Monday, January 16, 2012

Christian Radio


It's Martin Luther King Day here in the USA. But I can't think of anything related to MLK to say today.

So instead I'm going to try and write down my thoughts about the radio station I've been listening to in my car a lot lately, WCRF - FM 103.3 Moody Bible Radio Cleveland. Click on the link and you can listen too.

I found the station on a random scan of the radio after my car's computer was replaced and all my set stations were erased. Initially I just turned it on to chuckle at the absurdity of it. The very first thing I heard was a call-in show about the evils of pornography, how it destroys families and suchlike. It was better than MAD magazine! Or even CRACKED magazine!

But then as I listened more I started to understand the appeal of the station, and perhaps of churches and mainstream religion in general. Most of the time, when I tune in for a few minutes while driving somewhere what I'll hear will be mainly nice things. They talk about how to live a moral life, how to deal with marriage difficulties, how to just be excellent to each other and so on. Some of the advice is even kind of good. I listened to one guy talk about how he gave up watching football on TV and how much it improved his relationship with his family. Nothing so bad about that.

But then just when I think everything's okay, they start slipping in stuff that's either just plain mean or simply bat-shit crazy. And then ZING! they're right back into talking about how to be a good person. And I'm like, where did that come from?

I heard one guy the other day practically frothing at the mouth over some legislation in California mandating that history teachers teach about prominent gay and lesbian figures. Never mind that the idea of talking about gays and lesbians in history is kind of anachronistic since the very idea of defining someone as homosexual is a recent invention. Which is a whole other topic. No, this guy wasn't talking about that. He was raving on and on with a list of all the wholesome things that will be destroyed because of this new ruling -- the boy scouts, motherhood, apple pie, baseball, marriage (of course), kindness, home cooking, flowers, bunnies... It just went on and on until the person interviewing him had to get him back on topic. "So what you're saying is that children will not be allowed to question whether the villainous and evil acts of the homosexual are moral?" she said. "Oh yes! That's exactly right!" he replied and started ranting some more. I think from now on schools in California have to require bands of roving queers to ass rape third grade boys in gym class. Or something like that.

Four and a half minutes later we're back into relatively good advice about being decent to each other. Uh... what happened?

I think there's a large segment of the population who must see a connection between these things that I am unable to see myself. I'd also venture to guess that many of these people are unaware that there are any other sources of information about how to live a decent life than those associated with whatever religion they may have grown up with.

It's all very weird to me. But I think I understand part of the appeal of this stuff now. There are probably people out there who sincerely want to learn how to be decent human beings. Knowing of no other source of information on that subject, they get plunged into the bat-shit crazy stuff and end up associating being bat-shit crazy with being a good person. The mind boggles.

Then yesterday I was at Village Discount Outlet in Cuyahoga Falls ("East and West Coast Styles Arriving Daily!") looking for bell-bottom jeans and I found a book called Glorious Appearing: The End of Days. This is the thrilling conclusion to the Left Behind series. The Left Behind books are a series of novels about what the authors imagine will happen once Jesus gets around to fulfilling all those End Times prophecies he said 2000 years ago would happen before his own generation passed away. The books have sold truckloads! There's even a movie based on it starring Kirk Cameron.

The novels re-imagine the Book of Revelations as a kind of modern-day horror/science fiction story in which people vanish when God takes them up for being good Christians. In this book, the 12th and final of the series, Jesus at last reappears. He's a kind of Godzilla-sized rampaging monster who torches cites and "splays and fillets" (I swear that's a quotation from the book) those who oppose His wrath while He quotes His own words from the New Testament. I only read a few pages. But it's the most over-the-top wish-fulfillment fantasy you can imagine. You fuckers didn't believe us, huh? Well now here's Christ-zilla to give you what you deserve! Ha! Ha! Ha! See you in Hell, bitches!

Great stuff! I want to see that movie! But I figured the book wasn't really worth the 50 cents they wanted for it so I passed it up.

What to make of all this? I don't know. But it's really out there and there really are millions who believe in one variation or another of this kind of thing. Glorious Appearing was a New York Times bestseller. Hardcore Zen was not even close.

It's very easy for people who don't believe this stuff to make fun of it to other people who don't believe it, like I'm doing now. The existence of this stuff used to scare me a lot more than it does these days. I don't think it's inconsequential. But I also don't think there as many true believers in it as I once assumed. Probably most of the readers of the Left Behind books and listeners of Moody Bible Radio have plenty of doubts about what they hear. They may want to believe it a lot more than they actually believe it. Or they may tune in for the good advice about life and just ignore the rest.

Doubt may be our greatest friend in turning the tide. This is why I always fight against the sorts of Buddhism that tries to erase doubt from the picture. A few years ago a group called "e-sangha" issued an alert about me saying that I preached heretical doctrines denying the reality of reincarnation. But if Buddhism ever starts being the kind of thing where we need to be warned against those who doubt the literal interpretation of its scriptures, we're sunk. We might as well write our own Left Behind type books.

Hey maybe I'd finally get a best seller if I did that!

121 comments:

crookedteef said...

I love Christian radio. My girlfriend, on the other hand, hates it. She practically smashes the radio if I try to turn it on.

Max Kaehn said...

MAITREYA SMASH!

Anonymous said...

Any religion attracts the extreme, and sounds like you found one streaming out of the radio. It gives a soapbox for those individual, a voice. One of my teachers in grad school said she purposely tunes into stuff like that just to educate herself what certain population's views really are. One of my patients said that her extreme Christian shows said they had put a mic down into a hole in the ground and "they heard screaming from hell"- people send this show money ! Surely is "a show".

