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View Diary: For the culture warrior (231 comments)

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  •  Partly true (none)
    It is hard for me to find any religion that doesn't at times degenerate into hatred. Even Buddhism has had its share of religious-inspired hatred and genocide, though they seem to do somewhat better than most. Islam and Christianity as organized religions each have jihad/crusade. Judaism has done its share of genocide. All of these have some version of thou shalt not kill/ahimsa as a doctrine, yet then they choose to define those that aren't "of  the faith" or who believe in "heresies" as not really human so they can be killed. Even Hinduism and Buddhism, in some places, have "scripture" that justifies killing of those who really aren't human because they don't believe.

    THen again, I have known many people in whom religion is part of their kindness and generosity. Religion CAN be a force of good within people, but way too often throughout history it has been yet another way (along with ethnicity and nationality) to define "us" vs. "them."

    Delenda est Sinclair! http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Sinclair_Broadcast_Group

    by mole333 on Fri Dec 31, 2004 at 05:35:27 PM PST

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    •  You pretty much nailed it. (none)

       I think over the past dozen or so (sociologists and psychologists out there correct me, please) the term of art has been "the Other," which, in cults -- like "Heaven's Gate," "The Unification Church," the GOP and the "Southern Baptists" (the latter two being, of course, the most dangerous of all) -- instill in there members the sense that they are "the chosen ones," to the exclusion of all others and that the others, who have been dehumanized, are not worthy of life (this, ironically, paradoxically, often comng from strenuously "Pro-Life" stalwarts, go figure).  But, to me, groups of this sort who hold themselves out to be "Christian" are "Christian" like Herf Applewhite (Heaven's Gate, Hale-Bopp comet, remember?) was a respected astrophysicist.

      A Buddhist Story

       About a year ago I was having dinner with several new Japanese friends and, one of them, a guy sitting next to me, mentions that he's Buddhist.  You'd kind of have to have been there, and have interacted with lots of Japanese, but this was a little odd -- Japanese tend (this is a gross generalization, mind you) to be somewhat areligious (by Western standards) and (to their credit) simply don't wear there religion (when they have it) on their sleaves.

       So, we start talking about Buddhism, in real general terms, and Buddhism in the Deep South, where I live.  I happen to mention the very warm receptions that have been given to delegations of Tibetan monks (envoys of the Dalai Lama) and how pleased we've been to have them (not the Big Monk himself, yet...) visit our humble city and state and...WHAM! my new friend starts going off on how the Dalai Lama is not a real Buddhist and how he's a mass murderer and on and on and on...  In about 25 years of interacting with Japanese, I've never seen such wigginess on a religious issue.  I thought this guy was going to really blow a gasket.  And this was at dinner in a nice restaurant.  I quickly changed the subject.

       This is the only example of an real a--hole Buddhist, but I'm sure he's got many kindred spirits out there.

       BenGoshi
      _______________  

      "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

      by BenGoshi on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 08:14:18 AM PST

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      •  Interesting! (none)
        I agree with you about Japanese not wearing their religion on their sleeves and being what I would call multi-religions. There is that old saying you probably have heard that Japanese are born Shinto, marry Christian and die Buddhist. I lived a year in Kyoto and I actually spent more time going to temples and shrines than any Japanese I knew. They almost never identified themselves with a single religion unless they were Christian and even then often had no problems going to Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines when they wanted to.

        The most interesting person I knew in Japan (he is now a professor at Rockefeller in NYC) was from a Catholic family (which is unusual in Japan). He, partly due to his scientific studies, had become atheist. And yet he knew more and was more interested in traditional Japanese Buddhism and Shinto than almost any other young Japanese person I have known. He and I (the borderline atheist Jew) spent lots of times exploring Zen temples and he and his family invited me to spend NEw Year's with them doing a nice traditional Japanese New Year (eating a special kind of noodle, ringing the temple bell at midnight and then going to a particular shrine for the first prayer of the year). I got to return the favor when he came to the states (we were both in California for a bit) and I brought him to my sister-in-la's place for Christmas. He got a traditional Mexican Christmas with midnight mass at the Santa Barbara mission.

        I often find atheists are more curious about religion than religious people are.

        Delenda est Sinclair! http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Sinclair_Broadcast_Group

        by mole333 on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 10:54:09 AM PST

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        •  Where in Kyoto? When? (none)

           And, yes, I had heard that expression -- a great one.

