?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Academic Deliciousness

Sometimes, you just can't make this stuff up. I've been reading How Sweet The Sound: Music In The Spiritual Lives of Americans by David Stowe, and in his chapter on American Buddhist hymnody (yes, it exists), there is this delightful passage:

"Compared to the decades following the World Parliament of Religions, the interwar and World War II years were a period of relative dormancy for the development of American Buddhism. As a result of the incarceration of Japanese Americans, the leadership of American Shin Buddhism was assumed by Julius Goldwater, born in 1908 in Los Angeles to German-American Jewish parents. Goldwater was a protégé of the Hunts who was converted in Hawaii in 1928 before being ordained in Kyoto. During wartime internment Goldwater traveled widely to all camps, distributing literature including his adapation of the Hunts' Vade Mecum. The flavor of the liturgies distributed by Goldwater was strikingly Protestant, with gathas intermingled with responsive readings, collective affirmations, and a sermon to create an order of service that one might expect in a Presbyterian church." (Stowe 2004: 164 - 165)

To sum up: Nice Jewish boy (probably Reform, given his ethnicity and DOB) converts to Buddhism, spends WWII ministering to inmates of American Japanese concentration camps using a Latin-named hymnal containing Presbyterian-sounding Buddhist hymns.

Ain't America grand?

(Where by "grand" I mean "totally bizarre.")

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
dot_o_choillmor
Feb. 4th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
You're right.

I couldn't make that up!
frenchpony
Feb. 4th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
All we need is a Muslim and a Hindu element, and then we've got all the basics covered.
jelazakazone
Feb. 4th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
That is so bizarre I can't even wrap my mind around it. Bizarre and hilarious.
frenchpony
Feb. 4th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
America seems to me to be kind of like the Wizards of Unseen University: Why don't we just mix up absolutely everything and see what happens?
elliska
Feb. 5th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Actually, this is very common and greatly encouraged in Buddhism. My particular favorite American-born Buddhist spiritual leader, Surya Das, is also formerly Jewish and a good many of the stories he uses to teach have clearly Jewish roots/background. I love him. I've gone several times to hear him speak. And if you ever get a chance to hear the Dali Lama speak in America, he will invariably make Judeo-Christian references. Most Buddhist spiritual leaders in American encourage people who come to them expressing interest in Buddhism to explore Buddhist tenants in the context of their birth religions and without 'converting' away from their birth religion. In most of the sanghas I've visited, the teachings are always explained from a distinctly Judeo-Christian perspective, drawing parallels between the life of the Buddha and the lives of people in the Old and New Testaments. It is really very interesting and pretty effective because people outside the Tibetan or Eastern traditions can grasp that more readily.

But it is not what you would expect initially, that is certain. It is very funny to see a tiny little Tibetan guy in saffron robes that barely speaks English talking about Jesus and how XYZ that he did is an excellent illustration of the concept of Right Action. Especially when the sangha is meeting in a Roman Catholic Church and the little Tibetan guy is standing in front of a crucifix. It becomes even more interesting when the church's priests are all there, listening and asking lots of questions and obviously very engaged in the lesson.

Only in America indeed!
frenchpony
Feb. 5th, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
And there is that lengthy section in Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal where Josh and Biff go off and learn kung fu at a Buddhist monastery . . .
(Anonymous)
Feb. 5th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
Julius
Have a genealogy report that takes Julius's roots back to 1830's, including father Benjamin and mother, Rae. Will send if interested.
Mike Goldwater
frenchpony
Feb. 5th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Julius
Julius himself isn't part of my research at the moment, but thank you for the offer.
telperion1
Feb. 5th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a fun story! It really is a twist on the history of the time, and a very fun story to boot.
frenchpony
Feb. 5th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
You really get to see how American culture was much more multifaceted and interwoven than high school history texts make it out to be. The fun of doing ethnomusicology!
lcohen
Feb. 11th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC)
tangent
"The Ashkebad, Tblisi, And Kiev Express"

this gave me an "atchison, topeka and the santa fe" earworm!
frenchpony
Feb. 12th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
Re: tangent
Not surprising, considering that "Ashkebad" is a parody of "Atchison" as much as of "Anna Karenina."
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

by Illsaysheis
frenchpony
frenchpony

Latest Month

July 2015
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow