Why does Buddhism get such a dream run?


#1

It puzzles me why Buddhism, in stark contrast to other religions and especially Christianity, gets such an unequivocally positive presentation in the media and in the general popular mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Buddhism teaches excellent moral principles (not too different from Catholic moral principles actually) and that Buddha was a good and holy man who is probably with God in Heaven. It’s just the uncritical way that Westerners treat Buddhism.

I’ve just been listening to a radio interview with a Buddhist nun. The interviewer constantly referred to her as “the Venerable (Christian name)(surname)”. When a Catholic priest, bishop or Cardinal is interviewed on the same program, they never get referred to as “Father”, “My lord /his lordship”, or “your/his eminence”. Just “Christian name” or even just “(surname)”. The Catholics get a grilling cross-examination about their beliefs. The Buddhist told us how she was brought up Catholic and as a girl desperately wanted to be a Catholic nun, then she got into promisciuous sex and drugs and then became a Buddhist. Because, she said, Buddhism is eminently rational and scientific, whilst Christianity is “anti-science”. The interviewer simply lapped all this up, no mention of the irrational and unscientific basic Buddhist beliefs such as reincarnation, or the fact that modern science itself arose uniquely out of the Christian worldview. The Buddhist claimed that Buddhists “never try to convert anyone” but she was telling us how she and her group visit and “counsel” prisoners and teach them about Buddhism and plugging her forthcoming lecture which the interviewer urged us to attend. It took some research for me to discover that there is a $30 entry fee to her 2-hour lecture. Where the profits go is not stated. Can you imagine the media and public reaction if a Catholic priest or nun charged people $30 to hear him speak?

And people such as my brother-in-law will willingly pay up for such lectures, books etc on Buddhist meditation, mysticism, stategies for dealing with problems and finding peace etc. He was brought up a Catholic and remains a nominal and occasionally practising Catholic, but will constantly repeat any anti-Catholic story he hears. I’ve tried to tell him that the Catholicism has a vast wealth of mysticism, meditation etc which is even deeper than Buddhism’s but he ignores this treasure on his own doorstep.

And we’re told that Buddhists, uniquely among religious believers, are non-violent. Apparently no-one has heard of the current Buddhist vs Hindu conflict in Sri Lanka, or the bloody deeds of Buddhists throughout the history of South-East Asia. And what religion were most of the Japanese in WW2 who terrorised half a continent with shocking cruelty?

And Catholics constantly get pilloried for their stances on abortion, homosexuality, contraception etc. No-one mentions that Buddhist teachings on these subjects are virtually identical to Catholic ones.


#2

For one thing, it’s fashionable to be “into” eastern mysticism…sort of helps when you’re trying to build up an image of sophistication.
Christianity has been given a really hokey image with people like Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson and others out there that sound like yokels.

It’s really all packaging.

I am reading “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” by JPII right now, and just read his chapter on Buddhism last night. He explains quite well what it is and what it isn’t and why Catholicism is the way. Strongly suggest reading it.


#3

There’s an Australia media personality called John Saffran, who is nominally Jewish and very conservative - as well as being very polemical. He did a TV series called John Saffran versus God a few years ago in which he “road-tested” several religions (in case he had the wrong religion) including Buddhism. He also had some other segments, such as interviewing people on the street. In one such interview, he read some very anti-homosexual remarks, such as “homosexuality is disgusting and unnatural”, or something like that. To the people he met, he asked them whether this stuff was written by the Pope John Paul II or the Dalai Lama. Every one said the Pope, and of course, it was the Dalai Lama.

I just found that interesting.


#4

Much of what the Westerners who embrace Buddhism think would be unrecognizable to Eastern Buddhists. They simply bring too much Christian baggage to the table.

Scott


#5

It also sounds like Buddhism (namely the westernized version) is accepted over Catholicism because of the accountability to a Higher Power.
Christianity requires direct submission and obedience and in today’s consumerist culture, people want nothing that will cause them to change and leave the comfort zones of their own perceptions and opinions on which they view the world. From the things I’ve heard from many self proclaimed Buddhists, they “deitize” themselves and just seek after things that bring strong emotion. Christianity, however, is unappealing to them in that at times it involves suffering coupled with perseverance which comes as a direct result in following an absolute Truth.
Not to mention many of them are universalists (probably because of the above reasons).


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