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Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2016
Buddhism, Blasphemy, and Violence

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents


articles
1. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Michael Jerryson, Introduction: Buddhism, Blasphemy, and Violence
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This special issue explores the relationship between Buddhism and blasphemy. The articles chart new territory within the study of religion and violence and Buddhist Studies. The first essay outlines the Indian Buddhist doctrinal and ethical foundations for such an inquiry. The second, third, and fourth essays locate their examination within a particular Buddhist tradition: Burmese Buddhism and the prosecution of anti-blasphemy laws, Thai Buddhism and its jailing of people for insulting photographs, and Mongolian Buddhist concerns over purity and sacrilege in early twentieth-century monastic education
2. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Stephen Jenkins, Debate, Magic, and Massacre: The High Stakes and Ethical Dynamics of Battling Slanderers of the Dharma in Indian Narrative and Ethical Theory
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This paper examines Indian Buddhist debate narratives, royal historiographies, and hagiographies in conjunction with Buddhist systematic thought on wrong-view, wrong-speech, slander and the sins of immediate retribution. Buddhists narratives are rich with examples of debates in which the wealth and estates of both monastic institutions and their donors were at stake. Forced conversion is a common feature. Slandering the Dharma had a direct relationship to sins considered forms of harm to the Buddha, such as confiscation of property or desecration of sacred objects, and defined as the worst sins leading directly to hell. Buddhist texts often denigrate others’ beliefs and practices and, although their responses to being reviled preclude anger, use of force against enemies of Buddhism is modeled by the Buddha, ideal kings, deities, and wizards. Many examples of mass violence by Buddhist kings against those who oppose the Dharma or harm its saints are exhibited.
3. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Paul Fuller, The Idea of ‘Blasphemy’ in the Pāli Canon and Modern Myanmar
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There are many terms in the Pāli Canon that refer to “disrespect” committed against venerated objects or people. Some of these ideas come close to the idea of “blasphemy” in other religious traditions. In traditional forms of Buddhism, the stress is on protective and auspicious acts. Images, texts and chanting are partly concerned with averting danger. Primarily it is the Buddha (and images of him), because of his great meritorious and ethical deeds, who accomplishes this. In this context blasphemy against sacred objects is a perfectly coherent idea in Buddhism. In Myanmar, monks from the Ma Ba Tha movement have expressed outrage at what they perceived to be the manipulation of images of the Buddha. These will be compared to ideas in the Pāli Canon to suggest how the idea of blasphemy is a constant feature in the history of Buddhism.
4. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Shane Strate, The Sukhothai Incident: Buddhist Heritage, Mormon Missionaries, and Religious Desecration in Thailand
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In 1972, two Mormon missionaries were arrested in Thailand on charges that they had insulted Buddhism. Photographic evidence of their offensive behavior appeared in national newspapers, and for weeks the press debated the meaning and significance of their crime. This article examines the media’s reaction to the “Sukhothai Incident,” and situates the controversy within the larger context of Thai anxieties regarding the influence of ‘Americanization’ on local culture. It argues that Thai elites used the incident to promote pre-existing nationalist narratives that warned against the destructive influences of Western materialism, Christianity, and neo-colonialism. Reaction to the case became a touchstone that separated true defenders of “Thai-ness” from those “outside the religion.” The incident illustrates how ruling factions perceived that the American presence, not just Communism, threatened to undermine traditional symbols of authority.
5. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Matthew King, Giving Milk to Snakes: A Socialist “Dharma Minister” and a “Stubborn” Monk on How to Reject the Dharma in Revolutionary Buryatia and Khalkha
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This article explores the blasphemy concept in relation to the historical study of competing visions of doctrine and institutional modeling in revolutionary-era Mongolia and Buryatia (c. 1911–1940). I focus on a close reading of a previously unstudied letter exchange between a prominent socialist leader and Buddhist reformer named Ts. Zhamtsarano and a conservative (Khalkha) Mongol abbot that disputed reforms aiming to allow the laity to study alongside monks in monastic settings. In relation to those sources, I reject a straightforward application of “blasphemy” as an analytical category. However, noting that micro-encounters such as that of the reformer and the abbot not only reference, but actively produce, macro-level social registers and institutions (like Buddhism, “the monastic college,” Tibet, Mongolia, and the like), I argue that in these materials we do see the generative practices of rejection and extension of received tradition that the blasphemy concept (especially in its Islamic iterations) expresses. Such a process-based analytic, motivated by “blasphemy” but not a straightforward application of it to Buddhist case studies, is immensely useful in the comparative study of social and intellectual history in Buddhist societies, especially during periods of profound socio-political transition.
book reviews
6. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Don J. Wyatt, Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers. By N. Harry Rothschild
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7. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Lorenz Graitl, Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons. By Banu Bargu
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8. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Mun’im Sirry, Fighting Words: Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts. Edited by John Renard
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9. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Mehmet Karabela, Martyrdom in Modern Islam: Piety, Power, and Politics. By Meir Hatina
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