Muslims in the Buddhist Temple

Want to hear something weird? There is an ecumenical program at Stanford medical center- They are training religious figures in the community as counsellors for the sick and dying. So there are now Jodo Shinshu Buddhist (Japanese Buddhist) volunteers for counselling Buddhist patients.

The problem is the Muslim contingent doesn’t have a place to train for this program… so at one point they were asking the Buddhists to use their space. This seems like a weird philosophical question: If Buddhist dogma had an evangelical component (if preaching and converting people to Buddhism was a priority), the answer would be no, since you don’t want to help people enslave themselves to a deistic delusion.

But it doesn’t: you’re practicing Buddhism because it makes you more at peace with yourself and the world, NOT because some higher authority says Buddhism is “Right” and to not be a Buddhist is “Wrong.” What other people do is really their own business.

So, the question boils down to one of overcoming xenophobia- do you let the people who are defined by a conflicting belief into your community? After striving to overcome the judgemental tendencies that are in human nature, do you then bring in a group of people whose faith not only believes that there is a “right” way to live, but also that YOU are in the “wrong”? And notice they ask the Buddhists and not the Hasidic Jewish synagogue nearby.

On a postive note, the older generation of Japanese Americans, the nissei, remember all too well the experience of being rounded up into desert prisons and forced to give away everything they owned. Japanese American service groups like the JACL and Congressman Honda take this memory in a positive direction, protesting the Patriot Act and anti-arab racial profiling.


Not as good as “First Fruits”

Penelope Evans is the master at writing first-person characters with serious character flaws who are living in denial and self-delusion. This one has Stewart, a morgue photographer, obsessed with the corpse of a beautiful drowning victim. Following his obsession leads him to unravel the mystery of her identity, all while being shunned by everyone he comes in contact with. Stewart is a serious outcast who everyone treats as a monster.

It’s not as good as “First Fruits.”
After a while Stewart’s naivete gets a little tired, and conclusions which come as a great suprise to him will have been guessed by the reader dozens of pages beforehand. Also, it takes Evans about 100 pages to really get the story moving. Read First Fruits instead if you are curious about Penelope Evans, or The Wasp Factory if you want another story about outcasts living in delusional denial.


Japanese Social Experiment

Isn’t this how a bunch of Twilight Zone episodes start? Or Steven King stories?

McDonald’s to recall apple pies laced with chemical
McDonald’s Co., (Japan) Ltd. has vowed to recall apple pies from 15 prefectures after finding that they were laced with an unauthorized chemical, but most of the pies have apparently already been consumed.
The company has offered to recall 448,560 apple pies that were produced in Beijing and sold in Japan between July 18 and last Friday. But consumers have apparently eaten all of them.

All those people are going to turn into zombies now.

KSJS rules

Listening to some late night college radio, waiting for my friend to come on KALX (90.7 FM Berkeley) … but until then I’m listening to “Vision” on KSJS (90.5 San Jose). Vision plays some nifty clubby ambient and always sounds very mellow and approachable… She is also very entertaining to call up because she is always in kind of a zany mood and will tell you “the rest of that album is ASS!” when you’re on the phone. She just now played us a really bizarre Mazzy Starr remix by Richard X called “Into U”.