Fred said...
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Steve Silberman said...

Nice post, Brad, but this...

> Never mind that the idea of talking about gays and lesbians in history is kind of anachronistic since the very idea of defining someone as homosexual is a recent invention.

...doesn't quite hit the mark. While the idea that someone might be *defined* by exclusively homosexual attraction is certainly a 20th century invention, same-sex love, same-sex attraction, same-sex passion, and same-sex lifelong commitment are likely to be even older than humanity itself (judging by the prevalence of these behaviors among animals). This becomes a CRUCIAL point when theocratic extremists like Rick Santorum make the argument that these forms of love and passion are "against nature," and that the notion of same-sex marriage equality is some radical new notion that was cooked up five years ago in a gay bar, or something. While Shakespeare wouldn't never have defined himself as gay, half of the sonnets that are considered to be some of the most poignant love poems in English were written for a young guy. While Walt Whitman would never have defined himself as gay, he frequented a bar in New York City where many guys-who-had-sex-with-guys hung out (Pfaff's), and the Calamus section of "Leaves of Grass" is one of the most profound meditations on gay love and gay identity ever written. And then there was Sappho, Gertrude Stein, H.D., and other brilliant, creative women who surely would have met the criteria for being gay, even if the term didn't exist when they lived. It's important that students learn about the contributions that gay or gay-ish people have made to culture since culture began.

Brad Warner said...

While the idea that someone might be *defined* by exclusively homosexual attraction is certainly a 20th century invention, same-sex love, same-sex attraction, same-sex passion, and same-sex lifelong commitment are likely to be even older than humanity itself.

I totally agree. There's no doubt that boys have been fucking boys and girls fucking girls ever since there were boys and girls to fuck each other. I'm just saying you have to read a lot into history to start defining people as homosexual when they themselves had no concept of that.

Anyway it's just a tangential point. Since I studied history in college this kind of thing gets up my ass a little. Though I do agree with the rest of what you say.

Dale Houston said...

I used to listen to that station, but it must have been quite a long time ago as I remember hearing Bob Larson (Larsen?) ranting about how pro-pot the Clinton administration was. In between rants about how big a problem Satanic Ritual Abuse had become.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

While I was still unenlightened, I too clearly saw how sensual pleasures provides little gratification, much suffering, and much despair.

chernobyl said...

It is said that God often tests our faith in order to make it stronger, because faith ultimately brings us joy.

Well, I believe that He likes to test our reason too, by letting us hear all kinds of bulls**t and leaving us with the task of separating wisdom from ignorance. Just some input to keep the brain on its toes, figuratively speaking.

I agree, we Christians can learn a lot from Buddhist guys like you. Fortunately, there are Christian priests and theologians who actually think for themselves and understand the value of doubt.

But in this age of information overload, those who scream and whine the most are those who get the most publicity; moderate, rational beliefs are not so sensational and don't get that much airtime.

Mumon said...

A lot of this stuff is actually propaganda, especially the drivel that comes out of Salem Radio networks.(The latter, as a true-blue capitalist enterprise, is propaganda: they have a business model, and it's eventually to sell stuff.)

Behind all the alternating paranoia and kindness is the stuff that kept a generation or more of Marxist scholars busy, if not well-paid.

boubi said...

Brad Warner said...
I totally agree. There's no doubt that boys have been fucking boys and girls fucking girls ever since there were boys and girls to fuck each other. I'm just saying you have to read a lot into history to start defining people as homosexual when they themselves had no concept of that.

Anyway it's just a tangential point. Since I studied history in college this kind of thing gets up my ass a little. Though I do agree with the rest of what you say.


Since the Ancient Testament there should be something against sodomites (they weren't so "gay" then), for sure in middle ages there were burned alives it went on with the counter-reform and poor Alan Touring just in the '50s was tortured for it. Ancients made the distinction between the buggerer and the buggered a katamite. We evolved a bit but our m... neighbors are going full stream backwards: jail, hanging in public places, torture and so on. One of their leaders Ahmadinejad declared that in Iran there are no such "things" (gays) ... they just hang them as soon as they find them.

Now "how comes that this is happening"?

Simply because it is part of a vision of the world, were there is an order and where you plug the right hole, you get the whole package.

I understand you are shocked at hearing such bull, ask Michel what is going on where he lives, what are the archaic to say the least "values" that are spreading among the so called "youngsters". Just a quick selection
- women are whores unless covered
- gays don't deserve to live
- to be weak is to be useless and unworthy to be around
- not to be of the right religion/group is tantamout to be an undermensch
a really fascist ideology that is spreading very fast.

The one you just heard is scary but still a vanilla version.

Steven said...

I met Kirk Cameron. What a fucking prick. His Way of the Master lackies and he crashed a religious function I was leading. They had secret cameras and recording devices to crack jokes about us from the safety of his podcast recoding studio later that week. It was pretty shady.

Anyway, people generally confuse me.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

I remember those topics on esangha. Topics about Brad were locked quicker than topics about Jesus.

Then again, the site was run by Buddhist fundies.

Anonymous said...

Brad, You were shopping for bell-bottoms about a block from this man's new headquarters.

Shaman Willie said...

An entertaining show to watch in order to learn about Christianity, religious beliefs in general and critical thinking is The Atheist Experience. They seem to know more about Christianity (and logic) than most of the Christians that call the show to argue with them. I recommend just about any show from 2010 or 2011 hosted by Matt Dillahunty.

http://www.atheist-experience.com/archive/?full=1#table

Anonymous said...