           I was at Kansai Gaidai in '84 and a year in Hyogo-ken in 90-91.  Over the passed several years have been in Kyoto frequently on business, but, of course, it's also a great pleasure.  What's your story re:  Kyoto?

           As for your specific Kyoto story, that's great and you've had an experience so few Westerners will ever have.  Hoping you live long (mochiron) but knowing you can die happy anytime having had that experience!

           And, you've got an interesting point about atheists being more interested in religion than religious types.  I'm the type of Christian who believes doubt is good and helpful along one's journey.  Moreover, I agree with what some Episcopalian publishing house put on a poster I saw several years ago:  "He came to take away our sins... Not our minds."

           Akemashite Omedetoo Gozaimasu!

           BenGoshi
          _________________

          P.S. -- Boku no 'Nom de Kos' ga yomemashita ka?

             

          "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

          by BenGoshi on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 11:33:15 AM PST

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          •  Nihon (none)
            I have actually been to Japan four times, but the main time was working at Kyodai as my first post-doc. First trip was to interview at a few labs--Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto. I wasn't really expecting to take a job, just go interview and get a partly paid for trip to Japan. But then I realized I'd be stupid not to take one of the jobs. I figured that it was a perfect time and opportunity to spend a year in Japan and get paid for it and there was an excellent lab at Kyodai that was open to foreign postdocs. So I went. It was a great experience. I spent the first few months stopping in the streets at least once or twice a day and thinking, "Wow! I'm in Japan!"

            I have been back since--once for my honeymoon and once for a conference. Spread through the various trips I have traveled a fair amount through Japan from Tokyo, Kamakura and Nikko all the way down to the southernmost island in Okinawa. Learned some of the language. Nihongo ga jozu ni narimashita ga, ato de wasurete shimaimashta. Each trip I took back I forgot more and more, particularly the kanji. I can still speak enough to please people I meet in Japan, but quickly have to switch to English.

            I like the quote: "He came to take our sins, not our minds." One thing I have always liked about Judaism is that doubt, questioning and even arguing was encouraged. I read somewhere that Abraham rather than Noah is considered the first patriarch of Judaism even though Noah really had the first covenant from god. But Noah just did what he was told while Abraham bargained. I kind of like that.

            Delenda est Sinclair! http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Sinclair_Broadcast_Group

            by mole333 on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 03:28:53 PM PST

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            •  Kyodai. Subarashii desu. (none)

                Yeh, I've lived there twice ('84 and '90-'91) and have been back over -- on 10-day to 3-week stretches -- about 10 times over the past 4 years and I still get the "Wow.  I'm in Japan" feeling.  I can't see how I'll ever lose it.

                When do expect to be in Kyoto next?  If anytime in the next couple of years, let me know, as I've got a few places to recommend.  If you've been there recently, please give me the "heads up" on any eaterys or bars you like to drop in to.  Oh, and I'm immune from "temple burnout."  That some (many?) tourists get "temple burnout" in ONE DAY blows my mind.  I salute them for going to Japan, but for the life of me can't understand how, with all the effort and expense to get there, would get so bored so fast being there!  Go figure.

                Tokoro de, Nihongo ga mada joozu soo desu, yo.    

               BenGoshi
              _______________

              "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

              by BenGoshi on Sun Jan 02, 2005 at 07:40:01 AM PST

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              •  Kyoto (none)
                Sadly I have no plans to return any time soon. Not enough money or time...a chronic problem. My last trip there was kind of in two parts--first the conference in Osaka where my expenses were all covered, so I had a nice hotel room, got some great meals, etc. The second part was on my own in Kyoto which was majorly budget. I stayed in what was pretty much a flophouse for about 2000 yen per night  and ate about as cheaply as I could, so not sure I can suggest anything that good. Most of the places I  liked when I lived there had died since (in the neighborhood I lived in there was a good Indian, and good African restaurant, but both are gone). My friends did take me to a good Sushi restaurant near Kyodai, but I don't remember the name. I was amazed, though, that the restaurant was MUCH better and MUCH cheaper than New York sushi places.

                I hear tourists get a similar kind of burnout when visiting Florence, Italy. I can't imagine that either. Both Kyoto and Florence basically fascinated me. I think I would never get tired of  places like that. Ryookoo ga, totemo suki desu yo!

                Delenda est Sinclair! http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Sinclair_Broadcast_Group

                by mole333 on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 04:31:41 AM PST

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