Before I start, let me say I have a lot of respect for the modern Catholic church, and the work that pope Francis is doing. If we look at the Roman Catholic church historically though, I think everyone would have to agree the the churches behavior diverged radically from Jesus’ teachings, and I’m fascinated about how that happened.
So, I was a little high the other day, and readying Robert Wright’s absolutely wonderful book “Why Buddhism Is True”, which is enlightening, witty and clever. Everyone, really everyone should read it. Go, buy it and read it now. It will be a much better use of your time than reading this post.
Wecome back! Wasn’t that a good read? As someone who identifies strongly with Buddhism, but doesn’t have much knowledge or cultural investment in Buddhism, I was interested to learn about the existence of various schools of Buddhism. This led me to think how this wasn’t much different than the existence of various sects of both Judaism and Christianity. I’m sure the same applies to Islam, but being even more ignorant of Islam than I am about Buddhism, I can’t really pontificate on that.
From there my default mode network took me back to a conversation I once had with a young Swiss person who had made some disparaging remarks about Christianity and compared it negatively against Buddhism, saying something about how Buddhism didn’t lead to mass killings out of religious intolerance, or brainwashing people to follow governments, or some such thing. Christianity’s violent and intolerant history is certainly troubling, and I sympathized with him on the topic, but I had to point out the (then) recent transgressions committed in the name of Budhism in Myanmar, and previously in Thailand.
Now as I learn the teachings of the Buddha, I’m quite shocked that such things could have occurred in the name of the Buddha, but then I thought about poor Jesus. How the heck could anyone take the teachings of Jesus and decide yeah, Jesus wants me to go on a crusade, or heck, Jesus wants me to blow up an abortion clinic. How did a commie hippie, who treated a prostitute as an equal wind up being the basis of a religion that treated women and sex in the way that Catholicism has.
No doubt many Muslims feel the same way about violent Islamic religious sects.
That would be a fascinating book: the corruption of ideals — how various institutions corrupted the religious ideals on which their existence was founded. Anyone know of good work on the subject?