Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Accusations against Assange’s accuser

With no specific target for their suspicions and no easy way to find one, folks all over the blogosphere have been settling for the next best thing: making light of the sexual assault charges and smearing one of the alleged victims.

via Accusations against Assange\’s accuser – Unleashed (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).


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A Personal Note To My Loyal Readers

This is a permanent post.

New material is below this entry.

If you have been around here much, you will have noted that lately my posts have dropped off dramatically. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in Digital Dharma, but rather a matter of time constraints.

For about a year I have been writing a blog for a chain of drug and alcohol detox facilities. I took on the job primarily because it was a unique way to facilitate the spread of information and hope regarding addiction and recovery. Over the past few months it has turned into a sort of full-time part-time position, and my duties have expanded to writing informational material that will eventually be placed in such a way as to reach most everyone who contacts any of the facilities.

This is far more reach than I had hoped for Continue reading


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Reviews of Brad Warner’s “Sex, Sin and Zen” on Tricycle Editor’s Blog

You guys have read my review (which is also excerpted), but the other three give a different perspective. Check ’em out.  Check out the reviewers’ blogs, too.

“Sex, Sin and Zen” on the Tricycle Editor’s Blog


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World Gone Mad — Derrick Jensen

Unfortunately, Jensen tells it like it is…again. You won’t like it. I didn’t either, even though I already realized some of it. But he’s right. And we don’t have to like reality — only be able to perceive it.

I DON’T KNOW about you, but whenever I attend some “green” conference, I know I’m supposed to leave feeling inspired and energized, but instead I feel heartbroken, discouraged, defeated, and lied to….

Blindness to suffering is one of this culture’s central defining characteristics.


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The Value and Harm of Religion

People who believe that I am an Atheist sometimes seem nonplussed that I’m tolerant of religion in general.  There appears to be an idea amongst some non-believers that they must either be completely disinterested in religious ideas, or vehemently opposed and outspoken about it.  In either case, it seems, they must be prepared to pooh-pooh “superstition” and point out at the drop of a hat all the evils perpetrated in the names of various gods throughout history, and all of the ways that the shamans take advantage of the folks they’ve hoodwinked.  While I find the former positions distastefully closed-minded, I am indeed inclined to agree with the latter — at least when it involves the religious hierarchy.

My feeling is that those who are obtrusively dogmatic, pro or con, are just as bound up by the chains of their beliefs as any fanatic building bombs in the mountains of Pakistan.  To paraphrase John Bradshaw, a 180 degree turn leaves us in the same rut, only now we’re moving against the flow and annoying the other travelers.  If we want to change things, we need to get off the treadmill for a different perspective.

For the record, I am neither an Atheist nor an Agnostic. The latter claim that they are not convinced of the existence of a god or gods, the former that they are convinced that there are no such entities.  I am Ignostic, one who believes that no discussion about the question of gods’ existence can even be held, because it is not possible to come up with a coherent definition of a god.  To put it another way, I believe that when it comes to gods, no one really knows what they’re talking about, and no one ever will.

But I am not anti-religious.  I try to practice Buddhism which is, by most definitions, a religion.  While I accept that definition, I do not practice for religious reasons, but because Buddhist teachings give me a structure, based on pure logic, around which I can try to live my life and discipline my thinking.

That gets around to my position on religion in general.  I believe it is inevitable, for most people in most circumstances, and that generally-speaking it does far more good than harm.  It provides structure, guidance, community, hope — in short, a framework for living.  It matters not a whit to me whether the underlying beliefs are pure superstition or divine revelation, except when religious teachings are used for ill rather than good; to separate, rather than to draw people together.

The folks who administer religion are usually the problem in that regard.  They are the ones who teach, by their example, inflexibility, lack of compassion (although many of them give great lip service), and who perpetuate the tribal concepts of “us” and “other,” with their implied conclusions that “we are right” and “they are wrong.”  They are the ones who foster self-serving and self-congratulatory, complacent followers who seem unwilling or unable to think for themselves.

This tribal thinking is, perhaps, hard-wired into some people’s brains.  We are beginning to learn that the brains of liberals literally function  somewhat differently than those of conservatives.  There is every reason to believe that such dichotomies are necessary in primitive societies.  They are not, however, appropriate to situations such as those that exist on the Earth at present, with many people in need, and many who are unwilling to share.  This seems often to involve use of force on both sides, and in many circles it seems that two wrongs are presumed to make a right…or, at least, a lot of money for the people who profit from wars and strife in general.

Those are character defects that are engendered and supported by some shamans in the guise of the “will of God/Allah,” and in that respect religion is not a good thing at all.

The troubles in the world today cannot, it seems to me, be resolved by black and white thinking.  The True Believer in the hut is evidence of that, and those who attempt to hunt him down, without regard to the number of innocents killed in the process, are yet another.  People who seem to feel that they must contradict the beliefs of others, and put down the intelligence of those who believe other than they, are a third.  That ain’t how you build togetherness, folks.

Ben Franklin wrote at another critical point in history, “If we do not hang together, we shall certainly hang separately.”  As long as we continue to blame our problems on the other guy, we continue our trek to the gallows. To the extent that religion (or non-religion) supports that journey, it is most certainly at fault.