I'm not American so I don't have experience of the kind of fundamentalist Christianity that you have over there in the so called bible belt. Of course there are extremist forms of Christianity and other religions in Europe but perhaps not as radical as those that can be seen in the US. I, like the vast majority of people of my generation (I'm 40) in Spain cringed everytime anything Christian or related to Christianity was mentioned . I simply found it atavistic, dogmatic, intolerant and an assault on the values of XVIII Enlightenment and the Renaissance that preceeded it. But I recently discovered "another" Christianity, that one of the Desert Fathers who lived as hermits and meditated (usually the Lord's Prayer, a "mantra"); the Christianity of the Benedictines and their rule of silence, of Meister Eckhart and the Mystics, of those who understood what Jesus meant when he said that his followers should leave Self behindthe Christianity of Father John Main founder of the organization for the World Christian meditation and his heir Father Laurence Freeman http://www.christianmeditation11step.org/howtomeditate.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.wccm.org/

This "other" Christianity has been a revelation to me and is so far removed from the reactionary Christianity Brad discusses in his entry as it can

Bejesus said...

Oh, Good Lord!

boubi said...

Beyond what i said earlier, which was more of a contextualization of the matter, i think that what shocked Brad was the coexistence of good thing with bad things.

Am i right?

What Brad seems to confuse is the fact that, as said before, the good and bad aspects of the radio program don't pass through a moral/logical/coherent/rational screening, where each part is analysed, accepted or rejected.


Brad said:
But then just when I think everything's okay, they start slipping in stuff that's either just plain mean or simply bat-shit crazy. And then ZING! they're right back into talking about how to be a good person. And I'm like, where did that come from?


It is a whole, you take it or you leave it.

That's why good and bad coexist, there's no logic.

It's dogma

It's that part in human brain that needs a predefined set of values, where everything got its place forever, they don't even want to hear about impermanence, sunnyata ... they don't even want to think ... they want an easy solution where to fit in mindlessly

Where can it lead?

Fascism be it a political or a religious one


.

Anonymous said...

"bands of roving queers to ass rape third grade boys" who "splay and fillet"

Why didn't you just write Catholic priesthood? They're closer than most.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

He was raving on and on with a list of all the wholesome things that will be destroyed because of this new ruling -- the boy scouts, motherhood, apple pie, baseball, marriage (of course), kindness, home cooking, flowers, bunnies...

I literally spit my drink all over the laptop screen when I read this. TOO FUNNY!!!!!!

Lone Wolf said...

Here's a good and related quote from MLK's wife:

‎"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. ... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people." - Coretta Scott King

I'm always shocked by the size of the Christan fiction section in book stores around SW Ohio, asking myself "do people really read this shit?." I've never read any Buddhist fiction, though I have that book "Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree" in my little library waiting for me to crack it open. It'll probably collect a thick coat of dust before I ever get around to it.

Balshalk said...

Howdy I liked your book.( I am pretty sure nobody else has said that.) Ok straight to the point. Since reading it I've often try to enjoy my moments in the now here and not the no where, and I feel thankful, appreciative and "blessed" where should I direct these feelings? Thanks again, Shennen

Balshalk said...

Howdy I liked your book.( I am pretty sure nobody else has said that.) Ok straight to the point. Since reading it I've often try to enjoy my moments in the now here and not the no where, and I feel thankful, appreciative and "blessed" where should I direct these feelings?

CRS said...

Apocalypse fantasies are dressed up utopia fantasies.

Odd, I know. But think about it. The apocalypse is always neigh (no one ever predicts one outside their own lifetime); the current world will be wiped away; and replaced with one in which the believer will prosper. Sacrifice is rewarded.

The militia guys always believe in the coming Road Warrior-esq stuff -- that is the wish they want fulfilled. They generally have the skills (or think they do) to survive in a world where you have to hunt your own food.

The same is true of some Christians. No one casually believes in the End of Days. It is always the most committed, the ones that sacrifice the most for their faith. They want to be rewarded.

But thats the sin of the whole thing, you see. Instead of going out and making the world a better place, these apocalypse stories encourage people to sit on their duffs, waiting for rescue.

Manjushri said...

"Pure Lands" are the same old thing, wish fulfillment, heaven's promise, blah blah blah boolsheet.

Anonymous said...

Balshak, you could direct those feelings to the donate button on the homepage of brad's blog ;)

zen dudeist said...

The Book of Revelation isn't plural. Am I wrong?

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Khru said...

I do not know.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

This old dude?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h35hqkCXlyo

Anonymous said...

Happy MLK Day!

Jim Walker said...

You have seen Left Behind.

Now, here is Right Behind.

http://www.funckr.com/genimg.aspx?fn=hugebuttwomanrace_1458.jpg&wp=5

One more face lift and he breaks.

Anonymous said...

mysterion is a monkey man.

Anonymous said...

It has to be Mitt. no one else stands a chance against Obama. Not that it really matters. They are all bastards.

Mysterion said...
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Brad Warner said...

Balshalk said:

Ok straight to the point. Since reading it I've often try to enjoy my moments in the now here and not the no where, and I feel thankful, appreciative and "blessed" where should I direct these feelings?

Don't direct them anywhere. Enjoy them for a moment and let them go on their merry way.

