Sunday, December 11, 2011

Talking Buddhism with Christians

Ghost of the Cathedral
Ghost of the Cathedral, Helsinki, 2005

I stumbled into a pretty fun conversation the other day. It was on the website/blog portal of the major national Christian newspaper, Kotimaa. There was an article there mentioning that December 8 is Bodhi day for Buddhists. A short discussion in the comments followed, mainly between one individual asking "what does this have to do with Christianity?" and others pointing out that even Christians would do well to know something about other religions.

That had inspired a slightly humorous blog post, freely translated as "When the Buddha had an insight: fur real nobody ain't really nuttin' at all." And more discussion. Pretty good and surprisingly well-informed discussion too. One guy had a pretty good idea of what Buddhism is about, even though he admitted up front that he doesn't really understand it.

Also, Buddhists have a reputation that's way too good for their own good. That opponent of Buddhism seems to regard Buddhists as some kind of spiritual supermen:
That kind of hypocrisy wouldn't wash in Buddhism. They start by spending years learning to see people as people without discrimination and then express themselves in an extremely civilized manner. It would be nice to get a peek at some real Buddhist blogging.
comment by Tauno J. Jokinen
Er. Right. Buddhists would never, ever get into petty fights on blogs. Way too much upekkha for that.

Hoo boy, if he only knew.

There was some more discussion about contemplative practices in Christianity, before it devolved into a conversation about how to eat an elephant. (One piece at a time.)

It's an interesting web portal, that. They host a very broad range of views, from hyper-conservative Biblical literalists to highly liberal voices. There seem to be a few atheist regulars there too, injecting sarcastic comments about "imaginary friends" and such. And, apparently, the aftermath of a massive flame war.

People will be people, it seems. Sometimes a peek over the fence is a good reminder of that.


  1. See--you've met that incomprehension before from me: *niave innocent voice* "but...but..isn't it all about practicing non-attachment and stuff? What is less like practicing non-attachment than flame wars??" People are indeed,always peoples.

    If anything tasty pops up on the site, hope you'll pass it on to us non-Finns.

  2. Thank you Petteri once more for a very enjoyable and intellectually careful blog. I have to admit that I liked very much both the responses of PY Hiltunen and the discussion in the "slightly humorous" blog (In Finnish) that you mention.