Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Chuck Colson plays the victim card again

Colson has an article in Beliefnet that simply is astounding in its comparisons between Christianity, Buddhism, Eastern sensibilities, etc. Its underlying resentment is quite amazing too. But most of all, I'm amazed at Colson's ignorance of Eastern culture, Disney's business situation, and how business is done in this part of the world.

I don't know how much of this is being done to placate the oriental mind—this is, after all, an Asian theme park. But I can't imagine the local visitors asking if the park had been designed according to feng shui or if incense was being properly burned.

As a matter of fact, according to the New York Times, I believe, their newspaper boxes in Chinatown were painted red (meaning good fortune) as opposed to the default blue (more associated with death).

This sort of thing is done as a matter of course in the East.

Businesses' offices are often opened with the assistence of Shinto priests in Japan (despite the fact that most people aren't really religious at all).

The building where I work (a certain Japanese company) is sited perfectly taking feng shui into account.

People know this stuff.

My neighborhood has a large number of Chinese folks because, well, the feng shui of the development is generally very good. That's why we bought our house, though of course I knew Jack about feng shui. But my wife did.

All of this, of course, is going on at a time when Christians are being blasted for being oppressive, bringing religion into public life, and making demands on the Congress. And the press is not very charitable to us. Columnist Gary Wills after the last election wondered what kind of a country this is where a majority of the people believes in such "myths" as the virgin birth.

But at the same time we find hard-headed, profit-conscious businessmen—-the executives at Disney—-spending hard-earned money for a feng shui expert to come in and tell them the way in which they ought to arrange the buildings to bring about good luck. This does not seem to bother Gary Wills or our cultural elite.

All of this would be comical if it were not so utterly absurd. Disney is catering to superstitions and the local, sensitive Buddhist culture.

Disney is making a business decision. And you know what? Despite their shouting, the fundamentalist Christians in the US aren't exactly the core of Disney's business.


By contrast, look at what happens in the United States. At the Epcot Center in Orlando, there is a dazzling display of how life came about, popping up from a single cell in the oceans—pure chance-plus-time evolution. Why does it go to Hong Kong and respect local religions and then hit Christians in the face back home?

Maybe because a) believe it or not, Disney in the US attracts a big foreign crowd, and they're not fundamentalist creationists, and b) as I said before, fundamentalist creationists ar not - and haven't been- essential to Disney's success in the US.

And Colson, please stop equating all Christians with creationists. That's a lie, and I'm sure you know it.

Well, this kind of tolerance is causing Disney to embrace superstitions overseas, but when it comes to the majority religion here in America, we are oppressors—we are not entitled to anythin

For better or worse, for whatever reason feng shui sells. And people who know about it - and they do- are more likely to cater to real estate designed with these principles in mind. Whole developments are designed this way now.

Actually there are good design reasons why some aspects of feng shui should be used: the right orientation of furniture prevents people from being startled when someone enters a room. Similar reasoning would apply for orientations of interiors. Buildings facing north or south get more even light during the day than buildings facing east or west. Sure, it's all layered with a patina of Eastern philosphy, but there's a practical sensibilty behind it all.

Despite actually investigating as to why Disney's doing this, Colson sees yet another vaporous opportunity to cry "bigotry!"

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