Category: Religion in America

Paying for Teachings

People are sometimes astonished when Buddhist teachers and dharma centers require a payment for teachings and retreats. Shouldn’t the dharma be free? Christian ministers don’t expect fees for sermons, do they? In the West, we’re accustomed to attending services, Sunday schools,

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Practical Zen: An Approach to Secular Ethics

[This is a talk more or less as I gave it at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture on October 23, 2016. It is based on a chapter in Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and

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The Latter-Day Dimwits of Televised Religion

E.J. Dionne recently wrote, Over the past several decades, those who view religion with respect regularly come back to the same question: What has happened to the religious intellectuals, the thinkers taken seriously by nonbelievers as well as believers? You

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Western Buddhism and Cultural Appropriation

Brad Warner reports getting this email from somebody: “No please white American dude tell me again what Buddhism is. He knows white Buddhism, he’s culturally appropriation, he makes money off defining a culture that does not belong to him –

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The Boxes We Live In

One of my favorite sayings, which was from my first Zen teacher, is “We all live in a box, and the walls of the box consist of who we think we are and what we think life should be.” There

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Rituals? Really?

Shortly after I began writing the Buddhism section of About.com, a reader named “Ernie” contacted me to complain about rituals, among other things. He was interested in Buddhism, he said, but he was turned off by the rituals. When I

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What’s With the War on Christmas?

The Christmas television commercials preceded Halloween this year, and I see some of my neighbors have their Christmas decorations up already. Yes, folks, the annual War on Christmas season has begun. At Patheos, Zen teacher and Unitarian Universalist minister James

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“Religious Violence” Isn’t Just Religious

I recommend Sean McElwee’s article at Salon, “What we really talk about when we talk about religion.” Citing the recent Harris-Maher-Affleck “debate” on the culpability of Islam in violence, McElwee writes, At the core of this debate is the extent

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The Christian Right’s Pitiful Rearguard Action

The cause du jour among some conservative Christians is maintaining their sacred entitlement to discriminate against people of unauthorized sexual orientation — LGBT — in public matters. And if they aren’t allowed to discriminate as they please, they honestly believe

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Religion Doesn’t Need Miracles

I recently read an online discussion of the intersection of science and religion. The discussion very quickly turned to talk of miracles and proposed that religion and science would be reconciled when science either acknowledges miracles or somehow verifies the

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