theravada, podcasts, kids, and cancer

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.

this week’s digest

Some bloggers these days post daily (or weekly) digests of things they’re reading. You don’t want some bland, decontextualized list. You want commentary. You want to read my list of depressing (and hopeful) news stories from the Interwebs, circa this week, 2009. (Oh, and I hella love Oakland.)

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.

the honest scrap award

According the Internets, “This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.” I’ve been nominated. You have been, too. Spread the joy.

the Dalai Lama

Dana and I had the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak in Berkeley yesterday. Through a series of more than fortunate events, not only did we get tickets to the Greek Theater, we got front row tickets. And, by the way, sitting directly behind us, was James Hetfield, Metallica front man, and his family.

The fifteen-year-old-kid in me, who played Metallica covers in his junior high school band, wants to gloat about that, wants to say irreverently that he got better tickets than James Hetfield. But there’s not much to say and I suspect you’d rather hear about what the Dalai Lama had to say.

are all my stars out?

For Christmas this year, my mother gave me a first edition copy of J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. When I was a younger, angrier, more confused man (or, ever since I discovered The Catcher in the Rye on my mom’s bookshelf when I was a fifteen), I was a die-hard Salinger fan of the type he would probably have deplored. So I’ve read Raise High probably a half dozen times, at least, but not once in the last half-dozen years. Since Dana and I were on the road (literally) over the last week or so, I took the opportunity to read it again. Salinger’s command of language still brings me great joy, even if, philosophically, I feel like I’ve moved on from him. And something in Seymour still inspires, still helps me overcome my own personal and professional slumps.