May I ask what your religion is?
After a moment's silence she said: "You're a nice boy. May I ask what your religion is?" I looked at her and told her, "I'm forty years old, Grandma. I have lived a very difficult life. I have known many nice people in my life and my best friends have different religions and when I'm with one of them I feel I share with them the same religion".That extract is from Samuel Shimon's autobiographical novel An Iraqi In Paris. The sentiment it expresses is shared by John Tavener's syncretic Requiem which uses texts from the Catholic Mass, the Qur'an, Sufi poetry and the Hindu epics to extol the gnostic viewpoint that, to quote the composer, although "the different religious traditions are often in conflict with each other... inwardly every religion is the doctrine of the self and its earthly manifestations". Writing about the Requiem in 2011 I described the final movement Ananda, which is a pulsating arch built around the words "I am that - I am God" sung in Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic, as a thing of both great beauty and truth. John Tavener was a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the photo of the Church of Agios Andonis at Kato Zakros in eastern Crete was taken by me a few days ago.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).