just got back to hotel after performing with Mira Awad in Paola, Itlay. The concert was great. people were warm and receptive. the goal was to raisie money to re-build a church that had been destroyed by the earthquake in l'aquila.
i have mixed feelings.
on the one hand, i can commend the church of st. francesco de paola for making this effort. it is noble, on their part..and no doubt, san francesco was one of the 'good guys' of his genre, nature loving, modest, kind. but i can not help but wonder, would it not make more sense to use all that power and money to build a new school, orphanage, library, shelter for battered women or homeless people, rehabilitating clinic, etc etc etc...?
this brings us to my problem with religion.
first, it amazes me what an ENORMOUS amount of money and resources go into the maintenance and cultivation of the religious institutions wherever they may be, money that could go into making people's lives better...feeding, educating, healing...for a start. i mean, could it be that proportionally, churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are THAT much more important than schools, hospitals and museums?
then, it AMAZES me how much war, hatred, misogyny, prejudice , and violence is waged in the name if this or that religion. from the crusades to the Inquisition to 9/11 and the list us WAYYY long. fueled by fear and greed, religion will ever too often transform into a dark-hearted monster, evoking pandemonium, sweeping all it's believers along in the great flood.
for me, there is only one justification for the term god, and that is, if it is in direct correlation with the term LOVE. love, and with it, compassion, unity, fraternity, solidarity, benevolence, kindness, generosity, and so on and on and on, the heart's to-do list. love your brother as you love yourself.
and the question is asked: if these terms are universal, if they exist in every single human being's heart, if they are known to every mother nurturing her child, why then, do we need religion?
don't get me wrong. i can respect anybody's religious beliefs, UNTIL they tangle with morals and values that should be shared by all humanity. until they get ugly and violent and domineering and worse of all: self righteous. until they become the moral apron for hiding behind. until they separate the world into 'them' and 'us'. until they become dangerously judgemental. and so sadly, much too often, religion is the source of all of the above, where it should never be. it should be solely a source of hope, light, positive energy and solace.
recommended reading: 'the god delusion', by richard dawkins.
and/or check out the lyrics of a song i wrote called "home made religion", from the album "blue touches blue".
tomorrow ravello. a very beautiful place. we'll take it from there...