[Buddha-l] Watery dharma

curt at cola.iges.org curt at cola.iges.org
Tue Dec 18 14:24:20 MST 2007

Actually, all present strains of Christianity (other than Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, and Ethiopians) have their origins in the orgy of fundamentalist hypersectarian bloodshed known quaintly as "The Reformation". Groups that came into existence at this time generally took up as their first order of business the declaration of holy war against all the other groups. Any religious tolerance within Christianity is of very recent origins. I would be happy to be proved wrong on this, but simple assertions don't impress me much. If Richard or anyone else believes they have some evidence of genuine religious tolerance among Christians earlier than this - please don't keep you candle under a bushel.

The early history of religious tolerance in Christianity only begins, very modestly, in 16th century. At that time, the question on the table was what constituted a capital offense, theologically speaking. Being intolerant meant you thought that things like questioning the Trinity made one worthy of execution, whereas the "tolerant" folks thought you should only be put to death if you refused to accept Jesus as the savior of mankind. 

I've mentioned this before - but the best scholarly work on this subject is Perez Zagorin's "How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West":


----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Hayes" <rhayes at unm.edu>
To: "Buddhist discussion forum" <buddha-l at mailman.swcp.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:43:58 PM (GMT-0500) America/New_York
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Watery dharma

On Tuesday 18 December 2007 10:35, curt wrote:

> Christianity has a very different history, though. Historically
> Christianity has discouraged (to put it mildly) any form of
> "dual-membership".

During the past 2000 years, so many strains of Christianity have evolved (or 
have been created) that it can be misleading to assume that what has been 
true of some Christian traditions historically is still true of those 
traditions today, let alone of all forms of Christianity. And it would be a 
grave mistake to think that only Christians are prone to spiritual 

A few years ago my wife and I attended an interfaith event in Spain, which had 
been organized by an orthodox rabbi from Israel. At one point the rabbi 
suggested all the delegates meet together for a period of meditation. The 
Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and most of the Christians were all for 
it, but the Russian Orthodox delegates said they could not pray or meditate 
in the presence of non-Christians (by which, it turned out, they meant not 
only Jews, Muslims, Hindus and so on, but also Roman Catholics and 
Protestants). So the idea of an interfaith meditation was given up, and 
everyone went to do something with their coreligionists. I don't know what 
the others did. The Buddhists got into an argument about whether Mahayana or 
Theravada best captured the true spirit of Buddhism. 

Things got even more complicated when it came time to eat.

The entire experience was profoundly discouraging. I went to the conference 
believing in the spiritual unity of humankind and left thinking that our 
species is doomed to live out its remaining existence fighting stupid and 
pointless holy wars over trivial details of diet and head wear. 

Richard P. Hayes
"We should not kill each other over different ways of saying how the world is 
-- Coleman Barks quoting an Iranian mullah
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