It occurs to me that my thinking in the last couple of years has been profoundly influenced by David Loy's work, A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack. Whatever David intended by this work, the theme that I have taken from it is
that Western culture - all the institutions of Western society - evolved out of an attempt to anticipate the work of God. It would no longer be necessary for God to judge and redeem people because the human courts would do that first. It would no longer be necessary for God to elevate or punish because human institutions could do all that. The state took over God's work. As the anticipation of God's work became more and more efficient, God became correspondingly redundant. Thus we produced the secular society where God has no function. Loss of faith was really a matter of people not trusting God to do His job. This analysis opens a very interesting perspective upon the nature of religious sensibility. What would happen if we did trust God, karma, etc? In a Buddhist context, we would say that justice is not our concern - karma will take care of that. Compassion is our concern. Whether it is just or not is something that we can hardly be expected to figure. Why did the tsunami happen? I do not know. Ask Him. In the meantime, our job is compassion - help the afflicted. Trust. Trust that compassion will tend toward the advent of the Pure Land. Do not think that it is your responsibility to make a Pure Land appear. There is a great difference between assisting the Buddha in his task and making him redundant, living in the Other Power and trying to make that power one's own. Though there are linguistic and conceptual differences between religious systems they all face the same basic spiritual problems. Most people probably use religion as a substitute for real faith rather than as a vehicle for it. Do we really trust the divine to do its work? In the modern age, people of real faith are few and far between.