Billy said...

http://theoryofeverythingcomics.com/god/DM/

Found this comic interesting. Stories in Buddhism that demonstrate redemption for even the worst beings in existence is part of the appeal of Buddhism to me.

Mark Foote said...

I don't know if anybody saw the article Mysterion linked to, Inquiry Report on Zen Buddhist Funeral Rituals. The article reported that Zen monks have a shadow life outside the monastery, that's considered an important balance to the discipline inside the monastery. They sometimes drink, smoke, go to town and get drunk, although they get back for the 3:30am wake-up bell.

Ok, so what I'm getting at is that the Christian fundamentalists also have a shadow life, that's generally accepted amongst the faithful, and serves to balance the descriptions of how to be a good person. Their shadow life consists of the exercise of the knowledge of good and evil.

I'm blogging about "wu wei" over on my site, and I start out like this:

'It is possible to act without intent, and to do so in the course of daily life; this is wu wei to me. As soon as there's intent, there's discrimination of good and bad, and there's nothing natural about that.'
(Zazen Notes, please do register and comment!)

The difficulty is, of course, that outside of those in the cloister, the life on the dark side is perceived to be a repudiation of the moral code associated with the faith.

Brad I admire for speaking about what constitutes harm and harmlessness based on his own experience with the shadow world, as it were.

Anonymous said...

I know Jodo shin su followers who, like many Christians believe the Pure Land (Heaven for Christians) is something symbolic that represents in Pure land Buddhism the escape from Samsara and for Christians the notion is that "the kingdom of heaven is within you". Unfortunately is easy to want to dismiss both tradtions entirely but I think this is an error and as inflexible an attitude as the one being criticised. There is value in all traditions and Christianity has caused havoc but has also done a lot of good. If I'm not mistaken Japanese Buddhists (some) also did bad things in WW2.

Anonymous said...

I myself "occasionally" also listen, the essence of the teachings of Jesus as I understand them are so deeply profound, he is really talking about making your whole life a meditation. Anyhow, I see the beauty of his message, I mean the astounding beauty and profundity of it.

Mónika Csapó said...

Already the idea to set up one radio channel for one particular religion scares me. It can be quite boring after a while that everyone agrees on everything and if you listen too long it is like brainwashing:).

boubi said...

Mónika Csapó said...

Already the idea to set up one radio channel for one particular religion scares me. It can be quite boring after a while that everyone agrees on everything and if you listen too long it is like brainwashing:).


Why?

It's not because a radio station talks about ONE thing, it's because WHAT it's talking about.

I think we more or less hang around like-minded people, and going to some "spiritual/cultural" activities we end up hearing more or less the same things.

I like single subject channel like natural sciences (i know it's not religion).

Part of us, being rightly influenced by the illuminists (Voltaire etc), are a bit too beware of religion. I think we should learn to split what is the good and the bad. Sometimes the bad is overwhelming and we should throw the whole lot in the garbage.

boubi said...

Mónika Csapó said...

Already the idea to set up one radio channel for one particular religion scares me. It can be quite boring after a while that everyone agrees on everything and if you listen too long it is like brainwashing:).


Why?

It's not because a radio station talks about ONE thing, it's because WHAT it's talking about.

I think we more or less hang around like-minded people, and going to some "spiritual/cultural" activities we end up hearing more or less the same things.

I like single subject channel like natural sciences (i know it's not religion).

Part of us, being rightly influenced by the illuminists (Voltaire etc), are a bit too beware of religion. I think we should learn to split what is the good and the bad. Sometimes the bad is overwhelming and we should throw the whole lot in the garbage.

Fred said...

"Haiku Zendo, a suburban offshoot of San Francisco Zen Center, was created in Los Altos, California, in 1966. Suzuki Roshi, and later Katagiri Roshi, traveled the 30 miles from San Francisco to lecture and teach there. In 1967 this sangha raised the funds for Kobun's journey to America, with the idea that he would become their resident teacher. Suzuki Roshi, however, first needed Kobun at Tassajara, so it wasn't until 1970 that Kobun became the resident teacher at Haiku Zendo. This small zendo was a remodeled garage with seventeen seats. Located at the home of Marion Derby, who later moved to Tassajara, it was then purchased and maintained by Les Kaye and his family. Kobun and his new wife Harriet soon moved into a house one block away."

Mark, did you know Marion Derby?
She called herself Marian Mountain
and wrote The Zen Environment, 1982.

Fred said...

Kobun:

"The more sitting goes
still, almost stopping, the more it feels like time stops. At that
time there is no more distinction between this body and actual things.
Things feel as if they are extensions of the body. It's not a frozen
kind of realization, but the very powerful presence of the sensation that
you are really there as what you are, what things are, without naming
each thing that's there. Even not what you are is also there."

Fred said...

Zen is also the maggots crawling
through your body when it dies.

There is no suffering, and there
is no good and bad.

Weasel Tracks said...

Brad Warner said...
Balshalk said:

Ok straight to the point. Since reading it I've often try to enjoy my moments in the now here and not the no where, and I feel thankful, appreciative and "blessed" where should I direct these feelings?


Don't direct them anywhere. Enjoy them for a moment and let them go on their merry way.


As a matter of Soto Zen practice, yes. But feeling blessed is an emotion that benefits people who feel inadequate, unworthy, and unloved, and so is an attitude that can be cultivated as a remedy.

