Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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Class Warfare: Heroic Labor (pictorial)

Docudharma has an excellent selection of WPA and other photographs from the Great Depression era, showing us what real work was like. Those who whine about laboring in air conditioning in front of keyboards — take note, and pray that this doesn’t happen to you.

One thing about the New Deal is that it was well documented. Some of the best photographers of the day were hired by Roy Stryker in the Farm Security Administration. Lewis Hine worked for the TVA/CCC.

Pretty much every New Deal agency sent photographers out to document both the need for their activities, and also the results. There’s some terrific photographs which don’t have the artist identified. And I do mean artist.

Docudharma:: Class Warfare: Heroic Labor (pictorial)

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Vatican orders Holocaust bishop to recant

Vatican orders bishop to recant (3:30)
February 5, 2009

The World’s Laura Lynch reports on the continuing controversy surrounding the Pope’s rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson, who has repeatedly denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
Vatican orders bishop to recant


Why Do Buddhists Pray To Idols?

Why Do Buddhists Pray To Idols? « Daily Buddhism

I was rared in the Monotheistic traditions and my question is basic. It concerns iconography and the reason why Buddhist pray to idols.

Arguably, Buddha himself was suspicious of being venerated. And it would be nice to know how contemporary Buddhist rationalise the practice.

It is intriguing to see the Tibetans do their prostrations and in manner not unlike Orthodox Christians (whose influence on Islamic prayer worship has been remarked).  … Answer and comments.

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Obama and the (progressive) Religious Revival

Having a conservative evangelical in the white house (although it turns out Bush was really a social conservative and a religious liberal) coincided with a boom for the evangelical wing of the Christian faith as people had a constant reminder of that faith tradition in the spotlight – for better or for worse. Will Barack Obama do the same for the more liberal religious traditions? Will mainline churches see a revival?

Barack Obama and the (progressive) Religious Revival – Progressive Revival

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Buddhism: Religion, Philosophy or … both?

Barbara O’Brien is one of my favorite Buddhist writers.  She has a remarkable ability to cut through the mystic fog that so many practitioner-writers seem to weave about the Dharma, which is very much the way I try to look at it.  When we get right down to it, the Buddha didn’t really say all that much, he merely said it over and over, in a number of different ways.  Since his time, as Mark Twain famously remarked, “Many commentators have shed much darkness upon this subject, and it is believed that if they continue we shall soon know nothing about it at all.”

Barbara is not one of those commentators.  While I don’t entirely agree with her thesis about Buddhism as a religion, hers is the most lucid discussion I’ve run across.  I commend it to your attention on the presumption that, having considered the issue carefully, you can make up your own mind.

“In many ways, the “religion versus philosophy” argument is an artificial one. The neat separation between religion and philosophy we insist on today didn’t exist in western civilization until the 18th century or so, and there never was such a separation in eastern civilization. To insist that Buddhism must be one thing and not the other amounts to forcing an ancient product into modern packaging. …” Buddhism, Religion or Philosophy


Why Atheism May Be the Best Way to Understand God | | AlterNet

Editor’s note: Religion is among the most volatile and divisive issues in the world today. Yet there’s little serious investigation into why people believe, or why some will kill and die for their faith. Larry Beinhart, in his new novel, Salvation Boulevard — and this series of articles — is hoping to start a conversation about these issues. This is the second in the series…

via Why Atheism May Be the Best Way to Understand God | | AlterNet.

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Faith — Sharon Salsburg

Barbara, over at Barbara’s Buddhist Blog, links to this dharma talk by Sharon Salzburg. It deals with an issue that I have found difficult myself — the idea of faith, not as a mindless acceptance of dogma, but as an expression of practice.  Don’t fail to read Barbara’s own take on faith.

I think that belief and faith sometimes go together. It’s not that they are mutually exclusive—we can believe something and also have faith in it. I would use the word belief to refer to something more in the realm of an idea about things. It can be something that we have never really examined, and therefore we don’t have a quality of faith in it that comes from seeing for ourselves that it is true. It’s more just an idea that we have. Beliefs are often these assumptions that we have about so many things that are really fabrications of the mind, not based on an actual, personal experience of things.

It’s not that all belief is wrong; some belief might reflect a true or a deeper understanding of things. But because it’s untested, perhaps, or not even acknowledged as a belief, I would distinguish it from that quality of faith which only deepens as it’s tested. And the practice is a great deal about examining these things and seeing what has some basis in actual experience and what is just a construction that has been made up.

FAITH, By Sharon Salzberg

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Literacy Is The Next Big Step Toward A True Democratic Election In The US

Forget Red vs. Blue — It’s the Educated vs. People Easily Fooled by Propaganda | Media and Technology | AlterNet

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and cliches. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote…. AlterNet

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Five Films I Would Recommend to President-Elect Barack Obama

The ever-engaged Rev. Danny offers his suggestions for five films President-elect Obama might do well to view with respect to leadership and his coming ordeal.  (Some may surprise you.)
Rev. Danny Fisher: Five Films I Would Recommend to President-Elect Barack Obama

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‘Playing God’ or dignified death?

It is compassionate or controlling, a choice or a conspiracy.

On their respective Web sites, the campaigns for and against Initiative 1000 include point-by-point attempts to debunk the other side in the debate over physician-assisted suicide, the contentious end-of-life issue facing Washington voters in the general election.

Most of the arguments relate to the adequacy of safeguards in the measure, which would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication if requested by terminally ill patients.

But after dealing with coercion, mental illness, insurance companies, family notification, physician oaths and other matters, both sides end their lists by addressing religion.  ‘Playing God’ or dignified death?

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i told ya buddhism is a religion

“the buddha is my dj” has an interesting take on an article from Tricycle about a misguided soul who seems to have stepped across the line by requiring his employees to chant.

Regardless of that, the discussion of whether or not Buddhism is a religion (it is, obviously) is interesting.  I would add to his remarks, however, that Buddhism can be practiced without any religious trappings; I’ve been doing it for many years.  The truths, the path, the precepts, even the three jewels do not in themselves a religion make.  It’s the add-ons.  Nonetheless, if it came to a vote there would be no question where mine would fall.  As Scott says…

Let me first say this: it’s probably not a bad idea for people to act more like Buddhists. Gosh, imagine a world where everyone was being mindful of other people and nice to them.

But let me also reiterate a sentiment I’ve made a million times before in this blog (and in endless arguments with people elsewhere on the Internets and the Real World): Buddhism. Is. A. Religion.

i told ya buddhism is a religion : the buddha is my dj

Let me add to Scott’s excellent discussion the things that I believe are found where religions lurk:

  • Beliefs
  • Metaphysical or Supernatural Reality
  • Faith
  • Dogma
  • Ritual
  • Prayer
  • Salvation
  • Eternal reward

Certainly this could be argued with respect to some Buddhist groups.  Nonetheless, an example of everything on that list can be found within the family of Buddhist sects, and all of them in some.  It’s a duck.