digest: outrage edition

In case you’ve been living on Mars, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears, here’s some stuff that might get your blood boiling.

  • The big “I’m a Buddhist and I’m offended!” news this week comes courtesy Groupon and their, shall we say, less than pitch perfect Super Bowl commercials that simultaneously suggested that the suffering of the Tibetan people is good fodder for a joke and that those silly Tibetans make damn good soup. Like they say, if you have to explain the joke, it ain’t funny. For the record, I’d like to point out that while a lot of attention was directed at the Tibet ad, I was pretty disappointed in all four ads. But it looks like Groupon has pulled the the plug on the campaign, so I suspect that this little pop-cultural road bump will be quickly forgotten.
  • Over the last couple of weeks, some have been debating, once more, the value of the online Zen practice thanks to Brad Warner’s most recent statements that you can’t learn how to play basketball by reading a book about it; you have to go out and play. Or something. I think that’s the gist of his argument; to be honest, I’ve not given much thought to it. As I said in my last post, I think the “this is real, but that isn’t real” argument isn’t particularly helpful, but I also get what Brad’s saying — from a Zen perspective. Lucky for me, though, I’m not a Zen Buddhist so I don’t have to listen to him. Others, however, do. Or, at least to the extent that they are Zen Buddhists, they are inclined to respond to his comments. Shambhala SunSpace has a nice summary.
  • Speaking of Brad Warner, if there’s one thing he hates more than Second Life it’s Big Mind. And the Big News out of Big Mind is that Dennis Genpo Merzel is stepping down from his leadership role at the White Plum Asangha. Apparently he was sleeping with people he wasn’t supposed to be sleeping with. And now he’s going to “spend the rest of my life truly integrating the Soto Zen Buddhist Ethics into my life and practice so I can once again regain dignity and respect.” Good for him.
  • (At times like this I’m a little glad that the school of Buddhism I follow is largely ignored by the mainstream (Buddhist) press. Our scandals and dirty laundry never seem to end up as fodder for the tabloids. That’s right. I implied that Tricycle, et al, are tabloids. I’m feeling extra snarky today!)
  • Now, today’s digest is the “things that get your blood boiling” entry, and to put things in perspective, Egypt. Getting pissed off about Super Bowl commercials and the antics of the American Zen glitterati seems pretty small potatoes in comparison. (But maybe that’s just the snark talking.) Oh, also, a majority of women in Bhutan think it’s okay for their husbands to beat them for burning the dinner. That’s right. Bhutan.
  • Okay, I’m going to end on a high note. It’s a weird thing to call this a high note, but it is, bear with me. Being gay in America can suck, as we all know, and it seems to suck worse in Uganda where an LGBT rights activist was recently killed. And a Christian minister used his funeral as an occasion to remind those in attendance that they’re all going to hell for loving who they love. (Your blood’s boiling, no doubt.) But if there’s ever been a glimmer of hope that not all religious folk are misguided, it’s this man, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who has the courage to minister to Uganda’s LGBT community and work for change. See. This is the high note, that even in our darkest hours, there’s always hope. There are always those who remain committed to the cause of ending suffering. And we should keep our attention squarely focused on them, lest we get lost in the darkness.

Okay. I’m out. Next week’s digest will the be a happy-time-fun-hour-round-up-of-wonderful-things, like rainbows and unicorns. I promise.

Update: I wrote this post early (well, early for me) this morning, well before Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down as president of Egypt. My glib reference to Egypt here is not meant to be a criticism or comment on the ongoing-still-developing situation in Egypt or that it should necessarily get your blood boiling; it was just meant to say, hey, there are at times far more important things to be paying attention to in this world. That is all.