Perhaps Balshalk is asking where to direct gratitude, when in Buddhism there is no God to be grateful to. Gratitude is a big deal in Buddhism -- just look at all those people bowing and prostrating all the time! Don't need God to be grateful to, unless you want to. You can be grateful to all that came together to bring about this state of feeling blessed: Brad, Buddha, your parents, your friends and community, this planet and all the life on it, this vast universe with all the forces and conditions that had to come about to produce this planet, these lives, that book, and finally, yourself. Even, and maybe especially, all the heartache you've experienced to get you opened enough to feel blessed.

And if you cease to feel blessed, that's alright too. It's happened, so you know it can happen, and that's enough. Holding on to good states is the easiest way to squeeze the life out of them. I should know! :)

PuckMaster said...

I don't know about Christian radio but I do like watching Joel Osteen on T.V...
My Sunday morning usually starts with listening to Alan Watts on the radio, then some Joel.
I find Joel's sermons to be educational and uplifting. At least he seems heart-felt, to truly believe what he says.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely read a book where godzilla sized Buddha (or Brad) goes on rampage and makes fillet out of unbelievers and believers alike!

Fred said...

Weasel Tracks said

"The Sixth Patriarch also said,
"The one-act samadhi (meditative state of concentration) is to keep the mind straightforward at all times, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. The Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'The straightforward mind is the site of enlightenment, and the straightforward mind is the Pure Land.' . . . Just practice the straightforward mind and refrain from clinging to any dharma (i.e., thing, object): It is this that is called the one-act samadhi. The deluded cling to the characteristics of dharmas and the name of the one-act samadhi, simply saying that sitting in a motionless posture and eliminating deluded thoughts without invoking a false mind is exactly the practice of the one-act samadhi."

anon #108 said...

Willie - I've been enjoying Matt Dillahunty and his atheistic mates running rings round calling-in theists, deists and others. Thanks for the link!

Mark Foote said...

Hey Fred, no, I didn't know Marion Derby. I was a student at UCSC in the early 'seventies, and I heard Kobun at the zendo in Santa Cruz. I got a tour of the garage where the Haiku Zendo was from a teacher about three years ago, she was down from Washington state and suggested we meet. She remembered it well, although I guess she ended up in Japan studying in a different lineage.

I wrote about my experiences with Kobun, here, if you're interested. Ok, it's about Kobun and about the influence Kobun had on my life, what else could it be.

Pretty amazing description of zazen there by Mr. Otogawa, did you get that off Jikoji's site somewhere?

Mark Foote said...

& I'll have to see if I can lay hands on "The Zen Environment: The Impact of Zen Meditation"!

anon #108 said...

...I'm not saying Matt Dillahunty and his atheist mates are right - they're just dead good at arguing.

Fred said...

Mark, I don't know where I got it,
but it happened today.

The awakening of the Kundalini is
like the bliss of waking up, but
bliss isn't the joy of non-attachment.

Did Kobun use words like " no self
upon the Absolute " often in his
discussions?

Mysterion said...
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Shaman Willie said...

Anonymous said...
I myself "occasionally" also listen, the essence of the teachings of Jesus as I understand them are so deeply profound, he is really talking about making your whole life a meditation. Anyhow, I see the beauty of his message, I mean the astounding beauty and profundity of it.
3:37 AM

The Bible can be like a Rorschach Test for a lot of people. They see in it whatever they are predisposed to see or what they have been told to expect. It can also be used as "the big book of multiple choice". You can find something in it to justify whatever you want to believe or do, whether it's being nice to your neighbors or killing them.

*********************************

Anon #108,

I'm glad that you've been enjoying The Atheist Experience. You can also watch the show live on Ustream on most Sundays at 22:30 UTC/GMT (4:30 PM US CST).

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/The-Atheist-Experience

Matt Dillahunty is an expert at demonstrating how to use logic, skepticism and critical thinking in order to "believe in as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible".

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Shaman Willie said...

A brief (41 minute) introduction to critical thinking.
http://www.openfilm.com/videos/here_be_dragons/

Brian Dunning also has more content at
http://infactvideo.com
and
http://skeptoid.com/

Anonymous said...

"The Bible can be like a Rorschach Test for a lot of people."


^ THIS!

Mónika Csapó said...

boubi,I like nature too, but I enjoy more taking my camera and go to the nature and take some photos in the nature, than listening to a radio program about the nature. Same goes for religion. But if I have to choose between the nature radio channel and the religion channel, I would go more for the nature one.

Maybe it just disturbs me after a while how determined people are on religious channels about what they say and how they try to judge and convince others sometimes who do not belong to the same group. May be there is not a single religion on earth what I could agree with in 100% and that is why it is just not something what I can relate to so much, that I could listen to it even on the radio in my car.

Although there is good masters in each religion and yes, after having a closer look the real message is quite the same in each religion. But for example on those radio channels they do not just focus on the real message,but get stuck sometimes on very unimportant and dicriminating details which do not unite people, but rather make conflicts between them.

If I want to listen to one particular teacher/priest/master I rather go to Youtube and listen to their seminars or sepeeches. There I have the choice to pick what I am interested in :). For example among Buddhist monk I like to listen to Thich Nhat Hahn or Ajahn Brahm.

Robin said...

I think people view change, any change, as responsible for all change. Take me. I'm your age, Brad. (Exactly, maybe; class of 80?) You and I grew up in a time when the Western world was trying to get its breath after the 60s. Our youth was full of every kind of liberation imaginable. Well, every kind of sexual liberation anyway.

