May 1, 2006

We Get Mail

(see relevant comments)

E.M. has questioned whether Caesar really did burn down the library of Alexandria. Maybe, maybe not, but suspicious looking latin types were seen hanging around the grassy knoll (or am I thinking of another book depository?) Heck, maybe it was Al Quaeda. Or Saddam Hussein with a secret time-machine. Yeah, that's the ticket.

E.M. also took umbrage at my reference to the "muddy hell-realm of Flanders" claiming that "some of my best friends were born and raised in Flanders, and they insist that the mud is not really so bad, and the inhabitants are not, for the most part, demons."

No doubt things have improved since my grand-dad, Thomas Hughes, vacationed there in 1916, courtesy of HM Gov't. I remember asking him once what was the worst thing about the war, and he said, without hesitation, "the muck." When you consider that the chaps in the next ditch over were trying to kill him with artillery, machine-guns and mustard gas, that's saying a bit.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly the type of biased press that the Flemish bureau of tourism has been trying to overcome for years!

Anonymous said...

I just thought I'd pop in and see how your new blog is coming.

I think it sort of sad to see that your blog--and by implication the local Sangha---is hardly the dynamo of controverzial discussion and discourse that one might expect from a Buddhist sytsem of thought. I say this because Buddhism has always struck me as so much more (relative to Christianity) inherently inclined to adapt a questioning and skeptical turn of mind.

In contrast to the Christian blog that I have been constructing for a local disabled minister--a blog which will host interactive forums, and the like---I see some pretty slim pick'ins by way of reader response here.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.

I particularly remember that subtle but still distasteful little put down of my views that you posted on your other blog after your readers had found themselves on certain parts of my blog, "The Ripple Effect," which leveled criticsm toward some aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.

Nevertheless, I chose to politely and nicely keep quiet my distaste about your seemingly flawed handling of that whole episode. Certain Sangha members and company had seemed nice enough to drive me up there, so I thought it the better side of good manners to keep my mouth shut.

Rather than invite a fair consideration and debate of issues, based on the actual research I did and what I wrote, you evasively glossed over the well-founded ethical concerns I had expressed about the history of Lhama rule in Tibet and opined to your readers that you "don't condone" my "harsh criticism" of Tibetan Buddhism. You then went on to pronounce that Tibetan Buddhists are your "brothers in the Dhamma," meaning to refer to, I suppose, the religious authority.

All of that condescending dismissal came, as you yourself had later admitted to me, when some members of your Sangha quietly complained to you about my blog and its posts. Nope, in retrospect, I don't seem much evidence of a willngness for debate there, either.

All my subsequent attempts to stimulate debate with you failed, no matter how civil and well constructed my arguments might have been. It kind of seemed at times that when you didn't agree with someone's views, you found ways to suppress those views, wherever you could.

That is, you seemed always to obfusicate and suppress, unless the person you debated with happened to be another currently published "writer," who might have responded to something in your column.

By contrast, I've been really quite shocked to see how much real debate and discussion seems so naturally drawn to some Christian blogs I've been working on.

That openess for debate often seems because the local ministers go out of their way to seek the challenge of opposing views. How different has been my experience from the local Sangha and its "leadership" (what else can you call it?), where objections about "offensive" ideas are presented to the local Bhikku, instead of directed as a challenge to the one who proposed those ideas.

I have to sadly observerve that certain quarters of evangelical Christianity seem to invite a vigorous challenges to the status quo.

Glenn Fitzgerald.

Anonymous said...

In reply to glenn fitzgerald, and not really knowing anything about any previous posts, I would say that generally people avoid topics that are contraversial. In particular, topics involving other religions are often avoided, particularly when they involve belief and not scientific fact.

When you have two people talking about something, one from the point of belief and the other from the point of cause and effect then it would be hard to find any common ground, other than morality and the power of good.

Obviously, there are true historical facts related to all religions, and while the facts may be true, they do not necessarily relate to the religion itself.

When someone mentions a subject for discussion then there also has to be some awareness of intent; what is the intent of the discussion.

About two years ago I was responsible for getting a BBC news reporter kicked out of Thailand. The reason being that what he actually reported on was not only not news, it simply had ill-intent directed against the head of The Sangha in Thailand (who really had no idea about what the newsman was reporting or even that the newsman was continually making accusations against him).

At that time there were probably twenty such reports being broadcast worldwide each week. In reality, the head of The Sangha, who is just a gentle old man, was hardly doing anything at all due to his advanced age, other than breathing in and out.

In other words it was propaganda, and the newsman did it because he was affiliated with a somewhat political group in Thailand who were not only against the monarchy but also blamed the head of The Sangha and his connection to it.
Anyway, the BBC sent the reporter to a place more suitable for his political leanings. I hope he enjoys the Middle East.

Thus, there has to be an awareness of intent in whatever people do.
While it is possible to get picky at certain periods of Tibetan Buddhism or certain individuals, one could certainly spend a lot of time getting picky with individuals connected to Christianity, and most other religions too.

However, what's the point, you just incense people, and it can go on endlessly.

If someone wants to question a particular concept, then that's fine, but questioning a whole religion, even if it were Christianity, based upon the doings of individuals or society at a particular time does not make sense.

Thus, people have to be aware of their intent.

If you have ever been to India then you would be aware that there are many Muslims and many Hindus, and many of them are good friends, and close friends, but generally they never discuss religion.

To be able to discuss religion you have to be very careful in what you say, so that it does not offend anyone, and most importantly you have to be aware of your own intent.