Thursday, November 06, 2003

Cobb on Dean (and other things)

Cobb makes a succinct argument on why Dean is an idiot. Just factor this into your consideration of the candidates. Based on this and some Instapundit remarks, the impression I get is that Dean is a clueless Northeasterner when it comes to understanding the "deep" (cough) South.

NOTE TO AIR MARSHAL AND MAXIMUM LEADER: I got home too late from the church talk, which ran overtime, so I didn't call. Apologies. They stuffed me with chicken this evening; the dead bird was quite delish. As it turned out, I was filling in for a Jewish group that was supposed to speak to the congregation in attendance; church members didn't know the Jews couldn't make it, so tonight they got Buddhism instead. The whole congregation knows me, though, so the session went pretty well.

Some topics we "covered" (very much in quotes) this evening at church:

- Confucianism and hierarchical conceptions of social order
- the philosophical Taoist elements in Zen Buddhism
- meditative posture and technique in Zen as opposed to other forms of Buddhist meditation
- is Buddhism a religion? (asked by my mother, who was in attendance despite being very sick)
- do Buddhists believe in God?
- is Islam a "religion of peace"? (an issue I tackled from the Buddhist angle)
- is there an authority structure in Korean Buddhism?
- the metaphysics of impermanence and interdependence
- me, me, me (people wanted me to catch them up on what I've been doing in Korea, and apparently "farting around" wasn't an acceptable answer)
- what does "no self" mean?
- what 30 seconds of silence feels like, and what insights arise therefrom
- how "selfish" is Buddhism?
- the "(not) stirring muddy water" metaphor for clear, settled mind
- how a Zen master is answering you when he addresses your questions during a dharma talk
- a tiny bit of show-and-tell, featuring my calligraphy and artwork; we have two congregation members who've lived in China and Japan, and had no trouble reading my calligraphy

The pastor hung around and chatted with me and the parents a bit. In ten minutes' time we hit briefly on topics ranging from systematic theology to liberal/conservative Christianity to what lies at the heart of interreligious dialogue to "the tragedy of organized religion." Fascinating and all too brief. The pastor expressed his relief that I (or the unseasonable heat) had managed to keep one notorious old gent from dominating tonight's session; this guy, Mr. Borum, has been known to speak at length on anything and everything. But he was remarkably quiet after I'd answered his question.

One bit of strangeness: I'll note that, although I did open the floor to questions about SK/NK politics, etc., no one went for those topics. This is quite bizarre: our church is located in northern Virginia which, being part of the greater DC-Metro area, is home to tons of military and government folks, quite a few of whom go to our church. Some of these people were in attendance this evening, and to be honest, I expected the session to be dominated by questions of a political (or int'l relations) nature.

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