Given the press on Islam about draconian punishments, face coverings, supremacist ideologies, Caliphates, etc. it is ever so important for us to assert our voice on Islam. It is important for us to speak out for religion is too powerful to be left to the hands of those who seek to usurp it for their nefarious purposes.
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
The human rights-interfaith dialogue rhetoric employed by President Obama on May 22, 2015 at the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington DC was wonderful and made people feel warm inside. But this type of rhetoric is, in fact, messianic -- it is for tomorrow, for a time when there is no more war. That day has not yet come, I am afraid. And to speak as if it has is very dangerous.
Horrific and murderous events in France and Nigeria have, once again, led us to examine the relationship between religion and violent conflict. But this framing, while commonplace, is simplistic and incorrect. The religious texts and teachings of spiritual leaders from any major religion are resolute in their condemnation of violence as a means to fulfilling objectives of any scale. When reviewing the source material one finds there is no rational relationship between religion and conflict. In fact, religion is a pretext for cooperation, not conflict.
The Metropolitan Opera recently announced it would cancel a planned worldwide cinema broadcast of John Adams' haunting opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. Indeed the whole opera has been criticized -- including by Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the daughters of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer -- as humanizing and even justifying acts of terrorism.