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Vatican set to issue changes in sex abuse rules

In the latest chapter of the Vatican’s attempt to come to grips with the sexual abuse crisis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is expected to release a set of changes to the church’s rules for meting out ecclesiastical discipline against abuser priests sometime in the next few days.

Vatican sources caution, however, that the revisions are largely a matter of consolidating existing practice, rather than a dramatic new approach to how sex abuse cases are handled.

Sources also stress that the revisions affect only the internal ecclesiastical status of an accused priest. In a separate set of guidelines published in April, the Vatican said that civil law regarding reporting crimes of sexual abuse of a minor to the police and other authorities should always be followed.

Vatican
set to issue changes in sex abuse rules | National Catholic Reporter


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Is God Irrelevant?

Is God Irrelevant? | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

While the media still milks the chattering and snarling between theists and atheists, most people are bored by this show, and many have quietly moved into a more productive position. Growing numbers of people don’t particularly care whether or not there are gods since, even if there are, they don’t seem able to do anything in our world. If they’re omnipotent, they appear to be indifferent to the small and large-scale wars, tragedies, and slaughters around us. If they’re impotent, who needs them?


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Southern Baptist leader Richard Land backs citizenship for illegal immigrants

Baptist leader Richard Land backs citizenship for illegal immigrants | tennessean.com | The Tennessean

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, admits it’s a message that will test some of the church’s mainstream membership, but it’s one that needs to be said.


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Should We Be Cheering Religion’s Demise?

AlterNet: Religious Institutions Are Ruled By the Morally Bankrupt — But Should We Be Cheering Religion’s Demise?

…while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

God may not be dead, but She’s probably got a terrible pain in the butt.

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On Making Friends With A Different Keyboard

I’m an addict — a creature of habit — and I don’t like change.  Little things are bad enough, but when it comes to something that’s such a big part of my life as the keyboard on my computer, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the midst of the new experience.  So I’m writing this to get used to a different one.

I took a good look at those “netbooks” one time, and it only took a few seconds of typing on that 90% full-sized workspace to convince me that it wasn’t going to be a go.  For a man my size I don’t have especially big hands, but given the problems I had, I find it difficult to understand how anyone but a child or a small woman could possibly navigate around one of those things.  I stopped hunting-and-pecking more than 50 years ago, and I’m too old to relearn the process.  Having to do it on my Droid is bad enough — that’s why I love the voice recognition feature.  I’m willing to put up with the downside: improper punctuation and capitalization, and the occasional unrecognizable word that has to be entered from scratch, in order not to have to put up with either the onscreen or physical keyboard.

I learned to type on a 1938 model Remington Noiseless typewriter.  You know.  The kind where you had to push the keys down and actually make those things fly forward to strike the ribbon and imprint the letters onto the paper.  No spell checker, no copy/paste/delete.  No instant corrections.  What you got was pretty much what got sent out.  If you needed a copy, you used carbon paper — nasty, flimsy sheets with black stuff on one side that went between two sheets and transferred the key-strikes onto the second sheet for a (none-too-satisfactory) copy of the original.

At that, it beat writing by hand, especially the way I wrote back then.  When I got to college I discovered that many times I couldn’t read my own handwritten notes, so I finally taught myself to write neatly.  Took a lot of work, but it was worth the trouble.  So did learning to type, but my god!  When I think of the millions of words I’ve put on paper and screens since those days when I was made to sit and practice typing the way other kids practiced the piano, I thank my lucky stars that I was made to learn it.  I’ve since become mushy in the same sort of way about the people who forced me to learn good English, spelling, grammar and punctuation.  I know those skills have pretty-much fallen into disrepute with the younger crowd, and that’s not OK.  As you move up the ladder of life, kiddies, folks will judge you more and more on your ability to communicate according to the rules.  That’s what separates the men and women of business from the adolescents.

Well, so much for that.  I got a blog entry out of this, when all I intended to do was type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” a few times.  You just never know.


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Letters of Note

Letters of note is a remarkable collection of — well — notes and letters, from famous people to a variety of recipients, from Elvis’ form letter to his fans when he was in the Army, to Marlon Brando’s affectionate letter to Tennessee Williams.  Originals are shown, but also transcriptions (which in some cases is a very good thing).

Be prepared to waste a lot of time.  But maybe it’s not such a waste, after all.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/

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Make Birth Control, Not War

Make Birth Control, Not War | Smart Journalism. Real Solutions. | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

Humans — human males, really — are not peaceful animals. They are in fact a spectacularly violent species, and very nearly uniquely so. Despite high-minded modern wishes and the received wisdom of three generations of anthropologists and sociologists, warfare is not an aberration in human development, nor is it a learned, culturally determined behavior. War and its ancillary behaviors — including racism, slavery, mass rape and the subjugation of women — are not cultural problems and thus do not have neat, sociological solutions. Along with terrorism, these most destructive of human behaviors derive clearly and directly from our biology, bequeathed to us by an evolutionary pathway that we share with just one other extant species, the chimpanzees.

War, simply put, is in our genes.

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