It was - Spirit, unencumbered by physicality.
I believe it is our continued insistence that God is somehow embodied as we are that holds us back from understanding the truth of who and what God really is. It is our continued insistence that God is somehow embodied that leads us to believe that God needs us to protect It in the same way that we need to protect our friends and families from the possibility of being mugged. Could there be anything more simplistic and absurd? Do we really want to assert that the God of the universe is vulnerable to someone hiding in an alley? Have we not grown beyond such a limited view? Sadly, for some of us, the answer is "no." We must recognize that those people quite simply are not ready for a pluralistic perspective and that no amount of persuading or education will make them ready, because it is life that must make them ready. It is the reality of life and its pain that must lead them to confront their beliefs and see that they do not adequately address their life and their pain.
In the meantime those of us who are ready for such a perspective must not allow ourselves to be held back by those who are not. We must explore a spirituality that speaks to the reality of our experience and move into it. We must discover stories, art, images, music, and a host of cultural expressions that speak to our truth. We must share our stories with our children, and remind them that the function of religion and spirituality are peace, not war; harmony, not conflict. We can teach them that there are many perspectives, many truths, and that ultimate truth and ultimate reality are not threatened by a diversity of perspectives, rather a diversity of perspective enhances our understanding of reality and truth. I believe this is the basis of what will rise from the ashes of institutional religion. I believe this is what will lead us forward into the next great phase of human evolution. I am convinced that our current understandings simply are not up to the task.