Then, as I'm sure you recall, Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney happened, and suddenly everything was different. Like, way different. So if you ask me what went wrong, I'm going to say: that. Evangelical Christianity came along, with its capitalist fetish and its love of war and government violence and its fear of, uh, everything, and made society hateful and criminal.

Now that I'm 50, I'm realising that all these people, or those who controlled their upbringing, watched the 60s and 70s and said, "That ain't natural. That's what made society hateful and criminal."

So you get this weird harmony, wherein being a "good" person means being kind and thoughtful and forgiving, and hating every vaguely liberal thing. Sort of like in the 70s, when a "good" person meant being kind and thoughtful and humping everything that moved and sucking pot and honking coke and destroying conservative institutions on sight.

One wonders what would happen if large numbers of people gave up ideology for Lent. Maybe practising a religion means just that: having no other gods before me, as the man said. Maybe you can't serve God and Mammon. (Oops, there I go again.) Maybe you're either Christian, OR capitalist, but never both. Maybe you can't be Christian, AND American. Maybe you can't be ANYTHING, and Christian. Maybe it means just Christian, and cold turkey on everything else.

Next up: You can't be Zen and liberal. (And the Suzuki swords come swishing out.)

Robin

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mónika Csapó said...

Santa Claus indeed :)...

proulx michel said...

Actually, people should read their Bible better. The crime of the Sodomites was not so much wanting to fuck the messengers (aggelos, in Greek) than their obvious breach into the laws of hospitality. Being annoying and aggressive to visitors is indeed their crime. The mode of their being annoying and aggressive is much too emphasised nowadays...

boubi said...

I was citing the sodomites just to say that bashing homos is not such a modern thing.

So Sodom was destroyed by fire because instead of paying a beer or two and having a chit-chat before screwing the guy they wanted to force the door?

F-word!

Anonymous said...

your mom... [pick anything from the previous few comments] !

john e mumbles said...

“Oh you who are wise, may you come more and more to consider all meritorious acts as your own.”

Sanskrit inscription on the temple of Pre Rup,translated by Kamaleswar Bhattacharya

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...

Doubt yourself 100%, have faith in yourself 100%.

-Seung Sahn

john e mumbles said...

Old Ham's brother Shem's son Eber was the ancestor of the Israelites, his name is the root for "Hebrew."

Ly means "for me" or refers "to me"in Hebrew.

john e mumbles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

Well worth 16:32 of your precious time:

http://www.ted.com/
talks/tyler_cowen_be_
suspicious
_of_stories.html

Trust.

Mark Foote said...

Fred, I did find that lecture, on the Jikoji site:

Correcting Posture

Looks like it will be a three day sitting for the memorial for Kobun this summer, Vanja Palmers will do the honors. I'd like to think I could make it, but the dog here insists on a bone and now the cat is jealous, so i can't guarantee I'm ever going to escape this sevitude. send lawyers, guns, and kibbles...

boubi said...

Hi Michel

It's very nice to remember that messenger in greek is "agelos", why not, but it was in the original hebrew text something like "shaliakh" (root: shin, lamed, khet).

"Malakh" (same root) is thus angel.

I remember while a kid at catechism they were brain washing us little kids into believing that messiah came from the latin word envoy (something like the "missi dominici" of Charlemagne, why not legatus, or nuncius).

They didn't care to plant into our fresh little brains the seed of the doubt, less it counducted to heresy, that it came from the hebrew word mashiah which means "anointed", like king David and a few others among them the great priest of the temple of Jerusalem.

But THAT would have been plain heresy!

Anonymous said...

First let me state I have no problem with homosexuality or lesbianism. Now I may be wrong but I feel that alot of women who claim to be lesbian's these days seem to be apart of fad. A few years ago when I was in college i began to notice the trend, there where even like mini recruiting stands for the LGBT Also I wonder about labeling yourself as this or that, doesn't it seem very absurd to constantly remind one, that you are this or that sexuality. I am not sure if anyone else agrees with me or has noticed a trend.

Mónika Csapó said...

I think real homosexuality is not about having a choice and deciding to be homosexual, but more about what people feel attracted to or not.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ah yass.. the emerging truth. Or, whatever's politically correct.

Anonymous said...

here is a video containing photographs of a location, which is as significant as any other.

Mónika Csapó said...

since when is biology politically correct?

may be it is hard to believe, that it is really a genetic thing which was created by nature/god/whatever just like "normal sexuality"

Anonymous said...

Heterosexuals?

Homosexuals?

Roy Orbison said it best.

Dum dum dum, dummy doo wah
Ooh yay, yay, yay, yeah
Oh oh oh, oh oh ah

It's only the lonely..

proulx michel said...

Boubi wrote:

They didn't care to plant into our fresh little brains the seed of the doubt, less it counducted to heresy, that it came from the hebrew word mashiah which means "anointed", like king David and a few others among them the great priest of the temple of Jerusalem.

But THAT would have been plain heresy!


Like, we once had Midnight Oil, but all that time, we already had Jesus Oiled!

boubi said...

But really, who gives a damn thing about who f-s who? But if someone believes that there is "a" right hole to plug, plugging the wrong ones could cause some imbalance in the cosmos, risking to turn it into chaos.


Michel, i'm missing (dominicing) something, what was that midnight oil? I have a blank, not that i ever really cared about that brain washing they gave me.

Yeah, Jesus was oiled, at least it's said that he claimed to be, he is even said to have entered Jerusalem on a white donkey (biblical reference).

But all of this "messiah" thing is a kind of myth (or hope) spun by the Hebrew exiled in Babylon, they dreamed of an anointed king (David's family), who will come, free the people, rebuild the spiritual center (temple) and lead an army.

