I’ve recently been involved in a dialogue with some Evangelical Christian folks. The results have been interesting.
As is often the case, the encounters began with an approach in an attempt to “save” me. This sort of thing used to really bother me. Eventually I came to realize that, unlike some lesser species (such as TV evangelists), most Evangelicals–those worthy of the name–are simply trying to do me a favor. They believe in their hearts that my soul is doomed, and they want to help. Viewed that way, it’s hard to remain insulted or angry. Annoyed is a different matter.
Buddhists don’t proselytize, and most of us accept the idea that it is wrong to attack someone’s belief system. When one takes the risk of dismantling the structure that supports another emotionally, it is cruelty of the highest order to have nothing the person will be able to digest as a replacement. Effective conversions occur over long periods, gently, and it is not my business to make them happen.
My usual response to such advances is to decline as politely as possible under the circumstances, and to do so firmly enough that it sticks. Given the desire to treat others with lovingkindness, that can be a tricky process. Continue reading
I truly do not understand why the followers of the Prophet are so thin-skinned.
Nor do I understand why they claim to be a religion of peace. They are no more so than are the Christians. Regardless of what the Prophet and Jesus may (or may not) have written or said, there is little in the behavior of either group, either recently or historically, that would confirm that they are anything but warlike in the extreme. (We won’t even talk about the Jews.) Muslims civilized northern Africa, parts of the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula at sword’s point. The followers of the Prince of Peace chased them out of Spain, attempted to evict them from the Holy Land by force, and generally raised hell throughout the northern part of the Muslim countries for hundreds of years.
On other fronts, Christians saved the souls of the Indios of the Americas and, in a genocide just as effective as that of the Nazis — if rather less-publicized, the winners having indeed written the history books — stole roughly 1/3 the land area of the planet from its previous tenants. Several million of those saved souls were released to their maker during that period of spreading God’s Word. The British duplicated the spread of their peaceful religion throughout the far east, Australia, and the Indian sub-continent, with lesser empires assisting in Africa and parts of South and Central America. Islam spread its way throughout much of Asia and the rest of the globe in the same way, but with its spread facilitated even more by the depredations of the hated Christians. Continue reading
I started off as a middle-of-the-road Republican, and switched to the Democratic party in the Gingrich era because I couldn’t stand the embarrassment any longer. Since then I’ve swung even farther left, as my common sense has slowly beaten the redneck into submission. I’d now call myself liberal-progressive, if I thought I needed a label.
Attempting compassion and lovingkindness as a way of life does that to people, even hard-headed old ex-cops. Nonetheless, I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to get over this p.c. crap about ascribing the best possible attributes to the adherents of essentially violent religious beliefs. It has never been true of Christians, of Jews, of Hindus — and certainly not of Islam. Continue reading
Wednesday October 02, 2002
I’m really tired of people who think it’s their duty to make sure the rest of us behave properly.
I’m especially tired of vocal minorities who make a lot of fuss and manage to get far more than their share of air time and political attention by pressure tactics, and who are thus able to have a seriously disproportionate effect on the lives of the majority. But more than that, I’m really disgusted with people who don’t pay close enough attention to what’s happening in the country and world to discern the actions of such people and do something about it. They get what they deserve. Unfortunately the rest of us also get it. That pisses me off. Continue reading
I’ve been a commercial pilot, and I was a cop for a lot of years. I’ve investigated well in excess of 2000 traffic crashes.* I’ve taught traffic investigation — as well as tactical driving — to rookie cops. I’ve scraped children off windshields — and also adults who should have known better. I’m a rabid believer in wearing seat belts.
There are a few basic arguments against them, including the “libertarian” position that I’ll deal with last. None of them have merit when considered objectively, but many are used every day as excuses by people who simply don’t want to be bothered buckling up. Let’s look at a few.
The “Officer Said I Would Have Been Killed” excuse. Continue reading
We talk about reality a lot. According to Princeton’s Wordnet, reality is
- all of your experiences that determine how things appear to you; “his world was shattered”; “we live in different worlds”; “for them demons were as much a part of reality as trees were”
- the state of being actual or real; “the reality of his situation slowly dawned on him”
- the state of the world as it really is rather than as you might want it to be; “businessmen have to face harsh realities”
- the quality possessed by something that is real.
All of these definitions lack one thing: precision. They all imply varied meanings — subjective meanings. To a child, reality is one thing; to an adult, something else. The “functional reality” by which we guide our lives varies from individual to individual. Continue reading
In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is sort of like a Western saint, a spiritually-evolved person of some stature. The comparison breaks down, however, because while saints are basically agreed upon to be in “heaven,” it is a bit more difficult to pin down a Bodhisattva’s whereabouts. No heaven, y’know, and all that.
Saints are supposed to keep an eye on things Earthly, interceding with God and facilitating the odd miracle — celestial ombudsmen, sort of. Bodhisattvas, on the other hand, are supposed to have deferred Nirvana in order to remain and help other beings to attain enlightenment. Since it has been taking a while, reincarnation becomes an issue. Continue reading