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There are 100 million Buddhists in China. That's a lot of mints and t-shirts.

Let me back up. There are, it's been estimated, as many as 80 million Christians in the officially atheist nation - and that number is on the rise. That's a problem for Buddhists who've long held sway over China's religious citizens. It's created a competition of sorts for souls and influence in the red country, leading the Buddhist establishment to seek contributions from outside it's nation's faithful in order to step up the spread of it's message and the remodeling of it's ancient temples. Many of these donations are coming from Taiwan and other more Westernized "liberal" societies.

Chinese monks in turn allow capitalist donors a certain amount of influence within Chinese temples. This influence has resulted in "religious business enterprises," according to Chiang Tsan-teng, professor of religious studies at Taiwan's National Tsing-Hua University. Mini-malls set up in temples are selling congregates statues, prayer beads and other religious paraphernalia. Chiang calls the trend "department store Buddhism." We'd call it "mega-church."

But monks charged with preserving the values and teachings of Buddha don't seem to mind the trend - or the cash. Buddha kitsch is making them rich. Well, some of them. Their lifestyles are becoming "more secular." Some monks now carry top of the line cell-phones, drive motor scooters, and in more extreme cases, lead a lifestyle previously reserved for China's wealthy class.

Hey, Buddhists. Truce for a minute. Listen to me. I've seen your future. I'm IN your future. Your future is littered with bobble head dolls and Precious Moments. So quick - go pull your drab togas and sandals out of the Goodwill pile fast and throw that "Do the Bu" t-shirt in the trash. It's not too late for you guys. But it will be soon. Soon you'll wake up in a China littered with Family Buddha Stores and - Buddha forbid - a BMA will form to promote an industry of contemporary Buddhist singers sporting the same three haircuts and starting their own blogs.



Blogger Kat Coble said...

They will not truly have arrived at the same level of Kitsch as have we until they have a glow in the dark plastic Buddha.

Anonymous tunz4jesus said...

Right Kat, or dashboard Buddha, kids will also marvel at action figure Buddha. Perhaps this the inevitable evolution of all organized religions?

Blogger FzxGkJssFrk said...

Hey Shaun, for some reason the link to the full post won't load. Is anyone else having this problem? Obviously I can reach the comments page, though. Does this have anything to do with Google's censorship in China? Just wondering...

Blogger Seth Ward said...

what about buddhamints?

same three haricuts. man, your crackin me. i cant believe we haven't package some kind of worship-leader-hair gel with some guy on the front of the bottle. comes with 2 free tanning bed sessions and a free how-too CD on how to make every word sound like Scott Stapp.



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