I don't have a problem with religion. In fact, I think the rituals and purity that informs a lot of what religion means to people are one of the most amazing socio-cultural aspects of our world. It's from here that different cultures have crafted century after century of artistic interpretations of their faiths in all kinds of forms.
My problem with a lot of organised religion is simply the organised aspect of it. I've been living in Italy for over five years now- having never really lived in a country where religion had such a visible foothold on life before.
That's not to say that it didn't have a voice in Australia or the UK, but I guess the diversity of those populations seemed to balance things out, and help residents maintain a healthy level of scepticism, not so much towards faith, but rather to religious bodies overstepping their place in the grander scheme of things.
Living in Italy has been a bit of an eye opens for me. On the one hand, it's one of the countries with the highest ratio of religious, artistic expression that can be accessed by the public. Amazing works that date back thousands of years or even hundreds. But that attest to the influence and patronage that the church once stood for.
Today I see the scepticism seaping into the wider community even here. The Vatican and its dozens of affiliated (and unaffiliated) networks still hold some sway, but one wonders how many more generations of Italians are really going to maintain their connection to the church, particularly when many of its principles seem out of step with the consensus in society?
That's a question that is too difficult to answer. And at the end of the day, I'm not all that concerned by it. The years in which the church stood for something worthwhile,,even artistically, are long gone.
But beautiful pieces like this statue at San Sebastiano in Conversano in Puglia are reminders that beauty exists everywhere even if on some level you are caught up in your own opposition.