Good Morning, fellow Contrarians.
Here at HQ, we’ve been engaging in ongoing discussions concerning religion, spirituality and what constitutes faith. If, like me, you’re one of those people who naturally recoils at the idea of conventional (re: dogmatic) belief, religion offers plenty to make fun of.
But, as has been pointed out by a handful of peers and associates, underneath the trappings of ritual, myth and superstition, there is usually an aspect of numinous experience — a transformative and spontaneous flash of insight that can spring from many sources, most often during meditation or trance states. (Our Foreign Correspondent Jebson Interlandi would include the drug experience, but that’s like, his trip, man).
As a practicing Buddhist, I regularly and wholeheartedly subject myself to the superficially bizarre act of sitting on a cushion and not thinking about shit. Weird, I know. But it actually has gone a long way towards making me realize that I’m not the center of the universe, which, I assure you, is no small breakthrough.
I don’t want to get into an extended discourse on what constitutes spirituality. At least not right now — I have a lot of other crap to do. But you can still enjoy these links:
Our hero George Dvosrsky takes atheist firebrand Christopher Hitchens to task for his dissing of Buddhism. The comments are worth reading, too — and not just mine.
I agree with a lot of what Hitchens has to say regarding religion, but he’s way off the mark on Buddhism. Also, he’s generally kind of an asshole. Hitch and a handful of his less obnoxious contemporaries will be appearing at the
Atheist Bonnarroo Secular Society and Its Enemies Conference, which takes place at New York’s 9/11 site next month. Provocative! Raging Islamic autocrats are clearly not welcome at the memorial, but the Godless are still OK. . .
It’s nice to know folks are paying attention to the bullshit in Burma.
The Holy Bible has been translated into LOLCat! The Three Wise men never sounded wiser: "And wen dey saw teh star dey was liek "FUCK YEAH STAR!"
Killing is a sin, unless it’s a popular video game. Whatever it takes to get ’em in the door right?
Saw Wes Anderson‘s supposed spiritual travelogue The Darjeeling Limited. Not great, not good, pretty much unfun. For the first quarter of the movie I was actively enraged, then bored to the point of almost walking out. But the final act had its moments. A few of the heavy-handed metaphors were actually soulful and/or profound. A few. The San Francisco Chronicle has my back on this one:
Anderson is too talented to make a film without memorable moments. As a visual stylist alone, his work is impossible to dismiss. Yet cut around the substantive bits in Darjeeling Limited, and you’d be left with 20 minutes of disparate, unconnected scenes. The film is eye-popping and gorgeous but vacant, a diversion and a deflection pointing to a meaning that never arrives.
Enlightenment isn’t a moment of realization but the product of commitment, and spirituality is expressed in action – it’s not an acquisition. If a man throws away his suitcase in order to run fast and catch a train, it doesn’t mean that he’s finally discovered his priorities. It probably means that he’s got enough money to replace whatever was in the bag. Like the characters in Darjeeling Limited, Anderson sets the bar too low for himself.
Read the rest here. There’s also an excellent Slate piece that examines Anderson’s White Shoe way with race and culture. Plenty of fine points are made. Still, his flicks would hardly be the same without that little Indian guy.
End Transmission. Stay tuned for a ProgBlog update and our annual Halloween Podcast!