coming out again

Earlier this summer, I started a little research project based on this post. I asked folks to submit their own coming to Buddhism stories. While the project is still on-going, I wanted to report some initial thoughts as well as where I’m thinking of heading with it.

First and foremost, an update and hearty thank you!

I received a number of responses from my initial post from Buddhists who had either converted or had rediscovered a forgotten family tradition. Much thanks to everyone who contacted me; you’re willingness to share your experiences, I believe, will go a long way in helping us understand the nature of the American Buddhist landscape.

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editors and producers

It started with a short bit I read (via Loden Jinpa) about the demise of publishers due to the rise of e-book readers. It suggests that in five year’s time, Amazon, Apple, whomever, will cut out the “middle-man” of traditional publishers and work with authors directly to deliver content to our devices of choice. It really is a short bit, and I didn’t have time this week to read the article it’s referencing. And, let’s be honest, this is an an area of expertise that’s a little far-afield for me. (Like, for example, the article suggests that the iTunes Music Store is circumventing music labels. That’s not actually true, is it?) Nevertheless, it raises some interesting questions for me.

gonzo scholarship

I am having something of a crisis of faith around here. I recently received some harsh but appropriate criticism of this pretty shabby looking blog in a private communique. That coupled with the increase in traffic to the site along with some other conversations I’ve had in comments and elsewhere have made me painfully aware of the fact that I can no longer blunder my way through this blog as if no one is watching. Because the fact of the matter is, people are.

a hoard of indignant banshees

There may be something of a large hullabaloo across the Buddhist internets in recent days in regards to the whole Buddhism v. science thing. The issue has to do with an opinion piece written by Athena Andreadis (whose name, by the way, is awesome) about how people love to find compatibility between science and Buddhism. Her argument, in sum, is that people who aren’t experts at something should really keep their yaps shut. Oh, and she said some stuff about Buddhism that was, shall we say, a little outside her area of expertise. That last little point was what got Barbara O’Brien’s hackles in a huff over on the eponymous Barbara’s Buddhism Blog where she thoroughly bemoaned Ms. Andreadis’ piece for its pot-and-kettle routine. I heard about all of this via NellaLou’s Enlightenment Ward. And I can only assume that this debate has spread far and wide because, at the end of the day, it is exactly the sort of thing that will turn a host of otherwise well-intentioned people into a hoard of charlatans, dilettantes, and indignant banshees. I’m going to stay well out of it.

non-identity politics

Over the past couple of months, both online and in the real-world, the issue of identity has come up in a number conversations I’ve had. A recurring theme has been the explicit rejection of identity as a meaningful category or, more plainly, the assertion that folks don’t want to claim an identity or “don’t want to be defined” as one thing or another.
The notion of identity — and the related but different “subjectivity” — in social theory is a given, so this attitude surprised me. Which, of course, is a sure sign that even I can get a little myopic out here in the academic hinterlands.
So I thought I’d write about it, organize my thoughts, and make a case for not only the reality of your identity but its relevance to Buddhist practice.