Saturday, February 06, 2010

Censored by Barbara's Buddhism Blog!

Wow. Gosh. I feel as though I've been ejected from the classroom.

How much of the "Buddhist blogosphere" is like this?

The first time I have ever left a comment on Barbara's Buddhism blog will be the last.

On her forum, there was recently a very interesting discussion: do Buddhists "pray" or not? Barbara O'Brien and one reader engaged in a debate on this question over a dozen comments that was quite beneficial, as I found it challenged my assumptions about the practice that I do (which includes chanting the name of Kwan Seum Bosal and Amita Bul).

Suddenly, Ms. O'Brien announced that the posts by her inquisitor, one Jeff Wilson, had become "anal and meaningless" and that she was cutting him off.

So I left a comment thanking Ms. O'Brien and Mr. Wilson for their dialogue, as I had found it engaging, expressing appreciation for the way they had disagreed and debated quite civilly; in a single sentence, I expressed regret that their interaction had to be cut off so abruptly, and with name-calling.

My comment was deleted, and apparently Mr. Wilson has been shown the door as well, at least on that particular thread.

This is an ironic style for someone who professes expertise on the path of Buddha, a teacher who was known for teaching dialectically and welcoming challenging questions. Moreover, it is rather a shame, as I read through a few of the blog posts and she's rather a good writer with some very sensible views on Buddhist teaching and practice, even where I did not share her opinion.

Oh well. Who has time for all these blogs anyway? That's one off the list.


Kyle Lovett said...

HA! Yea Barbara has censored my comments as well, which is pretty funny because she has written about me 3 or 4 times in the last 6months. I never censor any comments on my blog unless they are spam, racist or give out some type of personal information about another person. Maybe I should try to block her IP address from viewing my blog. hehe

Algernon said...

And you go back there? See, I wouldn't take the time to write a thoughtful response, knowing it might get zapped if it does not agree with Barbara's view.

I have a lot of respect for her point of view, based on what I read. So maybe it makes sense to lurk and read. But there's not really a conversation going on there.

Nathan said...

I've found that if Barbara disagrees with you, she often responds by saying something smart ass or defensive, or simply cuts off conversation with some remark. It's disappointing, given that she probably has a decent sized readership, and also is a good writer who usually has something worthy to consider.

Algernon said...

Agreed, Nathan. It's a big like the professor who grades a paper lower simply because he disagrees. The instinct is to punish dissent, an essentially authoritarian impulse.

Case in point: Barbara had a very interesting article about Marvin Olasky's recent column for WORLD Magazine criticizing Buddhism.

I actually wrote to Mr. Olasky himself, and he has written back to me quite forthrightly in response to polite dissent. Apparently he considers himself open for discussion with those who disagree. (He tells me he has also been communicating with Brian Victoria about what he, Mr. Olasky, wrote.)

If Mr. Olasky can handle it...