Thursday, August 14, 2008

China

Hi Friends -

I'd like to draw your attention to two blogs. One is my friend and pastor Jim. His blog (Thinking Christianly) takes current issues and approaches them from a Biblical perspective. This particular one references China and its history of pantheism. You can find that one here:

thinking-christianly

The other is the blog of another friend, Caleb, who is acually posting from a 3rd party blog about praying for the people of China. I was challenged deeply and need to credit those who brought it to my attention so here is a link to the blog from Abraham Piper via Caleb (who has a blog called Thorns)

Abraham Piper via "Thorns" (Caleb D.)

Blessings!

Jake

3 comments:

Nathan said...

Thanks for links, Jake. I found the first one especially thought provoking.

I think the blogger's general point that evil is more polar in Christianity is probably true. But, as much as I enjoy Chesterton myself, I think his implication that good and evil are essentially the SAME in Buddhism is not true. And the Dalai Lama is a perfect example of this: He HAS challenged Chinese authoritarian rule in Tibet, preaching compassion and pathways to freedom from suffering. While we may not agree 100% with the pathways he proposes, his differentiations between good and evil exist nonetheless. And need be acknowledged.

Thanks again!!

Jake said...

Thanks Nathan! It is good to dialogue a little on here! :-)

I think your point is valid and also interesting. You are right that the Dalai Lama HAS spoken out against Chinese tyranny in Tibet however, I think he has a tough time making a good defense for his outcry because of the LACK of moral footing he has in his religious beliefs. Good and evil are, in its most basic forms in Buddhism, just two sides of the same coin. So, his claim of calling one thing evil and other good is, at best, based on some humanistic view of right and wrong and he is UNABLE to look to a higher authority (such as we have in the Character and Person of God) to call something good and something else evil.

Nathan said...

No kidding...I've been yearning for some good theological debate! Thanks for providing :)

I think you are absolutely right in equating the Dalai Lama's morality with a more general humanism. In fact, usually when non-religious people describe their moralities to me, I'm left thinking "They sound very Buddhist."

You are also right in implying that humanism lacks moral footing: It certainly possesses precepts, but lacks the, for lack of a better term, "governing authority" which Christianity has in Christ. I still would still hesitate, however, to lump in Buddhism completely.

For instance, I'm sure the Dalai Lama (from what I've read, at least) would point to the Buddha as a moral "governing authority." He would also point to the various Buddhist religious texts which lay out the Buddha's beliefs, teachings, etc.

Which brings the last point: I think that in China, as in any society of competing influences, religion--sometimes to betterment, sometimes to detriment--often assimilates other influences. Buddhism, therefore, in China may very well take the form which the opening ceremonies seemed to imply, combining with Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and who knows what else to create a watered down good/evil mish-mash. The Buddhism I've studied, however (which admittedly exists more in books and classrooms than in any real observatory experiences), does not present such a mish-mash. Rather, it presents evil as something very seperate from good. It presents evil in the form of suffering, and good in the form of non-suffering. It presents evil as attachment to the world and good as enlightenment beyond it. And it calls violence bad and compassion mandatory.

Again, none of this is to say that Buddhism ISN'T lacking an essential "moral authority" in China (It's imminently interesting to me, in case of point, that the most famous symbol of the flip-side philosophy, the "Ying and Yang," is popularly associated with world-wide Buddhism but actually originated separately in Chinese philosophy, and continues to influence more people in THAT country than anywhere else!). It is to say that decisions on authority and divisions regarding morality--not only in Buddhism, but in ALL religions--are often subject to outside influences.

Look at the difference between Roman Catholics and United Methodists, for gosh sakes!

Have a great one, Jake. You're a good man for entertaining me ;)