Down at the Goose and Garter the other evening one of the lads asked a bit of a sticky question about the Anglican Church. They’re just an ordinary group of hearty menfolk, but they do come up with some corkers from time to time.
“Say, Vicar, What do you make of this new Anglican bishop who is a Buddhist?” one of them called out.
Naturally I was a bit flustered. I must admit that comparative religions was not my forte at theological college. It was all I could do to play rugger, learn to sing the odd psalm and cram for a Greek exam. But I do remember one or two things old Canon Farnsworth told us about Buddhism.
So I said, “What do you lads think of it all?”
“If he wants to be a Buddhist, why don’t he move to China?” Jimmy calls out. “Yeh, we don’t want no yellow devils ‘ere.” another lad shouted out.
“Now then lads,” I said, “No need to be unkind to a fellow just because he happens to be different from you. Besides, I thought you said this chap was a bishop Stateside.”
“That’s right. He’s a Yank! They’re a daft lot. Why does he want to follow some slanty eye religion?”
“Here, here,” I smiled, “Let’s not be un kind to others!” I said, “I don’t have much time for things Oriental myself –although I must admit, Mrs. Vicar and I enjoy the odd Chinese take away of an evening–nothing like a nice portion of sweet and sour pork on a lap tray with the Benny Hill Show)
Personally, I can see nothing wrong with a parson dabbling in Buddhism if that’s what he fancies. Can’t do any harm can it? What’s all the fuss? I expect this bishop Stateside knows what he’s doing and a little bit of Eastern religion might help to attract immigrants to the Church. You never know–the fellow might have a special mission to folks in Chinatown.
What I don’t understand is why the fellow would bother. From what I understand Buddhism is a rather charming religion. It’s ancient, peaceful, has fairly pleasant customs and you don’t have to believe anything.
Why should a fellow bother to convert to Buddhism when he already has all that within the good old C of E?