September 22, 2009
I listen to discussions of Christianity from time to time on NPR and it seems that it's simply required in such conversations to take the "magic" out of the Judeo-Christian narratives. But when the religion in question is Buddhism, it's apparently fine to suspend one's rationalist mind.
–Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online
Jonah Goldberg seems to think that liberals give the Dalai Lama—and Buddhism—a pass when it comes to claims of the miraculous. Pico Iyer, for instance, discusses the Dalai Lama's most recent incarnation as Goldberg "would expect a believing Buddhist to tell it"—that is, without skepticism.
We can't blame Goldberg for thinking that Pico Iyer is a Buddhist (he isn't), since Iyer has written plenty about all things Buddhist, including articles in Tricycle, and has been quite close to the Dalai Lama. But are "liberals" generally easier on Buddhism than, say, Christianity, as Goldberg contends?
Not always. In spite of my deep respect for the Dalai Lama, I've blogged with some chagrin about his negative take on same-sex relationships, most recently on the Huffington Post. And although Goldberg suggests that the Dalai Lama "downplays his views on homosexuality and abortion when he's raising money in the West," this simply isn't true. In fact, the Dalai Lama has spoken strongly against same-sex relationships among Buddhists, most recently, on Canadian television. (Still, it doesn't seem to be the pressing issue for him that it is for the religious right.)
Regarding an uncritical acceptance of things we might consider "quite simply a miracle": Tricycle, for its part, has published articles by writers who are, to say the least, skeptical.
But I do think Goldberg has a point. When the Dalai Lama speaks counter to the liberal platform, there's never much of a hue and cry. (Compare, for instance, opposition to the Pope.) I don't know if the comparison's fair, but it certainly comes to mind.
You can read Jonah Goldberg's post here.