And for Sodom my two cents are that some meteor fell, ignited and threw around some sulphur deposit (aboundant in the dead sea region). The place is even located on a tectonic fault line where there are more north ancient craters.

Later people had to find a rational to this exceptional fact and attributed to some "wrongly plugging of the wrong holes", maybe without oil, possibly related by an unsatisfied visitor.

But really who gives a damn. I don't.

Aren't we just temporary configurations of changing elements?


?

boubi said...

But really, who gives a damn thing about who f-s who? But if someone believes that there is "a" right hole to plug, plugging the wrong ones could cause some imbalance in the cosmos, risking to turn it into chaos.


Michel, i'm missing (dominicing) something, what was that midnight oil? I have a blank, not that i ever really cared about that brain washing they gave me.

Yeah, Jesus was oiled, at least it's said that he claimed to be, he is even said to have entered Jerusalem on a white donkey (biblical reference).

But all of this "messiah" thing is a kind of myth (or hope) spun by the Hebrew exiled in Babylon, they dreamed of an anointed king (David's family), who will come, free the people, rebuild the spiritual center (temple) and lead an army.

And for Sodom my two cents are that some meteor fell, ignited and threw around some sulphur deposit (aboundant in the dead sea region). The place is even located on a tectonic fault line where there are more north ancient craters.

Later people had to find a rational to this exceptional fact and attributed to some "wrongly plugging of the wrong holes", maybe without oil, possibly related by an unsatisfied visitor.

But really who gives a damn. I don't.

Aren't we just temporary configurations of changing elements?


?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
proulx michel said...

Boubi wrote:

Yeah, Jesus was oiled, at least it's said that he claimed to be, he is even said to have entered Jerusalem on a white donkey (biblical reference).

"Jésus entre à Jérusalem monté comme, pardon, sur un âne" (Pierre Desproges)

captcha : mishous (i kid you not!)

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boubi said...

Who knows? Maybe he was.

But that midnight oil?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gwen said...

I feel frustrated often by your posts, because I think you are one of the only Buddhist teachers really talking about spiritual group dynamics in an interesting way, but you don't seem to have actually read much about the topic beyond Shoes Outside the Door.

Basically ALL religions have some version of this Christian Radio behavior you describe. Do you think it sounds any less crazy to the average Christian when a Buddhist starts a conversation about compassion and segues into discussing reincarnation or deva realms? Is it really hard to understand why, if you have a spiritual mentor who has taught you a lot about how to be a good person, you feel pressure to trust what they say about other topics?

Not that this kind of lapse in critical thinking should be encouraged—quite the contrary—but I also don’t think it’s hard to understand. We are influenced a lot more by the folks we hang out with and look up to than it really feels comfortable to admit. In your writing, you tend to admonish readers to just “take more personal responsibility” without really acknowledging how powerful the influence of peer or group pressure can be. As if anyone consciously decides, “Yeah, I’m just going to phone it in on thinking for myself and just believe whatever I’m told.” Even if that is indeed what’s happening, it’s always dressed up as fancy spiritual practice, like “developing faith” or “letting go.” If it were so easy for people just “take more personal responsibility” and separate the helpful and harmful parts of what religious leaders tell them, they wouldn’t need you to scold them as a reminder.

So I guess my question to you is, how, practically, would you suggest someone to examine the teachings of their tradition with a critical mind, knowing that part of spiritual practice is being open to changing how you think? How to distinguish close-minded clinging to your current world view from thinking for yourself?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous mrs. mysterion said...

mysterion is a zen junkie. He has many bad habits. He only showers on Mondays!

anonymous mrs. mysterion said...

He is a masonic Buddhist who worships Dorje Shugden. He never takes out the trash.

anonymous mrs. mysterion said...

He loves and hates oral sex. He loves it when he gets it but hates it when he gives it. Which is never!

the Stranger WiTh I n said...

is there anything like this in the Buddhist world?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7745088455537169028

proulx michel said...

Boubi:

try this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpkGvk1rQBI

Gwen (White...) wrote

If it were so easy for people just “take more personal responsibility” and separate the helpful and harmful parts of what religious leaders tell them, they wouldn’t need you to scold them as a reminder.

It actually takes a lot of personality to be able to do that. If you really want to let go, you need to trust in yourself. If you want to be able to admit that the Self is a construction, you really need to have a well built one.

Anonymous said...

"Doubt may be our greatest friend in turning the tide. This is why I always fight against the sorts of Buddhism that tries to erase doubt from the picture. A few years ago a group called "e-sangha" issued an alert about me saying that I preached heretical doctrines denying the reality of reincarnation. But if Buddhism ever starts being the kind of thing where we need to be warned against those who doubt the literal interpretation of its scriptures, we're sunk. We might as well write our own Left Behind type books."

very well said !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gassho

Boonton said...

I too wonder about such stations. I wonder how many of their fans really buy what they are saying or is it mostly about enjoying 'trash talk'. Sort of like Sports Radio stations where hosts and callers trash talk the visiting team and talk up the home team all day long.

For a while I started watching Harold Camping, the 80+ yr old guy who predicted the end of the world on May 21st. While I thought his thinking was bunk, I was impressed by how honest he appeared. IMO, he literally had no desire at all to be famous or amass a fortune. He simply was calling it as he saw it and when he was demonstrated wrong his stance was "well it didn't turn out how I expected, I must have missed something let me see what I can figure out now". In other words, despite being so totally wrong, I found him refreshing for his total lack of ego.


