Big exciting news!
Dear Future Self,
I’m writing to you from the end of 2009. For Christmas this year, someone gave you Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs. I haven’t finished reading it, yet, but let me say this up front: I love it. I have a feeling it’s something I’ll come back to time and again. But, last night, reading a couple of essays about childhood here in the 21st century (a.k.a, The Future), I detected the familiar stench of the bitter old man, just beneath the surface.
You may remember the bitter old man. Many years ago now I wrote about him when he popped up in an article on Wired.com. Those there dark days, to be sure. A couple of weeks ago, I thought I saw bitter old man’s snarky female cousin in an essay by Barbara Ehrenreich (more on that later). So perhaps I’m just overly sensitive. To be sure, whereas Mr. Chabon (rightfully) laments the loss of what he dubs the wilderness of childhood and the move from sterile, minimalist Lego blocs to recreations of George Lucas’ memory, there are real gems in here, too. There is the acknowledgement that not all hope is lost, that children, as they always have, will find new avenues of creativity and imagination; they will transcend the crap of mainstream media.
The most recently released IBS Podcast episode is a lecture by UC Chico’s Daniel Veidlinger, and it’s quite good. His overall project is to examine how changes in technology effect the way Buddhism is practice, and, in this case, he’s looking at the transition from a predominately oral and aural culture to a culture dominated by the written word in ancient South and South East Asia. In other words, the basic question is, what effect did this new invention of writing have on the early Buddhist communities? The answers may surprise you. Or, maybe they won’t, but either way the talk is well worth watching.
In other, completely unrelated news, my lovely and talented wife, a force of unrelenting good in this world, is doing a 10K run to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For those who don’t know, St. Jude’s hospitals do research to prevent childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases. So, you know, also damn good work but of a different sort than historical/textual scholarship.
I thought I’d revisit an article (and my response to it) by Clark Strand on American Buddhism, raising Buddhist children, and other sticky issues like baby boomers and white folk. Being a big believer in allowing one’s opinions to grown, mature, and even change over time, I thought I’d reassess my position and see if my own opinion had done just that.