Thursday, December 10, 2009

The inevitable "Some Christians are Buddhist" article

USA Today is an idea way past its prime. It's a media outlet for people who are staying in hotel rooms in the US alien to their hometown. So it's not surprising that blandness, superficiality, and lack of detail rule the day.

And it's also not surprising that conservative ideas tend to hold sway; thus their article today about how some Christians hold "Eastern" and "New Age" beliefs...

In a Catholic church? Chances are that one in five members believe in reincarnation in a way never taught in catechism class — that you'll be reborn in this world again and again.

Elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday...

And, according to the survey's other major finding, devotion to one clear faith is fading.

Of the 72% of Americans who attend religious services at least once a year (excluding holidays, weddings and funerals), 35% say they attend in multiple places, often hop-scotching across denominations.

They are like President Obama, who currently has no home church. He has worshiped at a Baptist church, an Episcopal one, and the non-denominational chapel at Camp David...


Well, they're not all Hindus, Buddhists, and Ramtha-followers, are they?

No...

[Polling outfit] Pew says two in three adults believe in or cite an experience with at least one supernatural phenomenon, including:

•26% find "spiritual energy" in physical things.

•25% believe in astrology.

•24% say people will be reborn in this world again and again.

•23% say yoga is a "spiritual practice."

Mohler calls these "the au courant confusions," attachments to the latest fashionable free-floating beliefs...

"People have always mixed religions, either in ignorance or willfully," says Stephen Prothero, director of the Graduate Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University.

Despite the late Pope John Paul II's warnings to explicitly avoid Buddhist and Hindu practices, Prothero says, "American Catholics are so used to not caring what the official church tells them on birth control, divorce, premarital sex and other points that they don't think they are un-Catholic when they believe and do what they please."

Combating syncretism has troubled popes for centuries, says the Rev. Dan Pattee, chairman of the theology department at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

The problem with borrowing spiritual ideas is that "the life-giving truth becomes compromised as we understand it as Catholics," Pattee says





"They don't think they are un-Catholic when they believe and do what they please."" is about the same thing as saying "They're not doing what we tell them to do."

That's the real issue for many of these people: they aren't able to control these people.

Although I'm all for religious tolerance, there simply is no way given my outlook and learning that it's possible for me to be any kind of Christian. Just no way. Christianity's texts themselves make claims to rest upon their historical truth as a foundation for their moral truths, and it just can't be historically (or morally) accurate, especially from a Buddhist standpoint.

Would I welcome a {Christian, Hindu, Muslim...} into a zendo/temple? Of course. It's not really my business to ask questions. On the other hand, if someone makes a claim that "all religions are the same," or makes syncretist appeals in a dialogue, I am not going to pretend agreement. There are aspects to Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions that contradict Buddhism.

Just as I won't pretend that Buddhism is not a religion, and I won't pretend that Buddhism is the same as other religions, I think it's important to note the differences.

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