Anyway you may want to look into the work of Christopher Hitchens who just passed away before Christmas. You can read his stuff but better to peruse him first using Youtube. He was an avowed atheist and had numerous debates with various believers as well as others. When he learned he had cancer, he also had to confront his impending death and with it the pressure from those who would say "still want to play atheist now?!" And he confronted it with quite a bit of honesty and bravery....

roman said...

http://myogen.blogspot.com/2009/09/brad-in-meadow-with-flowers-and.html

something I wrote about Brad after meeting him in Frankfurt a few years ago

I thought it might be interesting for those who have never met Brad in person.

Greco said...

Wow, Brad gets tired like everybody else? Who knew?

boubi said...

Gwen said...

......

Basically ALL religions have some version of this Christian Radio behavior you describe. Do you think it sounds any less crazy to the average Christian when a Buddhist starts a conversation about compassion and segues into discussing reincarnation or deva realms? Is it really hard to understand why, if you have a spiritual mentor who has taught you a lot about how to be a good person, you feel pressure to trust what they say about other topics?

Not that this kind of lapse in critical thinking should be encouraged—quite the contrary—but I also don’t think it’s hard to understand.


Hi Gwen, the topic is not "crazy things", the topic is racism/discrimination mixed with religion.

Believing in life after life or in the X-files or in deva's paradise, as much as plugging whichever consensual hole, belongs to the realm of privacy. Inciting hate of unruly pluggers in name of some great being in the sky belongs to some form of fascim.

THAT's the HUGE difference.






To Michel

... i thought it was some religious stuff.




.

boubi said...

.



The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Francisco Goya




.

Anonymous said...

...and The Monster of Reason produces Sleep!

Anonymous said...

This brings up a large and long standing split in the Buddhist traditions, a dualist and a non-dualist divide.

The non-dualists: the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Dogen, etc...

and the many dualists who try to sneak back in a self (atman) in some form, such as some self/ego to be reborn (not realizing the Buddhist objective is NOT to be reborn!!) or often as some disembodied mind/spirit (open Buddhism insert Christian God/Hindu Brahmā).



Hakuin zenji's "great doubt", he wrote,
"At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening. If you doubt fully, you will awaken fully"


"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Gwen said...

Hi boubi,

While I agree that chasing a compassionate message with racist & discriminatory propaganda is infinitely more harmful than chasing it with stories about the X-files, my point is that the methodology is essentially the same. Both involve a perceived leader/spokesperson using the trust and authority they have built with their audience to introduce new beliefs. Because of this established trust and authority, the audience is more easily influenced.

Clearly, the position of influence can be used to introduce new beliefs that are helpful, or beliefs that are completely destructive and hurtful. My interest though lies more with how all of us “audience members” can learn to better walk the line between staying open-minded to new ideas and letting ourselves be influenced in a negative way. It can be a slippery slope. I wrote a post about it here…

http://mysticsandgroupies.com/2011/12/08/setting-the-stage-for-abuse/

…which explains better what I am trying to say, if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

...and a definition is exactly what it is!

roman said...

greco, not like everybody else, I have personally seen about 100 zen teachers at different retreats and none of them seemed sleepy or extremely tired so I was happy there was a zen tacher who gets as tired as I do

Greco said...

100 of 'em? Ain't that enough to make you sick of it?

Get you some of that Espresso.

boubi said...

to Gwen

My point is that there's a difference between making you believe in a some paradise somewhere or some nirvana and making you believe that other people don't deserve to live because of what they do in their private life.

You can use a fork to eat a pie or you ca use it to stick it into your neighbor eye.

Group psychology/dynamics and guru led entities are potential breeding ground for a lot of things as much as kindergarden.

We humans are for the good and the bad gregarious animals, we tend to follow the herd and a leader like dogs and unlike cats.

roman said...

greco, if you practice in Kwan Um school for a few years, you will meet lots of zen teachers, and none of them is sleepy, as the kwan um style is like as if all of them were on extasy all the time - there is no lack of energy whatsovever

so switched to Dogen school and they, the teachers there seemed sober, but I dozed off... so I was happy to see Brad also sleepy and bored by zazen...

Anonymous said...

those left behind books are such a hideous embarrassment for poor slobs who got sucked into it....but at least i didnt get sucked into to corporate yuppy land.....actually the jesus freaks just had a bigger PR machine and had all us zen types stuffed in a bag sumwhere or relegated to bookstores in obscure dark corners, talking bearded reclusive guys....the irony here is that why not blow the wad and make cheesey zen films.....all u need is a couplah bottles of wine and a jaded brain full of cheap inspiration....id download that for free........peace

big_buddha said...

Do it up, Brad! I'd read that Buddhist End Times book in 1/60th of a minute. ONE SECOND. I'd find it in a local library, be shocked (like most of your books I found), and sit on the floor instantaneously. As for Christian radio we have a saying at work when the sermon begins at 6:30 p.m. "MICK TURN THE RADIO OFF I'M BRUNING, MAN! MAKE IT STOP!"

BK said...

I watched the film "Doubt" - with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman - today, which is all about what we can and can't be sure of, both in a religious context and otherwise; and the value of doubt. I'm not religious, but the main themes are valuable to all of us, I think. A great film and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it, whatever your beliefs.
Good post, Brad. :)

Zippy Rinpoche said...

You can't hurt me! I have an ASSUMABLE MORTGAGE!

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