Happy Fifth Anniversary, Patheos.
To Kristi and Deborah, and Jamie and Leo and Cathie, and David and everyone else in Denver and around the world:
Thank you for building this platform, for infusing it with scholarly foundations, and for bringing on board such an amazing group of writers.
And thank you for inviting me to join back in 2011; which I suppose means I’ve been along for the ride for a little over half of the Patheos Journey.
I have been doing this blog thing since 2004, back in the day when people made fun of you for writing a blog. Wait, they still do?
Back then I was writing for myself primarily: rough drafts of papers, memorable experiences in my travels, etc. I still remember the shock when a person began commenting regularly. And then Tom Armstrong began including me in his weekly wrap-ups of the “Buddhobloggosphere,” introducing me to bloggers like James Ure, Nacho Cordova, who died tragically in an accident in 2011, and eventually Danny Fisher who I’m proud to call a friend and fellow Patheos writer.
The journey has been wonderful and since joining Patheos I have endeavored to be a little more focused and a little more serious, but as you know this blog can still be all over the place (insert quote about life being too short…).
Through Patheos I have had the remarkable opportunity to dialogue with some amazing Muslim writers, a liberal Mormon and Rawls/Kant/Justice aficionado (now at his own site: approachingjustice.net), a white Hindu, and a number of other fantastic people, each living his or her religion in utterly unique, personal, and yet authentic ways here in the 21st century.
As for five of my own favorite posts from the last couple years:
Death in the Desert in an American Buddhist Cult (May 2012): this was immediately a part of a major discussion in the Western Buddhist world and slowly but surely one that trickled out into broader public awareness. Prof. Robert Thurman and others were more recently interviewed about the group, the death, and what comes next. The event and the group itself underscore the diversity of Buddhism in the West and point to a recurring theme in Buddhist history of eccentric Buddhist masters, some revered, some reviled. Buddhism isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.
Gay Marriage in Buddhism (May 2012): This piece, which has accumulated as much or more valuable information in the comments as in the post itself, has been an enduring favorite for visitors. And I am all-too-happy to trot it out again every time another state or country steps forward in greater respect and equality for all humans in terms of marriage, sexuality, and gender; as they did here in England in June 2013.
Zizek waxes on about Zionism, Sex, Gangnam Style, Justin Bieber, the Pope, and Buddhism (November 2012): Žižek has been off my radar for a while now, but over the last ten years or so he has made a habit of saying something clever-ish and often off-hand about Buddhism that has caught my attention. I have yet to find much I can agree with him on other than run-of-the-mill cultural criticisms and topics I don’t really know much about. When it comes to Buddhism, he is all over the place and really just barely coherent. But he is a popular philosopher/social critic today, so his views of Buddhism, even when factually baseless, do trickle out into the public’s understanding.
2013 as the Year of Mindfulness: Critics and Defenders (December 2013): Covering a wide number of perspectives on what is being called the ‘mindfulness movement’, from Ron Purser and David Loy, Christopher Titmus, Robert Sharf, Seth Segal, and Lynette Monteiro just to name a few. As the discussion goes on, be sure to keep an eye out for all of these excellent writers/scholars/practitioners.
Mindful of your immorality (February 2014): In the growing climate of criticism of ‘corporate mindfulness’ programs watering down Buddhist practices and selling them to help worker efficiency, Google mindfulness gurus were given an opportunity to show off their newly developed wisdom and compassion when protesters took over the stage at Wisdom 2.0. Google’s performance? Not good.