Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bald Believers - Part I - Sinead O'Connor

You've had a very interesting faith journey. How do you define your spiritual life now?

Well, I would consider myself Catholic, by birth and by culture and by blood. But I'm extremely inspired by a number of other religious traditions and also extremely inspired by the Rastafari movement.

What do you identify so closely with Rasta?

What I admire and love the idea of is that they see themselves almost as soldiers for God. They have this concept of the idea of rescuing God—from all kinds of situations--and they have a tremendous excitement about God. They use music as a priesthood, and that's very appealing to me. I was interested in them because they were the first people I learned from that God and religion are two different things. I admire them and the idea of God needing to be rescued, from religion, for example.

Are you more of a God person or a religion person?

Well, I would say much more of a God person, but I love religion. I've been studying all kinds of religions since I was a child, literally all my life. I adore religion and love it. Obviously, like anything, it has all sorts of negatives sometimes, as we all do. But, I'm much more of a God person.

Are there any other religions or religious traditions that you embrace?

I wouldn't necessarily say I embrace, but I'm inspired by Hinduism, and Judaism.

What do you like about those traditions?

Well, in the Hindu tradition I love a couple of things. They have a completely different way of thinking than we do on this side of the world. They turn your head upside down when you get into their way of thinking. They have the tradition of yogis— these guys who, through meditation, can transport. That's kind of incredible. Another thing I love about them is that they often portray God as a female energy, and that's obviously interesting to any woman—the idea of the symbols for God's being allowed to be female. Also, the Vedas, their main scriptures, are just so colorful and so dramatic. They're kind of like the Old Testament, but it's all love and peace.

And I love the Sufis for the same reason, because I think they're pretty much the esoteric side of Islam. And the whirling dervishes. They are Sufis, and they have this thing that they call "God the Beloved," and this tradition of the most incredible kind of religious poetry, this kind of ecstatic poetry. My favorite is Hafiz. He writes this poetry about how he's so excited about God that he keeps chucking himself out the window and breaking his nose. They're crazy, ecstatic kinds of guys who are just completely in love with God.

You mentioned that there are positives and negatives with every religion. What do you think are the biggest problems with Catholicism?

The Rastas, interestingly, call Catholicism "Catholischism," which I think is funny, in a way, but it kind of paints a pictureof what's going on. There are roles within [the Catholic Church] which create separation, segregations, which I don't think are helpful for the church and I don't necessarily think are helpful for God. [But] there's a fine line because there's a lot that’s brilliant about the Catholic church. It's a beautiful religion— there's no getting away from that. But I think the boundaries are unclear sometimes, and that sometimes religion doesn't understand that God and religion are two different things.

Sometimes God can be almost a hostage—not just to Catholicism but to other religions—and kept behind these walls of prejudice, which keep God in and keep people out. Sometimes the hierarchies can be, perhaps inadvertently, in a situation where they are dictating to God. And that's contrary to even a three-year-old's knowledge of God. God loves everybody equally. In lots of religions, including Catholicism, there are people who are deemed less entitled to God's love than others. It's bad for business, and I wouldn't like to see the baby getting thrown out with the bath water, which is what I think is happening. Catholicism is really on the decline, certainly in my own country [Ireland].



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